article for "WOOD IN CONSTRUCTION AND FURNISHINGS" - Sanitec Koło Showroom


Darek Gocławski

We like natural materials. True. Fragrant, traditional, requiring craft mastery. Maturing and aging. Wood is such a material. This article was written during building showroom for Sanitec Kolo group. We have made several conclusions and observations about working with wood:

A + D Studio specializes in commercial space design (shops, offices, customer service, etc.). This industry is about short term adaptation works, heavy traffic users, intensive use of furniture and equipment, the need to add specific installations / components (sprinklers, expansion joints, sound system, etc.).

Being fully aware of the complexity of the task and the specific topic, Sanitec Kolo Group - manufacturer of sanitary ware and bathroom accessories invited A+D to work on their flagship store.
Sanitec Kolo meets with architects on a daily basis, interior designers, visual artists. Scale of the project required a high degree of specialization and relevant experience. At the beginning of the cooperation we`ve analyzed the requirements of the investor including function, budget, location of the zones and general reception of the showroom. Need for clear division of the hall emerged, which led to defining several different areas, including separate zone for rest and coffee with the client. This part of the exhibition should be less formal than the rest of the project, favoring calm, relaxation and, at the same time, should emphasize high professionalism of the host (Sanitec Group), environmental concerns, engineering excellence and professionalism of showroom creators.

Given these assumptions we decided to create a space with natural feel that evokes the relaxation and water. The idea to combine the SPA products with coffee tables and bar was the result of the final discussions with the investor.

Relax in conjunction with water clearly reminded us of a wooden pier on a lake or the sea, with the view to an open space. Adding idea of bold company with traditions, we were able to convince the investor to build a wooden bridge that is almost 80m2 and height of 15 cm made of sun faded wood.

The effect of old wood requires long exposure to outdoor conditions (unavailable indoors) or chemicals to speed up the aging and fading process.

After analysis we decided to choose the chemically weathered siberian spruce because of bright color and proper grain. Unfortunately, the costs of the purchase and aging went beyond estimated budget, so the final choice fell on stained and oiled bleached ash. The effect met our expectations. The material reflects the nature of the sun and rain treated boards. The smell is intense and is not associated with the sawmill and wood department at the supermarket - it`s noble and has soothing effect.

A few words about the design:

Wood floor laid on wooden joists, and housing, furniture and walls were made on a steel structure. Plates 10cm wide and 3 cm thick screwed with distance of 10 cm. Character of the interior is complemented by white lighting, giving the illusion of unlimited space.
Precisely designed and implemented design complements the climate of the place and precise engineering and attention to the smallest details (ideally equal distances, long parallel lines of fissures, perpendicular to the surface) for both investor and designers. The credit goes to persons engaged in the design, who, despite the tight deadline managed to do their duties with perfect precision.
The whole area is a source of pride for us (designers) and the Investor. Used wood, lighting, as well as design solutions adopted (scales, proportions, functional instructions) provide timeless interior (even classical) quality and functionality. Visit Sanitec Kolo Group in Modlniczka near Krakow, 13 Handlowcow Street to see how wood can work on such a scale and quality, how do the other zones look like, how's the smell, the sound of steps, what is the acoustics and perception of each zone. The place is very often used for meetings with architects, training and presentations, which also can provide a friendly atmosphere that we`ve created here.

In conclusion it is worth noting a number of proposals that have emerged after the implementation:

1. Architects have a poor awareness of the possibilities (as well as requirements) of wood. Different species, finishes, sizes and methods of use of this material requires experience and training, which is usually missing. Lack of knowledge results in using simpler materials (usually plastic or processed) or causes errors and unforeseen effects. We need training about material, finish techniques, characteristics, method of aging and the possibility of using natural wood.
2. Short timeline for commercial investment and fairly frequent "Machine" implementation of the every store within a single design concept, often prevent the employment of real craftsmen who know and are able to make interesting constructions or finishes with concern for detail and aesthetic substructure of wood.
3. Ecology, ecology, ecology: a conscious use of renewable raw materials (wood) in combination with a natural finish (oiling, etc.) allow you to create a place very close to human. Respect for the wood has to be present from the beginning of processing through the project's implementation (minimizing waste) to the way of daily operation and maintenance. Architects are often afraid to use wood for the sake of the environment, etc. and the suppliers (manufacturers / importers) usually understand the concept of ecology as one tree for one panel, showing the catalogue printed on 250g/m2 paper with UV coating. What is needed is greater education of designers to use natural materials and create truly naturally beautiful and pleasant environment for people to live and work, while protecting wood resources.