Compactness and luxury are no contradiction. In fact, they reflect a new synergy in major metropolises. German design brand AXOR presents a series of contemporary housing projects that compensate fewer square metres through spatial qualities. In other words: a minus is turned into a plus.

Size does not always matter, at least in urban surroundings. By 2050, two thirds of the world’s population will inhabit a megacity. Shrinking spaces lead to a revaluation of the living environment. Compactness doesn’t have to be a sacrifice, provided that space is organized in a better thought out manner. Traditional floor plans have to be questioned: “Small spaces will need to become multifunctional and multimodal, serving many different purposes at once, all in the same space,” states the London-based trend research office The Future Laboratory.

Its founders, Christopher Sanderson and Martin Raymond, analysed the impact of compactness on the sector of high-profile interior environments. The study has been commissioned by AXOR, the design brand of the Hansgrohe Group with a portfolio of taps, showerheads and accessories for luxurious bathrooms and kitchens. Luxury in compact surroundings is referred to as “perfectly sufficient, rather than egregiously excessive. Simplicity will overcome the superfluous.“ Well-being will be a key element, transforming the home into an oasis for rest, calm and comfort.

The Compact Luxury project on the AXOR homepage presents houses and apartments by acclaimed architects across the globe. To provide tranquil and serene city living, the designs compensate for the lack of square metres through spatial qualities. London-based design studio Barber Osgerby created a concept for a loft in New York City with double-height ceilings, industrial windows and exposed steel beams. “We apportioned a large share of the limited living space in the city for a bathroom as a recreation area,“ explains Jay Osgerby, who founded the practice with Edward Barber in 1996.

In the middle of the bathroom, a free-standing bath is accompanied by a ground-mounted faucet in matt black. The basin faucets, shower pipe and hand-held shower are part of the AXOR One collection, designed by Barber Osgerby and just presented in March 2021 at the digital bathroom fair ISH. “At first glance, the faucets look like a simple bent tube, but actually the tube diminishes in size as it reaches the end. It feels just that little bit more light, a bit more crafted, a bit more elegant than just having the same standard section being bent round,” says Edward Barber. The resulting simplicity allows the objects to migrate into different interior styles and atmospheres: especially bathrooms that connect with the living area and function as a private spa.

AXOR One bathroom concept New York

AXOR One bathroom concept New York

AXOR One bathroom concept New York

The following project leads to Japan, the country with the world’s oldest population. Local design practice nendo conceived The Stairway House for two generations of a family. The building inside Tokyo’s Shinjuku district defines a large cube of exposed concrete. Its south facade is entirely made out of glass, penetrated by a large staircase that leads from a private garden to the first and second floor along a diagonal line. ”I arranged a hundred flower pots randomly, as if they were sitting on the stairs. It is like a garden coming into the house,“ explains the founder and chief designer of nendo, Oki Sato. The staircase gives a strong narrative to the building. It also serves as a playful and poetic tool to organize the life of its inhabitants. Basin faucets from the AXOR Uno series by Phoenix Design are used for the bathroom. The elegant, free-standing kitchen block is combined with a single lever kitchen faucet from the AXOR Citterio M series designed by Antonio Citterio. The slender, curved forms and the brushed black chrome finishes correspond to the simultaneous minimalist and sensual interior of the building.

Stairway House by Nendo. Copyright Daici Ano

Stairway House by Nendo. Copyright Daici Ano

Stairway House by Nendo. Copyright Daici Ano

Stairway House by Nendo. Copyright Daici Ano

Stairway House by Nendo. Copyright Daici Ano

The Bay Area of San Francisco is one of the most expensive housing areas in the world. Vivian Lee and Robert Edmonds, founders of locally based Edmonds + Lee Architects, designed The Switchback House for themselves and their two children. They eliminated redundant spaces and reduced the number of bedrooms from four to three. Also, the layout of the house has been flipped upside down. The bedrooms are now based on the ground floor while the living areas, kitchen and dining are placed on top, opening to a large terrace with amazing views over the city. “Homes need to be functional, but they also need to act as a sanctuary, whether they are 400 square feet or 4,000 square feet (approx. 37 and 370 sq metres),” says Vivian Lee.

“There are two types of health, physical but also mental. We really believe in the power of architecture to address both of these,“ Robert Edmonds continues. In the bathrooms, they have chosen faucets from the AXOR Uno series by Phoenix Design while the kitchen sink comes with a faucet from the AXOR Starck collection by Philippe Starck. “We continued the wooden floor into the dry area of the bathroom, which is something the US market is very averse to. When the bathroom doors are open it’s one continuous visual experience,“ Lee explains. This piece of compact luxury causes a lasting effect: “You really feel the space in the house, and this maximizes the enjoyment.“

Switchback house by Edmonds + Lee Architects. Copyright Joe Fletcher

Switchback house by Edmonds + Lee Architects. Copyright Joe Fletcher

Switchback house by Edmonds + Lee Architects. Copyright Joe Fletcher

Switchback house by Edmonds + Lee Architects. Copyright Joe Fletcher

Switchback house by Edmonds + Lee Architects. Copyright Joe Fletcher

Read more about AXOR One and Compact Luxury on axor-design.com

Words by Norman Kietzmann