The innovative Betty Blue washstand: from a visionary conceptual study to a premium product for Alape
It’s about experiencing water, not idly looking on as it trickles away. That’s the idea behind Betty Blue – and it made more waves than initially anticipated. Michael Sieger designed the washstand in 2002 for one of Europe’s most important trade fairs, Cersaie in Bologna. This was a response to an invitation from artists and designers to sketch a vision for the future of the bathroom and subsequently exhibit it – and it was well done.
“For me, a vision for the future is more about maximising the effect for admirers and end users than it is about testing the limits of technological advancement,” explains designer Michael Sieger. This design was therefore more concerned with presentation than the product itself. And the most ironic thing of all: the washstand on show – completely flat and without a basin – was hailed as the icon of a new era of bathing – which instantly boosted its chances of entering production.
An initial glance at this understated white glazed washstand will give away no hints as to its actual function. The only thing that distinguishes the washstand from any other object is the formal contrast provided by its fitting. This explains things iconographically and informs people of the fitting’s function. When operated, a thin sheet of water spreads over the entire surface of the washstand. While a high degree of skill was required to produce it, its technology is relatively straightforward: water is supplied through one table leg, flows through the curved spout pipe onto the panel, then runs into another table leg via the rim.
An abstract room covered in metallic glass mosaic tiles was designed for the exhibition itself. Betty Blue was the room’s centrepiece, and exuded sculptural flair – a washstand like a fountain, with water flowing onto its smooth panel to transform it into a shimmering surface. Betty Blue by Alape was on display as a premium product the following year at ISH 2003 – and was also honoured with the Good Design Award (Japan).