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Elements of Design: Water

Free flowing.

Ancient philosophies and principles are the root of many contemporary practices. From Japanese design comes Wabi-Sabi—the concept of unpretentiousness, the integration of nature, and the acceptance of elegant imperfections—and the five elements: earth, air, fire, water, and void (or pure energy; spirit). As spring is design season, a time of renewal and a cue to refresh our own spaces, we feature collections of classic pieces for the home, inspired by the elements.


Water flows, fluid and formless. Not only is this fluidity represented by actual bodies of water, but the element is also strongly tied to the way a plant adapts to the changing seasons.

Much like the way in which trees acclimatize to the environment, the Yann Kersalé’s Jallum candle light for Baccarat is optimal for both indoor and outdoor use. Inside the cylindrical vessel, the glass spheres give the impression of bubbles rising towards the water’s surface, illuminated by four crystal light beams on top.

Omer Arbel’s 14 series for Bocci features frosted orb light pendants, designed to be presented as a cluster. When hanging from the ceiling, the pendants resemble rain drops falling from the sky—fitting, as 14 is also available in configurations designed for wet circumstances. With the option of cable lengths ranging from three metres to 36 metres, these lights suit any space.

The Terra bathtub, designed by Naoto Fukasawa for Boffi mimics the shape of a pebble found at the bottom of a riverbed. The lack of constriction brought about by its softened edges allows for free movement when bathing, and from a discreet opening on the basin, water cascades forth like a waterfall.

The notion of natural water is also exemplified in Thomas Coward’s award-winning Motif basin series for Omvivo. The transparent base features a solid surface with etched glass, displaying a kaleidoscope outline while casting wave-like patterns below when light shines through. Rinse and repeat.

See more from the Elements of Design series.