Get to know Victoria + Albert
Curious to find out more about the history of the brand, the uniqueness of the bath material and tips on bathroom design, we spoke to Michael Swyny from Luxe by Design – the Australian distributor of British bath and basin brand, Victoria + Albert.
Tell me about Victoria + Albert Baths, and how the brand came about.
You will have to travel back to 1996 when South African brothers Nico & Alwyn Neethling worked out a recipe to turn a stone into a very special composite that we today call QuarryCast. This material was naturally beautiful and hard wearing and it was then the brothers met Chris Davies and the realization that baths could be made from this material. The partnership was formed and the factory was set up in Worcester in South Africa. Since then, the brand has grown into one of the most elite bathing brands globally and has distribution partners in every continent in the world.
Victoria + Albert Baths are made from Volcanic Limestone. What is the significance of this and how does it contribute to the overall function of the bath?
Quite simply, Volcanic Limestone is the patented name given to the rock which forms from our material QuarryCast. It is this material that offers extreme strength without adding major weight to the overall bath or basin. Prior to mass production, every bath undergoes major structure and strength testing along with thermo-shock testing and various other stain tests to ensure each model that is created stands up to our 25-year guarantee. Another very important part of the process is the in-house resin procedure that allows the finished bath to be positioned in direct sunlight 24 Hours 7 Days a week, as long as there is a roof above it to prevent unwanted damage from freak storms etc.
How many types of baths are there in the current Victoria + Albert range?
We now have an extensive 32 baths in the collection along with 19 complementary basins all made from the 25-year guaranteed material. The baths are basins are an eclectic range of both classic and contemporary, large and small. We rarely find a client that cannot fall in love with at least one of our products.
What kind of things do you need to look at when wanting to install a bath?
The first thing is the space (I know what are thinking, everyone says the same thing), but I don’t just mean the bathroom space, I mean the entire home space. What is my home like and do I want my bathooms to have the same flow? Will I match my drawer handles with my internal door handles? Will the stone bench tops be used elsewhere in the house? How do I differentiate the bathroom without going too far? These questions will direct you to your choices well before you start narrowing down your bath and basin options due to dimensions and spacial layout within the bathroom. From a trade angle, I suggest you always discuss with your tradesperson constantly throughout any project but especially prior to purchasing a bath. There are many ways in which the plumbing for the bath can be connected and it is vital you and your tradie have a clear plan prior to you purchasing the bath. You may need to allow extra cavity space within the concrete slab for the waste connection and if not planned properly, can potentially leave you with a sub-par product in your dream home.
How do you think a bath can affect the overall look and feel of a home?
Since the beginning of bathing, it has always been about luxury. To have a bath in your home makes it feel more like a home and I still personally believe bathing is the number one relaxation activity you have available in your home. It can positively affect you emotionally and can stimulate you visually. I am also still of the opinion that most property buyers want to see a bath in a home.
Being in the industry your whole life, what kind of trends do you think have the most successful in bathroom design?
The biggest trends (or permanent change) I have noticed during my career is a term I call “The Ensuite Movement”. I have witnessed ensuites grow dramatically in size and in many cases, larger than the main bathroom in homes and this has become a key selling feature in real estate. I believe this has come from our need to escape the regular grind of the day and have a sanctuary away from the rest of the family where we can unwind and rejuvenate. You need to remember, your bathroom is the room that represents who you are the most. In your bathroom, you are often naked, stripped back and vulnerable and you are surrounded by mirrors and glass surfaces so it is a no-brainer that you reflect upon yourself more when you are in there. As a result, you need to have an inviting space that you are comfortable in and proud of which enhances your experience and well being. I feel as though this “trend” will continue to grow and ensuites will become the largest bathroom in most homes in the future.