The tub or the shower, the waterfall or the pond, an eternal dilemma

Despite the final choice, which, inevitably and with very few exceptions, is the shower, every one of my clients that renovated bathrooms went through the mini or full-fledged agony of considering both.

And that is not because of some flimsy let’s do our homework before we jump approach, not even because of real-estate considerations, which, unfortunately, for many – and wrongfully -, still take too much consideration (more on why is that another time), but because of our connection with water that runs more deeply through our veins than we’re aware of.

How we bathe, what time of the day, the water temperature we use, and the bathing duration are all details that are part of who we are. There are preferences. Habits. Patterns seldom change throughout our lives, and when they do, the change is deliberate and involves very particular reasons. This decision, between a tub or a shower, is not a small feast.

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Why most of us choose showers is really a function of society, construction norms for bathroom sizes and daily activities.

Bathrooms – and more on this also, some other time – went from sophisticated places of bathing and enjoyment to mass-count small and functional 8’x5′ machines. We’re now at a point where what counts is the number of bathrooms rather than the quality of their use. Because of the focus on global self-pampering and the wellness movement toward the planet, we will see a shrinking in the number of bathrooms, and the focus will change back to the quality of bathing. At some point. But norms are there for a reason, and they can only be replaced when crowd mentality changes. And that… does not change too fast…

Nowadays, you have to get up and get yourself ready within a limited amount of time. If you’re a morning-bathing person, your mind is quick, active, and on a roll already. Most people are morning bathers making showers a no-brainer.

Yet another way to look at it, even if just for a second, even if it will not change your mind, is to consider, anthropologically speaking, what else can water and bathing be. The anthropological argument revolves around the relevancy of the past in the life of our present and future. There is always something to use and information to adapt to your own life.

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When primitive societies performed the act of bathing was not because they wanted to remove dirt. Bathing rituals were meant to purify and nourish the human spirit. Removing dirt was secondary. With the advent of modern medicine, that balance tipped and nowadays, we find ourselves not only exclusively focusing on dirt removal but utterly oblivious to the possibility of anything else.

Somewhere in-between, we find the ancient civilizations like Romans, for instance, with their bath buildings and social customs of group bathing. They did value cleanliness together with a new kind of ritual, that of discourse, conversation, gossip, oratory and any and all verbal interactions. Different from the ritual of purification, an essential social ritual nonetheless.


“The oldest accountable daily ritual of bathing can be traced to the ancient Indians. They used elaborate practices for personal hygiene with three daily baths and washing […] and are in practice today in some communities.” from Wiki on Bathing

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Spring water was often preferred because of its freshness or warmth alike. When available, running water was chosen over stagnant bodies of water because it was devoid of pathogens. While the ancients did not know what that was, medicine at the time was able to correlate polluted water with lack of health; thus, they applied carefulness as much as possible.

And I guess, nowadays, too, we still gravitate toward the running water over the tub. Maybe, by now, we have it marked in our genetic sequence

This article first appeared in My 2 cents on design
how to curate a better lifestyle through design
part of  SELF-CARE \\ a DOCHIA FOCUS monthly lifestyle series

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Why do we build for the real-estate market instead of ourselves and why is that so wrong

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