Spa pools have traditionally been considered something difficult to integrate in the design of the landscape. The launch of Vortex Spas futuristic IKON design is set to seriously challenge the preconceptions of the spa pool as a plastic square box. From the outset, the spa's designer New Zealand born Alain Brideson was determined to come up with something "undeniably beautiful".
"From the beginning I wanted to create a spa pool that architects wouldn't want to hide. Disrupt and redefine," says the 36-year-old global product designer.
"It is inspired by modern architecture, that special feeling when stepping onto a yacht and ultimate relaxation. Using these key concepts, it quickly manifested into a clean faceted exterior, grand entrance and simplified interior landscape."
Alain was approached by Vortex Spas CEO Andrew Pullen "after the hype of President Obama and Angela Merkel perusing one of my car designs at a trade show. Andrew was looking for another angle, and a car designer was it," explains Alain.
Andrew was looking to create something the spa world hadn't seen before. His knowledge of the "big, square, plastic boxes" goes back to when his parents owned a spa shop in the 70s and he managed to fit 17 teenagers into his family spa at one point. He asked architect Jorgen Anderson, who contributed to the IKON, what he did when clients asked him to incorporate a spa into one of his designs.
"His reply was that they try to hide it around the back, screen it from view or bury it in a deck. Basically, make it go away. It got me thinking about how many people would benefit from owning a spa, but don't because they are uninspired, or discouraged by the way they look. So, it seemed to be a great problem to solve," says Andrew.
Aside from the obvious sculptural and architectural differences, the materials used in the construction are from the marine and architectural industries and, subsequently designed to withstand the elements a lot longer than more traditional materials.
Most spas have dedicated positions which are fine for the first few minutes. "After a while, spa users want to move around, maybe spend some time sitting on the edge with their feet in the water. The IKON has been designed for this. There are various seating positions and seating heights. You can sit or lie on the deck. It really does enhance lifestyles. It's like moving from a BlackBerry to an iPhone. It just feels better," says Andrew.
Olympic gold medal swimmer Ian Thorpe knows the therapeutic benefits of spas only too well. When he was swimming competitively spa pools were a regular part of his recovery after training. "Being in warm water and having the movement of water around your body assists the body's muscle recovery," he explains.
As the IKON ambassador, the iconic Australian athlete is very taken with the sculptural, stylish look and innovative design.
"I can picture it in Queenstown and, equally somewhere on the harbor in Sydney or Auckland, a loft in New York. It could be anywhere, but my ultimate location would be on a deck overlooking the water."
Alain says he'll know it's a hit when the IKON is a showstopper at the Milan Furniture Fair, picks up an iF design award, or renowned architect like Tadao Ando orders one for his house.
The Ikon retails will be exclusively available through Spa World stores in Australia, Vortex Spas in New Zealand, and in the UK through an exclusive distribution with Spa Solutions.