Elle Décor (USA)
A look at the small-butmighty powder room’s historical design import.
A 1939 powder room in California (right) was designed to reflect the Victorian social mores that necessitated a specific space for “freshening up.” Writer and researcher Suzanne Spellen notes that often these spaces had “no bathroom facilities” to speak of, and fixtures had to be retrofitted into the room as indoor plumbing allowed.
Historian Barbara Penner connects ritual cleansing to Le Corbusier’s infamous addition to his hallmark Villa Savoye (right): a traditional, freestanding pedestal sink in an open floor plan, off the chauffeur’s entrance to the house from the garage. “You never see it photographed with anything as everyday as soap or a hand towel,” Penner says. “It’s a statement about the importance of hygiene to the modern movement.”