Bathroom Bling

Fixtures get big sparkle with the “bathroom couture” designs of Jemal Wright
By Ellen Sturm Niz
October 11, 2010

Jewel-encrusted toilets, sparkling bidets, and a rainbow of shiny bathroom fittings. These are the “bathroom couture” designs of Jemal Wright, a 39-year-old African American artistic interior designer from Bloomfield, CT.

While working as a successful real-estate developer for 15 years, Wright saw a lack of design creativity in the bathroom. Building on the passion for interior design that his grandmother instilled in him at an early age, Wright began creating “bathroom couture” items with his personal touch to spice them up. “The bath was overlooked when compared to the rest of the living and entertainment areas,” he said. “At some point during a cocktail party at least 60 percent of the guest will use the powder room. Why not give them a new topic of discussion when they return?”

Wright uses a special process of metal forming to transform ordinary toilets, sinks, tiles, bidets, tubs, urinals and even lighting into works of art. The metal-forming process can be done to any toilet a client chooses, or Wright can create a one-off from a mold or freehand casting. Wright also designs the plumbing and external flushing mechanisms. He casts his own faucet and flush levers as well, for those special projects that require a more personal touch. “The technique is very complex, but it’s worth it,” he said.

Wright’s ChromeOzone line has a chrome-plated porcelain base that can have dyes added to achieve whatever color the designer or client desires, while maintaining the metallic look of chrome. The ChromeOzone line starts at $5,300 and increases in price depending on the different finishes—satin, aged/weathered, brushed, two-toned and multicolored effects, or precious metals such as gold, bronze and copper—and the addition of logos. The ISIS line is partially or fully hand-set with Swarovski crystals, which are available in a variety of sizes, shapes and more than 60 colors. Pieces from the ISIS Collection start at $40,000 for a partially jeweled piece, with a fully encrusted fixture starting at $85,000 and running upwards of $250,000. For the super elite, complete suites, which include soaking tub, bidets, WC’s, sinks, tiles and more, start at $400,000.

After his work was featured in an online article years ago, Wright became a worldwide sensation. The demand for his work grew, spanning overseas projects, and he was featured in more than 300 international designer magazines. “The trend overseas seems to have a more ‘make a bold statement’ attitude,” Wright said. “Asia and the Middle East love the luxury of the ISIS Collection and do not have a problem ordering from it. Here in the states, most of the sales have been in New York City. New Yorkers seem to jump ahead of the game once again when it comes to setting the stage—and do not hesitate when doing so.”

Wright has been commissioned to create “bath-scapes” for various projects, including private jets, mega yachts, boutique and commercial hotels, tour buses, multimillion-dollar penthouses and mansions. “My inspiration for these bath designs is to see a bland fixture transformed into a functional art piece and the reactions they receive once displayed to the client,” noted Wright. “I’m also inspired by knowing that it will help ignite fellow designers’ creativity and hopefully help push their designs to award-winning levels.”

While the majority of Wright’s jobs are custom, he will occasionally create a special piece for the collection—if time permits. The technique of creating these bath couture products is time-consuming. For anything out of the ISIS Collection, Wright allocates time for one to two pieces per year. Because the ChromeOzone line is not jeweled, he can complete more of them, depending on how many projects are pending. “Some of these projects take months to complete because they comprise of more than just WCs,” he added.

Wright also designs kitchens and will be launching a line sometime in late 2011. The line will consist of cabinetry, tiles, countertops, refrigerators and stoves in metallic finishes. “There will be 24-karat finished refrigerators with custom jeweled handles in the near future!” said Wright.

Following are just a few examples of Wright’s creations:

[1] This piece from the ISIS collection is part of a project Wright is currently completing in a luxury Asian hotel’s presidential suite. Covered in 150,000 hand-set stones with rubied accents, this toilet is $90,000. [2] Created in a mirrored metallic red finish and hand-set in 150,000 fire-red stones, this $125,000 ISIS toilet will have a matching sink, bidet and tiles when Wright completes the custom project for his client. [3] This three-piece set of toilet, sink and urinal for the Design Center of America showcases Wright’s ChromeOzone line in a rich ombre of red, black and orange. [4] Wright custom-tinted this WC in a New York City penthouse with a “Jade” green to complement the sea-shell tiled walls. [5] Wright’s latest creation is a pink suite with matching hardware created for the collection. The suite is currently available for purchase for $12,500.
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