For London-based studio Kellenberger-White, designing the exhibition Soak, Steam, Dream conjured ‘the smell of Douglas fir pine and of lake-water from the clay.’ < from American critic Leonard Koren’s manifesto for bathing, Undesigning the Bath (1996) – which invokes the sensorial dimensions of bathing and is itself a tactile document – was the brief’s starting point; as were the fluid curves of the Zaha Hadid-designed gallery space itself.
Here Kellenberger-White combined their materials-based approach and interventions in scale to transform the futuristic space into an animistic bathing grotto. Re-engaging with elemental materials proved as integral to the design process as it was to the outcome. It involved: drawing freehand lines in charcoal on undulating walls, building with clay blocks, pouring hempcrete (a concrete substitute) into large pits in the ground and sawing a felled tree trunk. The result is an earthly theatre, a complement to this exploration of bathing’s social, cultural – and corporeal – aspects.