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30 November 2023

A bath that will clean out your wallet

By Reena Amos Dyes


Imagine soaking in a custom-made hand-carved bath, the stone for which has been taken from the same mountain where the great Michelangelo sourced his marble.


Apart from its obvious luxury, what sets this kind of a bath apart is its exoticism as well as the fact that the stone used is steeped in history. However, exotica, art and history all come at a price – and so does this bath.


Created by a New Jersey-based company, Advent Design International, the one-off Brescia Soaking Bath, as it has been named by the company, costs more than Dh735,000 and took 600 hours to make.


The founder and president of the company, David Luster, told Emirates Business: “Our Brescia Soaking Bath was custom-made for an individual with very specific tastes. It was hand carved from an extremely rare and hard-to-find block of marble known as Paonazzo. This dramatically coloured stone is usually found one or two blocks at a time, deep within a mountain in northern Italy.


“Michelangelo used stone for his sculptures from the same mountainside more than 500 years ago. The creamy white of the marble is veined with deep blue and gold colours. Our stone artists felt the dramatic beauty of these chaotic yet enchanting veins could be augmented with inlayed half centimetre bands of 24-carat white gold. The stone itself is naturally translucent so when not in use, the owner places a special white light in the bath to create a warm glow from within, which draws attention to the dark veins, and the bands of pure gold.


“The client also wanted a very specific claw foot (modelled on a lion’s paw) to be carved from the same stone. We did that using a centuries-old method. While the bath itself took our artists 400 hours to finish, it took an additional 200 hours just to carve those claws on it. But in the end it was worth it as the client was very happy,” said Luster.


The company classifies its regular range of baths into three categories – functional artwork, inspired designs and museum editions. While they create 15 functional artwork baths a year, the inspired designs are limited to seven and the museum editions to one or two a year.


This is because each bath requires at least three months to be carved and the museum editions can take up to six months, depending on the kind of detailed and intricate work the client wants. In fact, there is a waiting list for museum editions because they take so long to make.


The company, which provides baths to individuals and spas, also carves baths out of exotic stones such as Calcutta Gold marble and Lapis Lazzulo. Depending on the client’s requirements the baths are decorated with mother of pearl, gold, platinum, diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires as well as complicated mosaic work.


David Luster travels to places such as Brazil, the Peruvian Andes, the Italian Alps, Turkey, India and Eurasia in search of unique stones and artisans. Explaining the process, Luster says: “First we talk to our clients about the design they have in mind, then we go to the drawing board to create a design and once that has been approved we try and find the perfect stone that will turn their dream into reality. It is only after we have found the perfect stone for that particular bath and it has been approved by our client do we start carving it.”


The price for these types of customisations are determined not only by the value of the precious stones or metals, but also the artistry involved in making a bath in such a manner. The more intricate the work, the more expensive the bath.


Talking about how he started the company, Luster says: “My previous job involved travelling worldwide for 25 years on behalf of a stone importing and trading company. This experience motivated me to bring a unique form of art, which I had discovered in my travels to a discerning and highly sophisticated clientele worldwide. In 2003 I quit my job and started my own company.


“And I have never regretted it. Because we have clients who love our baths so much that one of them actually designed his entire bathroom around our bath and it was made in such a manner that the entire room could be taken apart and shipped if he ever decided to move house.”