Meet Martina Panzer, a creative entrepreneur responsible for some of the most beautiful bathrooms in South Africa, courtesy of Still Bathrooms.

So Martina, you recently visited Milan. Is it an annual trip for you?

No, the Milan trip is predominantly a furniture fair that showcases all the latest trends within that sector. Even though Milan isn’t the prominent show to visit, every two years they do showcase bathrooms and it is helpful if you are looking to tie in furnishings and lighting. If you are in the bathroom industry the main calendar event is ISH in Frankfurt which happens every two years. So I actually haven’t been in a while but this time I took a client with and we were visiting the Italian factory Bongio who were obviously showcasing.


Are there any emerging trends you noticed while in Milan?

I think a bathroom is becoming more of a living area that is incorporated into a bedroom. So, it’s not just this enclosed bathroom on its own, very clinical. There is a lot of accessorising and styling that goes into a bathroom now, which makes it an entirely unique living space. There are a great deal of colours available at the moment; colours are very in. Your metallic colours like gold, coppers and matte finishes are all warming elements that are all accessible, as bathrooms have become far more warm.

Do you think people’s minds are beginning to shift towards this idea of your bathroom being more than just a place of cleansing?

I think it’s slowly getting there. Predominantly the focus has been on kitchens and it has definitely shifted over the last few years. People are beginning to look at their bathrooms as more than just a place to bathe. More and more people are wanting to experiment in the bathroom and wanting to create a sanctuary; a place that is definitely more liveable. You are not just going into your bathroom to brush your teeth anymore. In the past, working with clients and seeing how different people actually are in terms of their functional needs in a bathroom, and their expectation of this living space. People have definitely become more daring and the diversification of products and colours has had a significant role to play in it. It’s a very personal experience, (with) product selection based on their personal style and functional needs.


When you sit with your clients your approach is very personalised and who you stock must be very important?

Yes incredibly so. My clients tend to worry about certain pieces once they’ve chosen them because of the idea that they will date. However there are a lot of brands that have released many timeless pieces. If you look at Vola, when they came out in the 1970’s, the colours they incorporated were very retro decor colours, and today we are incorporating the very same. So the choices are endless and bathrooms have definitely become more tailored to a person’s needs and aesthetic preferences. It’s funny because many clients don’t know what to choose because the options are so large and it’s definitely been amazing to see it grow.

What is something new you’ve noticed with clients, specifically over the past few years?

Definitely Pinterest. It’s incredible to see the amount of people who use and engage with the social platform in order to mood board and build a digital reference point before they come in. They spend time looking at bathrooms, looks and elements.


Do you tend to draw a lot of inspiration from these trips?

Yes completely. There is so much to look at and innovation with regards to extending pieces beyond a single function, and minimising the amount of singular elements needed. There were mirrors for instance that had an extension to a towel rail. So (on) this trip there were many functional pieces that they’ve created to allow more space in one’s bathroom.

The photos you brought back had many looks showcasing finished bathrooms and some had singular pieces. What is your opinion on the shift in displaying like a stockist vs a gallery feel?

It is definitely quite tricky to find the balance between the two. We’d visit Flaminia’s showroom and they had basins running up the wall in various colours and then we went to a brand like Boffi and we would see fully designed and installed bathrooms. I think a good combination of both work as they help the client visualise the potential of their bathroom.


All images courtesy of Still Bathrooms

Bathroom Furniture Shopping?

Find Still Bathrooms at:

Unit 111A

The Foundry

74 Prestwich Street


Cape Town


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Need to spruce up your bathroom?

Not to worry! Read 5 Ways to Reboot Your Bathroom and discover handy ideas to take your bathroom from boring to brilliant.

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