The Philippe Starck Senso Wash

In what is perhaps a bathroom fixture that could be familiar if you were in Japan, Philippe Starck gets into the act with the Senso Wash. The designer offers another potential alternative as far as anteing up the level of personal hygiene devices is concerned with the Senso Wash or what the Japanese call the washlet.

Launched last week, the advanced and innovative toilet seat should be something that could bring personal hygiene to the next level. Prior to this design by Starck, Toto of Japan was the frontrunner in providing such innovative luxury bath fixtures.


The Senso Wash comes with controls that have an institutional, nursing-home feel to them, but the wireless remote for the Starck SensoWash is sleek and simplified—a refinement that somehow makes the prospect of SensoWashing your butt for the first time a bit less intimidating.

In Japan, they have these high-tech toilets that—there’s no other way to put this—spray water at your ass so you don’t have to wipe. Using one for the first time can be startling, even unsettling. But after a few deep breaths, the experience is quite pleasant as far as these things go. As a stream of warm air dries you off, you start to think this could be a sensible change in your regimen. (A handful of Japanese restaurants around New York City, like Sushi of Gari 46, have these futuristic toilets installed, if you want to give it a go.)


Toto, the Japanese manufacturer of luxury bath fixtures, has dominated this category for decades, but now Philippe Starck is getting in on the action, too. He put his touch on this most intimate of personal-hygiene devices for high-design bath company Duravit. What the Japanese call a washlet, Duravit is billing the SensoWash “shower toilet seat.” Starck’s iteration had been six years in the making (“Just to arrive the perfect quality, that’s all,” as Starck told me in his French-inflected English) when the SensoWash launched last week.

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How does a shower bidet work, exactly? Settle down on the heated seat (which raises and lowers via remote control), do your thing, and a stainless-steel wand emerges beneath you to hose you down. You can adjust the intensity, temperature, and angle of the jet stream (ladies, there’s a setting just for you), and to round out the experience, the toilet will blow warm air to dry your rear. Like many of Starck’s recent pieces, the designer’s hand is less evident in the SensoWash’s shape than in its interface, how it makes the technical plain. The controls on most washlets have an institutional, nursing-home feel to them, but the wireless remote for the Starck SensoWash is sleek and simplified—a refinement that somehow makes the prospect of SensoWashing your butt for the first time a bit less intimidating.


“When you are enough stupid to take on this job of design, you think you can help your friends to have a better life,” says Starck (who earlier that evening advised young designers to steer clear of the profession because “design is not the right weapon” to deal with the problems of our day). “You have to be very humble to see how you can help in the daily obligation.” The more humble the product, he says, “the more its service is real, the more it’s honest.”

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