Making waves: Roca brings the Med to Milan

Roca’s immersive, Mediterranean-inspired installation by Cobalto Studio pulses with the rhythm of the sea at Milan Design Week 2022

Cobalto Studio for Roca
Influence, an installation by Cobalto Studio for Roca, references Mediterranean architecture and culture, and frames Roca’s ‘Ona’ collection
(Image credit: press)

A pure white installation designed by the multidisciplinary Cobalto Studio and paying tribute to the spirit, shapes, scents and colours of the Mediterranean, with a nod to sustainability too, represents the Fuorisalone debut of Barcelona-based bathroom brand Roca. 

On show at the University of Milan (until 13 June), the installation, Influence, is inspired by Roca's new ‘Ona’ bathroom line (ona meaning ‘wave’ in Catalan) and provides an immersive experience, transporting visitors to a Mediterranean oasis that seems to pulse with a wave-like rhythm. 

Influence installation by Cobalto Studio for Roca bathrooms at Milan Design Week 2022

(Image credit: press)

To calibrate the installation’s fluctuating brightness, Cobalto Studio interpreted data gathered from a buoy deployed in the sea off Menorca – capturing fluctuations in wave intensity on the day of the spring equinox, thanks to a research system called REDEXT (Deep Water Boats Network). 

The rhythm of the waves is reflected in the amplitude of golden light impulses, producing an immersive, sensorial experience. ‘It’s breathing as the sea,’ explains Cobalto Studio’s founder Gabriel Escámez. ‘By day the sounds surround you, and you can enjoy the optical effects, as well as the poetic and philosophical focus. Yet to me, it’s even more amazing by night.’

Roca Ona bathroom collection within the installation Influence at Milan Design Week 2022

(Image credit: press)

The installation also references Mediterranean traditions and architecture, including Cobalto Studio’s take on talaiots (Bronze Age megalithic structures indigenous to the Balearic Islands) and proto-rationalism (Influence employs reusable materials, tying in with the idea of optimising natural resources).

‘It’s about the Mediterranean, because [that] is where I was born, but it could be wherever, because we are focused on the concept of vernacular design, as in my [view] we all need to move to another perspective, and focus on the materials that are around [us],’ says Escámez.

As visitors experience the sensation of being embraced by the sea, the installation’s series of sculpted white volumes frames pieces from Roca’s ‘Ona’ collection.

Roca bathrooms installation at University of Milan

(Image credit: press)

‘I think we are arriving at Fuorisalone in a very good way with this project and this installation. We wanted to have the right format,’ says Marc Viardot, Roca Group's corporate marketing and design director. 

‘It was important for us to come with products,’ he adds. ‘I believe visitors come here for inspiration but also for information on products they can use later on, and the “Ona” collection is very complete and democratically positioned, ecological, functional… with all the innovations and finesse [needed] to stand out.’


Influence is at the University of Milan, Via Festa del Perdono 7, until 13 June 2022

Cristina Kiran Piotti is an Italian-Indian freelance journalist. After completing her studies in journalism in Milan, she pursued a master's degree in the economic relations between Italy and India at the Ca' Foscari Challenge School in Venice. She splits her time between Milan and Mumbai and, since 2008, she has concentrated her work mostly on design, current affairs, and culture stories, often drawing on her enduring passion for geopolitics. She writes for several publications in both English and Italian, and she is a consultant for communication firms and publishing houses.