Roll up: unravel these inventive toilet roll holder designs

At Marta gallery in LA, over 50 imaginative interpretations of the loo roll holder go on view from designers, artists and studios, addressing the environmental politics behind the domestic product

 ‘Under/Over’ on view at Marta in Los Angeles
‘Under/Over’ on view at Marta in Los Angeles
(Image credit: press)

The toilet roll holder admittedly might not stand at the crossroads of art and design, but as the focus of a new exhibition at the Los Angeles-based gallery Marta, it appears to be finally getting the attention it deserves.

The exhibition, ‘Under/Over’ sees over 50 imaginative interpretations of the loo roll holder from a range of designers, artists and studios, including Mansi Shah, Martino Gamper, Sabine Marcelis, Tyler Hays of BDDW, MOS Architects, Nifemi Marcus Bello, Chen Chen + Kai Williams, Pat Kim and many more. Instigated by the gallery, which shines a light on overlooked domestic objects that dwell in the overlap of art and design, together with Plant Paper, a toxin-free toilet paper made from FSC-certified and fast-growing bamboo that’s disrupting the toilet paper industry, the show delivers a much-needed dose of levity to a fundamental aspect of daily life.

Domestic design in the frame

‘We were interested in the tangible point-of-contact between toilet paper and its user or consumer: how the paper was literally dispensed, and what the form of that dispenser was,’ recalls the gallery’s co-director Benjamin Critton. ‘We’ve always been enamoured by under-celebrated and often under-designed hardware, especially in the domestic space. Over time, the show became predicated on the idea that if the source of the toilet paper was more considered, dynamic, and engaging, then the more considerate the end-user might be towards the material dispensed.’

As mundane as toilet paper might seem, the fluffy, white-bleached rolls that have proliferated across the United States are actually steeped in environmental politics. With two-thirds of the toilet paper brands in North America controlled by a single company, Koch Industries, it’s clear to see why an alternative is needed.

Plant Paper

‘We created a sustainable toilet paper using fast-growing, FSC-certified bamboo — organic, without chemicals, better for body and planet — while eliminating consumers’ inadvertent ties to dark money groups in this daily routine,’ says Rachel Eubanks, head of sales at Plant Paper. The statistics behind toilet paper use are staggering – approximately 27,000 trees are flushed down the world’s toilets each day, while 37 gallons of clean water (and over a gallon of bleach, formaldehyde, and other chemicals) are used in manufacturing each roll.

marta-uo-east-window-int

(Image credit: press)

Toilet roll holder

(Image credit: press)

‘In preparation for the show, one of the resources we reviewed was the Toilet issue of the publication ‘Dirty Furniture’, which includes cultural and design-related explorations on the history of the toilet, how humans have managed their waste over time, and how toilet paper companies have used myths of what it means to be clean across decades of advertising,’ she adds. ‘In [an article], it is posited that T.P. brands most likely use images of angelic babies, fuzzy bears, and cuddly puppies to befuddle us sufficiently to prevent us from considering the lack of any real technological innovation in toilet paper over the past 120 years.’

Designer toilet roll holders

In the gallery’s stewardship, the toilet roll holders range from Tyler Hays’ exquisite painted porcelain piece to Martino Gamper’s bent steel bar version. Theo Martins’ installation-like work addresses the issue of how and where to elegantly store reserve rolls while Brendan Timmins’ ‘Alone Time Media Console’ incorporates a perfectly formed shelf to hold or store a device or book, depending on one’s fancy.

Inventive Toilet roll holders

(Image credit: press)

We’ve always been enamoured by under-celebrated and often under-designed hardware, especially in the domestic space

Benjamin Critton

‘We are particularly proud of the fact that, with very few exceptions, all the work present in the show was produced specifically for the exhibition, which makes the collective works a compelling snapshot of a specific point-in-time,’ adds Marta’s co-director Heidi Korsavong. ‘Many pieces were made under the confines, concerns, and production limitations of pandemic-related closures and stay-at-home mandates. With that in mind, the pieces become particularly personal.’ §

See more of the playful toilet roll holders below

Design by Sabine Marcelis


(Image credit: Sabine Marcelis)

Design by Serban Lonescu


(Image credit: Serban Lonescu)

Toilet roll holder by Taidgh Oneill


(Image credit: Taidgh Oneill)

Toilet roll holder by Terremoto


(Image credit: Terremoto)

Toilet roll holder by Theo Martins


(Image credit: Theo Martins)

Toilet roll holder by Wrk Shp


(Image credit: Wrk Shp)

Toilet roll holder by Mansi Shah


(Image credit: Mansi Shah)

Toilet roll holder by Nifemi Marcus Bello


(Image credit: Nifemi Marcus Bello)

Toilet roll holder by Zaven


(Image credit: Zaven)

Toilet roll holder by Another Human


(Image credit: Another Human)

Toilet roll holder by Bnag


(Image credit: Bnag)

Toilet roll holder by Lland


(Image credit: Lland)

INFORMATION

‘Under/Over’, until 1 November. marta.la (opens in new tab)

ADDRESS

1545 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles
CA 90026
United States

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Pei-Ru Keh is the US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru has held various titles at Wallpaper* since she joined in 2007. She currently reports on design, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru has taken a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars and actively seeks out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.