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Architessa interviews interior designers, contractors, and architects to highlight their perspectives on work and life in the architecture and design industry. Talented people make our tile world go-'round, and we desire to uplift and showcase these individuals. We deeply appreciate them and know you will too.
Austin from Architessa had the absolute pleasure of getting a closer look into the life of interior designer and inventor, Davis Holland Leichsenring. Davis has worked with Architessa for many years and is no stranger to collaboration with our team.
D: My involvement in the tile industry can be traced back to my childhood in Brazil. There, my passion for architecture and construction was born as I watched my dad, a German high school science teacher, experiment with indigenous materials around the house. One of my early explorations was the fabrication of sun-dried adobe tiles formed on hand-made frames at age five. Those original tiles are still intact at the family home in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
From there, I studied architecture and industrial design and went to practice architecture first in Brazil, then in Switzerland and in the UK, and lastly in the United States, with the focus of transforming the ordinary bathroom into a source of wellness. In the process, I became deeply involved with the tile industry, founding my own businesses Holland Tile and Holland Bath & Spa, and serving on the board of directors for the National Tile Contractors Association and on several tile technical committees in North America. Along the way, I have earned a number of bathroom design and tile installation awards. I became a recognized tile expert witness and tile forensic investigator in the US and Canada, and have been invited to advise European brands on the US bathroom architectural products market.
A project by Davis Holland featuring a HOLLSPA bench and NOBLE.
D: I came up with the word HOLLSPA to convey my vision for the bathroom in two single words: HOLISTIC and SPA. HOLLSPA is to describe a holistic design approach to transform each bathroom into a spa oasis, a place to heal, restore, and inspire.
In designing and building bathrooms, I advocate the application of healing technologies using the fundamental elements of water, heat, stone, and air. Next, I want to see universal design principles applied to make the room comfortable and accessible to persons of all ages and abilities. And most importantly, I want to honor the space that we originally created to bathe (hence the use of the term “bathroom”), as the most private, vulnerable, inwardly oriented room that we inhabit on earth – a place to be bathed in self-love, self-care, and self-awareness. As I like to call it, a “bathing-in-wellness room”. Of course, this also involves being mindful of social and environmental impacts during construction, use, and maintenance.
D: I love to design spaces that inspire spiritual transformation. In one recent bathroom renovation in Chevy Chase, Maryland, I was able to do just that, by using the lotus flower design as a symbol of rebirth and renewal.
Wall: White Thassos Marble Tile
Architessa's design team helped select a delicate lotus pattern called LUXOR BIANCO DOLOMITI. We used this beautiful mosaic on a wall panel in the center of the curbless shower and paired it with a lovely custom floating bench using the same material. The lotus mosaic colors coordinate with the Thassos marble wall tile background, the taupe marble wall border, and the MOJAVE Brown porcelain floor tile.
Feature Wall: LUXOR Bianco Dolomite Mosaic
The open shower design is enhanced by the warmth of the matte gold fixtures. All is brought to life by the LED lights strategically hidden behind the shower panel and below the floating bench.
In a nod to serene mindfulness, the lotus-themed shower panel conceals two stacks of shelves behind, keeping all products organized and out of sight. To complete this fully accessible shower, the matching floating bench provides comfortable, contemplative seating, supported by a nearby hand-held shower that may be used to wash and renew your body and soul.
See more photos of this incredible installation on our portfolio.
D: We humans are currently experiencing a quantum existential shift. The train has already departed from the old materialistic, competitive train station. We are now traveling into territory lost long ago, into a life-changing paradigm based on cooperation, love, and acceptance.
In this new reality, we are encouraged to allow unhelpful memories and emotions to be washed away. We are supported into unclothing ourselves from old patterns and being open to new guidance and inspiration. At the same time, we are asked to become firmly grounded in our bodies and in the earth.
I see no more valuable space to hold these changes than the bathing-in-wellness room, the room that we used to call the bathroom, water closet, washroom, or privy. In this utterly personal space, we look at ourselves in the mirror, past all outfits and performance masks. We get to know our true selves better and become best friends with ourselves.
In this intimate space, the universe extends guidance and support as the flow of water becomes the flow of life, and the warmth of the surfaces becomes the nurturing embrace of the divine. In this bathing-in-wellness room, we can bask in the light that illuminates what we came here to learn, and we then breathe in the purposes we are called here to fulfill.
D: These days, I’ve become very interested in two-way collaborations. It’s no longer my ideas, but our ideas. Not my construction projects, but our projects. I am now very focused on working together with homeowners, architects and designers, builders and contractors, tile setters, and real estate investors, in whatever capacity I am needed.
By restructuring my time away from the old construction business, I am now much more available to be of service to others by offering a quick phone or zoom consultation, a single vision-sharing site visit, or a detailed design with optional purchase/management of materials. My joy is to invest more time in researching materials, technologies, and products, and to meet people with a wide range of interests and backgrounds.
Another incredible project by Davis Holland.
D: I’m very blessed to collaborate with a wide network of wonderful, talented people and businesses on a daily basis. In one of these collaborative projects, we are currently building a Wellness House in Bethesda, Maryland, which will be ready in the spring of 2023.
Designed by architect John Katinas on a lot selected by investment real estate realtor Avi Galanti, this house is being entirely built around the concept of wellness living. I gathered a team passionate about water therapy and other treatments to design the bathrooms as soothing spaces that support the wellness principles that I described earlier. This team includes Marianna Ouzdanova from Architessa, Iris Kramer from GROF-Kohler, and others.
Each wellness bathroom in this house will have heated floors, hand-held showers, and elegant grab bars. All curbless showers will feature the HOLLSPA floating bench, paired with body jets and lights under the bench, and rain showers over it. There will also be an immersive steam room with horizontal showering next to a bubble air soaking tub in the primary bathroom plus a very special spa in the basement which I can’t wait to show your readers!
Each of the wellness bathrooms will have a unique personality, reflected by their distinctive names: Retreat, Nurturing, Fly Away, Welcome Home, Transiency,and Spa. These personalities reflect their unique purposes and are supported by their individual palette of colors and material selections – not the typical neutral design so common in today's business-as-usual regular spec house.
When finished, we are planning to offer an open house event with an educational component, to share the design process and new design philosophies with the community. In the meanwhile, as the construction progresses, we will be sharing incremental updates on this beautiful new home.
Thank you for answering all of my questions Davis, and for giving us all insight into HOLLSPA. HOLLSPA shower benches will soon be directly orderable from Architessa, and available on our website. Later this year, I will follow up by doing a full comprehensive blog on Holland's Longwood Wellness House.