Mackintosh at the Met

Mackintosh Washstand

A washstand designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

While the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s holdings also include some textiles and a painting by Mackintosh, the main attraction for those interested in his furniture is this washstand. For those who might have encountered Kevin Rodel’s interpretation of the piece, the original is more subdued, lacking some of the flourishes of Rodel’s work. The case itself is overshadowed by the art glass and ceramic tile, the dark oak a backdrop for deep blues and greens. Look past the the glass and tile, and you’ll find subtle touches, like the cutouts forming the drawer handles and the grid shelf below the counter echoing in wood the glass and ceramic rectangles and squares of the backsplash and and counter.

Like the dry sink, the washstand has been supplanted by indoor plumbing–who needs a washstand when they have a private bath?–but I can’t help but think about repurposing this design to fit contemporary needs. Rodel reimagined it as a serving table, but it would also work as a sink base with little modification, either with the plumbing exposed below the open counter, or with cabinets enclosing the base.

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