As a key element of spa design, art is an essential tool for creating an uplifting atmosphere and making a spa interior feel far from everyday life. While wall art is often used, feature wall art is more rare and unique. As specialist art consultants for spas, Artelier have experience in providing spa art that not only meets the practical considerations of a spa, but also elevates the interior design. In this article, we discuss different materials that can be used for feature wall art for spas, and give spa design ideas for both residences and luxury retreats.
Successful spa interior design promotes an atmosphere of revitalisation – spa interiors should be relaxing, invigorating, and ultimately a tranquil escape from the world. Art for spas should not only capture this mood, but also invite contemplation as visitors unwind in the spa.
Alongside wall art for spas and free-standing sculptures, feature wall art is an ideal addition to interior design for spas, as they are immersive and captivating. By working with an artist to create a custom feature wall, it can be tailored to perfectly enhance the spa interior design concept and intended experience.
Our art consultants reveal our top picks for materials and styles for feature wall art for spas, offering ideas for home spa design as well as hotel spa design.
A mosaic is a desirable choice for spa art, as, when made by specialists, they can be fully waterproof, easy to clean, and naturally resistant to humidity. Mosaics for spas can be custom made feature walls that pick up on colours used throughout the spa interior. While traditional mosaics are created from square tiles, hand-made mosaics can incorporate more gestural and painterly tiles that give a modern twist to a classic spa art option.
Ceramic feature walls are very versatile: many possibilities can be achieved with glaze colours, and textural variety can be created through experimental firing techniques. The different effects that can be achieved in ceramic wall art encourage inventive new designs for spas.
Fired ceramics are naturally waterproof, and so make an excellent option for areas with high levels of moisture. When curating the ceramic wall art in the spa’s interior, if placed in an area that is unlikely to be damaged from contact, the artwork can also be left uncovered.
Intricately layering thin ceramic leaves creates a refined decorative effect. Through use of colour, it can resembles natural imagery – from waterfalls and ripples, to foliage or sand dunes.
This abstract reference to nature is particularly appropriate for a spa, as it evokes nature’s sense of peace and uplifting energy. Spa interior design likewise often takes inspiration from nature, and tries to recreate the refreshing feeling of being in natural surroundings.
Rather than recreating nature, a spa design concept may also feature a natural environment more prominently, and intend to give visitors a "back to nature" experience. A ceramic feature wall speaks directly to this spa design concept, as the artwork feels viscerally "from the earth" – the raw element of earth has been transformed into ceramics, and so nature has been actively incorporated into the spa design.
Spa design of this kind could have areas of the spa outdoors. Art in outdoor spas needs to withstand weathering and less controlled conditions. A ceramic feature wall is a desirable option for these spa designs for many practical reasons. High-temperature fire clays like stoneware and porcelain are non-porous, and so are resistant to frost, do not stain or accumulate dirt, and also do not change after sunlight exposure. This makes them easy to maintain in an outdoor spa, even if outside longterm.
While wood may not be an obvious material choice for art for spas, with the right preparation and care it can be achieved to great effect.
Like ceramics, natural wood can emphasise a sense of being at one with nature, and provide a modern twist to traditional wellness spaces and spa interiors, such as the wood features of Scandinavian saunas or Japanese onsen.
To enhance the artwork in the context of the spa design’s colour palette, wood can be dyed with natural dye. This leaves the grain of the wood exposed, giving the art for the spa a more raw finish and allowing the material itself to be the focus.
To protect wood from exposure to water, as art consultants we have previously developed specialist varnishes and wood coatings for wood spa art. This makes the wood easy to take care of in the spa interior.
Alternatively, rather than being natural and earthy, another modern spa interior concept could be more urban and lavish. Gilded wood can be used as art for spas, presenting a novel idea for spa design as the material is rarely used. As with stained wood, our art consultants have previously developed specialist coatings that enable the artwork to withstand humid conditions and be robust.
Gilded wood can resemble solid metal, but has some distinct advantages – as the artwork is hand-carved, the expressive and gestural possibilities are far greater. This can be used to great effect for pool art, where the carved artwork can evoke elements of the spa, such as flowing water. With deep contrasts between light and shadow, the sculptural spa wall art shimmers with gold. As the reflective light of the pool's water plays upon the artwork’s surface, the pool art comes alive and appears to shimmer.
A staple choice for all elements of spa design, glass is atmospheric, practical and versatile. This makes glass an attractive option for wall art for spas, and when used creatively, can stand out as an accomplished artwork much more than a decorative feature.
Verre églomisé, which is a painting technique where the artist paints on the reverse of glass, is an excellent and unusual option. Being a painting, it offers much creative freedom for the artist and limitless possibilities for the interior design of the spa. As the artwork is painted on the reverse of glass, once installed it is fully protected in the spa interior by the glass.
A skilled artist who specialises in this technique often refines a process that makes use of the glass as a painting base. For instance, they can produce effects such as dripping or cracking, and the artist can enhance this through the use of gold or silver leaf in their painting.
Another creative way in which to use glass in spa interior design is to take advantage of glass’ translucent properties to create wall partitions with an artwork. The spa interior is made more uplifting as light is allowed to flow through the space, rather than being divided by opaque walls. As the glass spa artwork is used as a wall, it creates an immersive atmosphere which transports the spa visitors to an otherworldly space.
A glass artist can create carved glass panels for art for spas, which are customised to suit the needs of the space to be more or less transparent. These examples of glass wall art for spas reference fluidity and natural elements through swirling carvings, which resemble the flowing water of a river.
Artelier's Artist Walls is a collection of collectable artists who work large-scale to produce custom feature walls that truly create impact in spaces. As each artwork is custom made, it can be adapted for a spa interior, and our art consultants can advise on how to achieve the desired finish within the spa interior design.
For an in-depth look at our process for creating custom art for spas, see our case study of M/Y Plvs Vltra, for which we delivered art for the yacht spa – including sauna art, sculptures for the spa, and bespoke spa wall art.