Elegant or Gaudy? Opulent or Ostentatious?

Decorative or Domineering in design?


Gold portrays an undeniably grandiose level of luxury thanks to its opulent air and striking gleam. We’ll look at why we admire this metal so much and what is driving the demand in design, understand how the practise from plating with real gold has moved on thanks to modern technology of PVD – physical vapour deposition, and of course we’ll explore how to design elegantly with gold.

The History of Gold

What exactly is Au on the periodic table? Evidence supports the origin of gold as an element on Earth to be that of debris from colliding neutron stars – how enchanting.

The mining of Gold has been an activity across the ages; the ancient Egyptians and Romans were both eager and avid gold miners. In recent times, South Africa was the dominant gold producer until the 1970s with China, Australia and Russia now forming the top three gold-producing countries. For the Ancient Egyptians, gold was ‘the flesh of the gods’ with its almost inability to tarnish, thus becoming sacred. For this reason, it even embodied the Sun God Ra and adorned the pharaohs sarcophagus’ for when they were to become Gods themselves. The regal roots ensure the metal remains a much-loved mark of luxury.

Why is Gold held in such high regard?

‘Gold standard’ (British government 1717), ‘as good as gold’, ‘golden child’ or even the antonym phrase of ‘fools gold’ meaning something to be worthless, all outline the stereotypes surrounding gold as a superlative.

Gold medals won at the Olympics are a cherished honour, the Gold State Coach of the British Monarchy is symbol of royal wealth, the Golden Buddha in Bangkok is the largest and most valuable gold object in the world. These items show how gold has crossed continents, covered centuries and waded into all walks of life with a common denominator; gold commands respect.

Almost every society through time has held gold in high regard with a majority using gold as currency, thus signifying wealth. The soft-material characteristic of gold was also discovered to be perfect for setting precious stones such as diamonds, another symbol of wealth. This is also exactly why the market has had to develop new technology – soft metals simply aren’t tough enough; gold as a metal is regal but not robust. Yet now gold items can now also be durable thanks to the new technology of PVD colour plating.

Why Choose PVD?

Whilst a gold-plated tap feels like the epitome of luxury and is the only choice for some, traditional gold plating doesn’t offer the same durability as other methods of colour plating. Traditional gold plating involves laying a microscopic layer of real gold over the base metal. As we know from jewellery, the natural characteristic of gold is that it is a soft metal which means it is eventually worn down with use.

For this reason, most brassware in a gold finish would typically be electroplated. Electroplating is when a product is immersed in an electrolyte solution with an electric current applied to bind the material to the surface. Many brassware items found at Sanipex Group are electroplated, some also feature a lacquer coating -such as the new Lacquered Zanzibar – which adds extra durability.

However, for Bagnodesign’s Gold many of these products have moved to become PVD plated. Physical Vapour Disposition is a vacuum process that forms a film at molecular level, as opposed to coating the item. PVD technology was initially developed to create lightweight yet strong finishes for NASA in 2010; being developed to withstand outer space conditions is a prime example of the durability of PVD plating. Throughout the last decade this technology has slowly been adopted into common place as opposed to being seen as a scientific laboratory process.

What is PVD?

There are four steps; Evaporation, Transportation, Reaction, Deposition.

Air is removed from the process chamber during the Evaporation stage.

The Transportation stage involves the vaporised atoms moving to the substrate, or product.

Reaction is when the metal oxides react with the gas – shades of PVD gold colour can be produced by varying the amounts zirconium nitride with a small admixture of carbon.

Finally, Deposition is the bonding of the vapour to the substrate. As the atoms penetrate the surface slightly this gives a longer lasting level of adhesion in comparison to coated products.

The micron-thin ‘coating’ is deposited atom by atom on the brassware product from condensation to solid phase. This creates an atomic structural change in the metal, as opposed to applying a film. Due to this ultra-thin film geometric edges appear sharper – which is perfect for the soft square Zephyr range.

The Result

– High impact strength for high traffic areas

– High abrasion rate

– Resistance to cleaning chemicals

– Appearance of real gold

– Extended finish warranty of 5 years


“The growth in requests from both designers and luxury retail clients for gold plated products in contemporary designs is global. In hospitality, both hotel groups and boutique hotels are moving with the trend for gold to create a superior sense of luxury. Traditionally gold brassware was more suited to classic designs, yet now we see a trend for gold products with clean lines – which led us to develop a PVD Gold finish for our soft-square Zephyr and sleek Toko brassware ranges.”

-Daryl Barker, Managing Director & Owner of Sanipex Group

How to Style

Accents are the easiest way to inject colour into a design and brassware is a great tool in creating a statement focal point. As a classic choice, designers are confident designing schemes with Gold that hold a homage to heritage; we can use the Biarritz leg set with Princess Nouveau brassware for an electroplated finish. But how can we break the rules for a contemporary scheme using PVD Gold?

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Art Deco Decadence

Monochrome palettes are a go-to for most brassware finishes, and it is a palette that can be applied to almost any design style. Black absorbs light, such as the Koy basin, whilst the white Tuscany countertop reflects light – gold actually does both, so it’s a perfect balance. The desaturated backdrop also allows for gold brassware to become the focal point and adds warmth. Creating decadence with an Art Deco design is an elegant and sophisticated solution that is a growing interiors trend.

Natural Nuances

A neutral colour palette appeals to many of us for creating a space of timeless eternal bliss. Beige often feels cosy and relaxing, yet mellow doesn’t mean unimaginative. The Del Conca slab has a bursting bloom to glisten in the light and add intrigue in a subtle yet striking way. Pulling out the neutral ‘greige’ tones from the marble with Matt Grey Koy sanitaryware and Urban bath creates a cohesive design with depth. The Varaschin Bali chair coordinates to the Tuscany countertop in Natural and adds an inviting tactility to the room, as well as offering practical perch for at-home pampering.

Go Geo

Earthy tones and textures create a welcoming ambience and marble is luxurious material for creating a luxe look. Warm golden tones also go well with other rich warm colours such as deep brown and burnt red. Be mindful that an accent colour of red is enough if you want to keep a relaxing-yet-refined design with finesse – the I Cocci terrazzo is perfect for this as well as being super on trend. Terrazzo typically incorporates a multitude of neutral tones, here the terrazzo tile accentuates the deep brown tones of an imperial marble and the warm tones of the geologically influenced Flow tile featured on the Alpine Zermatt basin.

Biophilic Beauty

For a biophilic scheme with a brighter pop of colour, incorporating green is a go-to. The Galassia Core basin has a deep circular shape that works wonderfully with the cylindrical Toko and penny mosaics. FAP’s Rust Sheer mosaic has an earthy oxidised effect that brings together a warm wooden tile with the luscious leaf print of FAP’s Bloom Jungle. This rainforest-reminiscent styling is relaxing by invoking us to reconnect with the natural world.

Go for Gold

Whilst gold remains a component in classical designs with a sense of grandiose, we can integrate gold into current trends. Trends are simply a cycle, but they evolve. Brass and gold tones have returned alongside the resurgence of coloured sanitaryware, thanks to a key trend of personalisation. Yet the return of these 80’s favourites brings an evolved concept in which we see cleaner designs with sleeker shapes, for a reworked and refined result. Explore our PVD ranges and create your own luxurious look.