Agape & The Complete Modern Bathroom


WORDS: Jahla Seppanen | Images: Agape

Agape (‘Ag-ah-pā) is considered one of the most innovative and beautifully designed bathroom lines in the world.

“When I tell people about them, I begin by saying they basically invented the modern bathroom,” says Brian Pignanelli, owner and design consultant for Rifugio Modern— the Denver showroom whose bathroom division consists exclusively of Agape.

Established in Verona in 1973 by two Italian brothers, Agape owes much of its holistic design and aesthetic to its locale. The brothers began with a showroom where they collected and sold a varied and random collection of bathroom parts from vendors they believed to be the very best. The brothers developed an unparalleled understanding of how to put together a bathroom and eventually brought all their suppliers under one brand name, Agape, to be sold as complete design sets.

Rifugio Modern, which is a little over a year old, has made Agape easily available to all of Colorado.

“Agape’s Spoon Tub is probably the most iconic object in modern design and known in design communities around the world,” Pignanelli adds. “That egg-shaped tub has been copied and is the basis for more rip-off modern bathroom brands than any other object I know.”

But more than a single item to covet for bathroom renovations, Agape is designed to be a comprehensive, harmonious response to turning your bathroom into a refuge.

“I named my business Rifugio Modern, which means refuge. It refers to mountain huts that you take shelter in during a storm. I use that term because to me the kitchen and the bath are the ultimate refuge in the modern world from the modern world,” says Pignanelli. “You commute, ride the subway, pound the city pavement, plug into an iPod or news or conference calls. We’re so plugged and wrapped. Our ultimate refuge is to come home and retreat to our bathroom and replenish ourselves, whether it’s a hot bath or a shower. I see the bathroom and the kitchen as these refuges, and Agape consistently represents that imagery and design better than anyone else.”

Apart from aesthetic design, Agape materials are of the very highest quality, attests Pignanelli, as its designers innovated the Crystal Plant, bio-based plant resin, that Agape uses to cast items such as counter tops, formed objects like vessel sinks and tubs, shower pans, and accessories. The material warms to the touch, is infinitely repairable, and has a soft light-absorbing surface. “It’s timeless,” Pignanelli adds, saying much like the Spoon Tub, Crystal Plant has been replicated by a number of other brands; but Agape was the first. “When you look at how many people, lines, and brands take their inspiration directly from Agape, it’s amazing.”


From materials to marrying the right tub with faucet, Agape designers have spent an inordinate time reinventing the bathroom. However Pignanelli says the dominant mentality behind bathroom design today is fractured, as contractors or interior designers come into his showroom seeking a sink, then a counter top, then lighting, etc.

“I try to explain in a polite way, Agape has already figured this out,” says Pignanelli. “Their designers, such as Patricia Urquiola, are some of the most renowned around the world.”

So how can (and should) people design toward Agape?

  • Whether you’re a designer or home owner, use Agape’s marketing imagery as inspiration early on. “I see inspiration consistently coming from a hodgepodge, 12 different tastes and 10 different brands,” Pignanelli advises. “Agape has already figured it out. Take your cues from the right design source.”
  • Be more in control of your project. Contractors often become the gatekeepers for your design and budget. “Leave time, energy, and budget to create interiors that will truly delight you. That will send a shiver up your spine and make you say, I love that counter top! I love the curve of this tub when I’m lying in it,” Pignanelli says.
  • Know that Agape is not cheap… but, it’s attainable. Pignanelli adds, “it’s for somebody that really want Agape in their home, and wants the tub to be the centerpiece of their bathroom.”