The 1918 flu pandemic, along with diseases like cholera and tuberculosis, changed many aspects of how homes looked. Then, as now, there were closures of locations where people gathered en masse indoors, to promote social distancing, and face masks were debated, and used and not used, around the world.

But two aspects started to be a bit more universally accepted—surfaces should be sanitary and fresh air and good ventilation were very good things. Some commonly used materials in domestic plumbed bathrooms started to go out of fashion, in favor of materials that could be more easily wiped down and sanitized. More surfaces started to be tiled and fixtures made of wood or brass were being replaced in favor of porcelain and nickel finished surfaces. Luckily, many of these new apron tubs, pedestal sinks, and shiny light fixtures were still produced with a lot of great style!

See our current selection of porcelain bath sconces here, pedestal sinks here, and bathtubs here.

Another popular change in many homes was the use of radiators for heat. Have you ever lived in a house or apartment that used radiators? If you have, you know that they make for a very warm space, so warm in fact, that you may have commonly had open windows during the winter. The Board of Health in New York City said that windows should remain open to provide ventilation, even in cold weather. In response, engineers began devising heating systems with this extreme use case in mind. So your open windows in the dead of winter was actually by design.

See our current selection of radiators here.

We’ve heard that today’s engineers are working on making more commonly touched systems to move to “touchless” systems and better ventilation is also a topic of designing for the new pandemic world. Let’s hope they also design these systems for the circular economy, and with designs as interesting as the last century’s teens and twenties had!



How a pandemic inspired your bathroom