What’s hot right now in steam therapy?
Take a look at seven innovative trends in sauna design.
1. Lock, stock, and barrel
When Heikki Karjalainen saw a newspaper ad selling a 2,500-litre wine barrel, he was hit by an off-the-wall upcycling idea. After copious measuring, planning, and woodwork, the vintage oak barrel now serves as a sauna. “The serial number on the barrel helped me ascertain its age. This sauna is 140 years old,” says Karjalainen.
2. Good vibrations
A soothing sauna experience engages all the senses – including the ears, thanks to a recent wellness trend that provide acoustic massages with gongs, cymbals, and singing bowls.
Singing bowls are an ancient tool used for healing and meditation. Combined with the cleansing effects of steam, the therapeutic vibration of singing bowls helps to induce a state of deep relaxation. In Finland, the trend is pioneered by SevenSounds™, a group of sound healing professionals who bring the bowls into selected spas and swimming halls around southern Finland.
“The sound waves resonate in our bodies and improve the circulation,” says Tanja Pyy of SevenSounds.
3. Smooth sailing
Handcrafted in Estonia, Boatsauna has a design that was inspired by – you guessed it – the shape of a boat. Aspen wood chips lend a special aroma to the soft steam inside, while the outside is clad in spruce chips. This beauty stands out thanks to its unusual shape and refreshing exterior colour scheme, which comes in shades ranging from greenish blue to coral red.
4. Let there be light
Fresh visual experiences are another up-and-coming sauna trend, as witnessed by the growing popularity of panoramic saunas featuring glass walls, atmospheric LED lights, and extensive use of natural stone. “As an alternative to traditional built-in wooden benches, in the future we will be seeing new fixtures such as ergonomic, adaptable, and movable sauna chairs,” predicts sauna expert Harri Kuusjärvi of Saunasella, a Finnish company specialised in sauna, spa, and interior design products.
5. Waves of wellness
Designed by sculptor and interior designer Harri Markkula, Hot Cube is an award-winning “floating” sauna that is simple to assemble on pontoons or pillars. The floor is a wooden grid that rests on water, revealing the play of light and lapping sounds from below. The scent of tar on the exterior and the wooden interior make for a holistic experience combining all five senses and all four elements: fire, water, air, and soft wood.
6. Vulcan’s gifts
While living in California, Finnish engineer Ohto Pöyhönen was wondering how to soften the heat and dial up the humidity in his electric sauna. Surprisingly, he found the answer on a hike near Mount Shasta, a volcano in Northern California and birthplace of many legends. After thorough laboratory tests, Mount Shasta’s fine-grained basalt stones were found to bind more water and give out steam more slowly. Mount Shasta’s stones now lend a soft “volcanic” heat to many traditional Finnish saunas.
7. Catch of the day
Another unusual bathing concept was recently invented by entrepreneur brothers Ari and Jari Lehtinen, who came up with the idea of building an aquarium-style sauna. Installed in a repurposed ship container, it comes with an adjacent turquoise swimming pool. “We plan to make it look even more like an aquarium, complete with pebbles and water plants,” say the twins.