San Francisco Residential Architect Andre Rothblatt Garners Attention with ‘Steampunk’ Bathroom

Share Article

The “steampunk”-inspired bathroom by San Francisco architect Andre Rothblatt has an exaggerated, even fantastical, Victorian Era feel that exemplifies the new design trend.

steampunk design

Water cascades audibly through the winding pipes with each flush.

Modernism aims to eliminate complexities and embellishments, but steampunk aims to expose how mechanisms operate. It’s a rebellion against the idea that function should be hidden.

The modern aesthetic—simple, clean, functional—has long been dominant in interior design. But San Francisco residential architect Andre Rothblatt has recently seen the rise in popularity of a very different style, often referred to as “steampunk.” What is steampunk? It’s a look that takes inspiration from the futuristic imaginings of the Gilded Age, a steam-powered fantasy of complex piping, gears and gauges. Rothblatt recently completed a steampunk-style bathroom featuring a maze of exposed copper piping, dark subway-style tile, and Victorian wallpaper. The bathroom is featured in the current issue of California Home Design magazine.

“In this technological age, the retro style of steam locomotion has an appeal,” explains Rothblatt. “Modernism aims to eliminate complexities and embellishments, but steampunk aims to expose how mechanisms operate. It’s a rebellion against the idea that function should be hidden.”

Part of the steampunk style is a winking sense of humor—elements are overly complex just for the fun of seeing them work. In his design of the piping for the toilet, Rothblatt took his inspiration from Rube Goldberg contraptions. When the cord on the high water tank is pulled, water rushes down through a zigzagging copper pipe, triggering a pressure gauge as it flows.

“There’s an audible ‘whooshing’ sound,” Rothblatt says. “You can follow the water as it winds through the pipe.”

In keeping with the motif of exposing the workings of mechanisms, the custom sconces over the sink are connected to matching copper piping that appears to contain the wiring to the lights, although for safety reasons the wiring is hidden inside the wall.

The dark grey tile topped by black wallpaper with gold foil patterning sets off the gleaming copper fixtures, completing the gothic feel of the bathroom’s steampunk design.

“This bathroom was more involved than most, especially for the plumber and the electrician, but everyone had so much fun putting it together,” recalls Rothblatt. “We all really got into the spirit of the project.”

About Andre Rothblatt Architecture
Andre Rothblatt Architecture is an award-winning San Francisco architecture firm located in the San Francisco Design Center. Rothblatt graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Architecture in 1983 and has been actively involved in professional practice for more than 20 years. Formerly a licensed building contractor, he established his San Francisco residential architecture office in 1993. His work has been published in Sunset Magazine, House Beautiful, and Fine Homebuilding, as well as featured on HGTV.

For more information about steampunk architecture or any of Andre Rothblatt’s services, call (415) 626-5112 or visit

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Andre Rothblatt
Visit website