Toilets don’t often make it into conversations about high art, and reasonably so. Many people would rather purchase them under the radar so they can get their sensitive jobs done, and who can blame them? However, beyond their private functions, there isn’t much to separate them from other appliances and, indeed, sculptures also crafted from porcelain, marble, or metal. After all, we can appreciate an artfully constructed sink, right? There’s not really much of a difference once you’ve taken a few steps back...
Toilets don’t often make it into conversations about high art, and reasonably so. Many people would rather purchase them under the radar so they can get their sensitive jobs done, and who can blame them? However, beyond their private functions, there isn’t much to separate them from other appliances and, indeed, sculptures also crafted from porcelain, marble, or metal. After all, we can appreciate an artfully constructed sink, right? There’s not really much of a difference once you’ve taken a few steps back. And thanks to the increasingly liberated taste and sense of humor in the art world today, people are more and more willing to shrug their shoulders and say “yeah, we poop into them, but toilets can still be fun!” And here we come to perhaps the most anarchic—and spookiest!—application of the art of sculpture to the toilet so far: the skull toilet, otherwise known as the skoilet.
There’s a lot to dive into here—skulls have been a central subject of visual art all over the world for thousands of years, from Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet addressing one in his famous speech on life and death, to the awe-inspiring aesthetic of the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration that frequently crosses paths with the American Halloween—but first, what exactly is a skull toilet, and what is the appeal of these amusingly macabre washroom designs? This is the simplest question to answer: it is literally a toilet carved into the shape of a skull: often a grinning, funhouse-style skull that evokes the ghostly fun of modern goth culture and Halloween, although these are by no means purely seasonal pieces, anymore than a depiction of, for example, a rabbit would be limited to the Easter holiday.
At their core, beautifully crafted artisan toilets are no different from similarly impressive sinks, bathtubs, or even statues: they’re still sculptures carved from stone that require a skilled artist to properly bring to life. And like those other kinds of pieces, anyone would be stopped in their tracks for a moment when they behold these fascinating skull toilets fashioned from pure marble.
The amusing premise of this niche little subgenre of marble sculpture becomes instantly clear with this gorgeous black marble skull toilet: the lid acts like the skull’s crown, lending to a fun haunted house atmosphere when the top of the head is lifted open. The lid is adorned with the iconic marble color veining that has made the stone material so recognizable and popular for so many hundreds of years, but it is down below, at the toilet’s base, where the style and skill come into play. Smooth ebony stone coloring and flawless technique create a sleek marble skull sculpture (or “skullpture,” if you will) within which is housed all of the necessary plumbing and mechanics of a conventional working washroom toilet.
With white, of course, being much closer to an accurate color of bones, this white marble version of the skull toilet might be a bit more sinister, a bit more frightening than its black color counterpart, even if darker colors are more often associated with fright. It all depends on the overall aesthetics of your bathroom and how you want your toilet to fit in with the rest of your appliances and color scheme, and the feeling you want your sculptures to evoke when people enter the room.
Still, despite all of this, it’s hardly very scary: the inherent goofiness and fun-loving sense of mischief found in most of this kind of spooky skull art shines brightly nonetheless, and the coloration of the white marble stone still lends a great deal of texture, vitality, and personality to the otherwise blank off-white cream color of the toilet. It’s clear that color is not very high on the list of concerns for a master sculptor who can work the same magic, regardless of whether the marble is dark or light.
Skull toilets are not unheard of, even if they’ve been relegated to niche interest in the past, but they have been enjoying something of a renaissance of late. This is partially due to a generational shift of interest, with hip younger homemakers tending towards a more unconventional, mischievous, and even at times ghoulish aesthetic than their conservative parents might have preferred. However, a bigger role is played by the powerhouse artists who bring new ideas to the forefront, and resurrect forgotten classics. Leading the charge here is a skilled inventor named Claude Somajini, a former plumber who has been spearheading the skull toilet craze with his magnificent art. Dubbed “water thrones,” these skull toilets are sleek, practical, high-tech, and infused with a modern punk attitude.
“It’s trendy and timeless,” Somajini says, reinforcing the relevance that skull imagery has had in countless artistic movements over the course of centuries past. But it’s safe to say that skulls have never looked like this before! Somajini’s Water Thrones are distinctly modern, featuring an anarchic spirit on top of state-of-the-art digital technology, such as a built-in audio system for playing music, and mesmerizing LED lights for an even more vibrant and stupefying display.
While that might be too much for some buyers who would prefer our more straightforward marble designs, it can’t be overstated how thoroughly the skull toilet concept is being realized in the modern era.
With this classic ceramic “skoilet” from Somajini’s Water Throne collection, the differences between his and our Marblebee designs are clear, even with the relatively simple presentation. A beautifully glossy texture and deeper, more exaggerated facial features on the skull contrast with our more rugged and understated design, which is made from natural marble stone instead of the Water Throne’s porcelain. While you may lose the marble’s distinct coloration patterns and its raw grain and grit, the Water Throne still has a glossy appeal that works perfectly with the spooky skull theme, and the grinning face brings all of the personality of the skull image to the forefront. And if you look closely, you’ll also notice the skoilet’s glowing eyes! You’ll certainly notice them once you turn off the light upon leaving the bathroom!
Here is a truly unique design that fully capitalizes on the unorthodox skoilet aesthetic. The porcelain Water Throne is beautifully lustrous and sleek as usual, but the addition of a lavish pattern of hundred-dollar bills tumbling in from all directions makes the appeal even greater. Additionally, the color scheme makes the glowing green eyes stand out more strongly than they did with the plain white toilet up above. Opening and closing the toilet lid feels like literally opening and closing the crown of the skull, and to finish it all off, remember that these fully customizable toilets also come with an added option of full smartphone-compatible Bluetooth audio capabilities! Again, it might feel like a bit much, but it’s always good to have an option that goes over the top in the case where our more grounded, earthy skull toilets just don’t seem to party hard enough. Different skoilets for different occasions… maybe even for different rooms!
New designs and ideas abound with this playful Water Throne, proving the number of ideas and the ways they can all be applied is truly endless, even with something as specific as a skoilet. For Mr. Somajini, a skull-themed toilet wasn’t enough, so he pushed the concept further and added a second casino theme! The red eyes light up like the jackpot display of a slot machine, and tumbling red dice roll across the forehead on either side of bold, exaggerated slot machine symbols, all adhering to the striking red and white color theme that ties the skoilet together. And once you flip open the toilet’s lid, a beautifully rendered roulette wheel shines out at you, fully realized, shining with texture and detail, richly drawn and printed right onto the underside of the lid to complete this stunning and hilarious work of porcelain art. Truly, this casino Water Throne is ideal for a proprietor of any place that provides adult gaming… or just anyone who appreciates off-the-wall sculpture art constructed with skill and passion.
Things are looking a little bit more intense with this freaky water-splashed porcelain toilet. An eerie yellowish tinge and a blurry teeth pattern around the mouth push the horror elements in this design a bit further beyond mere camp, so if you’re looking for a more visceral aesthetic beyond the fun spookiness of the goofier skoilet varieties, this one is bound to stir up more of a scare!
The immaculately detailed water droplet pattern continues down around the eyes, giving the light-up bulb a more emphasized, frightening placement, and making it look somehow more human, which paradoxically gives it a monstrous appearance. Don’t let this one startle you during a casual nighttime trip to the bathroom! On the other hand, the shock value and memorable design of a skoilet like this would definitely be better suited to a club or bar than a residence, but hey, we won’t judge.
Unsurprisingly, the popularity of the skoilet on the internet and social media peaks around every Halloween, when a fresh new batch of people discover them for the first time. For example, a huge boom in exposure for skoilets (particularly Mr. Somajini’s Water Throne brand) came from a Twitter thread made in late September of last year by another artist named Rob Sheridan, who posted a thread featuring many designs including the ones we have looked at here. Sheridan also works with skull imagery in his art, creating visual pieces and prints of skulls with various filters, designs, and effects imbued into them, many of which he hosts on his website www.popskullture.com, so it’s no surprise that he was the one to discover and expose for thousands of other people the strange magic of skoilet designs. That year, new articles and blogs inspired by Sheridan’s social media posts started to pop up, further spreading the word, and this year, Marblebee excitedly joins the movement with our own custom-made varieties of skull toilets made from pure marble stone.
So far, we’ve looked at what skoilets are, and we’ve looked at how deep the niche subgenre of skull toilets can go, but the last thing we’ve yet to touch up on is why skull toilets? Why take such a potentially ghastly artistic subject, and how was it ever turned into something so cool and fun? The answer is a bit complex, and believe it or not, it’s a part of the story of generations, and it goes all the way back to when gothic was a reference to a style of architecture that was fairly common in churches, chapels, and cathedrals: this spooky, melancholy style meant to remind viewers and visitors of their mortality, and make them feel entrenched in the power of spirituality. Of course, the term goth goes even further back than that, first referring to a tribe of Germanic migrants that came into conflict with the ancient Roman Empire… but that’s a bit beyond what we’re talking about. Still very interesting!
Over time, this religious iconography gave way to the more lighthearted, optimistic tone we typically see in places of worship today, but new generations and new artists have been recently bringing back that old spooky style to the forefront, even in secular and non-religious work. Just like, for example, gargoyles were never stuck in their religious roots, so has skull imagery moved free of the spirituality that initially inspired it… and also past the morbid tones into a goofier and more humorous setting.
Ultimately, it can’t be overstated how liberated and exciting the visual arts scene has become to produce such wild, off-the-wall pieces like the skoilet. And whether you have your eye on one of our subtle marble stone skull toilets, with real earthy textures and hand-carved designs straight from the dusty workshops of master sculptors, or if you prefer the fancier, more high-tech results of pieces like the Water Thrones, it’s no question that the skoilet is an unforgettable washroom fixture that is here to stay.