Posts tagged “bathroom”

Sliding Doors

Public bathroom doorway, Karuizawa, Japan, January 2008

Before we hiked up the nearby mountain I wanted to use the bathroom. I was very frustrated to find the door locked. I pushed and pulled and saw the keyhole for the deadbolt and figured I was out of luck. Then I saw someone enter the adjacent women’s room – by sliding the door. I wouldn’t expect a bathroom door to slide, and I didn’t interpret any of the cues (or affordances) about how this door works to suggest sliding was a possibility.

Pi-club, Japanese activity calendars


We found these interesting calendars (Google translate link) in Japan. They contain different daily activities tied to the room that you’d use them in, including kitchen, bedroom, bathroom (i.e., the room you bathe in), and toilet. I liked that the toilet calendar features a happy individual, presumably using the calendar, sitting on the throne. The calendars offer a small peek into Japanese home life.


Semiotics of subcultures

Recent political scandals have much to teach us.

…Officers wrote that they knew from their training and work experience that the foot-tapping was a signal used by people looking for sex.

After a man in the adjacent stall left, Craig entered it and put his luggage against the front of the stall door, “which Sgt. Karsnia’s experience has indicated is used to attempt to conceal sexual conduct by blocking the view from the front of the stall,” said the complaint.

The complaint said Craig then tapped his right foot several times and moved it closer to Karsnia’s stall and then moved it to where it touched Karsnia’s foot. Karsnia recognized that “as a signal often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct,” the complaint said.

Assuming this is true (and recalling humorous-in-retrospect documents that we’ve all seen about law enforcement deconstructing hippies, punks, heavy metal, gangs, etc., it very way may not be), it’s cool to consider a signal that can only be interpreted by those that know what it means. To everyone else, it may not even penetrate your awareness. Until the communication is decoded, it’s almost perfect, especially for messages that may be risky.

I’m fascinated to consider that (maybe, just maybe) someone may have at some point tapped at me, and I wouldn’t have necessarily noticed and certainly not interpreted it as it’s presumably intended.

We’re not in Kansas anymore

Dan and I have already mentioned (here and here) our stay at Chateau Avalon (an “Experience Hotel” – quick and easy ways to see times and past and locations distant, all without leaving Kansas City). Now a bit more about what was horribly wrong with my room. Let’s assume that most people who stay there fall within their intended demographic (couples, local, looking for a quick getaway), and let’s set aside issues of personal taste.

I was in the Colorado Frontier room.
The bed is in the back, which is sort of another room.
That room is extremely tight around the bed; one can barely get by, and I found the best way to open and close the drapes was to stand on the bed itself. No dresser, but a fairly big closet. Confusing light switches, with no light source that was reachable from the bed itself. And a massive TV that loomed above the bed rather threateningly. The literature promised satellite TV so I looked to see how to get beyond the usual hotel 15 channels, eventually calling the front desk. Those are the channels, it seemed. HBO was the satellite channel. I expressed some confusion and they explained that it’s a satellite channel “around here.” Okay.

The room had completely useless workspace. I didn’t want a thematic chair to sit on for editing PowerPoint decks, transferring video, managing cameras and media and chargers and so on. I wanted something comfortable, and I wanted a big enough table to get my stuff on. The only other flat surface for wallet, keys, etc. was the bedside table (already covered with hotel crap and rather difficult to reach unless you throw yourself on the bed like a beached whale).

The bathing facilities were smack in the middle of the main part of the room, and quite far from the water closet portion of things. Do you want to invite a colleague into your room when your tub (and inevitable tubby paraphernalia) is front stage?

The whirlpool spa was also a shower. But it was quite deep, so to get out meant tentatively raising a foot rather high and over the edge. What’s on the outside? Narrow stone steps. Umm, right? I’m lucky I didn’t break my neck getting out of that thing. There was no place to put a towel and no safe way to get out. Very irksome. Part of the stone stairs went down only to the level of the porch floor while others went a few inches further to the level of the main floor.

My (least) favorite design failure. The bathroom was as wide as the door. The sink was to the right and the toilet was to the left. To reach the toilet, one must step into the bathroom and to the right, then inhale and push the door past. A person of girth would absolutely not be able to do it. I could not do it without the edge of the door dragging across me roughly.

There was a lot of energy put into the design choices, but it’s the most shallow form of appearance versus usable I’ve ever encountered. Perhaps the owner of the hotel should be forced to stay in each room and try getting things done, other than savoring luxuriant chocolate (or cranium-filling cinnamon rolls) and heavenly rose petals. Say, going to bed, getting up, washing, using the toilet, etc. Activities of daily living type of stuff…

Why is this digital?


This restroom-last-cleaned-at status box is a digital device that replaces a familiar paper version. I’m not totally clear what the function of this has been: enforce compliance by employees who are responsible for doing the cleaning, remind the public that (appearance notwithstanding) the institution does indeed care about restroom cleanliness?

How does making it digital improve the performance? Is it the meaning of digital (to the public, or the monitored staff?) or the usability of the technology (one button press replaces writing by hand?) or the affordances of the technology (networked data tracking to look for patterns over time/location?)…

Flush with Success

The America’s Best Restroom contest has selected five finalists.

Organizers do research about the businesses but don’t actually try out the chosen throne rooms before selecting five for the online poll. “We have nominations from all over the place. It would be too hard,” said Bensten.

And the nominees are:

  • All Seasons Bistro, East Lansing, MI.
  • Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Atlantic City, NJ
  • Hemenways, Providence, RI
  • Quad City International Airport, Moline, IL
  • Wendell’s Restaurant, Westerville, OH

Herbeau Creations Dagobert Throne Toilet

Step into a world of luxury with the Herbeau Creations Dagobert Throne Toilet. Take your bathroom back a few years with this pull chain antique style toilet that perfectly accents a clawfoot bathtub in your vintage bathroom. The toilet comes with an ashtray, candle holder, and hand painted toilet bowl and plaque.

– Solid ash throne with 3 layers of polyurethane coating
– Pull chain flush with bell, ashtray in arm, and candle included
– “Le Bon Roi Dagobert” plays when lid is raised – a song about a king who arrived at the minister’s council with his trousers on backwards
– Hand-painted toilet bowl and plaque

Base Price – $9,799.00

I think my fave is the ashtray. Just that extra touch of class.


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