Public Restrooms – Design Matters

April 9, 2016

A conversation between stalls, in the women’s room in the lower level of a fabulous church building, centered around the unattractive condition of the bathroom itself. These commiserating women agreed then and there that this restroom needed  improvement.

This lovely little campus in Virginia has a magnificent combination of historic and new architecture. Modest yet appreciated improvements have been done recently to perk-up the tired corridors of the administrative areas and restrooms on that level. Here below, where classes are held and the social gatherings take place, these other two restrooms have been sadly neglected.

The thing is, design matters – even on such a simple, basic level. This doesn’t mean ground-breaking design or startlingly award-winning design – but basic selections for attractive finishes  and colors in the context in which they occur.  It’s also about maintenance – what once was attractive wall-covering, now peeling and worn in places, dated light fixtures, dusty faded silk flowers in a plastic container – someone’s attempt at “decorating,” – an odd, green vinyl chair at the dressing counter, worn faucets and surfaces…all contribute to an uncomfortable sense of neglect and even lack of cleanliness that these women were observing. 20140929_132712 20140929_132655

Funny though that these photos do not begin to convey the real feel and appearance of this restroom!! Doesn’t look so bad here! So much for my illustration! (Hopefully soon we will see improvements that will effectively contrast.)

So just for grins, I’ll insert this shot of a anonymous, barren,  anemic restroom that could easily be improved – starting with picking up the towels! public-restroom

While on the subject of restrooms, a talented chef in a chic eatery in Santa Fe dished delicious presentations of sensational food but failed to recognize the importance of the appearance and maintenance of his restrooms.  It’s funny that you can attend a popular place and enjoy fine cuisine and dine in a beautiful, creative  atmosphere and never visit the restrooms. When once you do, especially after having enjoyed the dining experience more than once, the unpleasant realization that this does not matter to the establishment and in this case the chef/owner, is disappointing if not astonishing.

We initially thought, surely he must have a restroom in the back of the house and may not even venture into these two reserved for his guests ,relying on staff to do their jobs. But when we brought this to his attention, he said in an off-hand fashion, “guys don’t care” (really?) and he directed a waitress to wipe the basin in the women’s room – which was the tip of the iceberg – he had no clue.

It is a reflection on the business on many levels…conscientiousness, concern for the comfort of the patrons, respect for the patrons…the list of “why” goes on…The design should continue with the same thread of the theme. here are some fabulous examples:

Perhaps the budget is limited and it is the wall color that flows into the restrooms but a touch of design and cleanliness is paramount. Odors and horrible masking room scents are equally as offensive as neglected design.

We took that otherwise delightful dining venue off of our list as there were many other choices that we felt made us more comfortable in that department.

Clean, well-maintained design matters. These aforementioned establishments don’t realize the negative impression and unpleasant sensation that such conditions evoke and serve to remind. It can be bad for business.



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