August 17th, 2010, 6 Comments »
I’ve been doing a lot of on-site work at a client’s office this year. I’ve been holed-up in a kind of satellite office, which has a small, one-person bathroom.
This organization is pretty progressive, so the bathroom has automated lighting that comes on when the motion sensor detects I’ve entered. They’ve also got the two-button toilets and fancy hand dryers. It’s all very green.
Too green, actually. Because if you remain still–as you might while, you know, using the bathroom–for more than a minute or so, the motion sensor thinks you’ve left, and plunges the tiny room into darkness. And–insert jokes about male aim here–one really needs to see at that particular moment.
So, I’ve taken to kind of waving one hand lazily over my head, like I’m in a rodeo, riding a bull. I’m also reminded of “Mr. Tambourine Man”, which includes the line “to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free”.
Have you ever been plagued by motion sensors?
6 Comments »
February 11th, 2010, 7 Comments »
I’ve written before about the incursion of advertising into new public (if privately-owned) spaces. The most recent example was video screens in the back seats of taxis. The other day I was having dinner at the old-school-in-a-charming-way Hamilton Street Grill in Yaletown. I went to the bathroom, and looked up at the mirror while washing my hands.
The whole mirror was turned into an advertising display. Sections of the mirror displayed a series of static slide images that culminated in an ad for Absolut vodka:
I know I sound like an eighty-year-old curmudgeon, but really? The bathroom mirror? This–along with the aforementioned taxi cab screens and video ads above urinals–are particularly frustrating because they’re forced, at closed range, right into my eye line. They are difficult to ignore.
They’re a heinous and idiotic intrusion, particularly when I’ve already paid for dinner or a cab ride. Such advertising only encourages me to not only boycott the products advertised, but also the business that shows me the ads.
7 Comments »
February 3rd, 2010, 5 Comments »
I was in a government building recently, and visited the bathroom. This odd graffiti was on the stall wall:
When you decipher the code, it reads “what is our duty”. This wasn’t the publicly accessible part of the building, so presumably this was written by a government worker. Is this a public servant asking his colleagues about their commitment? Or is he just making a bad pun on the term “doodie”?
5 Comments »
May 22nd, 2009, 4 Comments »
I have a small bladder, and often get a drink at the movies. So I’m often presented with the thorny problem of when to go to the bathroom during a film. I think I’m pretty good at picking the best moment, when I’m unlikely to miss any major plot points. Of course, the better the movie, the more difficult it is to choose the right time.
Yesterday James sent me a link to RunPee.com (via Gizmodo). The site is down at the moment–too much attention?–but it apparently promises a very special kind of movie review. RunPee will tell you, as you might have guessed, when you should run to the bathroom and pee. Yet another problem solved by the internet.
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January 13th, 2009, 9 Comments »
Why do we label objects?
- Because they’re new things, and we don’t understand how they work.
- Because the objects’ owners want to add additional information (often promotional in nature) to the object.
- Because they’re not simple enough to operate without additional instructions. When we can’t figure something out, we usually blame ourselves. More often, it’s the designer’s fault.
I think these two examples–from two different public bathrooms–definitely fall in the #3 category. First we’ve got a faucet from UBC Robson Square:
In case you can’t read it, here’s what it says:
TURN HANDLE IN COUNTERCLOCKWISE DIRECTION
FOR WARM WATER
I’m trying to imagine the circumstances that led to these signs (there’s one behind every faucet). A lot of complaints from frosty-handed MBA students? A lawsuit from a computer science professor with bad circulation? And, for the record, calling a sink a ‘basin’ is so twee.
Next we visit a different bathroom (I forget where) and find this label on the toilet fixture in a stall:
The text is like a little poem:
If sensor is blocked,
use manual flush button.
This unit features
a 3 second flush delay.
This begs all sorts of questions: why would the sensor be blocked? How would I know if it were blocked? And why do I care about the flush delay? Most importantly, why is the flush delay a ‘feature’?
Next we’ve got a tissue box with a spot for a youngster to write his or her name:
This is for really poor kids, who own so few things that their Kleenex box is precious to them.
I’m kidding. Someone pointed out that this is probably for daycares and schools, where each kid has their own tissue box, but it still struck me as a little funny.
Finally, I snapped this photo of a sign on one of the newest ships in BC Ferries’ fleet. I thought the artwork was oddly evocative.
“No High Fives Allowed.” Or maybe “Cylons Only Beyond This Point”?
9 Comments »
June 5th, 2007, 3 Comments »
I really dig nice hotels. I’m a Taurus, and apparently that makes me a sucker for luxury. I like old school hotels, and I like nice post-modern ones, too.
We’re staying at the Novotel Budpaest Danube, a four-star hotel that’s right on the river in Buda, directly across from the Hungarian parliament. In actuality, it’s not a particularly remarkable hotel, but they’ve done it up nice. It’s a very modern, comfortable business hotel, with all the amenities you’d expect. The staff speak good English (certainly not a requirement, but handy) and have been very friendly and helpful.
At first glance, the location looks a little dubious. It’s seemingly central, but most of the cool stuff in Budapest is either up in Buda Castle or across the river in Pest. Happily, the hotel is two minutes away from both the excellent metro system and a tram line. We’re big believers in using public transport when we visit big cities–driving is usually stressful, frustrating and expensive–and so the location has worked really well for us.
I enjoy modern European hotels because they’re often full of cool, tiny design features which I haven’t seen before. I’m not one to peruse House & Home magazine, so these may seem unremarkable to everybody else.
I really dug the anti-steam mirror. I guess the hot water tubes are run behind the central portion of the glass, and it never steams up. I also liked the nifty sink, where the counter just kind of melts smoothly into the basin:
In the toilet room, I enjoyed another playful design element. In many parts of the world, they divide the toilet’s flushing mechanism into two buttons. This is a clever water conservation strategy, as you need less flushing water for, uh, number one than for number two.
In this bathroom, they’ve kind of exploded the scale of the button (which is usually the size of a loonie and embedded in the top of the basin), rendering them as two stainless steel bubbles on the wall. Cool, eh?
This is a great example of how clever designers rethink ordinary things and show them to us in a new way.
3 Comments »