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Design Thinking: Bathrooms On-The-Go

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Design Thinking: Bathrooms On-The-Go

by Howard C. Smith, Chief Strategist

We all gotta go and sometimes we find ourselves in a restaurant, bar, shopping mall or worst of all—a gas station.

How can good design improve the bathroom experience? Turns out there are lots of ways. Here are four that I've observed:

1. No Touch. Modern American airports have figured out a more sanitary method—at least for us men—who simply need to stand most of the time. Entrance doors have been replaced by a short serpentine hall. The urinal flushes once it senses I've stepped away. The sink starts and stops automatically, soap is dispensed into my palm and a paper towel magically appears with a wave of my hand. I frequently have a choice when drying my hands and I love using the smartly designed Dyson Blade that does the job in seconds. If I don't want to touch a thing in the bathroom, I don't have to.


2. Alternative Door Opener. There is conflicting information about disease transmittal via touching bathroom door handles, but personally I prefer not to take a chance. In a small London toliet, door handle touching was avoided via a novel plastic hoop that allowed me to insert my forearm into the generous opening and pull.

Hygienic door handle: Insert wrist to open.


3. A healthy smile. In Brazil, virtually every public bathroom I visited was spotless and odor-free. In addition, many restaurants thoughtfully provided patrons with dental floss and mouthwash (with disposable cups) to prepare for whatever may come next.

Left: Dental floss dispenser. Right: Mouthwash.


4. Unexpected and Slightly Naughty. Lastly, during a spa visit in Santa Fe, I had the opportunity to try one of those newfangled Japanese electronic toilets. This sophisticated marvel operates like a gentle car wash, first rinsing then drying the relevant parts at the touch of a button. Designed to appeal primarily to women, Metropolis' Karrie Jacobs referred to this delightful invention as 'slightly naughty.' I agree, but readers will have to decide for themselves.  ;-)


Electronic toilet controls: Like a carwash for your bottom!

Categories: Design Thinking
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