Saturday, April 16, 2011

Great design in the strangest places

For the 50% of you who have not had the pleasure, let me explain what a urinal is.  A urinal is a porcelain bathroom fixture that marks the location of a pool of urine on the floor.

I wish I were joking.

Urinal designers have done their best to encourage "accuracy".  Urinals are almost wrap-around in their design, but still...  Don't wear your good shoes.   Something is missing. (Ha! Good one.)

I came across an interesting innovation while I was in Amsterdam earlier this month.  I'd heard of this concept before, but had never seen it.  This urinal was in the convention centre:

And in close-up:

The image is a little blurry (one doesn't linger over composing the shot when holding a cellphone over the urinal in a public washroom.  FYI.), so I'll point out that it's a fly on the side of the urinal. Or rather, it's a sticker with a picture of a fly, stuck on the bottom of the urinal. (The protruding, and somewhat off-putting, shadow near the bottom is from the flush handle.  Don't let your imagination run away with you.)

This urinal was in a restaurant:

A picture of a candle! Nice.

These elegant (!) examples of innovative design are supposed to encourage the user to be more accurate. I didn't actually collect data on this, as I thought I had already pushed my luck enough by taking photos in the washroom.  However, according to this article (read down to the end), Amsterdam's Schiphol airport noted 80% less spillage after implementing the urinal targets.

Good design can be delightfully simple (recent examples here and here).

Now if only someone could design a way to stop guys from talking on their cellphones while using the urinal.

I wish I were joking.


  1. EASY solution! Tell the men to sit??? Just a thought! :D

    Your blog is becoming one of my favourites; its well-written and from home. All good things for me!


  2. Sit? That's no fun...

    Thanks for the encouragement, Gina.