Why are we ashamed of toilets?

There is a spacious and attractive indoor mall in Chicagoland suffering from a pandemic problem that challenges interior designers regularly.

How should restrooms be incorporated into shared spaces?

This question ends up being answered directly or indirectly by designers of malls, theaters, restaurants, shops, etc.

No matter what primary products or services are provided in the space, if even small numbers of people are expected to spend time in the space, there need to be bathrooms.  The bathroom design can either be thought-out and intentionally aligned with this critical need of the people; or the bathrooms can be an afterthought, an inharmonious side note.

Why is this well-known, critical user need being ignored? Designers?  Where else in good design can you find well known and understood needs that are routinely ignored?

The bathrooms in this mall are down a long dingy hallway, about five hundred feet away from the dining tables.  To access the bathrooms, one must pass under the hanging blue square sign in the picture above and down this ugly hallway into the utility portion of the building.

I wonder what percentage of the people who visit the mall any given day end up using one of the bathrooms? Why the huge shift from beautiful design to ugly design?

Everyone has to go to the bathroom sometimes.  Why are we ashamed of them, hiding them away down a back hallway?

For Hotels, by Hotel Users

This past week I stayed at a hotel which had a remarkable setup in terms of bathroom lights.  It is amazing to think that there is room for innovation in hotels bathroom lights! I’ve stayed in far too many hotels, but I’ve never seen a hotel which has this setup.

There were three levels of lighting to address your bathroom needs:

(1) Using the bathroom

(2) Using the Mirror

(3) Nighttime

The three levels of light are shown below, all of the same portion of the bathroom. Taken on my camera phone, the pictures aren’t great, but I think they carry the idea across.  The first two lighting scenarios are pretty basic and routine, but the third is a scenario that I think most people can appreciate, but few hotels seem to consider.




As you can see, there isn’t even enough light to take a decent picture in this nighttime lighting, yet, at 3AM when you wake up from sleep it’s plenty of light to see your way to the bathroom without stumbling.