Good design is practical, functional, puts the user first, and is intuitive in how it works. So it’s only natural that we have high interior design expectations for the most important room in public areas and businesses. Let’s not beat around the bush, we’re talking about the restroom!
Call it what you will—the bathroom, the John, the powder room, the Iron Throne, or even the Chamber of Secrets—you really can’t downplay just how vital this space is, whether you’re at a restaurant, cafe, hotel, shopping center, or elsewhere. Everybody pees. Everybody poops. Everybody knows how awkward (and sometimes even icky) using public restrooms can be. So privacy and hygiene are areas of huge importance.
Fortunately, the world’s full of genius designers who love making life better, simpler, and more enjoyable for us all. Below, you’ll find some of the very best design solutions to the problems that restrooms have, all collected by Bored Panda. Remember to upvote the design decisions that you think are just spot-on and should be the standard everywhere.
Bored Panda reached out to the American Restroom Association to learn more about the need for good design solutions to public bathrooms, how there's a split between the interests of the government and that of businesses, and how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected restroom designs. Tim Pyle, the Executive Director at the ARA, said that the core reason why hygiene, privacy, and other issues aren't addressed are financial. You'll find the full interview below.
The Bathroom At My Doctor's Office Has A Discreet Way For Victims Of Abuse, Violence, Or Human Trafficking To Get Help
This Brewery Has A Sign In The Bathroom That Offers A Backup Plan In Case Your Date Isn't Going So Well
This Disabled Bathroom Has A Sign To Say It's Ok For Anyone Of Any Disability To Use It
Tim, the Executive Director at the ARA, explained to Bored Panda that finances lie at the core as to why public restrooms might not be up to suitable standards. "It has been easier and less expensive for municipalities (cities, counties, states, etc.) to allow the for-profit sector to fill the gap. If a national coffee shop chain or fast food establishment has a bathroom, why do we, the government, need to build and maintain one?" Tim explained the way that the US government thinks in this case.
Meanwhile, he highlighted the fact that businesses have "a vested interest in improving the customer experience," citing a study that a whopping 95 percent of patrons are less likely to be return customers if they had a bad bathroom experience. "However, this leaves gaps in the restroom infrastructure. The designs are there; the will of government to fill the gap or ensure access is not," Tim showed Bored Panda where a large part of the problem lies.
Whoever Invented This For When I'm Taking A Crap In A Public Restroom To Hold My Child In Place Is A Genius
My Office Flipped All The Women’s Restroom Vending Machines To Be Free
These Kids Toilets In A London Museum Whose Sinks Slope To Cater For Progressively Shorter Children
There have been some advancements in the need for good design solutions for restroom hygiene issues since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tim from the ARA had this to say: "We’ve seen particular interest in antimicrobial materials for high-touch surfaces as well as automation to reduce the 'touch' factor. Also, the way coronavirus is transmitted has put a focus on improving ventilation and air cleaning systems. More simply, better scheduling for regular cleaning is a low-cost way to improve hygiene. Just having a user see that someone is cleaning puts them more at ease,"
This Zoo Has A Complimentary Sunscreen Dispenser In The Bathroom
According to Tim, it's very important that the public has access to clean, comfortable, and well-designed restrooms outside of their own homes. "Since 2004, it’s been the reason for the existence of the American Restroom Association. Everyone needs a restroom—it’s a fact of life. One that, for whatever reason, people just don’t like to talk about," Tim pointed out that it's a still a slightly taboo topic.
"The Federal government requires the availability of restrooms in the workplace, yet there is no such coordinated effort for public spaces. That is something we are advocating for. Until then, it’s a crapshoot (pun intended) as to whether a restroom will be there when you need one," he said.
This Toilet Lock That Doubles As A Tray So You Can’t Leave Without Taking Your Stuff
All Of The Toilet Lights In My Town Have Been Changed To Fluorescent Blue, In An Attempt To Prevent Heroin Users From Being Able To Find A Vein To Use
Public Toilet At Shopping Centre Has A Extra-Small Toilet Seat For Little Humans
There are several main issues afflicting public restrooms, including hygiene standards, comfort through privacy, and vandalism. Violate any one of those three and customers are less likely to have a great time using your other services. Meanwhile, provide them a safe, clean, beautiful environment in which to errr ponder the nature of life and the multiverse and you’ll make them feel right at home.
While a lot of potential issues could be solved by throwing more money at the problems, hiring more staff to clean more often, etc., the crux of everything is seeing the potential pitfalls before getting bogged down by them. That’s where design solutions come in. With them, you’re basically investing into solutions upfront and cutting off potential issues before they even show up.
The Toilet At My Work Has A Wall Of Strong Scented Wood To Replace An Air Refresher. It Works Surprisingly Well
This Airport Bathroom Has Lights To Show You Which Stalls Are Free
Japanese Toilets Often Have A Button That Plays White Noise/Water Sounds So You Can Poop Without Other People Hearing Your Business
For instance, touching surfaces at most public restrooms can be a strong yuck factor for adults and kids alike. Throw in the danger of a global pandemic and you’ve got some people seriously worried and extremely anxious. They’d rather hold it in and be in pain than use a disgusting toilet that looks like the villain of a low-budget horror movie.
Emergency Alarm Chords Running Along The Floor Of The Disabled Toilet In Berlin Airport In Case Someone Falls Over And Requires Assistance
So minimizing the ick factor and maximizing cleanliness becomes a priority. How this problem gets solved depends on the designer. Some might opt for designs that let us use and flush the toilet while making absolutely minimal contact with surfaces. Others might go for self-cleaning or easily-cleaned surfaces or go for something that’s the perfect solution that nobody’s thought of yet.
Auto Glass Repair Shop Men's Bathroom Has A Full Blown Standalone Changing Table
Diaper Dispenser For Men With Babies In A Walmart’s Men’s Restroom
Meanwhile, let’s talk a bit about privacy and comfort. Odds are, you know somebody in your life who’s wary of using any restroom in public. It might be a friend or a family member. It might even be you. Some people simply think that going to the bathroom is embarrassing, even though it’s an absolutely natural and unavoidable part of our existence as human beings.
In Tallinn Airport, One Of The Men's Bathrooms Has Step By Step Instructions On Tying A Tie
This Movie Theater Has Screens In The Bathrooms So You Don't Miss Any Of The Action
This Bar Has Sinks Located Just Outside Of The Bathrooms So Everyone Can See If You Didn't Wash Your Hands
However brave or cowardly we might be in public bathrooms, it’s nonetheless a good idea to give people some privacy. Make sure that nobody can accidentally peek at you through the gaps in the stalls, have some sort of sound-dampening solutions, and generally give people the ability to relax.
My School Put Free Pad And Tampon Vending Machines In The Girls' Bathrooms
This Japanese Toilet Refills Through A Sink In The Top So You Can Rinse Your Hands And Re-Use The Water
We’re not in Roman times with public bathrooms anymore (for better or for worse) and we need modern design decisions for modern restroom problems. Thankfully, some designers have already digested some of these issues and provided genius responses. Yes, everybody pees and poops, but will everybody implement smart designs after they learn about them? That’s an important question for another time.