In different social cultures, the toilet has different meanings and influences on people's daily life, it evolves and changes with the needs throughout time. What comes to mind when you think of a public toilet? Are there other possible experiences we can bring to it?
With an open-minded perspective, we studied the relationships between humans, toilet, and life and further explore possible future experiences that are more in line with the needs of toilet.
Public toilets meet people's needs for private space and time in public space.
Is a public toilet just a place to go to the bathroom? We learned about people's behavior through online surveys, Guerrilla interviews, and in-depth interviews to further analyze research perspectives.
"Working in advertising company, there are too much pressure, too little time, when I want to calm down for a bit, adjust the mood, or don't want to be found by other people, I will go to the toilet. The reason why I don’t go to the company's coffee shop or other space, is because there are usually meetings or people passing by, I don't want people to see me taking break, and I’m also just too busy, don’t really have the time to go."
We summarized several different types of demands for public toilets:
- Physiological needs: On the toilet peeing or pooping, fart, vomit, rest, nap
- Specific resource/object requirements: Looking at oneself in the mirror, grooming, brushing teeth, throwing garbage
- Psychological/emotional needs: Adjust mood, release pressure, think, avoid awkwardness in the party, avoid things, space out
- Personal time needs: Spend time on the phone, take a break, read comics, walk around
- Social needs: Gossip, Check on social media, check your phone for important information
We went on to analyze the main role that public toilet plays in people's daily life. The toilet is the most accessible private space in a public space, temporarily hidden from the pressures of social groups. It is also a temporary departure from reality, creating the best cover for personal time, to be able to change the environment, get undisturbed buffer moment.
In addition, we found that groups have varying degrees of influence on individual toilet experience.
1. Social pressure stop people from meeting basic physiological needs even in the toilet. The reason is the fear of others hearing or smelling the clues to their own imagination and thereby affecting their personal image.
“'I was standing outside of the door and I heard a series of loud farts, and my pretty colleague walks out from the door, very embarrassing.”
"I’m afraid of others will hear the sound, smell when I’m pooping which will affect my personal image.
The most basic and core function of the toilet is to solve everyone's physiological needs. With respect to individual privacy, there is a certain separation between the toilet and the public space, as well as a certain private space inside. But when someone else is in the bathroom, whether with a companion or someone you know, the bathroom experience is filled with tension and awkwardness under social pressure to worry about the eyes of others. No longer dare to defecate or fart in public toilets, deliberately shorten the urination time, and even extended disease.
2. When many people go to the toilet together, those who need a long time in the toilet always feel uncomfortable and want to cry. The reason is the invisible psychological pressure caused by peers waiting outside.
"When you go with other people, you spend as little time in the bathroom as possible, afraid of friends waiting or being mistaken for defecating."
"If many people go to the toilet together, there will be time pressure, a friend will say: why it takes so long for you to pee!"
"With other people, there's less time to space out and stare at the walls."
When you go hiking, shopping, or eating with friends, it's inevitable that you'll go to the bathroom together, or everyone else will be waiting for you outside. Expecting people outside to wait, fearing they would get bored or draw unwanted associations, psychological pressure caused people in groups to change their toilet behavior automatically.
We can use the Japanese foresight culture to illustrate these two phenomena. Foresight refers to showing self-control in the face of others, controlling what you say and do.（えんりょ：他人に対して，控え目に振る舞うこと。言動を控え目にすること。）Control or change your behavior without affecting others, fearing embarrassment after the smell or sound of your excretion, avoiding possible effects on your personal image. Consider the possible feelings and consequences, and control or change your behavior even before affecting others.
3. Company toilets often create extra social behavior for office workers. The reason is the importance of interpersonal relationships in the work environment to personal development and work status.
"When I'm under a lot of pressure at work, I need to go to the bathroom to calm down for a bit. But If I run into a colleague, I still have to say hello and chat with them."
"Chatting in the bathroom with colleagues you wouldn't normally meet and making new friends."
"When you run into a colleague in the bathroom, should you say hello? It seems impolite not to say hello, but don't feel like talking in the bathroom."
Different from other public places, the working environment is endowed with a certain degree of professionalism and purpose. Colleagues may be familiar with each other but not as close as friends and can expect to meet again in the future. In such a toilet scenario, there is a balance between public and personal privacy. It may create unexpected social moments, or it may extend to personal pressures.
According to the problems and directions seen above, we wonder whether there are any corresponding solutions to effectively help people who care about their personal image and reduce embarrassing moments in public toilets.
The opportunities we see from the toilet experience, combined with creative brainstorming. We had fun playing and came up with a lot of interesting marketing concepts. The results are printed as a zine in limited quantity and presented to the public randomly in Taipei. Please go here to browse online or download the digital file: https://goo.gl/RhEi5j