New York’s Guggenheim museum unveiled a solid gold toilet last week. Whilst reading the story in the Guardian I was convinced this was some sort of April Fools joke. But alas it wasn’t.
The fully functional, Solid Gold Toilet sits on the 4th floor of the museum with the only indication of the museum’s latest ‘exhibit’ being a security guard outside the toilet, a small plaque and a ‘no bag’ policy. The practicalities of having a permanent security presence and stopping anyone taking a bag into the fully functional convenience may mean that at some point in the future the door will be replaced with a glass screen when the novelty wears off (and the costs are realised)?
In order to get it made, the museum sent two of its existing toilets over to Italy where the replica was made by the artist Maurizio Cattelan, who describes the piece as “100% art for the 99%”. Cattelan made several casts of the various parts of the toilet which were then soldered together to make the perfect copy.
So what are the practicalities should any of my clients ask for such a thing? Well if they can afford a Golden Loo I am not charging them enough! The issues are all about security not cleaning – actually a Golden Toilet would be relatively easy to clean. The toilet in question however will be cleaned every 15 minutes using a sanitizing wipe and steam cleaned at longer intervals to give a ‘hospital level of cleanliness’. Anyone that has contracted a hospital acquired infection will be pleased!
However maybe I am reading too much into this – the piece is titled ‘America’. I am no art connoisseur, but if this is a reference to America ‘going down the pan’ and the ongoing US Election campaigns then maybe Cattelan and the Guggenheim deserve more credit. Let’s hope that when the Golden Throne is no longer newsworthy that the ‘Powers That Be’ melt it down and use the funds to build 1 million toilets in the third world. That would touch many more lives than the 4th floor of a New York Museum.
2015 is almost over so it seems appropriate to look forward to what might be big news in the Commercial Washroom Sector in 2016?
Puff the Magic Dryer. The world’s first ‘hand dryer designed with Children in mind’ is being seen in more and more nurseries, preschools and primary schools. Recently listed in the YPO schools catalogue for 2016 I expect him to be in a few more by the end of the year. Having talked to the manufacturers Airdri recently, it seem that not only will Puff be flying into schools in the UK and abroad but due to his quietness and friendly features he is being trialled in some of the biggest hospitality groups in the UK. So you might just see him in a baby changing room in a pub, restaurant or fast food outlet near you soon!
Water harvesting. Yes this concept has been around for a while but with increased costs of water across the UK water harvesting is becoming a simple cost saving exercise – as much as 50% of a commercial property might be flushing perfectly good drinking water down the drain. With the basic set up cost starting at £2000 there will be plenty businesses that will see a return on their money pretty quickly – much quicker than solar panels as it rains at night too!
Inclusivity. ‘The Design of Buildings and their Approaches to Meet the Needs of Disabled People’ – Code of Practice was published in 2009. It recommends that Changing Places toilets should be provided in larger buildings and complexes. But there are moves afoot that instead of being a recommendation, they should be compulsory for modern public new builds in order to not exclude anybody who may wish to use them. As improvements to technology and subsequent reductions in cost have at last started to kick in I think ‘changing places’ will become more common in public areas – particularly shopping and leisure centres as well as larger pub, hotel and restaurant chains who see the commercial opportunities targeting the ‘disability dollar’.
Toilets as a retail business. The model has been around in Europe for a few years and the first unit has opened up in Covent Garden (2theloo) but I suspect there will be at least 6 in London before the year is out. As shopping centres start to bear the brunt of local authority cutbacks there will be growth in a fully commercialised public access toilets across City Centres and tourist areas across the UK.
Can and battery free air fresheners. EU waste legislation is a bit sketchy here but the industry is poised for a massive shift from standard aerosol, battery operated type air fresheners to non aerosol and battery free alternatives. V-Solid from vectaire is the one to watch.
So there you have my 5 toilet predictions for 2016. If only I had the toilet equivalent of Marty McFly’s sporting almanac! Thanks for reading my blog please share it if you see fit and a like is always welcome. Warm washroom wishes for 2016, whatever your business.