At one time or another all of us haveÂ been inÂ a public bathroom, whether it was in aÂ restaurant, hotel lobby, airport orÂ museum.Â I think we’re allÂ relieved if they are clean and have toilet paper, even more so if they haveÂ hot water, hand washÂ andÂ paper towels.Â Their design and decoration isÂ oftenÂ secondary.Â However recently I’ve begun to notice a shift inÂ public bathroomÂ design.
Or at least I thought I had noticed a shift.Â I was in New York City recently, on a very hot day, and decided to check out all of the hotels alongÂ Fifth andÂ Madison Avenues from the 50′s up to the 80′s.Â Trusty camera in hand, I marched through lobbies and up steps to be incredibly disappointed.Â I donâ€™t have one photo to post from that excursion.Â Disappointed in what I found, I washed my hands often to test soaps and towels, looking for something good to report.Â Sadly, there isÂ room for improvementÂ in the category of public bathrooms.
On the bright side,Â I was in Los AngelesÂ weeks ago and had the pleasureÂ ofÂ diningÂ at Cecconi’s, on the corner of Melrose and Robertson in West Hollywood.Â It’s a stunning blackÂ and whiteÂ restaurant with lovely vintage objects.
I do love it when there isÂ continuity between the sometimes theatrical, unconventional or glamorousÂ design of the dining roomÂ or lobby and theÂ restroom. Â It makes the whole design flow andÂ it doesnâ€™t feel as if youÂ departed to another country.
The food was delicious at Cecconiâ€™s, but the great surprise was the wonderful bathroom.Â A black and whiteÂ treasure with unlaqueredÂ brass fittings showingÂ a wonderfulÂ patina that only comes with age and use,Â a custom marble triple trough sinkÂ in perfect scale for the space, a very graphic floor and lovely antiquedÂ mirrors.Â It was so charming that I wanted to stay and take in all of the details.
The bath at the New Museum in New York’s Lower East SideÂ isÂ appropriate for the modern vibe of the space. Â Itâ€™s vibrantÂ yet simple. Â Decorative mosaics are great for public spaces, particularly patterned ones.Â The scale of the designÂ can easily be manipulated and the colors blend well.
I have visited the Gramercy Tavern twice recently.Â They take aÂ utilitarian restroom and warm it up with fabulous flower arrangements. Â Something as simple as flowers can dramatically change the way you feel about a space. Â This is, of course, exactly what happens in your own bath by adding an object, plant or picture.Â It will change the look completely and reflect your personal style.
I hope you will share photos of wonderful public bathrooms you have seen as this is a subject I will visit again.
All photos by Barbara Sallick.