I travel frequently and often have some complaint about the hotel bath. The complaint usually has something to do with function although there is often a detail or two I would like to change about the aesthetics as well.

The complaint starts with the lav set. The first thing I do after getting to my room is wash my hands or at least try to!  Generally, the handles don’t feel good in my hands; they are slippery, they are too small, the valves go in the wrong or opposite direction and are simply difficult to operate. Sometimes they are not intuitive and an engineering degree would be helpful.

Recently, I had this experience to the extreme and it made me think more about the design of all operational parts of the bath. I rented a house in Seaside, Florida with two friends. (We were there to attend an Institute of Classical Architecture and Art Board retreat.) It was directly on the beach and was well appointed. We were all hopeful that house would work well since it looked so good. Not so!

If  the interior designer or contractor tried to turn on the water with wet hands, either would have recognized the malfunction at once. Small cylinders are are impossible to operate with fingers or hands. There is no way to grasp a valve to turn it.  I finally resorted to keeping a wash cloth near by.  Additionally both the height of the vanity and the height of the gooseneck spout conspired to make hitting my head a good possibility when brushing my teeth or washing my face.

The next serious complaint had to do with the operation of the shower door. The door opened into the shower. It was quite a maneuver to get in without getting my hair wet. I figured out how to hug the wall and slip under the stream of water.But the most serious flaw was the knob on the shower door.  Since there was a stop that prevented the door from opening out, the tiny knob was the only way to pull the door in to exit. Just imagine a how nearly impossible it is with slippery, wet and possibly soapy hands to grip a cylinder 1/2″ in diameter and maybe 1.5″ long.  The fact is, I got stuck in the shower and had to call for help.

The moral of the story is that not only must all of the working parts of the bath look good but FUNCTION is even more important. The task of good design is to optimize the utility of a product; aesthetics have to be an integral part of the product’s utility.

(Please note, that I do not know the manufacturers or designer of the faucets pictured in this post. They are examples only.)

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