When my children were young and we took a trip to Asia, they couldn’t understand why they felt so odd. I told them that even though their bodies were in Vietnam, their stomachs were over Hawaii and their heads were over Japan and until all their various bits arrived completely in Hanoi, they would feel just plain odd.
I’ve been traveling a lot in the last month, perhaps too much, and feel just plain odd. I went from the U.S. to Vietnam and Thailand, back to the U.S. and right away to Denmark, so I’m not quite sure where I am. But then I remembered an essay by Pico Iyer a while back about the benefits of jet lag and if I remember him right (through my jet lag fog), one gain was noticing things you might otherwise miss, both big and small. Or perhaps I’m noticing these things because I had a cold and cough and felt sorry for myself and stayed in my hotel home drinking tea most of one Sunday, but regardless, I’m observing the bathroom in my hotel in a new way.
I’m coming to see the Danish hotel bathroom as a wonderful example of the Danes’ attention to sustainability in large and small ways. This is a country that is serious about sustainability and taking care of the environment (the Big issues), while doing so in a beautiful, “small things matter” sort of way (the Design issues).
Plexiglass shower "curtain"
Take the shower stall, for instance. I’ve never stayed in a Danish business hotel that had a bathtub (and when’s the last time you took a bath in a business hotel anyway?). So showers are the norm, but the design of the room and the shower stall are what make the difference.
The 5’x 6’ bathroom’s floor is black and white tile checks in most of the room, but all white tile in the shower area. Completely flat save for a slight tilt toward the shower drain. That flat floor makes it easier to clean, safer to step into the shower (no step up or down to avoid tripping), and it just looks cool as well.
Next, instead of a shower curtain, there’s a clear, curved, plexi glass swinging door that partly encloses the shower area. Smart. Again, it keeps the water enclosed, avoids the moldy curtain and looks cool.
Finally, it amazes me how much of the world (including Vietnam where I visited right before Denmark) is moving to dual flush toilet options (but the U.S. has not widely adopted that model). So it’s not surprising to find that option in the bathroom. In addition, the Danish toilet comes straight out from the wall, rather than sits on the floor (easier to clean the floor, interesting design). So there you are again, makes sense from an environmental standpoint and looks good.
Of course I noticed a few other things on my travels—more of those later perhaps—but in my jetlagged state, with a cold, cough, and a camera that needed to roam but had no real room to do it in, I was surprised to realize how much I could learn from such a small space.