party in the potty

Have you ever gone into a public restroom, and then run back out not because it’s dirty and gross, but because its so cool you have to tell your friends?

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You can’t tell me you wouldn’t make your friends check out this one from Sketch in London featured on The LDN Diaries . The toilets are in those egg shaped pods!

As a self-proclaimed design nerd, I do this more often than I care to admit, but there are some really awesome public restrooms out there!

More often than not, public restrooms are utilitarian spaces with basic finishes and no specific design aesthetic; we interior designers are trying to change that. We are seeing more and more clients that want a restroom to be a well-designed, memorable experience and even a method of way-finding.

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“Where is your workstation again?” “Oh its by the restroom with the Virgin Mary spinning records” (Red Bull’s Amsterdam office done by  Sid Lee Architecture)

There are many different ways to create an exciting restroom experience.

Creative Tile Patterns & Designs

We’d all be rich if we had a dollar for every time we went into a restroom with subway tile on the wall; it is inexpensive, classic, and guaranteed to work. However, it can be boring compared to the more adventurous tile sizes and applications some designers are using.

Clare Cousins used standard sized colored tile to create two different environments in the restrooms below. The restroom on the left feels wild and energetic, while the one on the right feels elegant.

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Creative use of tile by Clare Cousins “Rail” and “Skyline”– read an interview with her here.

Mosaic tiles can be used to create a detailed mural or an interesting texture. The New Museum in New York City features mosaic murals in the restrooms that completely encompass the viewer. The restrooms in True Food Kitchen in San Diego use mosaic tiles in a more subtle way to create a texture in conjunction with an elongated subway tile. W8 loves this tile trend and we are dying to use a custom Hakatai mosiac mural in one of our upcoming projects!

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Image on the left is restroom at the New Museum. Image on right is restroom at True Food Kitchen in San Diego.
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3D Mockup of custom sepia tone cloud Hakatai mural W8 is hoping to use in a project.

Unexpected Elements

As I already said, tile is pretty commonplace in every public restroom. Sometimes what makes a restroom an awesome experience is the use of unexpected materials, colors, or fixtures.

The brightly colored urinals used in the Cribbar surf bar in Newquay, UK would make anyone remember that trip to the restroom. The awesome paint job and other bright colors don’t hurt either.

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Restrooms at Cribbar designed by Absolute. Find a write up on the design here.

The simple but different paint job in this hostel restroom transforms it from typical to interesting and memorable.

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Restrooms at U Hostel in Madrid.

Some designers use unique materials that you don’t usually see. Take this awesome public restroom in Norway for instance, it is completely constructed with metal, glass and concrete, not a single tile in sight. A public restroom in a popular square in Lisbon uses wood slats on the wall, creating a great linear texture and take a look at that big yellow sink! I’m drooling.

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I think we need a few trailhead restrooms like this in Colorado! This one was designed by Norwegian architects Manthey Kula.
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Public restroom in Praça do Comércio in Lisbon. Commissioned by Renova (check out their website – neon toilet paper!) and designed by Miguel Viera Baptista.

And last but not least, we cannot forget the public restrooms in the Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia. The restrooms themselves are part of the largest indoor Green Wall in North America! How’s that for a “wow” factor?

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Public restrooms at Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia, PA.

Next time you’re out and about, keep your eyes peeled for an awesome public restroom, they are out there and growing in numbers! Don’t be afraid to snap a picture and send it our way!