At my first job out of college at an architecture firm , I was known as the “bathroom guy”, which probably does not have a positive connotation in any other industry, but to me, designing bathrooms was fascinating.
Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things, and the quote that always hits me is:
“Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible, serving us without drawing attention to itself.”
Nobody notices good bathroom designs, yet I have found it to be the most intimate space for humans. From the placing of towel racks for the person who does not quite get all the soap out of their eyes while washing their face, to the size of the bathroom that would allow the space to heat up from the shower steam on a chilly Seattle morning, the seemingly boring space relies on good design.
Being the “bathroom guy” helped me discover that designing for the human experience was what had captivated me about architecture in the first place and what I actually enjoyed about designing.
I focused my undergrad studies in the architecture field. I found the studio environment to be a place where I could experiment with many ideas to just see what works.
Along the way, design changed in my mind. As I worked on projects that intersected with actual human needs, it became clearer to me as a way of problem solving based on real -world issues.
A project that particularly stood out to me was an apartment for community Foster Care. As I researched inadequacies in the foster care system, I found that many foster families lack a supportive community and find themselves overwhelmed by the fostering process. Elderly residents, at the same time, reported feeling a sense of loneliness and lack of purpose. The unique problem allowed me to design with the intention of connecting these two groups such that they could help one another.
Each wall and path were created in order to promote interaction between the two groups, creating a sort of neighborhood for the residents to thrive. This was an eye-opening experience for me, because it showed me the very real impact that design can have on our communities and daily lives.
My experiences up until recently have largely been the fundamentals of design with a sharp focus on the built environment. Through this, I realized that even small changes in environmental design, even in the design of a bathroom, can impact the way we experience and interact with the world around us. There is so much impact that design can have on the human experience as a whole to create products that are responsive to our everyday lives rather than just aesthetics.
In the short time I have been in this field I have found that this "bathroom guy" mentality is extremely effective in the development of modern UX as the desire for simplicity and utility are balanced much like designing a bathroom is.