Thursday, November 29, 2007

Deconstructing the de Young, part 1

I'm back from my travels and ready to blog again! In my last post I promised an analysis of the visitor experience at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The building itself is an Invitation, drawing you in across the park with the amazing cantilevered tower.
(Invitation is Step 1 of my 8-step process.)

I doubt I would have noticed this had I not been with a de Young fan, but the crack in the stone walkway is part of the Andy Goldsworthy site sculpture and leads you into the building as well. It's a play on San Francisco's fault line.

In this beautiful, wide-open entry stands a lonely plastic "rules" sign, with the hours and No Skateboarding, etc. posted. Add-on signs like these are usually an indicator of a broken experience (pun intended—it's standing on the fault line.) Sometimes statement buildings don't think through the actual user experience. Knowing the posted hours is important in a public park. Anyone who works in the park (like a maintenance person or gardener) could have told them that skateboarders and bladeskaters would be dying to cruise into this cool space. So, it's unfortunate that the design didn't take these factors into account in a more elegant way.

Here is the Goldsworthy piece in the entrance courtyard. Is it austere? Lonely? Elegant? Seating? Each viewer can decide.

Tip of the day: When designing public buildings, make sure the team talks to front-line staff members like gardeners and the maintenance/operations crew. They'll be able to provide critical information that might otherwise be missed while it can still be designed in.

In the next post we'll look at Steps 2-4: the entry (Welcome), Orientation, and Comfort.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

When the building overshadows the art

I enjoyed reading this article about the Bilbao Side Effect by journalist Steven Wynn. He talks about new museum buildings built by star architects that overshadow the art, or make the museum experience uncomfortable for the visitor. He poses an interesting question: How many visits should it take to a new museum for you to feel comfortable there?

Entering the de Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. I had the opportunity to visit on two separate occasions recently and would be interested to hear from you what your experience is. I liked the building a lot, more than I expected. Certain aspects of the experience were thought through quite well, while others were lacking.

I'll deconstruct the experience from the Experienceology perspective in my next post. I'll leave you with Wynn's question:
How many visits should it take for a museum to feel comfortable?

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

The last word on the Bathroom Blogfest

We've done it... another great time in the ladies room. I'd like to thank all the bloggers (24 of us!) and others who picked up the blogfest and gave it their own swirl. It had some odd moments, like when White Cloud toilet tissue added a fake person to our Facebook group. She's an actress who plays the mom, Marianne Leiber, in their current ad campaign. We would have been happy to play along, even do a Q & A, but they never responded to our email.

We were happy to have Kitchen and Bath Business magazine join us, as well as the National Kitchen and Bath Association. I even received an email from Foot Flush International, promoting their product which allows you to turn any toilet into one flushable with a press of a foot pedal, thus eliminating contact with germy toilet handles. I have to say, the more I learn about bathrooms, the less I want to use one!

And we learned, from 400 voters, that cleanliness is the number one issue for people using public restrooms, with 82% of the votes. Comfort ran a distant second at 11%. This is good news for business owners, as cleanliness is easily within your reach and doesn't cost you much at all.

My favorite posts this week? I enjoyed watching designer Kate Rutter as she deconstructed her home and work bathrooms. Sara Cantor always makes me laugh, and her Crumple or fold? piece is no exception. I applaud Katie Clark for fighting (for a year?!) to get shelves installed in the stalls of her library's ladies room. Go Katie! I enjoyed seeing special Disney bathrooms with Becky Carroll, and visiting the scary bathrooms on Halloween with Maria Palma and Fast Company's Linda Tischler.

It was a kick for me to see two of our library bloggers "meet" for the first time in a ladies room in Monterey, and I enjoyed Carolyn Townes' take on the social aspect of the ladies room. And I laughed at the outrage expressed by our European bloggers. Apparently those toilet ladies can be quite scary! Thanks to Anna Farmery, Claudia Schiepers, and Lolly Borel for weighing in.

For variety, Sandy Renshaw talked about the environmental aspects of scented air fresheners, Dee McCrorey about innovation, Reshma Anand about babycare facilities, Katia Adams took us to her nail salon, and Toby Bloomberg produced a quiz with bathroom floors (it's harder than it looks!)

Co-sponsors C.B. Whittemore and Susan Abbott always outdo themselves—thanks, gals!
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Friday, November 02, 2007

Oceanaire restaurant serves up a swanky bathroom

Yes, the food was great at the Oceanaire Seafood Room. But it was their bathroom that won them the coveted "Best Bathroom Experience Award 2007" from Experienceology. Okay, so it's not coveted yet. But it should be.

The whole decor (and great Web experience) is based on a luxury ocean liner. So of course, it's the Powder Room for the ladies and Gents for the men.

Attention to detail. I know, I'm a broken record on this.

Plenty of room in the accessible stall. Note the "porthole" light fixture.

This is the only public bathroom I've ever seen that offers real towels. (I'm going to ignore the environmental impact of this choice, as it really was nice. Special. Swanky!) The silver wall quotes, all about seafood or sea life, run throughout the restaurant.

A full array of free toiletries to fix my face, powder my nose, or do my hair. Aqua Net, anyone?

Tip of the day: A high-end establishment raises the bar, of course. But how can you extend your theming and courtesy touches throughout your entire experience?

Visit the group blog and the other bloggers:
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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bathroom Blogfest: Special touches and attention to detail

What makes a bathroom memorable? I've been thinking about that on my travels this year. Despite the raised eyebrows I get when taking photos in and around public bathrooms, I have found some nice details to share.

At the Coast Long Beach Hotel in Long Beach, CA, ornate brass handles set off the bathroom doors.

Zephyr Restaurant, also in Long Beach, had this lovely switchplate adorning their restroom.

Shades Restaurant in San Diego found a smart and colorful way to cover up those ugly pipes. They also have real, fluffy bath mats. (Note: Real, fluffy bath mats do need extra cleaning.)

Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley continues their theme of self-empowerment in the unisex bathroom.

Filoli Center, south of San Francisco, has beautiful tile borders on the floor.

The Ghirardelli shop in Chicago offers this gorgeous bathroom.

The winner in this category: The incredible de Young Museum's bathroom, with fresh flower arrangements.

Tip of the day: How can you add special touches to your bathroom to extend your business theme and make the experience memorable?

Visit the group blog and the other bloggers:
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