Designing in a Cultural Blind Spot: Restrooms, Ergonomics, and the Environment

Designing in a Cultural Blind Spot: Restrooms, Ergonomics, and the Environment

Website: MDML

Bathrooms are not designed in vacuums. Often they're designed by people wearing pants. Pants make it difficult to squat to defecate. Sitting down to defecate damages the sphincter which can cause incontinence. Join us for an exploration of the interrelated cultural and social issues at play in designing the components of restrooms and the treatment of excrement.

More than any other issue, the handling of human excrement defies the logic of reductionism. Our excrement is the waste most intimately ours and also the waste we are least able to limit; we can't reduce it and its production is not a choice. It is also a valuable source of nutrients crucial to soil health and structure. Combining inevitability, intimacy, and ecological value, the problem of excrement is situated directly between our artificial boundaries of human and natural environments. Unraveling these interconnections and demonstrating a new positive human ecology is the key to understanding our place in our environment, and deconstructing our systemic problems of waste. Ecological Sanitation is more than simply environmentally conscious sanitation, it is a powerful model for re-imagining ourselves as a keystone species and positive ecological actors.

Mathew Lippincott flies kites and balloons to solve problems. Mathew is Director of Production in Education for Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS). PLOTS supports citizen-based, grassroots data gathering and research. He is Co-Founder of the Cloacina Project, a project to create replicable sustainable portable sanitation services for the Pacific Northwest. Partner, MDML Design. B.A. Oberlin College Philosophy 2006.

Molly Danielsson is illustrating the science behind shit. Molly and Mathew co-founded the Cloacina Project two years ago and have created a series of educational publications, workshops and services in order to demonstrate the economic feasibility of sustainable sanitation through a replicable business model. Molly is lending her artistic hand to ReCode Oregon to create an educational campaign for regulators and the public on ecological sanitation with funding from the Bullitt Foundation. Partner, MDML Design. B.A. Oberlin College, Environmental Studies 2007.