January 29th, 2009

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About Fucking Time for Design Within Reach: they’ve finally switched to non-glossy newsprint for their latest catalog. The upside is much larger photos and greater detail of the products, such as the poster-sized photo of a shelving unit with hundreds of design books shelved by color. Now all they need to do is change their name to Design Not Quite Within Reach, or perhaps Pretty Pricey Design: $50 for a notepad, $100 for a pair of scissors, $2880 for a desk chair. But then, that’s why we have IKEA.

skeptical cat

But what does it MEAN?

Readers of my journal yesterday had a wide variety of ideas as to just what this informational graphic is supposed to convey (besides TOTAL DESIGN FAIL). Some of your guesses were pretty close.

This was one of the first pictures I took with my new cameraphone, which had arrived just a few hours before I took off for DC – by bus. It’s in the on-board toilet, which being largely shiny plastic and brushed metal and low-lit, gave me all sorts of reflection problems with my cellphone camera’s sad little LED flash – not to mention being buffeted around in the tiny room as the bus raced down the rotting infrastructure of our nation’s highways. All of which is by way of saying this is the best picture I could get of it after numerous attempts.

So, context for this mysterious graphic is everything, and what it’s trying to convey is: men, please sit down to pee, don’t pee standing up – for reasons obvious to everyone except someone who’s spent their entire life in a convent. The hats are to convey that they’re men, since it’s impossible to convey the feminine skirt of these graphics when they’re sitting down in profile. But they also don’t give a clear indication of what the man on the left isn’t supposed to be doing, much less show a stream of urine, so it looks like he’s standing around with his hands in his pockets. And it’s hard to tell that the man on the right is sitting on a toilet, since he has no pants bunched around his ankles. And why is he so sad?!

And really, is there any reason why an information graphic can’t include text of what it’s trying to convey (MEN, PLEASE SIT DOWN TO PEE)? My guess is that the signs are installed by the bus manufacturer, which sells them worldwide.

Except, really, please, come on. As if any man is going to sit down on a toilet seat in a bus just to pee. Hell, even the women probably stand or squat to pee.

I should have taken a picture of the graphic in the toilet of the Greyhound bus I returned home in, too. Their “toilet” had no bowl but just a surprisingly wide and deep shaft down to the bottom of the holding tank – make it a bigger “target,” I suppose, so there’s a lot less surface to splatter onto and clean up. They had a graphic that looked like it was warning you to hold on to your baby or small child so they wouldn’t fall in and down the hole, except that what it looked like was showing you how to place your baby down the hole.