Ode to the Bidet

I wrote this when I got back from Madrid, when I was living in The Netherlands.  My love for bidet has gone unchanged, so I figured I could re-post here.  Although, after being to Japan, I should definitively add to this post sometime soon.

Eindhoven, The Netherlands -2010

Madrid! Loved it all… even with bad weather, the visit was well worth it for oh-so-many reasons… specially the fact that reminded me lots to Buenos Aires, forever my home town. Was it the language? the food? the architecture?… could be… could be… but honestly I can’t help but to think that the winner of my Spanish’s heart desire was the white, cold, shinny piece of ceramic in the hotel’s bathroom. I cannot explain the joy when I saw it! How did I survive all these years without a Bidet?

A quick glance at the blog world led me to believe that there are two strong opinions with regards to this equipment: it’s either love and praise or honest hate. I somehow believe that this dichotomy has to do more with the fact that some people, who did not grow up with glorious bidets, cannot wrap their mind to the idea of hand washing certain areas except when showering (I hope!). They could have a point, but to us -bidet {couldn’t live without you} lovers- it really seems hardly important.

Ok, this is interesting and all… but please connect this subject to usability!

Actually, my precious Bidet inspired me in more than one direction about usability. For example, when speaking of “everyday” things, it is interesting to see how different populations adopt certain household fixtures and some plainly reject it. When the problem is not structural or environmental, or -much less- lack of resources, what makes certain cultures just have such different opinions on what is useful? For someone who aspires to design for people it should make a huge difference to take the research a step further and truly understand the needs of the segment the product is intended for. Personal hygiene lessons and all might not convince some people of the importance or benefit of the bidet, so resources and time would be wasted if trying to design something of this use for them.

I also had another brain spark as I hugged my bidet (enter grossed out sounds here.) I started thinking that so far during my human factors and usability training there are important topics that haven’t been covered at all. Although we are trained to understand humans, some of the most intricate, delicate, and mundane topics are left behind. Why??!!  I would like to know, for example, some of my teacher’s views on how human sexuality is related to design! And what about pipi and caca? Can we improve sinks and toilets? We spend so much time of our lives in those activities, it would be nice to think that designers put some kind of thought into them, or at least learn about them in classes. A quick look at toilet fashion in Japan is enough to see the potential of a multimodal interaction in the bathroom! What about spray on condoms? Why aren’t these even shown as examples in our courses? It just seems bizarre.

Back in Eindhoven, with no Bidets in sights, only one thing is for sure, well… actually two. One: I will be back to Madrid soon, and two: wherever my crazy future takes me, whatever design endeavor I might take, my living quarters -as little and simple as they might be- will not miss one of this:

-Actual bidet in the hotel.

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