I knew it the second I walked in. This was not your ordinary restroom. It was special. Part of one of the shows at the New Museum of Contemporary Art itself. It must be. In that moment, no one was there with me. And I took out my camera and took more photos of a bathroom than a normal person should. I mean are you even supposed to USE your camera in public restrooms?
I just want to stress here, again, that I was actually alone. (Or so I thought. Examining the photos tell a different story.) Which in New York City and in a museum at noon was unexpected and glorious. I stayed. I enjoyed the quiet solitude and the idea that I was actually inside a work of art. Becoming part of it while, ahem, resting.
It was supremely clean and supremely calm. The colors were serene and exciting at the same time. Every element was perfect, from the location of sinks and soap dispensers and drying devices to doors and latches. Even the sink that was out of order was apologetic and helpful. Accessibility was at the forefront of the builder’s and designer’s minds and it was delightful.
We’re living in the Instagram age and businesses that maintain their facilities reflect their commitment to customer service there. The reality is that restrooms matter to the public. Some companies are catching on to make them “immaculate, inviting, and memorable.” If you thumb through the photos on your phone now, how many of them were taken in a restroom?
Cintas, the restroom supply company, holds an annual competition for America’s Best Restroom. The finalists are up for the 2019 award and guess who made the list? New Museum of Contemporary Art. Voting is open until September 13th, so be sure to select your favorite.
The Nashville Zoo has a floor to ceiling window that looks out on a family of six cottontop tamarins. Becoming more aware of endangered primate species while resting is pretty outstanding. La Guardia Airport Terminal B made the cut as well, emphasizing “efficiency, aesthetics, and innovation” and might I add, luxury. Live orchids, custom mosaics and graphics of New York City all in a space prioritizing cleanliness. New Museum has some stiff competition.
Last year’s winner of the award was J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel, Florida. Its location received the highest number of votes for turning a “nature call into a nature enthrall.”
Think you’re sure you’ve experienced America’s Best Restroom? Nominate it here for the 2020 title.