Interior design – or any design for that matter –both reflects and influences the cultural mindset of a people. Architecture and design have long given us clues into a culture’s morals and values, and when this design is particularly offensive or controversial, responses from both the public and the design industry can become heated.
This was the case with certain design elements in the recently-opened Ananas Bar and Brasserie in Sydney. The bar gained plenty of negative public attention after a review by restaurant critic Terry Durack revealed that the bathroom featured lip-shaped urinals. The design feature was almost unanimously slammed as ‘misogynist’ and a symptom of growing sexism in Australia.
Designed by Dutch artist Meike van Schijnde, the urinals, labeled ‘Kisses’, take their inspiration from the classic Rolling Stones lips and tongue logo, developed by John Pasche in the 1970s. While the interior designers of the space have said the functional bathroom design features are ‘playful’ and the restaurant itself called them ‘commonly used European design piece(s)’, Australian feminist Anne Summers has slammed the urinals as offering a rather disappointing glimpse into a sexist mentality that is still present in the country.
“Misogyny is very widespread, and this is just an example of misogyny,” she says. “The concept is pretty challenging and confronting.”
Summers pointed out that the urinals were a mocking invitation to put their genitals into urinals that were shaped like women’s mouths.
Australia is, however, not the only country to take issue with this kind of design feature. Viennese women’s groups took similar urinals featured in public toilets in the Austrian capital to task and those urinals have since been removed.
The same fate has unfolded for the Sydney urinals, with a spokesperson for Ananas Bar and Brasserie releasing an apology and assuring that the offending features would be removed.
“We sincerely apologise if they have caused offence. They are being removed today,” says the spokesperson.
While the design features have been removed and their installation in the first place being defended with assurances that they were intended to be lighthearted, for many, the bathroom interior design has been all too revealing.