As human beings and their relationships have evolved throughout history, so have the spaces we design for our personal needs. And aside from our homes, probably none of those spaces have changed as much as the public restroom.
How far we’ve come
Our modern concept of a public restroom would bewilder a resident of Rome from ancient times. And not just because of the modern plumbing and fixtures we expect to find there when we walk in. The Romans also provided bathrooms in public spaces, with running water and indoor toilets. What would perplex them, if they were somehow able to visit our time, is the way we configure our public bathrooms compared to theirs.
Rome had many local public baths, called thermae, because no one but the very rich had baths in their homes. Some of the thermae were enormous. The baths provided for the populace by the emperor, in particular, had huge bathing spaces — one or more gigantic pools — surrounded by smaller rooms for toilets, massages, exercise, romantic encounters, even musical performances. People from all levels of Roman society mixed at the baths,
interacting constantly while they attended to … everything you expect to be able to do in a bathroom, and doing it all with other people around.
What would an ancient Roman think today?
If a resident of one of Rome’s cities then were to visit a public restroom now, the first thing they might ask is, “Why do you have those dividing walls in your restrooms?” There was no privacy in any area of a Roman bath. It wasn’t done. Romans didn’t go there expecting, or even wanting, privacy. A Roman bath was intended to be a social place, a kind of very large club. It was hot and noisy, with attendants and slaves bustling constantly through the steam, carrying water and oils, drinks and snacks.
That same “busyness” applied to the architecture. And while that architecture could be stunningly beautiful, with intricate tile mosaics in the pools and floors, and pillars, arches and statues everywhere, the mechanical aspects of a huge exercise in plumbing engineering — the clay pipes, and sometimes the reservoirs and boilers that heated water from the aqueducts — were in plain view. It was just part of the design. An ancient Roman would recognize (and envy) one of our mirrors, and might figure out what a modern toilet is for, or a sink. But how these things work would remain a mystery to them because most of the infrastructure that makes our restrooms work is hidden.
What’s the use of a decorative P trap cover?
To a visiting ancient Roman? Nothing. They would certainly recognize what’s behind it because they were very familiar with the use of pipes for plumbing (though they would be fascinated by chromed brass). They simply wouldn’t see the need for hiding drain pipes behind a P trap cover, just as they wouldn’t see the need for privacy stalls around toilets.
This is an example of how our interaction with each other has changed the way we design. Our public restrooms are never as ornate and as overpowering to the senses as the Roman thermae, and the reason is simple: We don’t go in there with the intention of staying very long. Most of us have showers and tubs at home, so taking a bath in a public space isn’t necessary in our culture. As a result, public bathroom design doesn’t require making it a place where people would enjoy spending several hours, and maybe combing hygiene and fitness. We have pools and gyms for that.
For us, a public restroom is a place we go in, take care of business, wash our hands, check our look in the mirror, and leave. And while many bathrooms for public use feature unquestionably beautiful architecture — the things Stone and Steel and S2 Design are renowned for — most of the recent trends favor a clean, modern look. We mount simple mirrors on the wall at optimal viewing angles for users of all sizes. We choose fixtures that are purposefully elegant and easy to clean. Our counters are made of stylish but durable high-end materials. Everything is smooth and uncluttered and sleek.
And yet … hanging below your elegant counter may be the same inelegant, clumsy-looking P trap that has been part of our plumbing since 1880.
Our decorative P trap cover completes the look
Why should the clean, uncluttered look you’re going for when you choose tile, fixtures and mirrors have to stop at sink-level? Now it doesn’t. S2 Design’s P trap cover carries that same attention we’re known for, below the counter. They’re available in natural stainless steel or a variety of powder coat finishes. You can match them to the other components of your bathroom and they simply blend into the architecture.
But don’t assume you’re sacrificing accessibility for aesthetics. These decorative P trap covers are easily removable for servicing the plumbing behind them, and easily replaceable when the job is done.
Does a P trap cover matter?
We understand that some people might think a decorative P trap cover isn’t really important. After all, most restrooms don’t have them, and they’re perfectly usable. But the next time you’re in a public restroom, look below the counters and see the P traps hanging down. Then imagine how much better that space would look with a cover, coordinated with the rest of the design, to hide the plumbing.
We devote a lot of time and expense to make our restrooms attractive. When you think about it that way, it doesn’t make sense to ignore the pipes under the counter — particularly when the cost of the S2 Design P trap cover is so low, and its design makes it so convenient.
It’s been 1,600 years since the Roman Empire fell. It’s time to make that last update to our restrooms.