The Toilet Queen

Day 9: Today I attended my weekly Penny Stamps lecture at the Michigan Theater. The speaker was a designer named Ayse Birsel from Turkey. I was not looking forward to this lecture at all. I purposely did not enroll in ANY design classes during art school, repelled by the idea of using my creativity as a tool for capitalism.

That being said, Ayse was interesting, personal, intelligent, and charming. She began by showing a hand-drawn timeline of her life and structured the lecture so that she explained each point on the timeline, one by one. These points were not only career-related, but personal as well. Like when she told us that she was partnered with another designer for a Renault car design project, and they ended up falling in love, getting married, and starting a family. Or when she bragged about her favorite nickname, “the Toilet Queen,” for an ergonomic toilet she designed for a Japanese company that later went on to win the title “Most Comfortable Toilet in the World.”

World’s Most Comfortable Toilet

(I wish she would’ve designed the world’s most comfortable chair for the Michigan Theater – my back was KILLING me in that lecture)

One more thing about the toilet – the seat and lid snap off for cleaning purposes. Genius! She said most of the Japanese businessmen at the company weren’t convinced by this idea in the beginning. She realized it was because they had never cleaned a toilet in their lives. She assigned them the task that night and, the next day, they wholeheartedly agreed with her design 🙂

She also talked about her philosophies of design and life, which ended up being closely connected. During the recent recession, she found herself having a lot of time to think and write about her ideas (since she was not being offered any work). She realized that her design process includes a basic rule of Deconstruction/Reconstruction: looking at the parts that make up a whole, and re-envisioning the roles of these parts. This new way of looking at things is a mode of shifting perspectives. Taking this design idea further, she applies it to structuring her life. She now teaches this theory through “Designing the Life you Love.” There’s more info about it on her website.

Graph to help you "Design the Life you Love"

P.S. She also designed some kitchen utensils for Target that she said are quite affordable.



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