Loowatt at London Design Festival 2016

Stubborn as…

Can the design of the toilet (and its infrastructure) change?

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This was the question asked by the editors of Dirty Furniture magazine. Well, the answer is Absolutely! But… Its success depends on so many factors such as country of application, cultural acceptance, cost, and so on. I was invited to participate in the Toilet break debate series alongside Pete Codling, Industrial Designer. We took turns elaborating on the issue and presenting our work.

Pete presented his squat toilet design, an innovative re-think of the modern ‘throne’. A fusion between the conventional western toilet, but with features designed so the user sits on a squatting position; his toilet is novel and yet familiar; it is ergonomic and elegant. Squatting is proven to be a better position for a full evacuation and Pete’s toilet is an attractive solution for westerners not used to squatting, but seeking a better toilet posture.

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Peter Codling’s squat toilet design.

I presented Loowatt’s system, with examples of our work in the UK and Madagascar and our design development to date. The way to explain the challenges we face in our sanitation proposition is to think of it as ‘system’ rather than just ‘the toilet’; and the hurdles of scaling up into a commercial solution. Dirty Furniture’s editors Anna Bates and Elizabeth Glickfeld led the discussion, and got the audience involved in the Q & A.  Dirty Furniture is an independent design publication of 6 editions, each tackling a piece of furniture: Couch, Table, Toilet, Closet, Telephone and Bed, and this event marked the launch of Dirty Furniture issue 3 – Toilet.

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The talks were held at a subterranean hub, also showing The Shit Museum’s latest collection. The Museo della Merda, as it is called in Italian, is an amazing space near Milan filled with objects made of Merdacotta, a unique blend of cow dung and clay. This fantastic initiative is the brainchild of farming entrepreneur Gianantonio Locatelli, who joined forces with architect Luca Cipelletti, curator Gaspare Luigi Marcone and gallerist Massimo Valsecchi, to showcase the potential uses and benefits of waste material. Collected from a dairy farm which makes milk for Grana Padano cheese, the daily deposits of 3,500 specially selected cows, (about 150,000 kilos of dung), goes into plates, cups vases and furniture and also generates energy through Anaerobic Digestion. This exhibit is located at the Brompton Design District, on show until the 25th September 2016.

Fernanda Costa talks shit in a debate as part of the Toilet Break series.