Sunday, January 31, 2010

The visible invisible

One of the classrooms close to my office are used by CIEP students (The Culture and Intensive English Program). The building I am working in is logistical nightmare and no one is surprised seeing people running circles in search for a room which according to every logic should be next to rooms with similar numbers but it is not! Once in a while some poor soul asks me where to find the restroom or classroom. But recently it happened twice that after pointed to the right place the foreign student could not find the man restroom. Finally I decided to investigate the problem.

Imagine that you are a foreign student still struggling with English (or generally with Latin-based alphabet). While looking in the direction where the bathroom should be you are arriving to the generic door and here is what you see at first (eye level)How would you interpret this symbol?

Still not sure what you are looking at and despite the sign to "keep closed" you are opening the door and here it is what you see:

The image is not quite showing the actual depth, but after opening the door one can see fairly long corridor - The fire escape route?
Now, if you only looked up you would see the sign: men. But remember, you really need to use the restroom and you already run circles around the crazy building! Also, as a world traveler you are use to the symbols marking the restroom and other pivotal places, not just words!

Does the fire door sticker really communicate the message? What exactly is that message about anyway? It it universal enough to be correctly interpreted by anyone? How would you improve the visibility of the restroom?


  1. The man and the woman on the sticker looks to me like the restroom sign - is it posted on every restroom?

  2. Well, it is posted on every room that could double as an emergency shelter. I have to admit that since my blog, UNI added the proper signs to each restroom, I need to take the picture of it and add to the blog post. It happened week after my blog so I felt like from the Windows 7 ad: "I did it" haha