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24 March 2004
AMSTERDAM — A Dutch designer claims her company has been inundated with orders since Virgin Airways was forced to scrap plans to install her bright red, mouth-shaped urinals at New York's John F. Kennedy airport.
The 'Kisses' urinal
The 'Kisses' urinal
"Soon my 'kisses' urinals will be all over New York — in bars, clubs, offices and in private homes."
Van Schijndel is the designer at the Utrecht-based firm Bathroom Mania! and contradicting her critics, she said the urinals were designed as a fun cartoon mouth and not as a woman's mouth.
Her designs have been around for two-and-a-half years and the Dutch and international media has published several articles about the urinals without generating complaints until now, she said.
On Monday, Virgin Airways announced it would not go ahead with the installation of two of the bright-red urinals, designed by Van Schijndel, in its new passenger clubhouse at JFK airport.
The airline received several complaints from individuals and groups, including the National Organisation for Women, claiming the urinals clearly represented a woman's mouth and were therefore degrading to women.
Virgin spokesman John Riordan said in a statement that the airline was surprised by this negative reaction. "We can assure everyone who complained to us that no offence was ever intended," he said.
Speaking to Expatica, Van Schijndel said she had also been amazed by the criticism. She said that after the story broke, she received "some very nasty emails" from both men and women.
"But since then, 95 percent of the emails on the subject have been positive. People are saying the negative response has been exaggerated," she said.
She said Virgin was considering whether to put one of the urinals on display as a work of art. If not, it might end up hanging in the office of one of the airline's executives.
Van Schijndel said in a statement on her company's website that the urinal design had originated as a final year project for arts school.
The bathroom is developing from a purely functional space into a statement of character, personality and life-style, an environment of relaxation and fun, a necessary retreat from hectic everyday life, she said.
Meike van Schijndel
Meike van Schijndel
"These designs are based on stories and possible experiences that have to do with the bathroom. They create a fantasy world in the bathroom by working on images and impressions."
She said she provided the beginning of the story and it was up to the individual to come up with the rest.
The flowery freshness, she said, that everybody tries to get into their "smelly" bathroom was represented by her flowerpot toilet design, while her beach hut shower design conjured up feelings of the most refreshing shower after a long day at the beach.
The sexy "Kisses" urinal added a touch of sensuality, she said.
Both in the statement and in the interview, Van Schijndel stressed that the idea her urinals represented a man peeing into a woman's mouth never occurred to her, nor to many men and women she had spoken to.
"Even my 84-year-old grandmother really liked the design," Van Schijndel added.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
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