Staying in a hotel usually makes me think about design. From the moment I walk into the lobby and look for the registration desk to the moment I check out and try to decipher the charges on my bill, I find myself thinking how things could be improved.
I recently stayed in an inn located not far from campus in a college town. The room I had was of ample size, but it was furnished in such a crowded way that it was difficult for me to walk around without bumping into something. The king-size bed had an even larger footprint because of the long dressing bench set at its foot. There were a total of five tables -- one on each side of the bed, one on each end of the sofa, and a coffee table in front of it -- laid out with perfect symmetry. Good design is not crowded; good design is temperate.
The symmetry was destroyed by a large cabinet (containing a flat-screen television) located so close to the foot of the bed on its left side -- the side on which I normally sleep at home -- that I chose to sleep on the right side instead. I knew that if I awoke in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, I would surely have run right into the side of the unyielding cabinet. The path along the right side of the bed was similarly obstructed, but by a softly upholstered easy chair that would do less harm. The chair was the only piece of furniture set at an angle, and I imagined that it would strike me only a glancing blow. Good design is forgiving.
The bathroom itself was of an uncommonly good size for a hotel room. The bathroom door opened flat against the wall, hampering neither ingress nor egress. In addition to the mandatory commode and washbasin, the room contained a full-size tub and a separate shower stall. Unfortunately, the washbasin was small and had very little shelf space beside it; my quart-size Ziploc bag of toiletries looked crowded when placed on it. In addition, the shower stall itself was small and confining, so much so that I could see that I would have trouble bending down to retrieve the soap that I would surely drop while showering the next morning. Ironically, there was plenty of floor space in the room to have accommodated a much larger sink counter and shower stall. Why a relatively large bathroom space was outfitted with such small fixtures is beyond me. Good design is balanced.
After I had unpacked, I set about to fill out some of the paperwork that my host had left with me, but I soon realized that there was no desk or desk chair in the room. The surfeit of tables included none suitable for writing upon without a good deal of contortion or bending over, and so I used the back of a book as a lap desk. I could not recall ever before having stayed in a hotel room without a desk. Good design anticipates needs.