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Case Study: Restroom Door Icons

How the tiniest change can completely change the meaning of something as simple as the signage on a washroom door.

I was told this story by someone who knew the designer involved. However, I cannot find out any further information about this case. If you know more about it, please email with that information and I will update this page.

washroomiconsbefore.jpgFig. 1: Original door icons

There was once a restaurant that sought a distinctive and unique “style” to appeal to “modern” customers.

One feature of the restaurant with the extensive application of “Scandinavian simplicity” - lots of straight lines, plain surfaces, and simple symbology.

But patrons had a problem: they could find the restrooms.

They did see two doors, each with one of the symbols shown below on them. One door had the symbol on the left on it; the other door had the symbol on the right on it.

Customers were upset.

washroomiconsafter.jpgFig. 2: "Fixed" door icons

The problem became so serious that the restaurant's owners approached a designer to help them deal with the situation. The concern was that they wanted to solve the problem of clarifying which restroom door was which while also preserving the aesthetic of the restaurant's style.

The designer solved the problem in about five minutes.

His solution is shown in Figure 2.

See what even a minor change can do to improve a situation?

design/washroom_door_icons.txt · Last modified: 2021.11.24 13:56 by Fil Salustri