The Aestheticization of Restrooms

Building on her prior research on the aestheticization of the male urinal, Karen Rae Cast examines the male restroom as a visual and material culture-site in her thesis ‘Examining the male restroom as a site of visual and material culture in the twenty-first century

(Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Art Education in the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009)
The author describes how :

“By combining aesthetic theories with an investigation of male restrooms, I investigate the integration of the aestheticization of the male restroom into everyday life, touch on the relationship between aestheticization of male restrooms and the construction of meaning and identity, and consider the possibility of the patron to these aestheticed spaces as an aesthetic subject.”

With the contention that :

“ … the male restroom, the urinal in particular, has become contested terrain for the men who use them, the fashion designers, artists, and marketers who design and supply them, the academics who study them, the environmentalists who try to govern them, and the moralists who police them.”

The thesis goes on to examine global tendencies in urinal and restroom design, with pictorial examples from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Holland, the US, Australia, Portugal and more. But ultimately, the conclusion of the paper throws up a question :

“Are the development of these aestheticized male restrooms a result of male identity construction or are they perpetuating male identity and taste formation? Further research must be undertaken in order to adequately answer these questions.”

The thesis features the following restroom resources :
• Taiwan-based  Modern Toilet Restaurant chain
• San Francisco-based urinal sculptor Clark Sorensen
• Chongqing-based Largest Public Bathroom

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