Tuesday, 23 April 2013

In Praise of Uniformity

Quite often  I stay in hotels, usually when I am working somewhere. I quite like hotels, even fairly basic ones like Ibis. 

But there is always that moment in the morning when, not yet fully awake, you step up to the shower and try to answer the question, How The Fuck Does This One Work?

The question is normally only answered after a rude awakening from scalding or freezing water and much frantic fiddling with non-obvious controls. If this was a plane, it would have crashed by now.

 All Showers Are Different except in two crucial respects: First, Fashion dictates that it should be completely unclear how they operate. As a result, red and blue dots and dashes are always painted on a scale invisible to the early morning naked eye. Second, Fashion dictates that no knobs, levers, handles, should be easily graspable - and that they should be ungraspable once the hand is wet.

Why can't  all hotel showers be the same? Why can't they be designed for ease of use by complete strangers? Why do hotels offer a Choice I can do without?

Product differentiation is not the same as choice. Sometimes products are differentiated out of laziness - the manufacturer cannot be bothered to sign up to standardisation schemes. Sometimes they are differentiated to prevent interchange of parts. Sometimes they are differentiated to give us a genuine choice. But I think the latter is actually quite rare. Maybe the labels differ but the product doesn't.

But once I have chosen my hotel (location, price, cleanliness, quietness - whatever) I actually want things to be more or less the same. And especially the showers.


1 comment:

  1. And when stumbling red-eyed into a hotel bathroom in the morning, you are invariably confronted with shower gel, shampoo and conditioner containers, each accordingly labelled in tiny writing... So back you must go into the bedroom, dripping wet, to find your reading glasses...

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