Form over Function

Bosnia and Herzegovina – June 2010

My wife and I are taking a local bus from Dubrovnik, Croatia, to Sarajevo. As it’s a local bus, there is no English spoken, meaning when we stop, we don’t know if it’s a short break to stretch our legs or a longer stop for lunch. The result being that when we do arrive in Sarajevo six hours later, we’re starving.

We head to our hotel and ask the receptionist where there’s a good place to eat. She recommends a restaurant around the corner, so we quickly drop off our bags and head for an early dinner. The waiter is a little taken aback when we order three meals, but he brings them, and they are quickly consumed. We wander a bit about the old town before settling in for the night.

When we return to our hotel, the receptionist asks how we liked her choice and also mentions that some guests have had difficulty operating the shower, so if that turns out to be the case, just give her a call. “How hard can it be to operate a shower?” I think as we head back to our room.

As we were in a hunger-induced haze when we dropped off our bags, we hadn’t really noticed how modern our room was. I’d selected the hotel based on price and location and am surprised how contemporary it is, considering we’re just off the old town. Speaking of which, let’s figure out this shower.

Below the shower head is what appears to be a shiny silver brick. I’m figuring there should be a way to turn either end, with one side starting the water and the other adjusting the temperature. A careful inspection reveals it’s solid, like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Okay, maybe you pull it out from the wall. No, it doesn’t seem to budge. Okay, maybe it rotates—still no luck. Now I know why the receptionist said to give her a call.

It’s another ten minutes of trying to figure out this puzzle box of a shower when I give in and give the receptionist a call. The solution has to do with applying a certain amount of pressure while simultaneously rotating and pulling at a specific angle. Who designed this thing? I follow her directions and we soon have a functioning shower. I tell my wife I’m not convinced I’ll be able to get it operating a second time, so she should shower after me.

Then I notice the toilet, which is encased in a semi-opaque and rather thick glass. Another interesting design choice. Not only is the door to the toilet rather heavy (I’m beginning to believe it is bullet-proof, which would explain its thickness), it also makes a loud snap when opening or closing it. So, if you’re looking for some privacy in the middle of the night, be prepared to wake someone up. And, if you’re looking for a prime example of form over function in design, I’ve found the place for you.

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