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Brief Published: 7 Feb 2018

Toilets Get Humanitarian and Environmental Makeover

L-R: Leo Schlumberger, Nendo

Following devastating earthquakes in Japan over recent years, Japanese studio Nendo has designed a toilet that can be built and used by people living in disaster zones. The kit – called minimLET – consists of seven items: a carrying bag, aluminium pipes, a toilet seat, tissues, a nylon cloth tent, garbage bags and a coagulant to neutralise waste. 

Each component is multipurpose. The aluminium pipes can be used as supporting poles for the tent and as legs for the toilet seat, the nylon cloth tent doubles up as a poncho, and the kit’s bag can carry up to 16 litres of water.

MinimLET’s design even appropriates commonly found items. For example, an umbrella can be transformed into structural support for the tent, while full cans and bottles can be used as legs to raise the toilet seat.

Dutch designer Leo Schlumberger also explored the design and use of toilets for his graduation project at Design Academy Eindhoven, exhibited as part of Dutch Design Week 2017. He created a dry toilet for indoor use that kept European expectations of comfort in mind.

The toilet vessel is made from polyester, brass and steel, and it boasts a welcoming, tactile touch that reframes the household utility as a design feature. Being a dry toilet, Schlumberger’s design encourages users to be more mindful of their water usage and offers an alternative for off-grid living.

For more on how design is being used to address social and environmental conflict, read Creativity for Crisis: Humanitarian Innovation.