When I went to Sketch in London's Conduit Street recently for a rather posh birthday tea, the last thing I expected to be talking about over my cup of Darjeeling and my strawberry tart were the toilets. Usually, the only time I would talk about toilets at all would be if they were particularly awful (as in, I wouldn't risk it if you can hold it). But those in Sketch were so original, beautiful, quirky and interesting that they became a tea topic.
Forget Star Trek, these toilets look about as space age as you can imagine. Under a futuristic multi-coloured ceiling of large square lights, the 16 pods, designed by Noe Duchaufour-Lawrance, are approached by a rather grand sweeping staircase and occupy the entire floor, looking ominously like alien eggs.
Once you have opened the door and stepped into your fiberglass pod (and breathed a sigh of relief that there are no cryogenically frozen bodies inside), you could quite easily imagine yourself taking a quick comfort break from the bridge of the USS Enterprise. Well, apart from the frog noise.
To add even more atmosphere to your toilet-going experience, Oswaldo Macia has designed a sound poem to give your evacuation a helping hand, with his composition "Frogs": ambiguity and amphibian: composition for 16 pods. Your cubicle is the stage and you, essentially, are the actor.
Drawing on his collection of 100 recordings of frogs from around the world, each sound is prefaced by an androgynous space-age voice reading a colour and the Latin name for each frog.
Between the colour and the frog name is the temperature of each colour using the Kelvin scale. So, for example, 2,700 to 3,200 Kelvin indicates a range moving from yellow to red.
The explanation on the wall at the foot of the sweeping staircase says that throughout his work, Macia seeks to question assumptions about knowledge and perception, moving from an ocularcentric mode of perception, to claim sound, smell and vision in an expanded sensorial mode of perception.
Well, whatever the claim, it certainly gave us an interesting talking point at tea. And what better occasion than to talk about toilets than at the table?
So, next time you fancy a posh tea or happen to be in Conduit Street, treat yourself to a loo break at Sketch. Not recommended for claustrophobics..
(Oh, and here's what the tea looked like.)
Ashley Morrison is a blogger, copywriter and editor.