Having just recently moved back to the United States from Italy last month, the cultural differences between my two homes is still fresh in my mind. There are considerable contrasts between foods, transportation, social habits, and just general ways of doing every-day tasks. I find some things comforting and familiar and others odd and foreign after six and a half years away. Some habits I like better here, some I like better there. I am officially a woman of two countries. The beautiful part is that I can chose the best of both worlds when it comes to personal habits like cooking, the downside is that I am always missing someone or something.
Some of these things I miss are simple, tiny details that made little tasks easier. For example, many public restrooms in Europe have toilets and sink faucets with pedals on the floor. You never have to touch a handle with your hand, yet unlike touch-sensored hardware, they only flush and turn on and off when you want them too...toilets don't flush while you're still sitting, you don't have to wave your hand in front of a panel emphatically to turn on the sink. The foot pedal is so, simple, so clean and sanitary, and there is so little waste. I'm sure it seems odd that I would actually miss something like a public bathroom, but as a designer it's hard to turn off the "seek best solution" button in my brain. When I find something awesome, I want to see it everywhere.
I have always been of the philosophy that the answers are all around us. While I am often thinking of nature, it also applies to solutions of other cultures. If we were to travel the world for simple solutions to daily problems, I believe we would find a plethora of answers.
Coming soon: Why I am so glad the U.S. does not have turkish toilets.