It's hard to describe this. The latest effort from DIY store Hornbach of Germany, created as always by its agency Heimat, is for a campaign it dubbed "Ort der Stille," or "Place of Silence."
The premise follows thus: People often remodel different parts of their houses, but the bathroom remains a neglected, practically stigmatized place. (We don't necessarily agree with this. The fortunes and savings of many acquaintances have been invested in what anthropologist Horace Miner called the "shrine," in his cornerstone think piece about the body rituals of the Nacirema—American backward. But never mind.)
To combat what Zara, an "intestines therapist," called a "shameful topic," Hornbach set up the ultimate public toilet in the heart of Berlin, complete with "everything available in the Hornbach product range"—including things you wouldn't necessarily associate with the goods of your local Home Depot: 3-D projections, and vibrating sound and tactile materials.
Then they invited people to use it.
It's sort of gorgeous, and vaguely porny, just in terms of how into its own idea it is. Users enter barefoot, bathed in ambient purple light, feet in direct contact with cool flat slabs of stone. An artful set of panels is set up like a series of fans before them; when they pee (or the alternative), the panels light up with accompanying visuals and sounds.
"Like surfing through your bowels!" one woman exclaims.
One hundred guests were invited to take the throne and share their experiences, including the aforementioned "intestines therapist," a scientist, a naturopath and different members of the public.
"It was important to us to portray the process of going to the toilet as an act of physical and mental contemplation, as well as spiritual cleansing," says Corbinian Hennies, creative director at Heimat.
"It was equally important to depict digestion as a creative process, in order to break down inhibitions and start the dialogue. To this end, we built the toilet to resemble an altar in a cathedral."
The hope is that people will leave with a sense of reverence for both the work of their bowels and the porcelain bowl that receives it. Ideally, they'll take those emotions and build their own personal shrines—using materials from Hornbach, of course.
"By showing what is possible with a little imagination and the Hornbach product range, we want to inspire people to get creative and turn their own toilet into a monument," says marketing head Thomas Shnaitmann of Hornbach. "The question is: What will you make of your toilet?"
What, indeed? This isn't Hornbach's most coherent piece of work, but it certainly met the standard it's set for thinking outside the box, so to speak.
Campaign: The Hornbach toilet. A monument against silence.
Media (international): digital (video, display, social media), cinema, out-of-home
Agency: Heimat, Berlin
Film-Production: BenteleBecker Bewegtbild GmbH
Set construction, sound design: m box Bewegtbild GmbH
Direction: Jan Hendrik Becker, Ulrich Bentele
Music: Perkypark Musik GmbH (Peter Hayo)