Design

Clean thing

A film about a man who cleans toilets? Can be wonderful. If Wim Wenders writes the script and directs the film. And if the toilets aren't just any old public conveniences, but potential design icons.

Credit: Satoshi Nagare / Nippon Foundation
  • Text
    Bernd Haase
  • Foto
    Satoshi Nagare / Nippon Foundation

"It's such a perfect day, I'm glad I spent it with you", sings Lou Reed in his 1972 hit. Hirayama loves Lou Reed. And lives his "Perfect Days", the title of the new Wenders film, day after day. Following fixed rituals, Hirayama is happy to spend the day with himself, cleaning Tokyo's public toilets with dedication. Sounds more like monotony than perfection. But when Wim Wenders films a story like this, the end result is a potential candidate for the foreign Oscar as well as the award for best leading actor (devotedly: Kōji Yakusho) at the Cannes Film Festival.


Following fixed rituals, Hirayama is happy to spend the day with himself, cleaning Tokyo's public toilets with dedication.

The film's genesis is also worthy of a film. Wenders received an invitation from the project "The Tokyo Toilet", initiated by the designer Koji Yanai. 17 public toilets were designed and built for the Olympic Games by 16 star architects, including Tadao Ando and Shigeru Ban. The result is design gems made of wood, glass, concrete and with futuristic lighting effects. Temples of upscale luxury, so to speak. Always clean. Always in perfect condition. Wenders, who has loved Japan for decades and travelled there regularly, was supposed to document this project. But he didn't. Because: "Places are better off in fictional stories than in documentaries."


So it was supposed to be a feature film. About one of the people who keep these toilets clean. The result is a portrait of a modern-day lonesome cowboy who has settled into the routines of his life, barely talks, spends his lunch breaks in the park photographing trees and exploring his city. A quiet film that celebrates the beauty of small things. And is critically acclaimed. "The quintessence of Wender's work", the "best of his career", is the verdict of Deutschlandradio Kultur, for example.

We don't just want to celebrate the film here, but also these toilet blocks, which have already become an Instagram sensation. In the rampdesign 2023 "Success by Design" countdown, we already celebrated them as the logical main event. Because design doesn't stop at any place in the world. Especially not when it's such a clean thing.

Bernd Haase

Bernd Haase

Head of Text & Editor
He had a very clear career plan from a very early age: He wanted to be a rock star. Then he was allowed to join the school band. Because he wrote the lyrics (and because nobody, but really nobody, wanted to play bass). But it didn't last long. He switched basses with his father's Triumph Adler, realised that it also sounded nice, and decided to write about the dark side of the music business. But it turned out to be an internship at the local newspaper. Stayed quite a long time. It was much more exciting than I thought. After that, I worked as an editor for various newspapers, covering the finer things from cinema to music to travel. I also came across ramp. And stayed. It really is as exciting as I thought.
rampdesign: Success by Design

rampdesign: Success by Design

Ein Design, das den Unterschied ausmacht? Immer eine schöne Aufgabe. Viel spannender ist es aber, ein begehrenswertes Design zu entwickeln, das sich schlüssig aus der Marke ergibt und das mit einem modernen Blick konsequent für die Positionierung der Marke und deren nachhaltige Wahrnehmung arbeitet. Daher geht es immer darum, ein Markendesign zu entwickeln, das differenziert UND positioniert.

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