8/3/10

Formica Bathroom - Get ready to regret it.

Guess who's back today? It's our favorite whipping boy The Seventies, here to teach us about all you can do with Formica. True enough. You can do a lot with Formica, but you shouldn't do it in your bathroom. Don't listen to The Seventies, people. Remember Disco?

 Formica, in case you didn't know, and in case you slightly care, is made from resin (liquid plastic) impregnated paper, with a second decorative printed paper layer and a hard plastic layer on top of that. Yes, the plastic layer is made from Melamine, which you may remember from the much-publicized whoopsie of melamine-contaminated pet food and, later, powdered baby food, all brought to you by lazy and irresposible Chinese manufacturers in 2009. No, your Formica countertop is not going to make you sick unless you smoke it, or grind it up and snort it. Then again, this ad is from the seventies, so, you never know.

Formica's name is an interesting story, and one that I hold up as an example of a good product name, unlike made up nonsense like "Abilify" (a prescription drug)  or "Altria" (Philip-Morris' fake name). The mineral "mica" was used as an electrical insulator in resistors in the early 20th century. Formica got it's name because it was originally developed as a "substitute for mica" in this application. Ding! Formica! It's a natural name that grew out of the product's function. All product names should be this way, not dreamed up by naming corporations, based on consumer focus testing and word association.

Is it fair to judge Formica bathroom panels by my memory of leaky, worn out shower stalls? Nope, but I'm going to do it anyway. When I think of Formica showers, I think of swollen, warped panels with black mildew coming from underneath. I'm sure there must be examples of Formica showers with properly sealed edges, but you know how memory can be: the gross ones really stay with you.

The idea behind putting Formica in your shower is that you can decorate your bathroom with godawful patterns, the same way you ruined your kitchen, only more water resistant... assuming you don't skimp on the silicone caulk. Hooray! More ugly everywhere! "Restraint" was a closed book in the seventies. "Too Much", by contrast, was a beloved, dogeared book with favorite passages underlined and highlighted in the seventies. Passages like "migraine" and "retinal burns" were even circled several times.

Aww, why so mean? Well, here's a sample of the wallpaper I recently spent a day pulling down from my bathroom walls. It wasn't Formica, so it came off in curly sheets, rather than biohazardous planks with water bugs swarming out from behind them.
Spending two years with this cornucopia wallpaper in my bathroom was like brushing my teeth while staring at a Magic Eye print, except that the sailboat never appeared. The pattern just kept vibrating on all four walls until I felt like vomiting. Fortunately the toilet was always handy... not that anyone would notice if I just spewed on the walls.

The Seventies even shows us the miracle of a carpeted bathroom. Tired of that easy-to-clean, quick-to-dry hygienic tile floor in your bathroom? Solve that problem with carpeting, baby, and don't be such a potsy! Leave town for a week or two and a bathroom like this would be reclaimed by foot-high fungal growths when you return. You'd have to throw your body weight against the door to get it open, feeling the mushroom stalks snapping as the door sheared them off the floor. But that'd be worth it, as long as you have that warm, soft carpet beneath your bare toes, right? Screw you, The Seventies. You're an idiot.

5 comments:

Sue said...

I wonder if I can find that righteous clear plastic cube at IKEA. I'm always looking for extra low tables to hold my doodads.

Phil Are Go! said...

Know what, Sue? I was thinking about this post, telling myself I should have added a remark on the one cool thing in the picture: that clear table. You're right. It's pretty good! I have a clear table like that, Got it from CB2. Here's a link that probably won't work. Have fun copy and pasting into a browser! The table's spacey enough to be worth it, though.

http://www.cb2.com/search.aspx?query=clear%20table

Thanks for reading!

Phil said...

It points to your sharp, technical mind, Phil, that you would recognize faulty installation as the reason behind the bulbous blistering in the Formica panels of yesteryear. Many of the garish formica walls, correctly installed, in the seventies still exist with nary a bump.
I noticed your use of 'Potsy'. That is a new one for me. It reminded me of a term that used to circulate around here: Chachi-lover. It is derogatory, as in "Aww, you spilt my bong! Way to go, Chachi-lover!" Hopefully your lexicon has increased, too.

reynolf oliveros said...

reading great article is one of my hobby and this one is one the articles that i put my interest with. looking forward for more.. formica samples

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Thanks, Reynolf! Our capacity to make fun of terrible decorating is as boundless as the paisley covered sea.

Please come again!

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