build, poorly lit, with no thought given to sanitation. It was not “a machine for living;” and it bore no resemblance to the stainless steel Dymaxion bathroom that Bucky had designed 30 years earlier. We cleaned the toilet and sink and polished the mirror and then we wiped down the walls. I remember Naomi and I, face to face, on our hands and knees scrubbing the floor and going over every last crevice where the toilet and baseboard met the floor tile. We must have done a good job, Bucky never mentioned it.A few years later, Lloyd Kahn, editor of Shelter Magazine asked me what I remember about working for Bucky. I told him this story about Bucky and bathrooms adding a few ruminations on possible Freudian cleanliness hang-ups.
In 1991, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan acquired the lone surviving prototype of Bucky’s 1945 Dymaxion house. It came equipped with a version of his Dymaxion bathroom.A few months before the Dymaxion house exhibit opened in the fall of 2001, I visited the museum with my mom who was 90-years old. The house was just starting to be reconstructed inside the museum.As we peeked through the cracks in the temporary plywood screen that surrounded the house A friendly museum guard came over and offered to take us inside the enclosure for a private showing. I’d always wondered how Bucky had handled the sink and toilet in his Dymaxion bathroom. Looking at the backside of his Dymaxion bathroom unit I found the answer. He used a regular old toilet and tank underneath all that polished stainless steel. The Dymaxion toilet wasn’t a “machine for living,” it was just the same old porcelain flush toilet covered with a shiny stainless steel shroud.
Everything is design, sometimes you have to clean the toilet
Our second week with Bucky we built a 150 foot diameter kissing-tensegrity dome using bamboo that Bucky got from the U.S. Government. But that’s another story.
Bucky and secretary, Naomi Smith
Dymaxion House at Henry Ford Museum - Dearborn, Michigan