It’s the great injustice of festival life. While men don’t have to think twice about it, for women the question of when and where to pee is always there. Do you brave a long queue and risk losing your friends, or are you drunk enough to relieve yourself in a more informal setting?
Gina Périer, a French architect living in Copenhagen, thinks she has the answer. In a boost for "pee-quality", her company is rolling out Lapee, which she claims is the world's first industrially-produced female urinal, at this week's Roskilde festival in Denmark.
"When we were here on Saturday and Sunday, it was only used by girls and they were so happy," she said, as she inspected her 48 pink plastic spiral designs. "We were spammed by Instagram messages. They were all saying 'finally, something for us', because it's so degrading for women, the situation of urination."
The concept is fairly simple. The Lapee takes the idea of a single moulded urinal unit with built-in storage tank and adapts it for women by extending the divider to screen the user off, lifting it up and raising the hole into which you pee to make it easy to hit. A spiral design assures privacy.
Périer (25), founded the company last year with her Danish friend Alexander Egebjerg after both had worked for the festival as student architect volunteers. “We wanted to create the female version of a product, which exists all over the world,” she explained.
“I don’t think it’s that complicated to make a urinal for women. I just think it was something which was designed by men and they only thought about themselves.”
With three women able to visit at a time and no door, they claim it takes just 30 seconds to spend a penny, compared to three minutes for a standard cabin toilet, making it six times more efficient. The platform where women stand or crouch is raised so that passers-by can’t peer in and the user can look around.
“Actually, it’s not safer to have a door, it’s the opposite,” Périer said. “With Lapee, you are in a way better position to defend yourself than if you are locked in a cabin with someone.”
There was a mixed reaction from festival-goers, with some units overflowing and doubts over the lack of a door.
“You need to be a little bit drunk to do it if you ask me,” said Ida Blomberg (18). But her friend Sol Grum (19), approved.
“You know, when you’re drinking you have to pee all the time, and last year all the girls had to pee in front of everyone or wait for half an hour, so it’s very nice,” she said. “Also they are pink, so that’s also a little bit cool.”
Lapee is not the first innovation in female urination. Travel devices include the Shewee, which has been around for two decades.
Périer believes Lapee has already reduced the noxious smells for which Roskilde is notorious.
“When you’re a girl and you go to toilets at festivals they are usually covered in shit, so to have a place where you know it’s only going to be pee sounds like the most luxurious thing in the world.”– The Guardian