Monday, 30 April 2012

The logic of light switches

Here's an example from our bathroom. This is the wall inside the changing room.  The bathroom itself is beyond, through the door. As is typical of Japanese bathrooms, it is a wet room with a drained floor, so the whole room can be used as a shower rather than having to shower in the bath, worrying about splashing water on the carpet, as you often have to do in the UK.

The switch itself is on the left as you come into the changing room, then the door to the bathroom is beyond that, also on the left. One of the switches is for the light in the changing room, the other for the light in the bathroom. Which one is which?

Yes, I thought so too. I suppose when there are lights to the left and right and switches to the left and right, it's obvious that the switch on the right is for the light on the right. Like the ones below, custom-built for our low-voltage tension lights.

Actually those switches are vertically aligned too. They were going to be to the left and right though, corresponding to the two arrays of lights on the left and right of the room.

Anyway, when the switches are vertically aligned, it seems intuitive to me that the top switch is for further away, and the bottom switch is for nearer. So for these switches, the top one should be for the bathroom and the bottom one for the changing room. Don't you think so?

In fact, they are the other way around, and I still sometimes get them wrong. Maybe that's just me, or it's some fundamental difference between western and eastern visual grammar. Or maybe the switches were just connected at random.