Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism. Become a Member »

Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.

A “Do Not Disturb” sign from Edoardo Flores’s collection, from Chaweng Resort, Koh Samui, Thailand, #8673 (all images courtesy Edoardo Flores)

As the son of a hotel manager, Edoardo Flores spent his childhood around objects many of us associate solely with the niceties of vacation. His interest in collecting “Do Not Disturb” signs didn’t come until later, when he grabbed some unique ones as business trip souvenirs. Around 1995 he began collecting in earnest, and he now owns close to 9,000 signs from 190 countries.

Afonso V Hotel, Aveiro, Portugal, #6478

In a history of the collection that Flores provided to Hyperallergic, he claims that little is known about the development of the “Do Not Disturb” (DND) sign, now such a common, expected component of hotel stays. Flores speculates that the DND sign was the wise invention of one hotel manager, and that other places later emulated the practice.

Some of the signs in Flores’s collection approximate the typeface and design of what one imagines the average DND sign to be. But this assembly also demonstrates the human interest in aesthetics beyond functionality. Some of the highlights: a sign from Hungary that approximates a Rorschach inkblot — are those lips and a finger or something more psychologically revealing? There’s the sign from Lufthansa that looks like the original “world’s saddest owl.” And many signs that lasciviously suggest, usually with the image of a woman pressing a finger to her lips, the reason these guests should not be bothered. One from the Helix Hotel in Washington, DC, combines an image of a red-lipped woman with the phrase “I just want to be alone” — a kind of anti-Lichtensteinian play on Pop art imagery.

The vast range of shapes, colors, and themes in Flores’s collection seems a plea for more unique design of all mass-produced objects, if not for functionality than simply for the sake of the optical, intellectual, and emotional stimulation that comes from visual diversity.

Lufthansa, Germany, #4258

Codan Hotel, Copenhagen, Denmark #7329

Coral Bay Resort & Spa, Koh Samui, Thailand, #6022

Helix Hotel, Washington, DC, USA, #3628

Hotelito Casa Las Tortugas, Isla Holbox, Mexico, #8021

Hungar Hotels, Hungary, #0367

InterContinental, Prague, Czech Republic, #2546

Kirkwood Hotel, Des Moines, USA, #4041

Château Fort de Sedan, France, #7464

Ramboda Falls Hotel, Ramboda, Sri Lanka, #6908

The Chedi, Muscat, Oman, #8720

Toba Hotel International, Toba City, Japan, #7757

Unknown, France, #1313

Unknown, Spain, #1089

h/t Collector’s Weekly

The Latest

Opportunities in December 2021

From commissions to residencies and fellowships for artists, curators, and teachers, a list of opportunities that artists, writers, and art workers can apply for each month.

Julia Friedman

Julia graduated from Barnard with a B.A. in European History, and from NYU with an M.A. in Visual Arts Administration. She works as Senior Curatorial Manager at Madison Square Park Conservancy.

One reply on “The Diverse Designs of “Do Not Disturb” Signs”

Comments are closed.