Gina Périer is the founder of Lapee, an invention which answers the call for a solution to the pee problem too many women face at crowded, beverage-heavy events around the world.
Photos by Joséphine Løchen
We all know the eternal struggle: when you’re at a music festival or any other crowded event where there’s drinking involved and you’re caught waiting in a line with your bladder about to burst, praying to God that there’s hand sanitizer in those tall blue palaces. Those who are brave enough to ditch the queue, gather the homies and try their luck with a classic squat-and-piss just have to pray that they don’t make awkward eye-contact with strangers or get otherwise heckled by passersby. Meanwhile, men have access to any number of quick and easy urinals, or are able to pee hassle-free any time they feel the need.
Gina Périer is proud to present a feasible solution to the problem with her own invention, together with co-founder and fellow architect and cultural commiserator, Alexander Egebjerg – Lapee. Lapee is the first female urinal that attempts to bring equity to the outdoor party experience with a one-and-done experience that could make life easier for women to consume alcohol and do their thing just as easily as anyone else.
We spoke with Gina herself about the process of getting Lapee together, the thought that went into the design and the potential benefits of an invention like this.
So, what’s your story? Where are you from and what lead you to where you are now?
I am from Paris, I am 25, I came to Copenhagen for an internship at the architecture office COBE, where I met Alexander who was a model builder. I went to the academy KADK [The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts] for my master and Alexander and I, right after the thesis, started designing and building installations for Roskilde Festival.
There, we pointed at a huge problem: there are no urinals for women and that is very discriminating at an outdoor event. Women simply do not have the same ability to enjoy an event as men do. Urinals for men are spread all around events – it is never a problem for them. Women have to queue all the time for too long, missing the concerts, or have to expose themselves. They are constantly holding back their bladder. As architects, we wanted to find a proper, industrialized and iconic solution.
Can you briefly describe for us – what is Lapee?
Lapee is the first industrialized female urinal. It is simply the female version of the very popular four-men urinal, which is spread around outdoor events all over the world. Lapee is made, handled and cleaned the same way. It looks like a boat propeller from a top view. It has room for 3 women, they can communicate without breaking the intimacy. Lapee has no doors, the shape itself provides privacy enough to pee only. Lapee covers the squatting women whereas a standing man would be exposed. The design was shaped according to the female body but also according to the international industry – all rental companies can integrate Lapee right away into their routine.
What was the experience that lead you to join together and create Lapee?
Alexander and I are good friends and while being at Roskilde Festival, we could see that the problem was not only annoying for women, it was directly affecting both of us, and of course the rest of the festival. People always have to wait for their female friends to pee, and that leads to constantly losing each other, and women can’t always drink as much as they wish. 🙂 As architects, we were very motivated and challenged to find a good solution.
How did you start to execute the product itself, as far as design and usability?
If we went so far the two of us, it’s because in a very early design phase, we involved different partners – before launching the production, we got the green light from our manufacturer, the largest festivals of DK, the largest rental company, engineers, and plenty of women who had tried prototypes along the process and the final functional prototype where they could actually pee in.
Were there any major hurdles in the process?
Haha, it has definitely been a roller coaster, especially until we launched the production. It’s been a huge learning process since none of us are educated in business, but we had constant help from different programs we participated in, and from people with the right knowledge.
What has is been like, working with Lapee?
Every day is different. It has been so far a very positive journey, being two good friends makes the work life quite fun and relaxed.
Where do you think these female urinals would work best?
Festivals for sure, but also marathons, carnivals, open air bars, street food markets, weddings, campings, catastrophe areas, refugee camps… Basically wherever toilets are pressured, wherever there is a need for more safety and hygiene.
What makes Lapee most important, in your humble opinion?
That it is just the female version of a product that has served men for decades, worldwide. And that it provides efficiency, safety and hygiene.
Have there been other options for solving the issue of women peeing in a pinch? If so, what are your opinions on those?
Yes, there has been a few observable at some festivals. They were very good solutions but not scalable, it was never an industrialized, ready to use product. We learned a lot from those and saw how women were happy. These solutions validated the problem and the idea.
It’s a big AMEN from me, creating a more equitable way for women to relieve themselves in private/public and not take an hour to wait in line or be otherwise penalized for just taking a pee. Are there any guidelines or helpful tips when it comes to using Lapee?
Hahahha so nice to hear :)) Well, my biggest advice would be to drink one more beer!!
Finally, do you have any advice for fellow women and girls, either who are developing their own ideas or just in general?
Hmmm well, business is a gray hair men world. Stay strong, believe in what you do and let’s balance the gender statistics!