This Business Traveler Has Collected More Than 15,000 ‘Do Not Disturb’ Signs

Apr 3, 2018

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Marlon Brando said, “Privacy is not something that I’m merely entitled to, it’s an absolute prerequisite.” Edoardo Flores must’ve taken Brando’s words to heart — the retired UN worker has amassed a collection of more than 15,000 Do Not Disturb signs from more than 200 countries and territories around the world.

As a UN worker, Flores frequently traveled and his collection began accidentally, he says. It started after a business trip to Pakistan in 1995 when he took home a ‘DND’ sign that caught his eye. He hung it in his office and a colleague suggested that he start collecting the signs from all over the world. After that, he started gathering the privacy signage on a more regular basis.

Flores collection of Do Not disturb signs from Dubai.

“Most collections start by chance,” Flores told CNN. “People pick up objects and then maybe later on they think it’s something nice to collect.”

Flores, however, has not stayed in 15,000 hotels and a lot of the signs haven’t come from just hotels: cruise ships, airlines, former prisons, educational institutions and hospitals as well, according to his website dedicated to his immense collection. As his collection grew, friends and family started gathering DND signs from their own travels and giving them to Flores. His collection ranges from older designs dating back to the ’40s all the way to the sleek designs found at many hotels today.

“The older ones that I have I think they must be from between 1940s, ’50s maybe,” he says. “They had to have simple designs, some more humorous ones, with some cartoon, and maybe some catchy phrase or something like that,” Flores told CNN.

There isn’t much history available on DND signs — it’s not clear when they were first used — but Flores noted that they became increasingly popular in the mid-20th century. The newest signs show how globalization and world travel have dramatically increased over the century. Flores says that the signs started changing in the 1970s due to the increase in mass tourism. In the 21st century, though, the signage has taken on different forms other than paper hangers. Some hotels now have a ‘Do Not Disturb’ button that’s displayed outside guests’ rooms. Today, Flores says it’s not uncommon to see toys, door stops, or even intricately carved signs outside of hotel doors.

As far as what he plans to do with his collection, “I would like to find a place that’s willing to set up a kind of permanent display,” he told CNN. “I don’t like to call it museum, but it could be anything where they could be preserved or shown to the public or something like that.”

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