The reason I think that the front end of a station should be easy to identify when placing a crafting station is simple. As it stands, there is a good chance that a player will unwillingly have his thrall stick through a wall and show on the outside of a building.
This happened to me with several stations in the past and I had to place some then destroy them only to figure it out. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy for the advanced potion brewing station. The only way to know which side is the front is by correctly identifying the embers under the bowl.