The 8 seating biases (That every Restaurateur and Interior Designer should be aware of).
You may be familiar with William H Whyte’s pioneering work in the 80s around the general patterns of behaviour of people within public spaces. He called it The social Life of Small Urban Spaces.
Whilst these patterns of behaviour are not true for 100% of people there are true for most and we have found that simply designing for how most people behave most of the time was immensely effective in taking drastic shortcuts around Design Thinking and resolving the core fundamentals of every design challenge very quickly. We simply refer to this process as “Designing For Human Behaviour” To this end, the “Why” is of less concern work within the area of hospitality design over the last 30 years and our studies and observations within this space have revealed some remarkable consistencies in how people behave within specifically western or western influenced cultures. Within seating spacing and arrangements we have observed 8 predictive behaviour traits and have reduced these findings into 8 principles.
Today we will discuss 8 of those principles.
For the most part, people like busy restaurants as restaurants are social spaces and people are social beings.
Restaurants are thus busy because they are busy. People will always choose the busiest restaurant given the choice if there were 2 neighbouring restaurants of a similar category. To this end finding a suitable layout that puts your guests on display is more important than displaying your food.
Our observations show that people tend to frame space, ie prefer to occupy the outer edges of a restaurant 1st before they move towards the centre.
Furthermore, people will tend to sit in the corners 1st before they fill out the rest of the edges. Layout dependent, typically this framing behaviour will reach 50% to 70% before people start moving towards the core. This is especially true if the edges have softer seating.
3. The Lookout.
Seating with views attracts people even if comfort and position are compromised. For instance, a good view externally even in colder weather is favoured over more comfortable internal temperature-controlled seating if a good view was the external option.
Seating internally in a cramped space with a view will most often be favoured over more comfortable seating without a view. People book and tend to go towards the best view first. They also tend to extend their stay in areas with views.
Compromised areas, for example, those at the deepest ends of restaurants can often be solved by raising it significantly over the rest of the spaces as people naturally and instinctively prefer elevated areas.
This is a term we like to call perching and is equally true for compromised spaces inside and outside of restaurants. Raised areas along the perimeter or backing up against walls are most effective. 2 steps up are favoured over one as people tend to notice the sequence of 2 steps whereas they notice a single step less and tend to trip over it.
In the next article, we look at... Do you think that you order your restaurant food by free choice? Think again.
1. Design Partnership Australia
About the Author: Callie is an Architect turned Interior Designer turned
Human Behaviour Designer. He is also the founder of
Learn more about Designing for Human Behaviour.
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