We all had a meeting in a hotel lobby, a coffee shop, or a restaurant. In fact, given the choice, we would prefer these meetings to the ones held in an office space or a boardroom. Why is that? What can we learn from this behaviour? And how we can re-apply it to designing spaces that are fit for a contemporary lifestyle?
The rise of multi-functional spaces
According to multiple recent studies, multi-functional spaces are on the rise. It seems that if we are to be anywhere for any length of time, we want to be able to do more than one thing without leaving that place. Pop culture has fueled and encouraged this behaviour, as well as providing a justification for real estate developers to invest in large-scale projects. Accessibility to travelling and rapid technological developments have made the mixing of lifestyles possible; rendering the multi-functional spaces not only desirable but also expected. We want to be entertained while shopping, have the option to exercise in our office building, and dine with friends while visiting an exhibition. The rapid rise of these expectations has normalized the act of combining tasks and lifestyles into the new hybrid dwellings and marketing it as a unique selling point. Entrepreneurs and corporations alike are equally driven to capitalize on these possibilities. However, with so many opportunities, it is important to strategically differentiate which of the multi-functional components will really add value and which will remain unused, similar to the coffee sachets in a typical hotel guest room.
The fall of idealist commercial interior design
Our fictional character Tony has just hired an interior designer for the new co-working space he wanted to build. The space planning was symmetrical and perfect, the selection of iconic designer furniture and lighting was exciting, and the choice of contemporary luxury materials was to ensure the desirable appeal to the customers. When it started operating, however, the service and pricing were generally highly rated, but few seemed to compliment the interior design, even though the elevated design was the business’ unique selling point. What went wrong? Although admittedly satirical, too many times have we witnessed aesthetics take priority over the design elements that make the experience of the space comfortable, enjoyable, and memorable. From ergonomics to acoustics and to lighting, the drive to be ideal, balanced and perfect has somehow eliminated the human altogether from the experience and space itself.
The success story – the coffee shops
Millennials or Generation X-ers alike, we often find ourselves in coffee shops, rendering them as undeclared social gathering spaces. In contrast, just a few decades ago, more wealthy individuals gathered at social clubs, cigar lounges, or hotel lobbies. Nevertheless, throughout our lifetime, regardless of our nationality, background, age, or preferences, we have all gathered at a public square or a piazza for one reason or another. It seems that coffee shops have successfully capitalized on the modern mind’s cravings for the “third space”, the space outside the ordinary life’s routine. A coffee shop, the space, where for the price of a coffee and without any intrusion, we can watch life happen, choose to be an observer or a participant, choose to work or to socialize, to be able to have the freedom of choice and not pay a hefty price for it.
Beyond the number of functions, idealist aesthetics, and technological integrations, capturing the sense of a choice and creating the space for it might be the most important design element for creating successful venues and new hybrid spaces.
"A coffee shop, the space, where for the price of a coffee and without any intrusion, we can watch life happen, choose to be an observer or a participant, choose to work or to socialize, to be able to have the freedom of choice and not pay a hefty price for it. "
STUDIOVN is an experiential interior design studio with an interdisciplinary approach to interior architecture, interior design and experiential design. We believe that curated design experience provides the novelty that will indeed become the real differentiator. For collaborations & opportunities get in touch.