Redesigning a Space to Encourage Social Interaction

September 23 2017, 12:01pm

Much has been said about cafes and the ways in which they have become second offices for the location independent. For many, a cafe is a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. For others, they are places to gather and socialize with friends. Though owners vary on the spectrum of what kin of experience they want to create for their customers, designing workable spaces is relatively easy. Designing a shop that encourages social interaction, however, requires more thought.

Office #2, the cafe across the street

Spacing between tables plays a large role in how social a space is. Have tables spaced too far from one another and people will easily find themselves disengaged from other patrons. Table spacing that is too narrow, meanwhile, may result in customers wanting more space and privacy for their conversations. In this Goldilocks situation, much like the spacing of tables in successful "Irish Pubs," just the right amount can enhance of socialization.

Another factor in how social a space can be is the size of the table. Tables that are too big run the risk of encouraging studying and work—who doesn't enjoy laying out all of their notes for their next test?

Note knolling anyone?

Countertops that are the right size allow space for things like drinks and food while limiting space for larger implements that would promote studying or working.

Recently, a local cafe underwent a transformation to become more of a social space with a a slightly higher turnaround.

Where once there were large tables with people studying and playing board games, they elected to replace the tables with smaller counters. Previously chairs were back to back with those against the wall, locked in. This new furniture opened up the space and made it more friendly to people chatting with their drink conveniently located in the middle of them. The size of the tabletop is no wider than the width of a small Macbook, making studying hard, if not impossible.

Although I personally like spots that encourage a mixture of people playing tabletop games, studying, working, and socializing; for what this cafe was trying to design, they did a great job.

What kind of cafe space do you enjoy?