Friday, October 26, 2007

Designing for people, not only for appearances

Recently commercial design has been on my mind quite a bit. It seems that more and more often design flaws are evident in the places we go routinely. Sometimes it could be because of a decision made by the client, or even because of a change made too late in the project; the blame can't always be solely on the designer.
  • At a restaurant I had to give my daughter permission to climb on the bench-style seat like a monkey because the table legs did not even leave 2 inches of leg room to get in and out of the seat. A pedestal base on the table, instead of four legs, would have solved this.
  • In a professional's office the coat closet for visitors was filled with office supplies making hanging your jacket quite challenging and more time-consuming than it should have been. Meanwhile, the open closet door prevented anyone from entering or exiting the office.
  • At another restaurant the booth seating is raised on a platform that extends about a foot beyond the edge of the booths. It was almost comical to watch restaurant staff avoid tripping while serving diners.
  • In a shoe store in a shopping centre, you're carrying shopping bags, your purse, and your jacket when you want to try on a pair of shoes. The seats provided for trying on are only inches wider than the average back-side. If you put your jacket next to you, it risks falling on to the floor. If you put your shopping on the floor, the contents risk spilling out.

It makes me wonder, "What were they thinking?" But in all honesty no design can be perceived as being perfect to everyone. The goal of interior design has never been perfection, but rather the creation of a practical space that conveys a certain image while being aesthetically pleasing. But that doesn't justify blocked doorways, tripping restaurant staff, or unusable tables. There are countless possible causes for these types of design inadequacies, but the bottom line is that those who hire interior designers for non-residential projects really have to raise their expectations once they've properly set their priorities. A wall that is a bit too pale or a piece of artwork chosen that should have been inches larger becomes irrelevant when customers are leaving remembering a closet door blocking their path, or a table that was 50% unusable.

No comments: