How furniture design tells you time’s up
We are always thinking about how furniture design impacts our everyday lives and, naturally, how this impact can have a positive effect. But what happens when you take this mindset and flip it upside down?
An interesting example is the modern fast-food restaurant. Here it’s not just the service that is fast but, ideally, the turnover of customers too. An upmarket restaurant may entreat you to stay an extra hour to go through that $200 bottle of wine. Replace that wine with a $2 burger and you may find the odd impatient stare coming your way.
The arrival of free wi-fi provides another interesting dynamic to this – the modern offer attracting browsers that many stores would rather not stay long-term. So what does furniture have to do with this? Quite simply, ‘negative’ furniture design moves customers on quickly and easily.
Some say the standard chair at a McDonalds restaurant is designed to become uncomfortable after sitting on it normally for more than fifteen minutes (we’ll let the masochists out there test it).
Starbucks is even more interesting. This is a brand that has sold globally the idea of a coffee shop as meeting place and/or chill-out creative zone. Yet customers in the last couple of years have noticed that the furniture is getting distinctly smaller... and less comfortable.
Forbes magazine said the “the newer “slightly uncomfortable” business model of late seems like an especially blatant move, and one that’s not necessarily in a forward direction, at least psychologically speaking.”
It’s a business model a James Bond villain would be proud of – free wi-fi to get customers in, uncomfortable furniture to move them along quickly.