Thursday, February 24, 2011

Personal Space: The Behavioral Basis of Design

In Robert Sommer’s Personal Space: The Behavioral Basis of Design, he explains the psychology of group interactions that relates to seating arrangements. This relates back to the dining space in the way that I am designing: in the shape of the table, the distance between chairs, the type of interaction that will be taking place, etc. Sommer defines group as “a face to face aggregation of individuals who have some shared purpose of being together” and social influence as “the way the presence of one person affect[s] another”.  Both of these factors play into the experience that my dining space will be designed to facilitate.  The group will be dining face to face, both in person and on video chat, for Eradicating World Hunger Day.  The sense of a group sharing one common goal is what makes the dining experience especially intimate. Although intimacy as a dining experience is a goal, Sommer shows that enough personal space allotted for each person at a table is crucial in order for people to not feel uncomfortable.  This is not the same for humanity as a whole, but varies across cultures. The social media aspect of the dining table via a screen will ease this culture gap. Sommer also shows that people respond differently to square or rectangular tables than round tables. It is shown that in rectangular tables like the one I have chosen, conversing was best done across from another person. This will benefit the purposes of my dining experience because the video chat screen will be directly across from the person who is having the conversation. 

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