The Problem. (now with photographic evidence!)

Let’s play a game.

See if you can guess what’s my all time, number one, with a bullet design peeve.

Wait. This will never work- too many of you already know. Okay, for the three people on the planet that don’t yet know, it’s when tables are too close together in restaurants. This makes me CRAZY. And in NYC, with over 31,000 restaurants and little space, it bothers me a LOT.

Right up front- I am passionate about food. I own and co-moderate one food community and I’m a moderator on another. I cook. A lot. I take photos of food. A lot. I am deeply passionate about restaurants and restaurant culture. Restaurant design is my favorite kind, because I get design and food in one shot. I read just as many food blogs as design and architecture blogs, and I read a lot of design and architecture blogs.

I am all about this whole restaurant thing, and I live in one of the single best places in the world to *be* all about the whole restaurant thing. When I *do* wind up with a residential project I would much prefer it be a kitchen, and more than that, be a kitchen for someone who is going to beat the holy hell out of it, too. Because I understand that mentality.

Last night, while I was toodling around Noah Kalina’s photography site, I was faced with The Problem.



And over.



…and over.



I understand, fully and without any question that the goal of a restaurant is to make money and that in order to do that successfully you are trying to make the maximum money per square foot/meter of space. I GET IT. I also understand fully and without any question that in a tight space you are trying to put as many tables in as possible in order to increase the amount of money per square foot/meter. Understood.

However the LAWS OF PHYSICS prevent people from being able to reform themselves into two dimensional objects with no thickness in order to be able to slip between tables that are placed this close together. There is *no way* to get in and out of these seating arrangements easily and cleanly. Not to mention it’s not just you. It’s your bag, or your purse, or your briefcase, or whatever you were carrying with you that day. Even a light jacket or sweater, which is not a bad thing to have on you in summer since a lot of restaurants are overly air conditioned.

At a *bare minimum*, ergonomically speaking, you need 18″ between each of those tables in order to be able to safely get in and out from behind them. I didn’t say comfortably. For that, you’re looking at a minimum of 24″. And if you honestly don’t know those numbers, I know you flunked design studio somewhere. Probably more than once, and you deserved it, too.

This doesn’t even begin to address that in these photographic examples, you’re practically sitting in the lap of the person adjacent to you on the banquette. Do you really want to overhear everything they say that badly, or vice versa? Being that close to adjacent diners screws with your sense of territoriality in a big way sometimes, particularly when it comes to putting things down like purses or bags or jackets. I’ve read countless stories of diners winding up at one another’s throats because of this issue. Is it *that hard* to pull one table out and separate the others to accommodate for the basic realities of physics? Just because your C of O says you CAN fit X amount of people into the space does it mean you have to *try*? I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t pay an extra few dollars for their meal (especially here in NYC- come on, we’re already paying a fortune anyway) just to not be breathing in the exhale of the people sitting next to them against the wall.

Don’t even *begin* to give me the song and dance about “people being bigger now”. Look at these (really illustrative) photos. People *were never* that small. And yet we continue to think that in restaurants the laws of physics are somehow not applicable. It’s NONSENSE.

Move the damned tables.

On an entirely unrelated note- If you’re reading DGD from a feed? If you comment on the *feed* I don’t get it in my mailbox. I will only ever see the comment if I just happen to catch it. If you want me to see the comment you have to do it at the original post (meaning here, at the DGD site proper.)






You might be paid to think, but you’re not paid to read like stereo instructions.

“You’re not paid to think.”

Well actually, I am paid to think. It’s one of the best things about this job. It requires you to have a brain in your head. (see: differences between designers and decorators, part #4,587) I love the fact that I’m paid to think. For someone who tends to live in their head anyway (like me) this is an absolute bonus plan.

Here’s the thing though: I don’t understand why so many people who are paid to think also think they’re paid to write using a pretentious, specified lexicon where it’s not needed, in order to sound like they’re somehow more elite than the average schmuck who is reading what they’re saying. I read a LOT of architecture and design material, and so much of it is full of shit. Not because the *ideas* themselves are bad- they’re not(okay, well sometimes they are, but not in any greater percentage over any other ideas presented differently). I just have a hard time suppressing the urge to slap people upside who can’t figure out how to write without sounding like they came out of a 15 week course in Art Criticism and Pretension, and got an A.

It’s not a matter of vocabulary, in the sense of “words one doesn’t understand”. It’s a matter of sounding like you’re deliberately going out of your way to exclude as many people who are not as “in the know” as you are. In the end, so many times people wind up sounding like *complete morons* because of it. What? Do you think you get paid more if you sound like that? Only if your clients are seriously stupid, and one would hope that they aren’t, because stupid clients are a pain in the ass.

I was reading something yesterday and there was a comment that made me think “What the hell does that even *mean*? Does the author even know, or did they just pull random words out of a hat, reordered them so they were grammatically correct, and is having a fantastic laugh over how “enlightened” they sound.

Come on, knock it off. You’re not fooling anyone.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

I love industrial design. Love. I will happily sit around and design products, furniture and *stuff* all day long if someone asks me to, which is funny, because I genuinely and honestly hate *shopping*(I do as much shopping as I possibly can online- the only thing I don’t mind buying in person is groceries. Seriously.). But designing product? I’m right there. And I am fully behind the push for big name designers to do industrial design for stores like Target, because I think that’s a significantly more important sector of the market than high end, consumer-wise.

The whole thing about modernism is that it was supposed to not only be a departure in looks from traditional items, it was supposed to also be about accessibility. As much as people make fun of Ikea, they at least haven’t missed the point of that. But when the vast bulk of modern looking stuff comes out on the high end price wise, I fail to see how this is any different than what existed in the 15th century, where the only people who could afford decent furnishings were the very wealthy. Considering we have managed to move beyond the Industrial Revolution, this seems to me to be patently ridiculous.

Which brings me to this.


Cute, right? It’s a storage hook, with a little opening at the top to put your keys, or sunglasses or whathaveyou. It’s a good idea. Everyone needs a place for random crap and keeping it right by your coat isn’t a bad plan. I can see putting one of these inside your garage or in your foyer. Take off your jacket, drop your keys or the leash for your dog and you’re good to go.

For reasons that I’m not really clear on it’s ceramic, which is certainly not my first choice of material for this otherwise useful item. Ceramics chip. If it falls off the wall, it’s going to break. If you put something too heavy on it, down it goes, and the weight of it might pull a chunk of drywall with it. Ceramic stuff isn’t exactly lightweight itself. Good for dishes, but I’m not so sure this is its’ best application.

But let’s set that aside for a moment. Can someone explain to me in small words that make sense why that item is $270-(on sale now for $98-!)?

No, really. That’s not a typo.

I’m completely at a loss to make sense of this. Wouldn’t it make a lot MORE sense to make these in plastic and sell them for $20- at Target? You’d sell a hell of a lot more of them, and you’d actually be changing how people function within their daily lives. You know, the *point* of good industrial design?

The mind reels, folks.

In other, only tangentially related news, I designed a new lamp today. Or at least got the basics down on paper. Like I said- I love industrial design.