Why Are Starbucks’ Tables Round?
Plus, more ways furniture and your environment can be engineered to mess with your mind.
Round tables make you feel less lonely.
The small round tables dotting the coffee chain’s 23,187 stores are there to make you feel at home when you’re there alone—presumably to inspire you to feel comfortable and buy more. “Round tables are more welcoming than those with square edges,” reports Karen Blumenthal in her book Grande Expectations. “And people look less alone while seated at a round table.”
Circling furniture helps with communication.
In the 1950s, a British psychiatrist noticed that patients interacted more socially when they sat facing one another instead of side by side. The same rule can apply to families. If you want to have more communal family gatherings, sit in an O, not an L or a V, writes Bruce Feiler in The Secrets of Happy Families.
Curved desks increase your happiness.
A study in the journal The National Proceedings of Science found that “participants were more likely to judge work spaces as beautiful, softer, and more pleasant if they were curvilinear than rectilinear.” The authors of the study believe this aesthetic contributes to making people happy. “Our intuition is that the physical features of the built environments in which we live and work influence our psychological states,” they wrote.
Thin people choose their seats carefully.
Brian Wansink, professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University, and his research team have done several studies on how people behave at buffet restaurants. One simple observation: Thin people choose seats facing away from the food.
Restaurants have uncomfortable chairs on purpose.
Restaurateurs aim to “strike a balance between a happy guest and a guest that contributes to the financial well-being of the restaurant,” Stephani Robson, a restaurant-design expert and a senior lecturer at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, told chow.com. One way to do that is with seating that encourages diners to eat and leave, vacating the table for more paying customers.