Designing a bar ‘Part 4’: Layout

Whenever I walk into a property of any description one of the 1st things that I usually comment on is whether it has a ‘positive energy’.  This may sound like a pretentious term to use but let me explain what I mean by it.  There are certain areas that make you feel good to be in: many modern Churches, for example, are Designed to make people feel comfortable and safe because that is what people want from a Church.  From a bar people want an area that enhances their social life – people either come to bars with people or to meet people and it is the layout which will often dictate whether someone becomes a repeat customer.

If you go to a bar with a group of friends you want to be able to all sit together.  People don’t mind having to squash – it is part of the ritual in a way – but they do expect to be able to all converse together without any member of the group having to feel left out.  However, if you go to a bar with a friend in the hope of meeting someone you don’t want to be faced with a group of interesting looking people who are sitting in an inpenetrable formation.  How many times has a single person gone into a bar and seem a promising herd of people who are too engulfed in their own little circle to notice the single person’s splendor?

The picture below illustrates how clever layout can offer large groups and singletons what they need: notice how the central island could be potentially shared by people representing different social groups – this encourages people to talk to strangers and strike up new friendships.  It also allows for large groups to sit together without destroying the possibility of meeting other people.  These type of layout Designs can be the difference in a bar being ‘nice looking but not great for going out’ and ‘there are lots of interesting people to talk to at that bar’.  The latter describes a ‘positive energy’ guarantees repeat custom!

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