4 November 2005 · About 2 minutes read

Franchised Space

My quick presentation on my chosen space this Wednesday decided that my work for production of space will revolve around the subconcious control a space can evoke. Based on the experiences of both myself and my chosen spaceman, I became increasingly interested in the spaces being reformed in contemporary society, particularly that of the (in)famous coffee-culture.

It started with a visit to a bank. While most banks these days are trying to appear more open, subtly more friendly in their approach to customers, the Plymouth HSBC branch has opted for none of that. Instead, the hard-angles, cubic arrangements, brilliant white and imposing great clock on the wall seem to oppress anyone who enters. A constant reminder that the bank has absolute control over your money, and thus time (there are several clocks dotted around the branch).

In stark contrast to this, the coffee houses (Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Nero, etc.) are formed from the idea of immersing you in an experience, a relaxed space where time is lost. This entire experience is built not on providing a product or service, but simply providing a space whereby you are cocooned from everything, free to connect to other people and other spaces, without directly associating yourself with their space. It is, in effect, a haven for the weary spacetraveller.

What strikes me as the most powerful symbol of this powerful spatial transformation is that in contemporary shopping areas, these coffee houses are suddenly appearing in new hitherto unconceived spaces. Traditionally, of course, department stores have often provided cafes for the weary shopper, but not until recently would you have found a Costa Coffee inside your local newsagent. And even more surprising - and in some respects, worrying -, as if to disarm you in their quest for absolute and undivided control of your time, space and money, banks are now reforming some of their space, allowing to exist a franchised coffee house.

So this is where my research shall start, and hopefully the space we are visiting next week will provide a wealth of areas for me to explore the concept of these hypnotic pseudo-spaces that are becoming ever-more present and powerful in contemporary existence.

tags:space university research time ideas franchise coffee contemporary culture