Despite the obvious obfuscations taking place and driving our societies into oblivion, we are living in a very exciting time. And it’s not just because most people feel like everything is about to hit the fan (thanks a lot Mayans). I tell people our societal pains are emanating from the fact that what we in the past referred to as “normal” is being redefined – our work, our lives, our perceptions, and soon our fast food restaurants.
Everyone’s used to the fast food restaurant (and they’re all the same) where you ordered quick-made food, and (if you didn’t go through the drive-thru and found yourself trying to find the fries at the bottom of the bag while merging into traffic) you sat in a Timothy Burton-inspired dining area filled with prison-issue tables and chairs that evoked the feeling of being on suicide watch. The dining area was designed with the concept that if a patron suddenly exploded that the cleanup would be efficient.
Then along came Starbucks. I appreciate going to Starbucks not because they’re located within thirty feet of other Starbucks, but rather because each Starbucks typically has an individual decorum. (The one I frequent feels like a long linear living room with lots of light. The one across the street from that one feels more like a cozy basement family room. And the one on the other side of the parking lot has a sort of country kitchen feeling, open to the exterior.)
McDonald’s has now built a prototype of what it can be in the future. As an architect I should probably be more concerned with the exterior aesthetics of the McDonald’s of the Future, Today, but as someone who tirelessly searches for a comfortable urban-inspired interior out here in suburbia I find the living room-inspired spaces more appealing. No longer will the design of spaces be driven by the need to cleanup after a Mos Eisley style mess (think Han Solo shooting Greedo) but more about people actually enjoying themselves in a space (which in turn may psychologically help make the food taste better).
Our “normal” is changing every day. I’m glad to see that the new “normal” may include a side order of a recliner.