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Pull up a stool: Why some furniture is designed to be uncomfortable

Victoria Metal Kitchen Stool, Natural Elm Wood & Brass, £119, Cult Furniture.
Victoria Metal Kitchen Stool, Natural Elm Wood & Brass, £119, Cult Furniture.

McDonald’s famously went to great lengths to put the fast into fast food.

Not only did they come up with the ‘Speedee Service System’ for the kitchen, with tasks carefully choreographed to narrow down the timeframe between order and delivery, but they extended the concept to the front of house as well.

The aim was to discourage people from hanging around after their meal and simply dine and go.

Various tweaks were made to the ambience of the restaurants, some more than others depending on their popularity.

Design choices included fixed and angled seating, so customers couldn’t get too comfortable; cone-shaped cups that they couldn’t put down, noisy fountains that became irritating after a while and bright lighting that made it less desirable to linger.

Tweaking seating is a trick used by designers to influence people to behave in a certain way and chances are you encounter them more often than you think.

‘Evil benches’ are typically installed in cities, railway stations and airports and are designed to stop people from sleeping on them.

They look attractive and may be pleasant for sitting, but they are no use for lying down on because arms, curves, rivets and other inventive details make them uncomfortable.

What to keep in mind when designing your home

Now, we don’t want the seating in our homes to be uncomfortable, but we may want to create a certain casual ambience with them.

When estate agents talk about an ‘informal dining area’ they are usually referring to a breakfast bar with high stools.

Bar stools are not uncomfortable, especially if they have a back, but you can’t exactly lounge around in them.

They are ideal at breakfast time when people are in a hurry and getting too cosy would be unhelpful.

And they are good for entertaining because people don’t take up residence in them; they give them up after a while and move on to mingle.

Here are some of our favourite stylish and bold bar stools, to help inspire your home.


Our picks:

Gwyn Baa Bar Stool in Teal, £275, Baa Stool.
Brooklyn Kitchen Stool With Backrest, Moss Green Velvet, £139, Cult Furniture.
Hayes Kitchen Stool, Vintage Tan 65cm, £119, Cult Furniture.
Luxe Bar Stool, £295, Oliver Bonas.
Hatton Wooden Bar Stool, £99, Cult Furniture.
Savona Pistache Green Velvet Cliff Counter Stool, set of two, £930, Luxdeco.
Sylvia Kitchen Stool, Dusky Blue Velvet & Brass, £139, Cult Furniture.
Teak and Rattan Bar Stool with Back, £245, Oliver Bonas.
Cordula Bar Stool, £1,105, Luxdeco.
Victoria Metal Kitchen Stool, Natural Elm Wood & Brass, £119, Cult Furniture.

 

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