In many parts of the world, the corner tavern, bar, tap-room, saloon or pub is the place to be on a Friday night. The work week has come to a close and it’s time to catch-up with friends, hoist a few, have some fun. (Yes, to those interested, strains of Billy Joel’s Piano Man are playing in my head).
When bellying up to the bar to order that next round, take a look at the design and layout of the space. My guess, your local pub does not look that much different from the bar around the corner or around the world. Why? Bar design is iconic and time-tested. Centuries of learning have gone into the placement of pub elements. At the center of the design rationale; ERGONOMICS.
Ergonomics is the science of designing an environment to address and fit human needs; while it is more often applied in a work environment (ergo means work in Latin), in the case of a tavern environment – it is about creating a space of physical support and comfort. Ever notice how easy is it to lose track of time in a pub? It’s not just the Guinness or martini causing this time warp; the environment is designed to wrap you in a cocoon. Warm, cozy, comfortable, leaving the pub is like leaving the womb.
Let’s start with the height of the bar; 42 inches. Why? That height is the most ergonomic height for a top that services both the seated and standing user. Seated in a 29″ to 31″ bar stool, a 42″ bar counter is ideal for the seated bar patron. It is also a comfortable height for most people to lean against. Additionally the bar top is in easy reach of a standing person so they can set their food and drink down without leaning over.
Take a look at the foot rest at the base of the bar. Not just a decorative element, this footrest permits the standing patron to alter their stance and posture from time to time while standing at the bar for long periods of time. An old Ergonomics adage “the best position, is the NEXT position”; this footrest provides standing customers with a multitude of options over time. This means you can STAY and imbibe longer, more comfortably.
So, next time you are relaxing at your favorite neighborhood watering hole, remember, the design is no accident. Ergonomics had something to do with it.