We make places.

You can turn a space into a place by arranging it so people know what to do there. This act is called placemaking. If you arrange a table and chairs in the middle of a room, meetings, meals, study, and play are all potential uses of that place. But if you add a fancy dining set and linens to the table, you're suggesting that it's a dining area.

In placemaking, you choreograph a sequence of steps users can take and decide how you want them to move. You can recommend steps, but they'll move wherever and however they want. They may move the place settings aside and open a laptop for a meeting. You can prescribe the steps, but they do the dancing.

The ways you enforce your way of doing things changes how users think about the place you made and perhaps ultimately, how they think about you.

You could add a sign that says "Dining Only Please." You could also add waitstaff wearing tuxedos and glaring dispositions. Each of these would say something about you and the place you made.

The way we choose to arrange a place changes how people interpret and use it. We encode our intent through the clues we leave for users to know what we want them to do.



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