Although some people may not want to admit it, every single one of us, at one point in our lives, was a child. Yep, it’s true. And sometimes the effects of that long lost childhood shine through in some peculiar ways. Sara Cantor is The Curious Shopper, and she recently made the observation that although Barnes & Noble has a plethora of perfectly plush seating available, it’s not uncommon to spot many browsers sitting…on the floor. She offers a few reasons why she thinks this phenomenon occurs, and they all harken back to the hard wiring of childhood.
I feel that Barnes and Noble has designed spaces which, intentionally or not, signal to the weary that it’s okay to sit. And the cues, oddly enough, seem to relate to childhood – a time when sitting on the floor happened every day.
A big part of this is the carpet. It’s not super plush, but it’s incredibly clean and consistent. Like the living rooms of childhood, or the floors of kindergarten. It doesn’t exactly look cozy enough to lay on – but it sure looks good enough to be touched by your butt, legs and feet.
Next, there is a nice contrast between low, open spaces and tall bookshelf hallways. When we are little, we like to hide from grownups. When we are grownups, and hiding is socially inappropriate, we welcome the chance to go around a corner, lean against a wall, and slide down into our books. The tall aisles provide physical, visual, auditory and mental separation from the rest of the world.
And finally, Barnes and Noble emanates the design aesthetic of our local childhood favorite – the library. The stores have giant rolling ladders, lots of wood, stepstools in the stacks, employees with the knowledge of librarians, and an overall emphasis on reading to learn and grow. They feel hometown, they feel safe, they feel like one of the great pillars of democracy. They feel like the place where we used to crawl around during storytime.
I think this is a rather insightful perspective. It is interesting that as rusty as we can be when it comes to exhibiting some of the childlike qualities we once mastered with ease, there are other sides that subconsciously seep into our day-to-day actions.
I’m also happy to have an explanation as to why I love Barnes & Noble so much.
[tags]Barnes & Noble, Sara Cantor, childhood, bookstore[/tags]