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Interior Salon Design of Meiko landscape
April, 2023

Designing Third Places


What goes into the design of ‘Third Places’?

Our CEO Lizzi recently attended the EuroShop Retail Trade Fair, covering the latest trends and technologies in the retail sphere.

One trending topic was ‘Third Places’. Originally described by sociologist “Ray Oldenburg” in 1989, ‘third places’ are spaces where people spend time outside of home and work/school (the first and second place respectively). Starbucks is a commonly used example of such places, going so far as to state in their corporate policy “We want our stores to be the third place”. But alongisde cafes, third places include retail shops, restaurants, public spaces such a libraries and community centres, and common gathering spaces – think hairdressers, shopping malls, art galleries, and pubs.

These places are public or semi-public and informal – providing opportunity for social interaction and community building. They are where people build relationships, socialize and relax. This interaction makes them the perfect place for fostering collaborating and innovating, as well as helping people feel a sense of belonging to a like-minded community.

London themed interior design for The Fox
Interior design for Fluff Cafe

When we are designing a “Third Space” at Spaceworks, we focus on the feeling the space evokes for customers and visitors, and how design can encourage intended interaction in the space. We do this through a number of ways including:

Furniture choice

Careful choice of the size of furniture – e.g. small tables to make people more comfortable sitting alone, or larger ones to encourage big groups and conversation

E.g. comfortable couches you could spend hours sipping a coffee in, or chairs that can easily be moved to accommodate extra additions to the dining table

E.g. coat racks for people to get comfortable if they’re staying awhile


Space Planning

This relates to how the physical space is used. Carefully balancing the space available, with the environment you want to create, and the required functionality.

E.g. having easily visible bathrooms in a cafe where space is often at a premium so people can take a direct route there

E.g. choosing a floor finishing like a more “cosy” carpet provides a very different feeling to tiled flooring

Lighting choices

Careful selection of the right lighting to serve its purpose, fulfill any health and safety requirements and create the intended environment

E.g. Bright lights help facilitate people working from a cafe, indicating they’re welcome to set up for a few hours or the day

E.g. Dimmer mood lighting in a bar creates a more relaxed environment


Contact us to discuss the design of your Third Place project