I don’t think this social distancing restaurant design everyone shares makes sense

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Gaining popularity on social media is this proposed restaurant complement intended to protect the guests from each other. And I don’t think that makes sense. I understand that the designer, a French visual merchandising designer, is trying to do something positive and do something beautiful, but I don’t see any critical or practical thinking.

This “Plex-Eat” design, as it is called, is different from the actual design used of this social distancing restaurant in Amsterdam. Dutch design is for couples or families dining together, i.e. people who are already exposed to each other; thus their approach aims to protect staff from diners and vice versa.

This design, on the other hand, aims to protect diners from each other as well as the staff. It is certainly a delicate business.

First, these pendants would obviously need to be cleaned between seats. Have you ever tried to clean everything that wobbles? And when you’re trying to sanitize surfaces, corners are your enemy. Making the side walls meet the top at nearly a 90 degree angle doesn’t seem like a good idea.

Second, as rendered, they wouldn’t hook up that way. Removing the material from the back to create the entry point means the pieces would be front weighted and all listed towards the center of the table.

Both reviews above assume it’s hanging from a cord, as seen in this photo:

If it were instead hung from a rigid rod that goes all the way up to the ceiling, which is presumably 10 feet or more, it would cause mechanical problems. Accidentally hitting the pendant or putting pressure on it while cleaning would exert leverage and stress on the connection points at each end of the stem. I’d like to see the design of such connectors, especially the one that contacts the top of the shield that wouldn’t fracture it under stress.

You can see that there are only three chairs in the photos, arranged at 120 degrees. If these were the four regular chairs at 90 degrees, there would be no room for the waiter to access the table.

From the diners’ perspective, what are the acoustics like inside one of them? Can everyone get along clearly? And there are no reflections on the plexi, everyone sees each other well?

I’m not trying to highlight the absurdity of the design as much as I am the absurdity of the situation here. The idea that we can go out to restaurants, in the midst of a pandemic involving a poorly understood and contagious virus, and not possibly catch or pass it on, seems like a pipe dream.

If you have a project from last year that you are proud of, take a few minutes to send it to the Core77 Design Awards 2022. We have 18 practice categories, and for this year we have a special sustainability award for all projects that have a beneficial environmental impact. To verify designawards.core77.com for details and timetables.


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