The Restaurant Scene

Made by Ariel Tian

Created: November 6th, 2014


1. When you arrive in the space, Think about the words that come to mind when you take in the scene in front of you. Why do they come to mind?

I chose to observe an authentic Chinese restaurant on Squirrel Hill. The restaurant gave the impression that it was very warm, which was due in part to the general color theme – pale orange walls and red tablecloths. I also noticed that almost all the costumers came in large groups (4 or more), which made the restaurant seem more exciting and inviting.

2. What are the objects you see directly in front of you? Name each of them in your mind.

While sitting at my table, I can see my friend in front of me and the entrance to my right. To my left is a large group that is already very far into their meal and they are being extremely loud. Behind my friend stands a waitress behind a desk.

3. Imagine there are lines drawn between all of objects or things in the space. How are they connected? Are they organized?

I can clearly see that the objects are organized by what table they are closest to. In a way, each table is like a spider with legs connecting to the people sitting around it. However, there is one area where the tables are very close together, which causes some people to be very close to tables that they are not eating at. I think a connection is made between a person and an object when the person is facing that object.

4. Close your eyes for a minute and open them again. Where do your eyes go to? Why do you think they land in this location?

My eyes go straight to the door. I think that is the first thing that I look at because I am expecting there to be the most movement closer to the entranceway. The next place my eyes go to is my friend, because he is the closest person to me.

5. Close your eyes for a minute and open them again. What are the colors that you see best or appeal to you most? Why is that?

It is hard for me to say, since this restaurant has a color theme (red and pale orange), and so no matter where my eyes go I am bound to see something bright and catchy. I actually think the brightness of a color attracts the eye more than the shade of a color. I noticed that my eyes tend to go where the light is.

6. Look around. Is there anything you can’t see or can’t see well?

The hallway to the kitchen and bathrooms is dimly lit, so I can barely see it. In addition, I can't see anything going on outside. Everything else in the restaurant is very clear, however.

7. Look around. What are the textures that you see? How do they feel to you?

Everything in this restaurant is very smooth: the walls, the tables, and the chairs. However, there are many tablecloths, which perhaps make the room feel warmer.

8. Let your mind wander. Where does it go? What do you think about and how is that related to the space around you?

I can’t help thinking that I’m really hungry, even though I was not very hungry when I first entered the restaurant. I guess the smells around me and the anticipation of waiting for food has made me hungry.

9. If your attention shifts, what has it landed on? Why do you think your eye moved to this location?

I find myself constantly glancing toward the kitchen, partly because I am trying to see what is over there (the lights are dim so I can’t really tell) and party because I am hungry and trying to spot a waitress coming over with my food.

10. What was your initial visual impression of the space you chose?

Initially, I thought that restaurants were very public places. However, now I realize that due to how the seating is arranged (everyone faces their respective tables) and the lighting (you can't see outside the restaurant because the lights are so bright), restaurants feel more private. You can contrast this to bar seating or cafeteria tables, where you may not necessary be facing the person you are talking to or there may be strangers facing you, which makes your conversations feel less private.

11. How did you respond to it physiologically (where the eye moved to) and psychologically (in how you perceived and responded to the visual scene)?

My eyes went to what was brightest or what was closest to me (or facing me, if we are talking about a person). Because of this, I was able to focus my attention inside the restaurant and on my friend, which again made this experience feel more private, despite the fact that I was surrounded by people.

12. What did you notice by the end of the experience that you didn't notice initially? Why?

I noticed that it is very easy for the positioning of objects around you and their colors/brightness to affect how you perceive your surroundings. For example, I didn't notice that although tables are sometimes very close together, I rarely feel like people from other tables are encroaching on my personal space. This is because usually people around me are facing different ways, and sometimes each table will have its own light which makes the tables feel more segregated. Another example of this is the dimness of the hallway to the kitchen and the brightness of the entranceway. I found myself naturally glancing toward the door because it was brighter, and I only started looking toward the hallway when I was extremely hungry and anticipating my food to come. (This is probably why the hallway is dim; if it wasn't, people would be staring at it constantly.) In addition, I realized that facing someone is a much different feeling than sitting next to someone. You give someone much more attention if you make eye contact with them, and so the traditional restaurant seating arrangement is a better environment for conversation than (for example) bar seating.