Friday, April 13, 2012

Space Planning

Furniture design and space planning are my favorite things to do when it comes to designing a space, but it can become tricky if you don't know what you are doing. I have seen people and decorators, people that are not professionally trained doing poor space planing in commercial and residential spaces. I think this problem is because they don't know how a dimension looks and feels in actual life, or they missed important details about the design, like taking into consideration the size of the client and/or size of furniture.

There are certain guidelines when it comes to clearances when you are space planing, but for this particular case I will only refer to the 36" traffic clearance between two objects in residential. This is a minimum clearance guideline that usually works, but it might not work in certain scenarios, keep in mind that this is a minimum, so the more inches you have to spare the better. The following example should explain better what I'm talking about.

The clearance between your the dining table edge and the wall is preferred to be 36" minimum (not ADA compliant.) This is perfect if you have a small space. Now go to your dining room, take your measuring tape out, and make this clearance happen. Then sit down on your dining chair in this clearance, and  try to scoop your chair back as you get out of it at the same time, you might realize the following:
  1. If your chair is compact (most modern styles are) and you are a slim person, you should be fine.
  2. If your chair is compact and you are a curvy/bigger person, you might start realizing this is a bit tight, but it might be still perfectly fine.
  3. If your chair is chunky/heavier (most traditional styles are) and you are a slim person, you might realize this is a bit tight and uncomfortable to maneuver, or you are already having problems getting out of your chair.
  4. If your chair is chunky/ heavier and you are a curvy/bigger person, this clearance might not work for you. The same goes for big arm dining chairs regardless if you are slim or not.
A great book that helps a lot when it comes to understand and figure out dimensions is Human Dimension and Interior Space: A Source Book of Design Reference Standards by Julius Panero and Martin Zelnik. This book is clear, easy to understand and apply. I believe it should be a part of every design professional's library or student's required reading list.


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