the third place and vicarious taste

brother baba budan

while i was showing will some of my fav. places about melbourne, i mused about the importance of the third place. i know, it’s quite an old theory now, and i’ve gone on about it a bit in the past, but i had a new revelation in its relevance to design, aesthetics and identity.

following on, i guess, from the musing about designing for places to eat, i was wondering why i like my favourite cafes, restaurants and the other social public places i frequent, noticing their decor.

take one of my regulars – kent st, for example – it’s a complete mashup of stuff – amazing light fittings, second-hand furniture, sit down arcade game, numbers and signage, photographic mural and pink walls. there’s some stuff that i would totally have in my home, and other stuff that i love, but couldn’t live with it.

which i think is a vital part of the third place (and an area that i’d be interested in pursuing some more – especially with design/interior stuff in mind.) it is these places in which we get to experience an aesthetic that fulfills us, or challenges us, or resonates with us, but in which we can’t participate in our own environments. that we need places to be lavishly decorated, or quirky, or completely sparse, over the top or completely minimal – so that as a society we can take some of that with us, own it without possessing it.

and that communal places – cafes, bars, clubs, restaurants – hell, even swimming pools, gyms, shops – are the places in which we need to invest a level of innovation or courage or outlandishness (in terms of interior design/decoration). that, as well as feeding, entertaining and socialising us – the third place, the social space – teaches us an aesthetic, or perhaps provides us with a range of aesthetics from which we can then discern our own. the third place, it seems, is in the business of taste, on all accounts.

image credit: the fabulous barista miss browne at brother baba budan, taken by janey on flickr

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