For this week’s Design Journal, I chose to visit Fusion Cafe in the Shineman Center. I stayed for approximately two hours while I waited for my second class of the day to start. During this time, I would usually get lunch at Cooper dining hall, but I instead chose to switch it up and enjoy lunch here. I originally didn’t feel comfortable, mainly because I hadn’t ever spent much time at the cafe but also because it was difficult to find a place to sit. Because I entered a few minutes after class was let out, it seemed like almost all of the tables had been taken up. However, once I found a spot to sit I felt much more comfortable.
At Fusion, The main thing they offer are bagel sandwiches. They have many different flavors of bagel including everything, which is what I chose. You can choose to build your own sandwich or pick from their specialty sandwiches that are named after famous scientists. I got the “Clara Barton” which consisted of hummus, spinach, cucumbers, and roasted red peppers on a toasted bagel. I also picked up a packet of gluten free lemon ginger coconut cookies. Other than the candy rack tucked to the side, the majority of the food in the cafe at least attempted to be healthy. The cookies that I bought were extremely simple and organic, and the sandwich was packed with veggies. They both tasted clean and refreshing, which gave me the impression that they cared about giving students healthy options that they might otherwise not have access to or think to reach for.
Although the cafe is making these fresh sandwiches, the smell isn’t very strong in the surrounding area. The smell would only become unpleasant when a bagel was burnt on accident, which happened very rarely.
Although the building is open to the public during the day, as expected the majority of people sitting around the cafe were students. Some professors stopped to sit, but it was clear that this space is used as a transition space between classes. Most people spent about an hour sitting. Almost all of the tables are small and circular with two chairs, indicating that when the space was designed it wasn’t intended for large groups. Almost every workstation is next to an electrical outlet as well which promotes the use of laptops and other digital work platforms. In line with this, almost everyone in the area had their laptops out and earbuds in, basically in their own space. Similarly, the space was actually quite quiet except for when class was let out. Even then, most people would either settle in the space or make their way out of the building in a matter of minutes and the cafe would calm down again.
The cafe itself sits in the middle of all of the main traffic that happens during class transition. This causes it to almost act as a rotary, diverting students to follow a circular flow rather than walking straight on into each other. The tables are lining the walls of both the outside of the cafe and the walls of the atrium. There is also a larger bar area that sits right outside of Fusion. This area seems to be meant for individual use, but has been adapted for group use. The space itself doesn’t offer much in the way of group use, so while this was not the intended use it’s clear that it is how students have adapted the area to their needs.
All of the tables are sturdy and heavy, which I think is to limit their movement. The designers very clearly planned for this area to be a workspace for those who are hoping to introvert and work alone, not for those hoping to get group work done. Again, however, as students always do, they adapted the space to fit their needs whether or not that aligned with how the designers saw the space.
Featured Photo by me