I was just at a restaurant in Lakewood, Ohio and the booth seats were too high for the tables. I assumed my higher position at the table, and as noble as I may have felt, I did worry about the increased distance between my salad and my mouth. Everywhere I looked, I saw other patrons solving the same concerns I had. I then hunched my back likewise thus reducing my table to mouth dimension for proper meal consumption. What a lovely sight it must have been. While horrified is much too strong of a word to use, I was displeased. I didn’t write about this in my previous booth blog because these heights are standard…..or are they?.
The opposite problem, too high of a table or too low of seat, results in a much different effect than a hunched back. Cluck Cluck.
Dining height seats should be 17-19 inches with tables at 30”. Be careful with thicker tabletops, as they reduce the height allowable for thighs, American thighs. People like about 12” from seat to the top of a surface. It’s okay to reduce the thigh room a little, but around 10”, people start getting uncomfortable. In a situation where people are in wheelchairs, it’s nice to raise the table height up to about 31-32”. ADA is very vague on this, requiring a table height anywhere from 28”-34”. While my ‘Human Dimension in Interior Space’ book fails at both dimensions recommending seats at 16-17” and tables at 29-30”. No, it’s not completely off, but it’s not correct either.
This is why I do understand where the confusion can come from. I have made errors like this relying on a book I received in college, ‘Human Dimension in Interior Space’. The book was published in 1979 and I believe there are some errors in it. On a side note, this book was the only one published like that when I was in school. There is a new book out, ‘The Measure of Man and Woman: Human Factors in Design’ published in 2001. I do not know if it has better information in it. (anyone?) I have witnessed job site conditions where there is a question on a particular dimension. At these situations, I have witnessed people give absolutely incorrect information, then refer it back to a higher power for clout. These situations are completely frustrating as it then forces me to contradict what they are saying in order to get the item installed at the correct height. I have also witnessed a group of people make a job site estimate based upon their own human dimensions. If the dominate person in the group is particularly short or tall, the dimensions will most likely not be correct.
I do still use my ‘Human Dimension’ book, I just don’t rely completely on it. I don’t recommend relying on one source for information you do not know. When building custom fixtures, it’s a good idea to refer to standard items for sizes in addition to our reference materials. I trust leading manufacturers more than a book I received in college full of weird drawn people going about human activities.