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Psychology of spaces: home and world in one

Psychology of spaces: home and world in one

A cup of coffee, a piece of cake, countless impressions and encounters. About a place of inspiration and serenity – the psychology of the café.

Ideally, you immediately feel at home when you enter a café: dim lighting, the smell of coffee, quiet music, clattering dishes, small tables and comfortable seating, people chatting or reading the newspaper, working or looking out the window. Quality of life also depends on how many cafés a neighborhood has, at least one of which has the potential to become a regular café.
The style of a café and its audience is influenced by the interior influenced by the selection of newspapers and magazines available and the regular waiters and waitresses. Cafés are semi-public places, home and world in one. They enable insight and outlook. Many have large windows through which you can watch those rushing past, as well as corners to retreat to. Here you will find the optimal ratio of closeness and distance. Most people don’t like going to a restaurant alone, but they do like going to a café. You are never alone here, but you are undisturbed if you want.

But cafés are also social spaces: friends, lovers, creative people meet here, young wild people and older women for a coffee party. They are hubs for information, gossip and big ideas. And they are places for contemplation and inspiration, depending on individual needs and time of day. In addition to caffeine, many freelancers find the background noise in cafés that brings them to the optimal operating temperature. Cafés have always been places for creativity, for thinking and writing, for dreaming and contemplating, a birthplace of many projects. The perfect combination of leisure and muse because they create an atmosphere of stimulation and at the same time promote the composure to give things the time they need.
New philosophical trends emerged in cafés – Sartre, for example, wrote almost all of his books there – as well as books, articles, poems and songs and many, many other ideas. Why cafés are developing this way – there are various reasons for this, one of which was pragmatic: Many artists and writers had apartments that were far too small and often couldn’t heat them.

In addition to the inspiration through conversations and atmosphere, planned and chance meetings, there is also the stimulating effect of caffeine, whereby the two complement and potentiate each other perfectly. Caffeine elevates mood and improves mental and cognitive functions; heart rate, blood pressure, motivation and neuronal activity increase. What everyone combines with it is different. Coffee and cigarettes, which have dominated the world for centuries, have been driven out of cafés. Coffee and cake are still allowed – a successful combination whose popularity increases with age. Nevertheless, there are far more iconic songs and films about cigarettes and coffee than about coffee and cake.

Mirror of culture

The first coffee in Europe was in Venice in 1570, and the first European coffee house opened there in 1647. Even today, the most coffee in the world is drunk in Europe, even though it is not grown here. Cafés exist in many countries and cultures. In Italy, people traditionally drink their caffè in the morning standing at the bar, accompanied by a quick cornetto. There are Turkish cafés where the majority of people sit, and Parisian street cafés where the space outside usually exceeds that inside. There are the Viennese coffee houses with the normality of a glass of water with a small brown drink or the Prague cafés with their legendary stories.

The café changes over the course of the year day. In the morning, friends often sit there for breakfast, some people read the morning newspaper, freelancers work on their laptops. Cafés are also places that make autumn and winter bearable: little escapes from the rain, cold and crowds. Especially on these late autumn Saturday mornings in Prague, Leipzig or Paris are probably quite similar:
It’s already cool outside and considerably darker all day, but it’s even more comfortable in the cafés.
City travelers repeatedly describe the importance of cafés as an anchor point when abroad. If the flood of new impressions becomes too great, the familiar coordinates of cafés are sought out. Many people sit there for a long time and watch the comings and goings as well as the people in front of the window. They learn at least as much about the culture and life of the place they visit as they do when visiting a museum or church.

Cafés create a space for meetings, for regular, unplanned interactions between different population groups as well as for the emergence of social networks – and in doing so they strengthen civil values. Habermas discussed its importance for democracy. Although cafés were not counted among the systemically important places, their importance for the creation of new ideas and social permeability should not be underestimated. Especially in times when community cohesion is increasingly being lost, cafés become important places. In their small world, the culture is reflected on a larger scale.

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