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Hot chocolate served at the bar of a Paris café. The small pitcher inside the cup holds melted chocolate, allowing the end user to determine the chocolate:milk ratio and thereby the taste of the hot chocolate. (The larger pitcher of steamed milk is not shown.) Customization, acceptable tasks. The justifications we mount behind certain ways of doing things.

Both the spoon and the pitcher of chocolate could be transported on the saucer, but only the pitcher is. The spoon is delivered after the saucer/cup/pitcher has been set down. The spoon’s delivery is very purposeful—it is placed just so, its bowl pointing down and its handle resting on the bar.

Anticipation and the staging of an experience; the power of ritual. Even getting coffee from an automated machine has an aura of ceremony to it—the metallic coins deposited, the click of the selection button, the sound of hot liquid hitting a cardboard cup, the always-identical smell, the grimace of the first sip. The line between interaction and observation; the line between accidental or ad hoc or improvised moments and the deliberate creation of a product-to-be-experienced.

(The fiscally-driven spatial product of Parisian cafés: Table service costs more than bar service.)

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