The new year is about to begin and many restaurateurs will be thinking about revamping their restaurants. Dozens of new restaurants are opening every day around the world, so it’s important that your establishment catches the eye of customers. In the race to become one of the most popular restaurants in your area, it’s not enough to serve great food and serve exceptional cocktails. It takes a memorable aesthetic that will attract customers and keep them coming back.
Having been in the hospitality design industry for over a decade, I have seen many popular interior design trends come and go. As we enter the new year, here are some design trends that I think more restaurants will use in the future.
Restaurant owners want their customers to enjoy the food, cocktails and service offered by the space. When people start to leave, they want to be able to interact with each other and not be distracted by unnecessary entertainment gadgets. One of the biggest distractions in restaurants are televisions. Often restaurants will have multiple televisions showing whatever sporting event that night and customers tend to focus on them rather than the people they are dining with.
Eliminate TVs from the walls so your guests can have a better experience with friends and family. The decision to eliminate televisions depends on the restaurant style. Obviously, if the restaurant is sports or entertainment themed, televisions are necessary. Upscale establishments should consider eliminating this distraction so that customers can focus on the restaurant’s highlights such as food, drink and ambience.
Use design to excite the senses
Experiential design is the use of art, texture, audio, video, and aroma to create a unique space. An experientially designed restaurant will engage customers’ senses to create a unique experience they won’t soon forget.
Biophilic design is a relatively new design technique that is an aspect of experiential design. Biophilic design is about using techniques that bring the outdoors inside the facility. Implementing vegetation and flowers in a restaurant design will make customers feel like they are in a garden and not locked inside. When using a biophilic design, it is important to use natural tones for tables, bar fronts and seating to replicate the tones found in nature. Also consider using terrazzo, a composite material used in wall and floor treatments to bind things like stone and wood together.
Work with the interior designer when creating your menu. Match the aesthetics of the restaurant to the food and drinks you serve. If your restaurant has a garden theme, consider creating flavor-infused drinks that have a strong floral influence. For restaurants with darker tones, such as steakhouses that have rugged, darker themes, consider creating drink specials with smoke and maple influences. Matching the menu to the overall design will create an immersive experience that customers will remember.
Design development from COVID
When bars started to open after COVID initially died down, many design techniques were put in place to keep people safe and social distancing. Restaurant owners can still use these security techniques to create a unique space. However, many COVID designs are now obsolete as people get the vaccine. The main design resulting from COVID is self-isolating domed dining areas.
Instead of using the plastic domes put in place by many restaurants, consider using higher-backed seating that makes the customer feel like they’re hugged and in a space of their own. Use architectural pieces that allow for transparency but also provide some form of separation. Instead of building solid barriers, consider different materials to create transparent walls. The use of these materials allows for separation from other groups, but also allows everyone to feel part of the overall restaurant experience.
Installing restore modules is another possibility. Dining modules, pictured above, make a table in a restaurant feel like its own intimate space. The client can enjoy being in a public space while feeling safe and protected. Dining pods can be found in spaces where people want a private experience like a date night but want to be able to feel the ambiance of the restaurant.
These are some of the restaurant design trends I see coming in 2022. The key to a great dining experience is creating a unique aesthetic. Create a space that attracts people, keeps them there, keeps them coming back and encourages the customer to tell their friends about their experience. When designing a restaurant space, always aim to be unique in design.