Have you ever wondered what makes a restaurant experience so memorable? Or what makes the leading restaurant brand in your city more successful than its competitors?
Well, the obvious answers would be the food and service. However if you look closely there is an intensive design driven process which binds the tangible and intangible brand elements. Restaurant Interior design is the first and last physical touch point before and after the food and service and can leave a lasting impression on the guests.
Think about it, why is it that we know we should dress in a particular way for certain restaurants? Why do other restaurants hold a certain form of prestige or status? The biggest question you should be asking is how do we create a restaurant interior and ‘vibe’ that will connect with our ideal customers in a unique and meaningful way. The answer lies in a design driven process and brand strategy across all communications to create a cohesive restaurant brand and restaurant interior.
In this blog post we are going to be exploring some of the key elements in and around restaurant interior design.
We cover everything from;
- Defining the restaurant interior concept
- Restaurant bar ideas
- Restaurant lighting ideas
- Restaurant floor and wall finishes
- Restaurant Seating Ideas
- Restaurant Dining
- Restaurant Props and artwork
Defining the restaurant interior concept
Did you know that an average Londoner spends about £1464 annually on eating out in restaurants, which makes it difficult for people to remember every place they visited. With the market so large and diverse, restaurants with weak brand strategy and communication fade out easily in people’s memory. To break through the outside noise, restaurants need to create a cohesively connected brand – one which is consistent across all touchpoints which includes the restaurant interior design. Restaurant interior design plays a huge role in shaping the customer experience.
A well defined brand communicates to a specific audience and thus starts a clear dialogue with its guests. This is most effective when a clear brand narrative is uniquely positioned and communicated across all customer touch points. The brand should be then translated into design elements of the restaurant interior such as colours, textures, material choices, artwork and furniture.
It is important to understand that designing in isolation without an aligned brand strategy can create a confusing experience for the customer.
For Example: If you have a Mexican restaurant concept then you really need to think about how the brand, food concept and restaurant interior space is all going to be connected. If your food represents a certain part of Mexico then you can create design elements which personify the region’s legacy.
Connected brand experiences are impactful because they are meaningful which in turn makes them more memorable. For the likes of ‘dishoom’ which is rated one of the best restaurants in London, dishes are inspired from the culture and street-style of Mumbai, India, the experience seems to have a seamless Indian cultural reference and a fuse of British nuance blended perfectly with the interior design.
Restaurant Bar Ideas
The bar is one of the first things you typically see when you enter a restaurant. It is a key focal point and attraction within the restaurant interior space. On a commercial level the bar is a high customer acquisition area and will generate significant revenue for the restaurant.
The location and size of the bar is something that must be considered as part of the restaurant design process. If the bar is too big it can start to impact and restrict the number of table covers. Too small and operationally it may not be able to effectively meet the high demand of customers.
The design of the bar should align with the overall restaurant, brand and food concept. You’ll need to consider the drinks offering, material choices, lighting, seating and the actual bar design to create something that has high visual impact but aligns with your wider brand strategy.
There are other design features and elements associated with the restaurant bar design and we are going to explore them below;
A gantry is referred to the area where spirit bottles and glassware can be displayed and stored usually above the bar counter. For instance, the gantry in Holborn Dining Room is designed to be the focal point of the restaurant with a Gothic revival and contemporary twist.
Restaurant Interior Design – Bar Materials
The material choices all impact the design of the bar and overall restaurant interior design. They should be considered and aligned with your restaurant brand.
Let’s have a look at the variety of differentiators in terms of Material – timber, stone and Metal.
The list of different combinations is endless but here are some of the most common pairings when it comes to the bar design.
Bars that like to use the theatrics of cocktail making with flames and dry ice should strictly avoid the use of flammable materials like wood and fabrics.
The bar counter needs to be clean and wash proof, so it is advisable to use stone or ceramics which are non porous.
Adding hooks for coats and bags can add a lot of sensitivity to the experience. Every little detail of comfort multiplies the overall positivity of a space.
In a digitally consuming world, a simple charging station can go a long way for consumers to decide the next time to choose your restaurant.
A footrest rail detailed perfectly along the bar are features which add identity to the bar design. They also improve the overall customer experience as it makes sitting at the bar a more comfortable experience.
Using the principles of semiotics and signage also can play a part in consumers spending more at the bar counters. If consumers can understand the drinks offered without having to ask the bartender too many questions, then it’s a job well done.
Restaurant Lighting Ideas
Artificial and natural lighting play a part in setting up the overall mood and vibe of a place. Artificial lighting not only provides adequate light settings but also adds to the design elements of the overall ambience of the dining area. Considering different day and night scenarios are part of a well curated restaurant design. If a restaurant relates itself as a casual space for communities to dine together then there is a need to have ample light luminosity for people to be comfortably having conversations. Whereas in a more intimate or a bar focused restaurant more ambient lighting is required with less focus on intermediate spaces like the walkways and service stations.
Here are a few restaurant lighting idea examples;
A QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) like Five Guys has bright, all area focused lighting, whereas a casual dining bar like RAISU in Kuopio, Finland would have mood lighting to sync the lights according to the time of the day. However a fine dining restaurant concept like Sapori would have ambient lighting constant throughout the day.
Restaurant Wall & Floor Finishes
Walls and screens not only provide structure but they also help to break up the space. When it comes to designing the restaurant interiors there are areas within the restaurant that we don’t necessarily want guests to see.
They also provide a perfect canvas for designers to tell a compelling brand story of the restaurant. Apart from literal quotes or texts, it can also be subtle depiction through art, texture or use of materials on the walls. Having unique wall coverings can be one of the ways to communicate with the guests.
A restaurant needs resilient flooring as it’s a heavy traffic zone for customers as well as staff, however it can be the last piece of the puzzle in terms of design. The flooring can be reflective or absorptive according to the scale and proportion of the site, for example if it’s a compact restaurant then a reflective light coloured flooring expands to make it look bigger.
Wall Finish Ideas
Restaurant Seating Ideas
In a restaurant, consumers spend the most amount of time at the table seated. We want to ensure that they feel fully immersed within the restaurant interiors.
The seats and seating design need to be comfortable and aligned with the restaurant theme. Concept restaurants demand unique seating options like fixed seating, sofas, cushioned chairs or benches. Most restaurants will have a variety of different seating options. This not only provides guests with a variety of choices but also as part of the restaurant interior design process we will commonly adapt the seating requirements based on the actual space.
Textiles for seating add to the overall interior aesthetic and should complement the floor design and other design elements, because it is rare that we see any one element in isolation, we see it as a collective. Overall the seats need to be comfortable and functional first and then the aesthetics can be tweaked to a preferred degree to align with the restaurant brand concept.
Here are some seating ideas that will add more character and personality to a restaurant interior:
Restaurant Dining Ideas
(Tables, glassware, cutlery, tableware)
Understanding that the most time your customers spend in the restaurant will be directly at the table. The tableware, glassware and cutlery are the complimentary touchpoints which add character and personality to the food offering.
Whilst restaurant interior design is very visual there are a number of ways in which customers interact with the space. Things like the cutlery, glassware and tableware are all physical touch points which can impact and elevate the overall customer experience.
The table shapes also change in accordance to the context of the site. The table shapes and sizes are typically determined when the general arrangement is being developed at the start of the restaurant interior design project.
It is important to consider the customer experience especially when planning the dining space. Customers want to be able to easily access tables and seating areas within the restaurant. Table size is also critically important as there is nothing worse than being on a table too small for your group or party size. Some studies have shown using sophisticated cutlery and tableware elevates the overall experience and makes the consumer feel better about the food when served.
Restaurant Props & Artwork Ideas
We want to explore how to pick suitable artwork for the interior concept. We typically see it as a way to tell a better brand story.
Artwork and props in the restaurant are the icing on the cake and the added layer of detail which magnify the brand story and help people to learn more about the restaurant concept. It is the perfect canvas to communicate the existence of a restaurant and its purpose. Artwork could be in the form of paintings, wall art, murals or sculptures. Some props add authentication to the ambiance and decor especially with destination restaurants. Artwork has a distinct ability to convey messages of origin and stories thereafter and thus a tool for impactful communication.
The artwork inspired by royal kings and pop culture in Bindas Begum & Rockin Raja in India, displays a fusion of modern cultural influence on royalty in India.
Restaurant Sanitary Room Ideas
In the world of Instagram and other two dimensional digital tools having a place for peaceful pictures are an essential part of any restaurant. This not only adds an activity but also gets the digital social wheel churning, creating more awareness. Having a well thought out washroom is increasingly becoming a norm in the hospitality sector. Passive points like basin mirrors are an effective point to translate messages and also create pseudo awareness of the brand through pictures. Hence our final segment has envisaged the sanitary room design as one of the key physical points for modern era restaurants.
Having a hygiene centric and design focused sanitary room leaves a mark of sensitivity to the guests and influences the next visit decisions.
Designing a restaurant definitely has its challenges but hopefully this blog post has provided you with some insight which will really help to provide you with some restaurant interior design ideas.
At Grey Coffee we really believe that the restaurant space is essentially an extension of your brand. You need to be able to clearly define and communicate your brand and create a restaurant interior that aligns with your wider vision.
If you found this restaurant interior design ideas post interesting then you may want to consider have a look through our other insights:
5 things to consider when designing a Restaurant
Restaurant Interior Design and Connected Brand experience
Restaurant Brand and Interior design
Bar Design Guide | How to design a commercial bar interior
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