The restaurant industry went through some major upheaval in 2020. Many restaurants had to entirely rethink the way they serve their customers in order to stay in business. These changes had restaurant owners not just redesigning how they served food, but the physical space of their restaurants as well. Some of these modifications may be here to stay; persisting as trends in restaurant interiors in 2021. Everything about a restaurant’s design is intended to create a captivating and comfortable dining experience. In today’s world, part of being comfortable is feeling safe. Restaurants that are able to retain features that allow for safe dining and social interaction while still cultivating an inviting and warm aesthetic will naturally attract customers who are just venturing out into the restaurant world again. These customers will be eager to once more have the full package experience of eating out that includes interesting interiors, great service and delicious food.
When people walk into a restaurant they will immediately evaluate the space not just for visual appeal, but for features that make them feel comfortable in a new environment with new people. One trend that will continue as a result is less cluttered, more open and spaced out seating. Diners will not want to crowd together elbow to elbow or share tables as they were once willing to do. Making sure that seating allows for plenty of space between parties will give customers the confidence they need to truly relax and enjoy their dining experience. To achieve this, restaurants should consider furniture that can move and easily adapt to different sized parties. Being able to customise the layout of the space will ensure that no matter how many or what sized parties you have, diners will feel that there is enough space to accommodate them without crowding other tables. Where space is not possible or practical, partitions can be used to create safe dining areas for individual tables. If a restaurant’s particular brand is based on close and intimate dining experiences, adding partitions between tables will result in a look that is beautiful and safe. Partitions can also be used to create small dining nooks, giving customers a private dining feel even when the restaurant is busy. Temporary partitions are an excellent choice in that they allow the customisation of interior spaces based on needs of diners at any given time.
Customers are increasingly concerned about the conditions in which their food is prepared. They want to know that kitchen staff are following the recommended safety procedures consistently and correctly. This increased interest in what goes on “behind the scenes” has led to open kitchens designs becoming popular and appreciated. Customers will feel at ease, knowing that their food is prepared properly and safely. In addition, watching the hard work that goes into crafting their meals will give customers a new appreciation of the care kitchen staff puts into each dish. Open kitchens are a great way to connect customers to the entire staff contributing to their dining experience.
Another trend in interiors to look for in 2021 is the creative use of texture as a way to add interest and unique personality to restaurant interiors. Restaurants increasingly utilise materials that are easy to sanitise and will hold up to frequent cleaning. These materials are functional and necessary, but not always exciting. Adding highly textured materials to decorative spaces will prevent sterile and generic looking dining areas. One way to add warmth and character is to use wood elements throughout the space. Fiber art, tapestries and weavings add texture as well as create a one of a kind look. Incorporating organic elements like water features, “living pictures” of succulents, or vertical gardens are a great way to add interest to any space. Restaurants should not neglect their overhead spaces when considering interior design. Using the ceiling as art is an exciting textural element to include. Getting creative with ceiling materials and colours will turn what is often a dead space design-wise into a focal point that ties the entire place together.
Several trends in 2021 highlight a restaurant’s unique location and its story. After the upheaval of 2020, customers appreciate spaces that are grounded in the local community and have a rich history. Restaurants that incorporate local artists’ work into their interiors will create a space that is welcoming and community oriented. The work of local artists need not be limited to traditional paintings and prints. Many artists create items that are both beautiful and functional. Glassware, dishware, and table settings can all be sourced from a restaurant’s home community. Restaurants cultivate an exclusive look by featuring chairs, tables, or a bar made specifically for them by a local business. This kind of custom furniture is an excellent way to create a memorable design. Using materials that are part of the local economy or environment in the décor helps tie a restaurant’s aesthetic to the community. Another design element that emphasises deep roots is to include art that showcases the beautiful sites and unique architecture of the surrounding area. By showcasing local artists and knowledge of the surrounding areas, restaurants can demonstrate that they fully support and are an integral part of their community.
Every interior designer knows that colour instantly establishes the mood of a design space. In 2021 warmer palettes, in lighter hues, are the way to go because they invoke hominess and comfort and at the same time maintain a sense of freshness and cleanliness. Warm colours pair well with neutral elements that may already exist in a restaurant’s interior design, allowing for the addition of colour without revamping and repainting the entire space. Another benefit is that colours like reds, yellows, and oranges have been shown to increase both excitement and appetite. The excitement the warm colours create will have customers leaving with positive feelings about the space and eager to return. Of course, warmer colours leading to bigger appetites benefit restaurants in increased food orders as well.
Other trends for 2021 focus on making the diner feel at home. Utilising “mix and match” furniture not only adds visual interest, but also makes the space appear to have evolved over time. Just as a homeowner will pick up pieces of interest over the years for their home, so too restaurants will feel more welcoming when they appear to have been established over time. Furniture that is uniform results in a clean, but sometimes sterile look. Mixing the different styles and materials of furniture to create a custom aesthetic will put your customers at ease and make the space memorable. Another homey touch to be considered is adding plenty of plants to your restaurant space. Plants make places come alive and contribute to a deep sense of well-being. Plants add beauty and increase air quality all while making diners feel like they are in someone else’s well cultivated garden.
Even as 2020 presented incredible challenges to the restaurant industry, the opportunity for creativity and growth persists. Trends that started as necessities or accommodations to new requirements and routines are now elevated to intentional design choices. Restaurants have always been about evoking emotion and providing unique experiences. As the needs and desires of diners have changed like never before, restaurants can rethink their spaces to ensure they stay relevant and responsive to their customers. Customers will return to restaurants that highlight a commitment to safety and comfort. Restaurants will stand out in 2021 by allowing diners plenty of space; creating interiors that look both clean and inviting; grounding design in local traditions and crafts, as well as making customers feel welcome and at home.
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