People are eating out more than ever. Customer expectations have risen and they want more from their dining experiences. Restaurants need consumers to come in and come back. Great food alone is not enough. Design is integral to the total experience. It sets a tone and conveys a message and promise to customers. According to the National Restaurant Association there are over 1 million restaurants in the US competing for $799 billion in sales. Design has the power to transform a space from a place to eat to a place offering an engaging, memorable experience.
We explored the forecasted 2018 trends in restaurant design and found reclaimed wood named again and again with wood in general being singled out as a specific trend. One theme is clear, people are more visually savvy now. They want a personal experience and care about the details.
1. Mixing design styles attracts customers
Creating and implementing a unique style can boost profits and keep customers coming back for more. To stand out, designers are ensuring comfort and warmth but adding modern twists. They are expertly blending styles to create unique spaces that work. Retro style, utilizing materials reminiscent of the 60’s and 70’s, has emerged but made warmer and friendlier by intermixing with lots of plants and wood.
From Beamish Museum: This space combines wood flooring and retro vinyl flooring along with wood tables and seating softened with a lot of comfy pillows.
The rustic, industrial look has been trending for some time now. Wood and stone still dominate as people are naturally drawn to materials from nature but these spaces can update their look with lighting and other key design elements.
From Cool Cities: The incredible chandelier with a little help from elegant tableware transforms this industrial space with its rustic wood ceiling and cement floors and walls into an incredible dining experience.
Embracing existing, original elements like beams or brick walls provide an authenticity to a space. Structural elements can be elevated by blending with other design styles for a more chic aesthetic.
From TerraMai: Agave Uptown in Oakland, CA worked the building’s structural elements into their design and provide a sleek look with reclaimed Metro Flooring
2. Wood Paneling is in
White walls and wallpaper are fading out. Wood paneling is in more than ever. Natural materials like wood are essential for creating warm, inviting, fresh spaces. People find spaces with wood as more habitable than spaces without wood. Wood is instantly familiar and can lend a sense of welcome to any built environment. Mid-century modern has reemerged and is not going away anytime soon further emphasizing the call for wood and craftsmanship.
From Architectural Digest: The Studio Munge designed Leuca with wood paneling throughout.
3. Instagramable spaces are key
This trend was called out repeatedly further reinforcing the fact that customers are looking for a selfie-worthy experience and are noticing design details. Eclectic, eye-catching artwork, tile, lights and furniture are some of the items that customers like to photograph.
4. Expect to see lots of Plants
Foliage covered restaurants and herb-growing eateries are on the rise and coincide with the farm-to-table, clean eating trend. Plant filled, biophilic dining spaces also resonate with people’s innate need for more nature and convey a message that parallels that of the menu.
Biophilic elements like plants and reclaimed wood help to create a restive and restorative environment which leads to a positive dining experience. A living wall is a good way to update a space and helps to naturally clean the air.
5. Less is More
The minimalist aesthetic is very appealing especially to millenials. Clean lines with a focus on select luxurious furnishings or wall covering make the space. Pops of color and touches of metals like chrome add unexpected detail to a linear uncluttered look.
6. Reclaimed wood remains a selling point
Architectural Digest, Elle Decor and Webstaurant Store all indicate reclaimed wood is an important design material and can be a good selling point valued by customers. Reclaimed wood can help enforce a brand message; add a biophilic element by bringing a natural, organic material into a space; add story and provide a soulful authenticity. Reclaimed wood can bring an abundance of texture and character with weathered and distressed patina but it can also deliver a clean aesthetic.
From TerraMai: Reclaimed MC Walnut at Tutto il Giorno, Tribeca, NYC.
From TerraMai: Burgerville’s message of sustainability is backed by their use of reclaimed redwood on the interior and exterior of their Corvallis, OR location.
The restaurant business is highly competitive and consumers have a lot of choices. Given that a restaurant’s design is as important as the menu and food quality, it’s important that the decor create the right atmosphere. The overall design aesthetic will influence customer emotions, which in turn will influence their experience. Positive emotions and experience will result in engaged customers. Design can get people in the door, makes customers want to return, and inspire them to tell all their friends. Reclaimed wood is one tool to help connect with customers for a positive experience.