What’s on the Menu in Restaurant Design?

Post By: Lamin-Art Category: Design Comments
What’s on the Menu in Restaurant Design?

In a recent article for The Washington Post, Maura Judikis writes, “A well-designed restaurant won’t distract from the food, and especially not from the conversation. Instead, it will subtly contribute to one of those memorable evenings when everything clicks: the meal, the service and the warm vibes.”

Today’s consumer has innumerable options when it comes to their dining experience. As such, restaurateurs of all stripes strive to set their establishments apart. To entice and retain a loyal customer base, the design and aesthetic of a restaurant is critical. Here’s a look at some of the latest trends in restaurant design.

Counteracting Noise

A restaurateur’s worst fear is a silent dining room; the bustle of a busy dinner service is the hallmark of a successful establishment. However, there is always a point where bustle becomes noise, deterring hungry customers. Noise levels and how to address them from a design perspective has become a hot issue in the industry.

On Philly.com, author Samantha Melamed reports on the recent wave of noise issues in Philadelphia restaurants, where aesthetic trends created an unforeseen noise issue. Melamed writes, “[Philadelphia’s] current generation of trendy eateries—with their polished-concrete floors, bare tables, and echoingly high ceilings—has been accompanied by a considerable din.”

When restaurant noise levels regularly exceed 90 decibels, there are a few measures restaurateurs can take to counteract the racket. One is to change the dining-room layout, keeping large (and loud) parties as separate as possible. Other restaurants turn to technological solutions such as sound-absorbing paint. Others still, like Greg Vernick of Vernick Food & Drink in Philadelphia, use acoustics panels to dampen the din without detracting from the overall aesthetic of his restaurant. In the article, Vernick notes that the, “panels are laser-printed with travel photographs, so they look like stretched canvases instead of soundproofing.”

Designing a Nostalgic Environment

In an era of ever increasing technology and constant connectivity, dining out represents one of the last bastions of face-to-face conversation and relaxed enjoyment in a familiar, comforting atmosphere. When designing a new restaurant, professionals know that appealing to diners’ nostalgia is just as vital as creating a visually striking space. In “The Secrets of Good Restaurant Design, Revealed by the Pros,” Project Designer Brian Miller explains, “Nobody goes to an 80-year-old bistro in Paris with the marble top that’s got huge chunks busted out of it and years of stains and a pitted surface, and says, ‘God, this feels terrible.’”

Elements like reclaimed brick, wood, glass and all manner of gently used industrial materials can be combined to create a warm space that diners enjoy spending time in. In “The Psychology of Restaurant Design,” author Diane Weintraub Pohl cites the example of The Inn at Pound Ridge in New York, where Owner Jean-Georges Vongerichten incorporated original planked flooring, timbers, and fieldstone with modern furniture.

Even if a restaurant is in a brand new building, there are ways to create a warm, nostalgic aesthetic that nods to the past while remaining fresh. Vertical surfaces can be adorned with selections Lamin-Art Premium Wood Prints collection, offering the perfect mood and a realistic look for any design aesthetic, from rich to refined.

Sensuality and Materiality

It’s often said that “the clothes make the man” and it’s no different for restaurants. The materials chosen by designers have a major impact on how restaurant customers judge their dining experience, ultimately playing a huge role in the success of the restaurant. In “The Secrets of Good Restaurant Design, Revealed by the Pros,” Designer Michael Francis touches on the importance of materials in restaurant design. “It’s all about the sensual nature of materiality,” he writes. “It’s a beautiful piece of wood on a bar, or a textured piece of glass.”

Whereas the food engages diners’ sense of taste and smell, the restaurant’s design stimulates the eye, complementing the overall experience. For example: A warm red surface, like Lamin-Art Pearlescence in #2462 Garnet, not only makes the design stand out but offers a secondary benefit in that warm reds, oranges and yellows have been shown to stimulate the appetite!

Restaurant design is integral to producing a perfect experience for each and every customer. Keeping an eye on trends like these helps would-be restaurateurs take the first step to creating the next great dining experience.


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