The restaurant trade, more so than retail, has always been about the customer’s experience (although the latter is now having to really think about ‘experience’ too, such is the popularity of online shopping).

In effect though the customer’s experience in a restaurant is still so crucial to focus on. We are not just talking in terms of the quality or choice of the food being served up in the restaurant, but also the lighting, general atmosphere, service and, of course, the restaurant design. In this article we will look at some of the big restaurant design trends you can expect to see this year and next. Some of them are already here – and have been for some time, such as the popularity of Scandi and industrial design – but others, eg communal seating and green vibes, are becoming more prevalent as time goes on.


Communal seating aiding communication

The idea of a group of impromptu diners having to grab seats from neighbouring tables is increasingly becoming relegated to the past. Instead restaurants are today opting for a range of seating. And that can mean bench seating where communal eating becomes the norm. This has the added benefit too of taking up less floor space, with the result more diners can be fitted in at the one time.

It can also prove to be an exciting and new experience for many customers too; basically, they are dining with strangers in an open environment. As a result, it’s highly sociable – to the extent that, who knows, by the end of the meal they could all have gotten on so well that they’ll arrange to return to your restaurant! Our recent fit out of the St Andrews Brewing Company’s Dundee restaurant is a perfect example of this.

But it’s not all about communal dining. Restaurant designers are being flexible with seating, introducing two-seater dining as well as larger tables for family dining.


Wooden interiors to celebrate Scandi design

No, we’re not nipping back to the 80s wood panelling, but we are thinking more about the fashion for Scandi design. It may have been around for a few years now but it’s still very trendy. What it means in restaurant design terms is either pared-back, light pine wood which is set out in a minimalist fashion and then mixed with soft textures, such as faux fur covered or woollen seat cushions. Accessories should be warm metals, such as metallic copper or silver.

Then again, there is also a fondness for the Danish version (a concept known as ‘Hygge’) where you are looking at dark wood with bright, contrasting cushions and the ubiquitous candles for atmosphere. And that brings us nicely on to our next topic…


Instagram-ready environments to impress millennials

It’s not just the food that millennials like to photograph and show off to their online ‘followers.’ The surrounds are important too. Quirky wall décor is a ‘big must’ here, so too is contrasting looks ie a plain wooden table against a bold-coloured wall or brightly coloured plastic chairs against a slate grey floor etc. Incidentally, Instagram is a great marketing feature for restaurants; and one where your customers all doing all the work for you – and for free – by uploading photos of your restaurant on their phones. It is a restaurant design trend that it literally pays restaurant owners to nurture!


Recycled interiors for eco credentials

That wood you’re using for your Scandi restaurant design – if it happens to be sustainable or recycled, then even better! And if your décor has been picked up from antique outlets or salvaged from a junk store then you really are quid’s in. It all fits in nicely to the industrial restaurant design theme, which is still incredibly popular these days (and not just amongst millennials). You are bound to get extra points from your customers for your ‘sustainable’ values too.


Community values indicating ‘inclusiveness’

In an effort to feel part of the community, some restaurants these days are featuring artworks from local artists – and letting their diners know this. It doesn’t necessarily have to be painting, but could also be textiles in the form of cushions and wall hangings, sculptures or photographs. Not only does it bring in the artists’ friends and family, but it also has a ‘feel good’ vibe – and which we are sure won’t go unnoticed amongst diners.


Restaurant Design

Technology and lighting to mediate mood

Lighting has always been important in restaurants as a means of creating ‘mood.’ You will be hard-pressed to find a new restaurant design or fit out this year that doesn’t incorporate LED. Their light curve is good, they are energy efficient and the quality of the light they produce is so much better than in the past when they were first introduced. Warm LEDs (bulbs which give of a yellow rather than blue tinged white light) are excellent for cosy atmospheres.

But LED isn’t the only change in lighting; technology too has a huge part to play. Giving restaurant staff the power to dim lights, change their colour and switch on and off from their phone on an app or via remote control is a powerful tool for creating atmosphere.


A ‘green’ feel to indicate health

Vegan outlets in particular – which promote themselves as serving healthier options – are introducing plenty of plants, flowers and general greenery into their interior restaurant design. Some cafes are even sitting pots of herbs on the table for customers to help themselves to the likes of mint, basil and coriander. Cleverly, having plants as part of the café or restaurant’s interior design is also a subtle way of signalling to diners how nourishing the food options are. It also fits in with the fashion for unadulterated foods ie from the farm to table philosophy. Meanwhile, there is no denying that living walls – vertical plant gardens – are also stunning to look at and a great way to literally add life to a dull, bare wall.
Jewel colours to add warmth
‘Warm’ jewel colours such as fuchsia, saffron, teal blue and burgundy – all of which make interiors look inviting – are still around this year, and will be for some time according to those in the know. And it’s not only the walls that you can expect these colours to glow from; you can also find them on serving dishes to highlight exotic patterns, as well as menus. Vibrant patterned and coloured serving plates can be particularly good for serving spicy dishes on, such as with Indian or Thai cuisine.


Get in touch with our restaurant design team

If you are interested in a new restaurant design fit out then we would love to hear from you here at Steampunk. A company renowned for our innovative and contemporary design, we already have photographic case studies of restaurants and pubs throughout the UK that we have designed and built in the recent past. We would be delighted to come and chat with you at your own premises. That way we can give you an accurate quote should you wish to go ahead with the design team. You can contact us by phoning 0800 197 2922 or by dropping us an email through our contact page.