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Outdoor restaurant with words Restaurant Design.||Empty restaurant with large accent wall with floral wallpaper.

5 Emerging Trends in Restaurant Design

In 2020, the pandemic through a massive wrench into the hospitality industry. Many restaurants had to pivot quickly just to keep their doors open and their staff employed. Restauranteurs adapted to the demands of outdoor dining, social distancing, and increased take-out. For many, the changes they made as a way to survive have become permanent and popular features. As a result, interior designers who specialize in restaurant design are designing with these trends in mind.  

Restauranteurs know a space’s interior design enhances the overall customer experience. Ultimately, that’s the goal of a restaurant, to deliver an experience, not just a meal.

We see five major trends emerging in restaurant design.

Safety and comfort are a top priority.

If a person doesn’t feel safe in a restaurant, they may not stay, much less return. Worst case scenario: they tell their friends why. Restaurants made changes during the height of the pandemic that continue to create a sense of comfort, such as increased outdoor dining space, the option for contactless menus and payment methods, and more space between tables or dividers in dining rooms. While places have removed plexiglass dividers, restaurants are now more prepared to respond quickly should a disruption occur that needs attention.

Empty restaurant with large accent wall with floral wallpaper.
Pattern Watercolor Leaf Vines, P632

Emphasis on cleanable materials.

Restaurants were always an industry focused on cleanliness, but many upgraded their cleaning routines. Many are doing deeper cleans more often or with harsher chemicals. Yet, over time, harsh chemicals degrade certain types of materials. Interior designers are responding to that concern by specifiying upholstery such as LDI’s EnviroLeather, which combines durable cleanability without sacrificing aesthetics.

Expanded take-out options.

Many restaurants that expanded their take-out options continue to do so even as in-person dining has rebounded. From a design perspective, customers or delivery drivers picking up orders shouldn’t interfere with the diners’ experience. Interior designers address this with clear pickup areas inside and/or curbside to help these transactions go smoothly. Also, clear signage about where these areas are is helpful. Still, many restauranteurs hope their take-out customers will eventually return to dine. So the more they can keep the take-out experience on brand and capture the vibe of the restaurant, the better.

Engaging all the senses.

People coming to dine will undoubtedly be tasting and smelling their food and drinks. Inspired by the consumer’s desire to have more than just a meal, but a whole experience, interior designers want to involve all the senses. To enhance the auditory part of the experience, designers are incorporating acoustic solutions, so the sound is what the restauranteur wants. Designers also work with a lot of texture to awaken a diner’s tactile sensibility.

Pattern Bauhaus Stripe, P989

Inspiring a sense of community.

Many restaurants pride themselves on using local ingredients, and people see the direct impact this choice has on their community. For example, local farmers and purveyors succeed, more money stays in their community, and there is a smaller carbon footprint as ingredients travel less. Yet, local flavor extends beyond the palate. Interior designers are taking those commitments by restauranteurs and incorporating them into their design. They use the location as a source of design inspiration in their material selections and try to source locally made objects and art. This type of local design fosters a sense of community for locals and visitors searching for a true sense of place. Speaking of community, this idea also extends to online communities. Many restaurants are trying to have one statement design element to give people something Instagram-worthy to post.

In so many of these restaurant design trends, we see the opportunity to use print-on-demand technology to customize a space with the high-performance materials necessary.

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Kristin Crane

Kristin Crane has designed jacquard designs for the home furnishing and residential jobber market for many years, with mills in the US and in China. Today, she writes about pattern and design trends for Design Pool from her home in Providence, Rhode Island. When not writing about fabric, she can be found weaving in her home studio or hiking along the Rhode Island coast.


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