There is no set definition of what restaurant design is. There are two separate definitions one for a restaurant, which is “A place where people pay to sit and eat meals that are cooked and served on the premises.” (Stevenson, 2011) And one for a design that is; “A plan or drawing produced to show the look and function or workings of a building, garment, or other object before it is made.” (Stevenson, 2011) From looking at different restaurants around the world it is for certain that not all of them follow a certain theme or concept as owners have a different perception on what the interior should look like. Therefore defining what restaurant design is, is very conceptual. However Aaron Allen a global restaurant consultant states restaurant design is not just designing a restaurant but a design of a “brand and a experience” (Allen, n.d.)
That is true starting a restaurant the owner needs to know what kind of food they will be serving. Who the target customers are and a well thought through branding and on top of that what experience you want your customers to experience, because great dining experience has to do with the environment and atmosphere as it does with food.
During an interview with an Irish Architect Cliona Dempsey she talked about what she considered as a good restaurant design.”I think a good restaurant design, is one in which, the clients who go to the restaurant, go away feeling that they have had an amazing experience. And I think, that can be many different things. I don’t think that it necessarily means it has to be an expensive restaurant, but it just has to be that the client, at the end user, at the end of the day finds that they’ve had a satisfactory experience and a fun experience, if that’s what they wanted. So it’s all about expectations.”(Appendix 2) And this raises a question; how well are restaurants designed? Do restaurants give their customers an amazingly unique experience?
To a certain extent, the question can be answered with yes restaurants do. At the first glance, you would assume that all the boxes are ticked for a good restaurant design, as the main things that have been thought through; which are the back of house, front of house, branding and signage, the planning of the interior and its décor, and the shop-front. However if observed more it comes to attention that there should be more to a restaurant than what it is now, because at the end of the day when you look back at the dinning experience you have had in most restaurants not many are memorable.
A member of the Kitchen Theory team which is an experimental gastronomy design studio believes that “modern life is becoming increasingly un-sensory and by this we mean; modernist and minimalist design aesthetics combined with rapid advancements in technology…have resulted in a world which is far less rich in sensory interaction.” (Lulu, 2016) One of the few multisensory activities that people still engage with is when going to a restaurant, as it is perceived as an event, a place for a meeting, socialising etc. a place where there is a great atmosphere and environment that will keep drawing them back to the place. This is achieved by including sensory design when it comes to restaurants because without that a place would have no life.
When designing a restaurant a designer or an architect thinks about the colours, acoustics, materials, seating lighting and décor. They look into psychology of colour, trends, themes etc. However is this enough to create the best dinning environment for your customers?