In an ongoing effort to please their current patrons, attract new business and compete with the competition, restaurants are continually rethinking and upgrading their designs. Classic diners of the 50s and 60s eventually gave way to the bold and vibrant restaurants of the 80s, which gave way to geometric shapes of the 90s. At the beginning of the 21st century, minimalism and soft colors began to take hold.
What then, does the future hold for restaurant design? According to several notable restaurant design experts, patrons can expect to experience the following trends:
- Cultural crossovers: In 2024, we’ll see cross-cultural culinary destinations with restaurants that blend traditions from around the world. This trend will extend to restaurant design, where spaces will seamlessly weave together diverse cultural influences to create an immersive journey for guests.
- Mixology is on the rise: Craft cocktails are taking on dramatic presentations and unexpected flavor combinations. Restaurant and bar design will align with this trend, and guests will experience visually stunning bar setups with dynamic lighting, eye-catching backdrops and furniture and fixtures that enhance the experience.
- A continued emphasis on creating an urban oasis: People want to relax and restaurants that offer a respite from the hustle and bustle will gain traction. Rooftop gardens, indoor green walls and al fresco dining with a focus on sustainable design will help create an escape within a city.
Ometeo stands out for its ability to seamlessly blend diverse cultural influences, bridging the Texan-Mexican cultural divide and subtly merging their distinct climates and traditions.
- “The cultural crossovers trend emphasizes the nuances of diverse heritages and mirrors the complex fabric of those communities, fostering rich and layered experiences, both in design and cuisine. It’s crucial for designers to approach these designs with cultural sensitivity, steering clear of stereotypes. In 2024, we can expect restaurants to transport diners to entirely different worlds through well-translated, sophisticated design, creating a transformative and escapist experience without resorting to clichés.” – Griz Dwight, Founding Principal, GrizForm Design Architects
- “Restaurants dive deep into authenticity to find innovation. We designed a space (JA Jiaozi) that showcases the transparency of the making of the dumpling and added a chef’s counter for guests to watch the live show.” – Yuwen Peng, Associate Principal, Arcadis
- “There exists a compelling opportunity for restaurants to truly immerse themselves in the local culture by integrating it into their menu offerings and design aesthetics. This approach can transform the dining experience into something exceptionally distinctive. By embracing local ingredients and flavors, restaurants can expand their menu options and simultaneously create a deep connection with the community. This fusion of culinary and design elements not only resonates with the essence of the destination and the brand but also encapsulates a one-of-a-kind encounter that can be savored nowhere else. It’s a testament to the power of localization in crafting a truly unique and memorable dining experience.” — Leslie Chimelis, Senior Associate, Arcadis
- “For Jaja’s design, the Studio K team pulled cultural inspiration from the southern European coast. To transport the guests there, we wanted to overload their visual senses, immersing them in an open-air garden with lush plantings, colorful textiles and patterns, and a retractable skylight where they can sip on a hand-crafted cocktail and share tapas with companions. The heavily layered lighting and cascading greenery set an intimate dining spot with Cleveland skyline views for an experience that is one to be remembered. The concept also was heavily influenced by the original menu, with the base of the menu being shareable bites from a mix of cultures. The food’s inspiration was non-determined from where it originated; intended to be a collective versus one cuisine or country of origin.” — Karen Herold, Founder and Creative Director at Studio K
Mixology is on the rise:
- “In Glendale Panda Inn, we introduce Asian small-batch spirits mixed with teas, fresh herbs and non-alcohol drinks. We also extend the bar to a lounge area for happy hour tables and drink rails. Adding wireless tabletop lamps to create social intimacy.” – Yuwen Peng
- “As mixology becomes a greater draw in hospitality, restaurant and bar designers face an important lighting challenge. There needs to be a balance between creating an intimate experience for the customer while also providing adequate lighting for the task. Mixing great cocktails is hard under the best of lighting conditions. The key to striking the right balance is task lighting that isn’t visually overwhelming, and because the fixtures have to be close to eye level, their detailing and materials are very important. Our THIN fixtures have been installed in bars across the country because their slim profile offers proficient task lighting without obstructing views of the greater space or interfering with the customer/mixologist interaction. We’ve even installed fixtures specifically to light the front side of the bar for guests to take photos of their cocktails. High quality LED lighting with excellent color rendering allows mixologists to efficiently work behind the bar, while customers are able to fully experience the symphony of ice, glass, garnish and serveware of their beverages, and hopefully the lighting fixtures themselves complement that materiality. In this way, lighting has become paramount in the customer experience.” – Tom Simon, Design & Product Development Manager at Juniper
A continued emphasis on creating an urban oasis:
- Exploring the evolution of urban oasis concepts, these culinary havens can occasionally undergo a transformation, breaking free from their initial brand concept. In doing so, they discover a fresh identity that seamlessly melds with the unique character of their locale and its surroundings. Remarkably, this adaptation doesn’t compromise the fundamental commitment to offering top-notch cuisine. Instead, it revitalizes the dining experience. — Leslie Chimelis, Senior Associate, Arcadis
- In Glendale Panda Inn, we designed a homey Inn-like spatial flow divided by soft greenery. With creative lighting, the leaves and the shadow create a perfect divider between the rooms and enhance the intimacy and cozy dining environment.
Other 2024 Design Trends
In 2024, we anticipate a surge in private dining experiences, driven by a post-COVID awareness of personal space and safety. Restaurants are responding by offering unique ways to divide and rent individual spaces, reflecting a growing demand for exclusive and intimate dining options. – Melissa Morreale, Designer, GrizForm Design Architects