101 Restaurant Design - Fundamentals for the best interior design

20 October, 2021

The global hospitality landscape is brimming with a growing number of people willing to dine out. The restaurant industry is becoming more competitive than ever. Therefore, the need for superior service, efficiency and sustainability is breaking the sky. Leading to restaurant design becomes one of the key factors to be recognised and, above all, remembered.

Restaurant Design


Interior Design Fundamentals


Draw the Line Between Flat and Fabulous

The best dining is not about indulging a single sense. It’s about creating an experience. Providing the customers with just enough inspiration to make them want to come back for more.

In other words, ambience plays a role as significant as the menus and signature cocktail cards. Fine Dining Restaurant Design is the art of creating an ideal background for developing an engaging story.

Design trends blend innovative concepts with functional fundamentals to raise the narration onto another level. Fashionable colour schemes, authentic shaping, and technologically advanced materials keep opening new perspectives and fresh ways to make a notable difference between plain and extraordinary.

What Makes a Truly Memorable Restaurant Design Experience?

It’s important to start with the fundamentals.

No matter how good the food might be - if essential elements are not put together in harmony, the customer will perceive that. It’s a distinct feeling that things don’t seem to be quite right, the lingering idea of “something is missing here, but I can put my finger on it.”

It could be too many tables placed too close to each other, a weird serving pattern, irritating glare, or the colour scheme that doesn’t really work. Each or all of those (and other similar) factors can quickly take a star off a visitor’s personal restaurant guide.

While every project is essentially different, some base rules remain the same, concerning efficiency above all.

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Restaurant Design Is About Maximising the Overall Efficiency...

The most efficient service is, paradoxically, the most invisible. While the orders are carried in multiple directions, the traffic flow sooner or later forms critical points. The ability to recognise patterns and predict the hotspot locations is the first step toward successful Creative Restaurant Design. Cleverly organised functional flow and utility of rapidly moving people in restricted spaces is a crucial task that sets up the strong foundation for harmonious, clockwork-like final results.

Kitchen layering complies with specific efficiency standards and has its own rules that shouldn’t be much interfered with. Arrangements of the hoods, dish machines, or hot lines also heavily depend on the available space, ductwork, and air ventilation systems. In addition, the majority of experienced kitchen teams have been trained inside one or more standard layouts, so it’s best to remain within limits here.

Having an experienced kitchen consultant on board is the best way to identify all critical points, study the flows, and discover the setting that will become an asset.

...And Putting It Into Perfect Balance With Aesthetics

After all critical functional issues have been addressed, challenged, and solved, we can focus on the look and feel of the place. This is the time when the story really starts developing. What is its premise? Is it about the quiet, private experience of Fine Dining Restaurant Design or the adventurous vibrancy of a hip restaurant? The concept needs to be reflected in every detail, from the choice of materials and arrangement of lighting fixtures to accessorising. Also should be thought as complement of the menu. The role of the designer here is to follow the owner’s visions as well as to navigate them in the right direction.

Restaurant interior design has to work as a cohesive whole. Lighting quality, for instance, depends on the lumens, light colour, quantity and arrangement of fixtures. But also on the way they correspond with the environment; highly reflective surroundings convey quite a different flair than matte, diffusing surfaces. The same applies to sound levels. Too much echo is rarely a desirable asset in the restaurant; hence the choice of materials should help to keep the noise under control.

Communicating Vision Through Telling Its Story

Falling in love with a restaurant means understanding it. As a visual method of presenting the idea, interior design is a communicator between the brand, the venue owners, and its visitors. As the creator behind the concept, the designer puts itself in the role of a translator. For that reason, it’s important to dive deep, explore what’s behind the main scene and connect the dots into a picture.

What’s the story you would like to tell? How does it correspond with the experience and the brand message you plan to deliver?

Every detail counts, including the food that will be served and its origin, even the place where it’s sourced from. A great commercial interior design takes care of brand communication, delivering all its values and messages as accurately as possible, and taking care to use the language tailored to the key target group. The cultural context of the story is equally important. Not only as an enhancer but also as a way to avoid a faulty interpretation of the spatial design.

Even When Pushing the Boundaries, the Story Needs to Be Consistent in Order to Remain Convincing

And that includes the sound. While it’s obvious that the intimate feel of a romantic fine diner will not work well with a loud hip-hip in the background, the story here can work on many other, delicate layers. The choice of music must be in line with the brand, compatible with the customers’ needs, and work as an enhancer of the overall atmosphere.

While some valid arguments can be found in the debates whether restaurants need music or not, it’s still a powerful tool in rounding up the concept. People choose to dine out for a multitude of reasons, and a muted ambience is not always an asset - not to mention that it’s a bad icebreaker.

The sound and rhythm from the background set the pace of the place and define its energy. Consequently, they also affect the way the diners behave. It works on a subconscious level, telling them to take their time, enjoy another course, have that dessert - or to hurry up and release the table, in case of a fast-food, teen-oriented joint.

But even more importantly, the sound establishes an aural expression that makes the place memorable. As an integral part of the design concept, it promotes its message, enhances brand identity, even affects the taste of food. In an ideal combination, the choice of materials is made with acoustics in mind, the sound delivery is perfectly projected, and the music complies with both the decor and the style of service.

When the sound is utilised as a soundtrack to the particular storytelling, it should encapsulate the essence of the narration. In return, it will highlight all points of difference, making the place memorable and authentic on all of its levels.

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Authenticity Defines the Character, and Character Is What Gets Memorised

Restaurant authenticity plays a major role in its overall value. This applies to the range of aspects, from creating a completely unique brand image, to blending customised quality with celebrated authentic cultures.

When it comes to designing ethnic-themed restaurants, the authenticity can strongly affect the assessments of the venue. The environment and atmosphere should pay adequate homage to cultural familiarity and folklore. At the same time, the concept needs to maintain high aesthetic levels and develop a customised character that will set it apart from the competition.

Fine dining is all about multisensory experiences as genuinely authentic as they can get. Bespoke furniture, unique materials, highly creative forms. Everything works together as a memorable visual landscape devoted to exquisite nourishment, both physically and spiritually.

Fresh design concepts tailored to reflect what’s most important to guests have a great impact on the millennial audience and young patrons of the new generation.

Environmental trends and growing ecological awareness shifted the global design trends towards natural and sustainable. There are many ways to depict nature through authentic restaurant design and complement all senses at once. An organic-oriented setting can enhance the desirable feeling of healthy relaxation, particularly in the interiors featuring wood as the dominating material. At the same time, monochrome or neutral colour palettes maximise the Zen vibes without compromising on luxury.

Flexibility as an Asset

Adaptive spaces with multi-functional furnishing are becoming increasingly popular. Besides offering a chance to enhance functionality and appear ever-fresh with minimal interventions. Such pieces help to add visual interest while providing different types of seating.

A concept that can easily morph offers the flexibility of service and a convenient method to face the unpredictable - like the New Normal pandemic rules, for instance. Not only that such an interior can look good even while working with a 50% capacity limit. Also brings an opportunity to shifting concepts for more entertainment, incorporating diverse pop-up events such as cooking classes or live presentations. In addition, it makes changing the purpose of the venue, if necessary,  possible with minimal interventions.

Offering multiple dining areas and providing the choice of the atmosphere within the same venue is another interesting approach that talks to multiple audiences at once. Still, while the spatial layouts might differ, the service, all functional segments, and decoration concepts must work together seamlessly.

Restaurant Design Fundamentals Conclusion

Clever restaurant design means taking risks but also knowing where to play on the safe card. It requires a deep understanding of the concept as well as multiple functional levels necessary to make a rounded-up story that works.

The projects driven by elevated awareness of customer needs are the integration of aesthetics, imagination, seamless efficiency and technological advance. At the same time, they are deeply rooted in inherited knowledge and experience as the foundation of success.

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Yaiza Martinez

Founder and Lead Designer

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