The Psychology of restaurant design revealed

The design of a restaurant doesn’t just ‘happen’. It’s a cleverly thought-out process from the shape and comfort of the restaurant chairs, to the colour of the walls and cleverly-placed lighting. A designer will go to great lengths to get the exact psychology of the restaurant right. From getting the best contract furniture to creating the perfect atmosphere, there’s a lot to think about.

The brief
Before putting together the brief for a restaurant’s design, the designer will want to understand two main things, the first being the story behind the design. And this is crucial – Why? Because if this is understood up-front, the designer can ensure there’s a strong narrative behind the detail of the design.

And secondly, but just as importantly, the operations within the restaurant. Where do customers enter the restaurant? What’s their route through the restaurant to the bar and their table? What route would they then need to take to go to the bathroom? How do staff leave the kitchen to serve guests and how much space do they require to comfortably move around? The operational layout needs to work seamlessly as this will obviously have a huge impact on the overall experience of diners and ultimately the overall success of your restaurant.

Clever tricks of the trade
From a true psychological point of view, one of the key aspects of design has to be the lighting. Nobody likes to relax of an evening in stark bright lights. So, the designer has to think about the actual look of the light (shade/pendant etc.) and also the level of lighting. The most effective way of achieving this is to utilise ambient lighting to create a lovely environment, be it day, or night.

Of course functional lighting is also required to help customers and employees perform tasks, illuminating pathways and workstations for example. Accent lighting is used to draw attention to specific areas or objects which create visual interest.

Interestingly, bright lighting in fast food restaurants stimulates customers to eat quickly and to create a tendency to eat much more than intended. However, warm and ambient lighting within a fine dining establishment creates a relaxed atmosphere. Pair this with fantastic restaurant
furniture and there’s every chance patrons will linger for longer, ordering more wine and more courses….

Restaurant chairs and furniture are used to encourage different behaviours in different restaurants. For example, comfortable, supportive restaurant chairs are used in fine dining establishments to encourage long meals. However, this obviously isn’t the case within faster turnover, fast food restaurants. It’s important that any restaurant has the right mix of smaller and larger tables. An intimate party of 2 won’t want to sit on a table for 6. A good idea here is to have various square tables for 4 which can simply be pushed together to cater for larger groups. 

Colour also plays a big part in defining the character and ambience of a restaurant. It can create an energetic or relaxing atmosphere or it can even suppress or accelerate appetite. For example, reds, oranges and yellows are known to increase blood pressure and energy and therefore excel hunger!

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Supporting food concepts
Restaurant design should subtly support the type of food being served, instead of feeling too ‘themed’. It should celebrate heritage and complement the food. This can be through lighting, the use of colour, restaurant furniture and accessories or even flooring.

As you can see, there’s so much detail which goes into the planning of a restaurant or any other hospitality venue for that matter. It’s important to make sure that each and every customer feels special – whatever their position in the restaurant, be it an intimate corner at the back of the restaurant or an open space at the front or near the kitchens – the décor should be equally balanced. There shouldn’t be a single customer in your establishment who feels they’ve been hard done by in your selection of seating for them.

Restaurant interior design isn’t merely for the purpose of making a dining establishment pleasing to the eye; it is a careful science that aims to tap into each and every sense of its diners. And, it doesn’t stop at the items discussed above. We mustn’t forget the huge impact of smell and sound as part of our overall experience. They too play a huge part in how we feel, interact and the end of time we remain.

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