Time for a Change

A decade of heavy use will cause the best materials to fail.

Seven years ago we did a small renovation for a local, well known establishment with a long history. Being a high use, well-oiled restaurant not to mention a local land mark, it’s time for another face lift. This particular face lift will be a much more extensive overhaul of the interior finishes and will include major kitchen upgrades. After seven years, the materials are just now starting to show their age through their wear patterns. The carpet has been particularly abused and is well worn in heavy trafficked areas. Their tabletop laminate has also been worn to it’s core and is in need of an update. Plus, trends and colors have changed over the years and seven years seems to be that sweet spot when an establishment should seriously consider an update before it begins to look dated and worn out.

When we design a new restaurant we always take the customer’s best interest to heart. We don’t use anything less than the best most durable finishes for commercial applications. The owner has specifically requested materials that will last another seven years without showing the wear patterns that are happening to some of the materials now. Since this location carries much history, this time around we are choosing an even more durable approach. In order to create further longevity, we are looking at stained concrete floors as opposed to carpet and hand holds on the back of the chairs to minimize the wear and tear of the chair back material.

As a designer we have access to hundreds of highly durable materials along with years of experience that will help give your facility the to stand the test of time. Keep an eye out for new and exciting things to come for this local landmark.

Everything but the Bathroom Sink

I lied, we did include the bathroom sink.

Lavatory. Washroom. Loo. The restroom is just as important to a restaurant as the kitchen and dining room, yet is often an afterthought when it comes to its design. I came across an article about restrooms and honestly found it more interesting than my iPad. No doubt this was written with a female perspective, which may be why I appreciated the bullet points. What follows are a list of components for successful restroom design, and can account for repeat business.

Well lit restrooms: No flood lights necessary here, but something to make us look non-ghoulish when checking ourselves out in the mirror. We have all done it, don’t deny it. We want our guacamole to be green, not our complexion.

Women’s restroom should be larger than the men’s: This is a no brainer. You could also say “duh”. The fact that we women travel to the bathroom in packs is enough to justify a larger space for us all to convene.

Ventilation: Need I say more? I’ll take the intense smell of limburger cheese over the smells that come of some restrooms. Period. (Insert gagging noise here).

Commode Style: Who knew there were various styles of toilets, other than white, off-white and bone-white? Thinking of commodes as a piece of furniture may take time, soon we may all see an IKEA-ish style catalog full of porcelain seat choices.

Hand washing area: Deeper sinks and longer faucets are the key here, to avoid splashing and creating an awkward water spot on the front of your chinos. The trend is headed towards hands-free everything. Now if only we could open the door hands-free…

As a new mother, I have a different perspective on the cleanliness and layout of restrooms and will get a bit giddy when I see the beige, floating cot that people call “changing stations” (you want me to lay my kid where?). My son doesn’t appreciate the subway tiles on the wall or the color of the soap dispenser, but at least he lets me “ooh” and “ahh” while freshening him up.

Going Green in 2013

Pantone’s recent selection of “Emerald” (Pantone 17-5641) as the color trend for 2013 sets the mark for fashion and home.  This selection will also become relevant for the design world when we see it make an appearance in commercial textiles and materials. Emerald may remind you of whimsical times in “The Wizard of Oz” or pay a certain homage to those native of Seattle (aka The Emerald City) but it is definitely a color worth paying attention to as we watch it come to life in 2013.

Speaking in terms of color psychology, green can have a calming effect and is the easiest color on the eye, which may be why various shades of green are seen in hospitals and waiting rooms. It will be interesting to see how this newly announced color will be used in the hospitality industry, specifically in restaurants and bars. In my experience, I was taught to shy away from using green in establishments where people will be eating, as the aura of green walls will subconsciously remind them of mold and ultimately deter them from finishing their plate-sized burrito. Then again, green is also the color linked to money and let’s be honest: who doesn’t like money in times like this?

Maybe instead of slathering an entire wall with a parade of Emerald tones, we can start by introducing small pieces of the color in accent materials or light fixtures. We don’t want our potential clientele to push away their antipastos quite yet…

Hard Surfaces Create Noisy Spaces

Rigid surfaces are excellent sound reflectors.

I recently designed a restaurant/bar where the owners wanted to utilize wood finishes and surfaces throughout. Given my limited involvement as a designer to this project, I was asked only to draw and space plan the building layout and equipment, since they had their own designer on staff.

Since the owner decided on all hard surfaces for this particular restaurant: Wood table tops, wood floors, wood ceilings and beams with open trusses, wood chairs, and wood wainscot, sound never had a chance. The only soft element was a ‘lonely’ seat cushion to sit on in the all wood booth.

When the restaurant opened its doors, customers raved about the new neighborhood eating establishment, but after about a month of being opened customers began to complain about the restaurant being too noisy. Excess noise is a common problem when using only hard surfaces throughout any building, because there is simply nothing to absorb the sound.

To reduce noise in an establishment, there are several different materials and many ways to reduce noise. A very simple recommendation for this particular installation is to add elements that can help absorb sound such as, carpeted areas, attractive acoustical wall panels, draperies, and upholstered booths and chairs. For this particular restaurant, they chose to add acoustical banners up in the ceiling to hang from the trusses. This very simple solution has aided in absorbing the excess noise while adding another design element to the space.