Thank you to Propel daily news for publishing this opinion piece on how to get retail design right...
Working with top architects on The Arts Club, Belgo, Café Rouge, Strada and YO!Sushi has been so inspiring and informative over the last ten years. And as a retail refurb can cost anything from £250k and a new build from £500k, here are my top ten tips:
Great logo signage to show off the ‘name’ and great illumination to turn on a night-time audience is so necessary. Ensure stand out with a dramatic awning, real glass fascia, theatrical light bulbs, antique hanging sign or neon. Great outside seating with lighting and heating. Real plants only. I love the way Byron design every fascia and awning differently, really cool and anti-chain!
The doorway, and access to, is THE most important part of any building. Opening hours, entrance and exit to be signposted. Oversized menu to be beautifully displayed in a mounted wall box; consider a lectern or an A board too. Floor to ceiling curtains are cool and contemporary.
Best entrance goes to Silo - the world's first waste-free restaurant - in Brighton
Always as large as possible with the ability to open out if possible. Retain real wood casings and decorate internally with sheer neutral linen roller blinds or modesty curtains to keep the sun out and light in.
Café Rouge decorates all its windows with bistro style foil lettering
A variety of options are required for opulence and interest. Hanging pendants, neon designs and antique style lamps are all very much in Vogue right now. Real candles are great attractors too, whether rustic pillar style or in ornate chandeliers. Check out Belgo's new light box walls in the entrance corridor at Covent Garden for Gilbert and George style cool.
Belgo Covent Garden's light box walls
Whether matt white gallery style, uncovered bricks or expensive designer wallpapers, don’t forget artwork, photography, mirrors and textures all add layers.
Louboutin style shoe wall at Café Rouge
Real materials (wood, concrete, tiles) are best and creating different floor areas with contrasting elements adds interest.
Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Canary Wharf
Minimum one toilet per sex please and doorway to be far from entrance eyeshot. Mandatory features include great functional bathroom fittings, mirrors and good wall mounted soaps. Carluccio do the best casual dining loos whilst most memorable has to go to Sketch!
The jewellery-inspired designer bathroom at Sketch in Conduit St London
8. OPEN KITCHEN
Whether fully functional or display, an open kitchen looks authentic and makes chefs feel front of house too, I think all chefs deserve to be seen.
Open kitchen at Polpetto in Soho
Positioned in entrance eyesight, fully stocked and with a great surface, some space to sit at and lots of dim overhead lighting. Think theatre and decorate with squeaky clean glasses, Kilner jars, eclectic spirits, champagne in buckets and fresh fruits.
The Arts Club Dover Street bar
Whether it’s the amazing ornate gold ceiling, secret garden, video wall, wine cellar or hand painted mural by a local artist, always have at least one great memorable feature and talking point. My 'design wow' recently was when visiting HIX Bankside and discovering bespoke films shown on full length light-boxes in the bathrooms. Whilst for easy consistent every day casual dining décor style I would recommend Côte, which always has an appreciation of the original building architecture and an eye for feminine detail like rounded corners, amber lighting and many mirrors.
Jia Jia Wu painting mural at Café Rouge St Pauls.
Neil Masters of Cantor Masters who has designed Côte, Pho, Café Rouge and GBK, adds, “before any thoughts of furnishing or decoration, it’s essential to get the ergonomics of a restaurant space right. It should be easy for the customer to enter the space and be welcomed into a reception area, even if it’s just a tiny lobby with a menu holder. The customer should be able to be smoothly taken to their table and have somewhere to put their coat & bags. There should always be a space for a buggy and access for wheelchair users. The tables and chairs should all be the perfect height for each other and waiter stations should be considered carefully so there's no noisy clattering of cutlery and till drawers next to customers. When the restaurant works perfectly as a functional space, with the right amount of washrooms and a fully operational kitchen, we have a good bone structure to base our design on. Simple!” www.cantormasters.com
Pho by Cantor Masters
Aiden Keane of Keane Brands (Bella Italia, Nandos, Burger & Lobster) says, ‘the restaurant sector has become so sophisticated and the market so savvy that creating genuine design USP’s – those iconic and bespoke design features – is paramount. Cookie-cutter design templates just don’t cut it any more and it’s the ‘Instagrammable’ touches that excite consumers, live long in the memory and drive word-of-mouth. From the Louboutin shoe display we created in Café Rouge Cheshire Oaks to the gold leather sofas housed in a giant ornamental bird cage at Menagerie (our latest vibe dine concept in Manchester), it’s the wow that sells and we focus on it meticulously!” www.keanebrands.com
Menagerie by Keane Brands
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