Industrial designs with reclaimed wood, exposed lightbulbs, and exposed brick, typically coupled with metal furniture look like they have peaked and are starting to decline after many years of success. Many restaurant owners are seeing this style as overdone and outdated and are looking for new design styles to break out from the crowd.
High-Level Design Trends
Some up-and-coming design trends include:
Design Mashups. Many restauranteurs are starting to mix multiple designs within one restaurant. For example, perhaps they will have a casual feel in the front bar and couple that with a more formal feel in the back dining room. So, whether the customer is in a casual or formal mood, there is a solution for everyone.
Modern, But Not Ultra-Modern. Words that come to mind here are Swedish, sleek, and more than minimalist, moving beyond white walls and adding bold colors into the design. Colorful pastels with clean lines in the furniture are growing in popularity very quickly, as an example. Some people are taking this quite retro, with the looks of past decades, including the use of chrome, neon lights, linoleum, and Plexiglas. The more visually striking the space, the more it will get shared on social media, driving new customer awareness.
Farmhouse Fresh. The original rustic look with reclaimed wood with dents and dings in the furniture is evolving into a much cleaner and chic farmhouse style. This is typically anchored by wood tables and wood chairs, which may be plain or may be painted.
The Great Outdoors. As restaurants are looking to drive more revenue, many are expanding their services from indoors to outdoors to add more tables. This is driving demand for outdoor patio furniture, shade umbrellas, and beer garden-style tables.
Green and Greener. There are two trends here: (1) restaurants are adding more plants to their décor, including living walls as space separators or sound barriers; and (2) the demand for furniture made from eco-friendly materials. This includes reclaimed wood, to save new trees from getting cut down, and the growing use of bamboo, which is a much more durable and longer-lasting wood than traditional woods. And, the wood is making its way into the ceilings and the walls, in addition to the table tops.
This is not to say industrial is entirely dead, as many of these newer designs are still using industrial elements within that overall design, continuing to use metal Tolix-style bar stools, for example.
Trends in Furniture Itself
Obviously, the types of furniture purchased will flow directly out of the high-level furniture trends above. But, there are also some interesting trends happening to the furniture itself:
Custom is King. Restaurateurs and hoteliers want to have more input about the furniture they are buying, to help them stand out from the crowd. Many don’t want mass-produced options you can find everywhere else. They want to customize it with special fabrics, colors, or patterns, with their personal touch, to be able to uniquely call it their own. So, offering custom furniture options has been a growing trend, especially around booths that increasingly need to feel more high-end with unique materials.
Comfy Cozy. We are seeing more demand for cozy lounge environments within the restaurant, which means growing demand for plush couches and lounge chairs. Not only in the waiting areas, but often times extending into the food service spaces as well.
Come One and All. Many restaurants are moving away from individual tables and are promoting more of a community environment, with communal tables seating multiple parties together. So, that is creating demand for long benches and longer, family-style tables.
Storage Chairs. In an effort to improve the user experience, many restaurants are trying to think about other conveniences furniture can offer their customers—such as a place to store your purse so that it is not sitting on the floor or hanging off the back of the chair, where it can be easily stolen.
Smart Tabletops. The restaurant table will replace your iPad inside restaurants. Through overhead projector systems, you will get more visuals around menu items and be able to order your food through a tap of the table—and automatically get refills based on smart sensors knowing your coffee cup is empty. I am a little ahead of myself talking about this in 2018, but hang on to your hats in the years to come.