2019’s biggest restaurant design trends

Interior designer Haldane Martin designs bespoke furniture that enhances the restaurant experience and creates original spaces with bold identities. The creative genius chatted to us about 2019’s biggest restaurant design trends.

Haldane Martin with Jessica Rushmere, owner of Swan Café. Photo by Micky Hoyle.

Q: What are the biggest restaurant trends at the moment?

A: Trends are tough to define. I’d encourage people to discount décor trends in favour of considering the global lifestyle consciousness trends. Right now the overarching trend is awareness. Looking at our impact on the earth. There’s also a meta-trend, not just décor, of subcultures based on the kind of food you eat. Vegans, vegetarians, conscious carnivores, banting, etc. One can either offer all options or build your brand around one food subculture. Each subculture has an ideology ripe for expressing. It’s interesting to explore these eating [and] lifestyle trends from an interior design perspective.

Q: Which colours are popular right now?

A: Part of the success of Swan Café are the bright, happy colours. (Cape Town is saturated with dark, woody, industrial spaces prominent five to 10 years ago, when we did Truth Coffee). Bold colours are quite key, but with a sophisticated slant to them.

Q: What about lighting?

A: Lighting is crucial to creating mood in any space. First and foremost, natural lighting is important in restaurants and cafés. There’s a definite lighting trend towards LED everything, because they are energy-efficient and quality of light curve is pretty good. I always use warm lighting for restaurant spaces to make the space feel cosy. It stimulates your appetite, whereas cold lighting doesn’t. It makes people linger longer.

Q: Is communal eating becoming more popular in South Africa?

A: Communal eating is an interesting trend on the increase. South Africans are quite open to the communal eating layout. It suits our social, hospitable local culture where people don’t mind sharing a table. I often use it in conjunction with other seating options like two-seater tables for couples and bar seating, like at Swan Café, Kunjani Wines and Mad Giant Brewery. Restaurants need flexibility. I include multiple styles of seating and multiple levels of comfort.

The bar setting at Swan Café. Photo supplied.

Q: Which materials are dominating in restaurant interior design?

A: We’ve seen a lot of eateries covered in plants and a lot of rattan or cane furniture, which ties into the South American relaxed tropical trend. Both reflect the trend towards sustainability and awareness. In terms of materials, practicality and trends can never be divorced from one another. When cleverly used, a basic building material like the humble brick can be a durable and stylistically strong material in an interesting pattern. Function, comfort, trends and budget are interwoven. If I was creating a fine-dining space, I’d take contemporary art deco references; if it’s an ice-cream shop, I’d maybe pull from the Memphis trend; or, for example, for a bar I did in Botswana, I looked at South American modernism.

This feature first appeared in Full Service, the business magazine for the restaurant and catering industry. Read the full magazine

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