By Bob Puccini

Originally posted on HOTELS Magazine.

Interior designers frequently focus on fabrics, seating, colors and styles for restaurant design, but many other important issues of design are softer in connection to the harder fabrics. These other elements are crucial in setting the mood and helping to enhance the overall feel of a restaurant which we are subconsciously emotionally drawn to, making these some of the most important elements to consider.

To name a few: lighting, sound, branding and music.

A restaurant concept must have coherency.  General continuity of color and styles in a restaurant are natural for designers, but other elements are not always as easy to convey with a set of plans or specifications.

Lighting and sound are part of a designer’s scope of work in terms of placement and power, how they are operated is critical to a restaurant or bars success. Designers frequently do not or cannot control the branding or the type of music, intensity of lighting or the name. If these elements conflict with each other, the concept and design of a restaurant can be completely thrown off.

We are creatures of our environment and with hour upon hour of media streaming around us from computers to television to movies, certain music styles play into our emotions: soft melodic music is soothing while rock and roll has energy.  I am reminded of one restaurant manager years ago that loved to play top 40 music in a thematically French restaurant.  The incongruity of the music to the physical space was uncomfortable, similar to lights being too bright or too dim- at some point there is a physical discomfort.

Branding, logo and naming are another set of elements that designers frequently don’t impact as much as they should.  How many beautiful hotel restaurants have defaulted to their address as a name?  If you think of restaurants you personally love to go to in your city, they most likely have a name that is consistent with the experience. They illuminate what the experience is going to be- whether that is trendy, upscale or high energy and each element is part of a golden thread that enhances your experience of being there.

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