Restaurant Décor in The Instagram Era

“New York restaurants now have a new thing – they don’t sell their food, they sell their atmosphere.” Andy Warhol

We all know Andy Warhol was a precursor of our times, and the quote above rings ever truer in today’s competitive hospitality and restaurant market, where a dull and boring setting is no longer acceptable if you hope to lure customers to your premise. The time where decorating a restaurant meant just setting a few tables a plant here and there and the odd framed picture on the wall are long gone.

Even fast food chains have stepped up, consulting designers to create environments that are enticing for potential customers, inviting them to step in, spending time and money on the premises.

If you plan to open a restaurant nowadays, thinking what kind of vibe you intend to transmit is essential. We are not talking of a full themed restaurant, although they tend to attract quite a substantial clientele, but something more subtle yet distinctive.

Let’s not forget that the real reason why people go to restaurants is not simply to grab something to eat, but to escape, to leave their stressful day behind and enter in a calm, special place away from the daily routine, where they can feel pampered and whisked away, only for a couple of hours, in another world altogether.

Instagram and restaurants

We live in an extremely visual era, where people expect to see replicated in their everyday life the perfection that is seared into their pupils by never ending Instagram and Pinterest feeds. Nothing comes close to the influence social media have had on our expectations a public place should look like.

Of course, food quality is still essential, but customers nowadays seek a full experience, something that they quite literally can take a picture of and show it to their circle of friends in their social network of choice. This can play at your advantage if you plan your décor having this in mind.

A very “instagrammable” place can lead to a substantial amount of “free” advertising, as your patrons tag you in images, they take on social media.

There are many ways to achieve this result, some more expensive than others. We want to focus here on one of the most effective and economical way to create a space that is instantly recognizable and has a “wow” effect. We are talking about wallpapers. Nothing comes close to them when the goal is to create a striking, memorable space. A bold wallpaper, maybe just on a feature wall, can help define a place more than any other decorational tool available in the interior designer’s arsenal.

Wallpapers have been used in restaurants in the past but until recently, most public places chose to utilize glass fibre or woodchip wall coverings. It is a utilitarian wall décor that gets the job done if you want something that is simply robust and easy to clean, but for sure they are not atmospheric.

Technology has come a long way since the original heydays of exclusively paper-based wallpaper. Nowadays new materials and coating are available, offering haptic, three-dimensional surfaces that are at the same time striking to look at and incredibly resistant and washable, a characteristic that cannot be underestimated in a well trafficked public space such as a restaurant.

When it comes to pick the right wallpaper for your establishment, don’t forget to take into consideration the psychological effect of colours, patterns and motifs as they have a subtle, yet powerful impact on your customers’ subconscious.  Colours are not all the same, some have a more appetising effect then others. Try to restrict your choice, if at all possible, to colour hues in red, gold, brown, yellow and orange. One great choice for restaurants are material imitation wallpapers, as they can create the sense of luxury and well-being that puts patrons are ease.

Unless you are going for something very striking and powerful, we suggest not to place wallpaper with patterns that create optical illusions or large-scale geometric patterns directly in the dining area, as they can be both distracting and overwhelming. These wallcoverings are however perfect for the entrance or for the bathrooms, an often underestimated part of the establishment, one that yet is part of your customers’ journey.

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