What's Hot in Restaurant Design in 2018

By Bill Gordon

You can tell a lot about the current zeitgeist and overarching themes in art, culture and even science by looking at interior design trends. Restaurants design is particularly interesting, as they are public spaces that strive to be modern and homey at the same time. From the speakeasies of the ‘20s, diners and drive-ins of the ‘50s to the elegant dining trends of the ‘70s and fast food explosion of the ‘90s, restaurant design is constantly reinventing itself. The 2010s have so far been all about minimalist design, contemporary vibes and a strong focus on sustainability.

Here are the top design trends in restaurant design in 2018.

Lighting trends

2018 restaurant lighting design trends

This year is all about combining bespoke lighting with high tech LED ambient lighting. If you have been out anywhere remotely trendy in the last year, it is more than likely that you have seen the old-school, incandescent, oversized warm light bulbs in cafes and restaurants. They provide a vintage flair and gentle mood lighting that adds class and cosiness to any space.

At the same time, strategically customizable led lighting strips are everywhere, and can add subtle touches of color as required, depending on the desired effect. One of a kind, bold and dramatic is all the rage when it comes to lighting fixtures, preferably of the vintage industrial type.


eco-friendly restaurant design

While there has been a focus on eco-friendly restaurant design for quite a few years, sustainable design is an extremely valuable design asset in 2018. Interior designers are embracing reclaimed and recycled materials and using them in extremely inventive and versatile ways.

This eco-friendly approach is also embodied in an increased focus on greenery, embodied by both floral patterns and real greenery. Indoor plants are making a comeback, and moss walls are being used to provide unique dashes of color while providing cleaner air and a natural outdoor vibe. 

Formal/Casual mash-ups

restaurant design mashup

Restaurants can roughly be divided into casual and formal dining, right? Not anymore. 2018 is meshing casual and formal dining principles and design to create truly unique dining experiences. It is not uncommon for restaurants to have various sections that cater to the needs of different clientele without giving of a segregated vibe. Laid back tables with comfy chairs and sofas can provide a casual dining experience, while other sections of the restaurant can have more formal seating for the more business-oriented diners. This type of design opens restaurants up to a varied clientele and ensures an eclectic dynamic vibe.

Photo friendly

photo-friendly restaurants success

Social media presence and image can make or break any business, and restaurants are extremely aware of this. Restaurant goers -- especially tourists -- love to take pictures when they dine out and post them online. This is great free marketing, and great restaurant designers make sure that the décor is photo friendly with interesting signature pieces. Neon signs, colourful art and patterned tiles are all effective ways of making a visually interesting statement, as are unexpected vintage elements and typography. The more eye-catching or unusual a fixture is, the more likely it will end up in someone’s social media feed.

Visible kitchens

open, visible restaurant kitchens

The kitchen is the pumping heart of any restaurant and has long been kept away from the gaze of restaurant patrons. This has been turned on its head as visible kitchens are becoming much more popular with guests and new restaurant designs. Not only do they give guests a sense of connection with the food that is being prepared, but also make the space seem more open and engaging.

The ubiquity of chef-centred shows streaming online and on televisions stations worldwide have bought food preparation into the mainstream, and diners are increasingly fascinated by the art of food preparation. Open kitchens are engaging, memorable, and give a sense of community and shared dining.   

The one main takeaway is that experience is king. While the menu is the cornerstone of a great restaurant, the way a guests feels when dining out is just as important. Hygge is a Danish word that loosely translates to a feeling of cosy, charming contentment, and is taking the restaurant business by storm. If you can make your customers feel at home, relaxed and at ease, you have already won half the battle.

About the Author
Bill Gordon is a freelance writer who likes writing articles that cover small business and corporate related topics. He has written numerous articles and contributed to several other blogs. When he is not writing, he enjoys spending time with his wife and riding bikes.