restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.
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M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 7 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • 4 9 design helps to stay focused on the initial vision. We go back to the brand Q&A at every step of the schematic work. DeBoer: Authenticity also speaks to local. Consumers increasingly prioritize self- expression and exhibit a variety of life- style choices. To attract these customers, restaurants must venture into smaller, nontraditional settings to convey unique- ness and connection. Local relevance and uniqueness are big draws. Brand consistency is less important than get- ting the culture and preferences right. Restaurants are looking to engage the senses, using textured finishes and furnishings sourced from within the com- munity to convey authenticity. Alinovich: Absolutely. Part of it goes back to doing the research on the front end to really understand the space and the local area. Choice of materials and finishes can be used to reveal authen- ticity and local relevance subtly through the design. What are some common restaurant design missteps? Pope-Westerman: One is restaurants that look too much like banquet rooms — just a sea of tables without enough articula- tion in the space, not enough millwork, not enough variation in the type of seat- ing or the table heights. At the other end of the spectrum is overdesign. That often happens as people try to provide lots of different experiences within a space us- ing lots of different materials. You always overdesign a bit and use many materials, but it is crucial in the editing process to get back to what the core of the project needs to be. There needs to be a hierar- chy of experiences within a space. If KEN LAM Navigate Design, Toronto How I spend my time: Most of my time is spent brainstorm- ing with my creative director and clients about vision and brand development. My favorite part is put- ting together mood boards that set a project's tone and color and feel, just to get a sense of what the space will be before turning it over to my design team. Then I go out and have a mar- tini — which technically is research because I always check out new and interesting restaurants. One challenge: Restaurants typically have multiple investors, who often have different visions for the project. We sometimes need to serve as mediator between strong, opinion- ated partners to get everyone working toward a common vision. Inspirational icons: Entrepreneurs like Uber co-founder Garret Camp and Restoration Hardware founder Ste- phen Gordon. They were frustrated by something and applied outside-the- box thinking to create game-changing new solutions. This page: The award-winning Weslodge Saloon in the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai was Navigate Design's first project abroad and an example of the firm's fully integrated branding and design process. Photos courtesy of Navigate Design