interior designer melbourne, cafe fit out

Realising your hospitality design vision

In a previous post I wrote about the most common hospitality interior design mistakes experienced by my clients. One of the things I said is that realising your hospitality design vision is critical to your business success. And not having a clear vision is one of the most common hospitality interior design mistakes. The word vision can be interchanged with values, story, or brand. Fundamentally, it’s about your why?

Businesses around the world, both small and large, work hard to establish their mission and vision statements. There’s a reason why your vision is important. Your vision sets your future direction and helps to differentiate you from your competitors.

Therefore, from my perspective your vision helps define the design strategy.  When I work with clients on hospitality interior design projects the first thing I do is understand their business.  What are they wanting to achieve by opening a bar, café, restaurant? 

I want to know what their menu is and why and how this is different from their competitors.  Also, I want to know who their competitors are. Your hospitality business competitors may also be the businesses or chefs that actually inspire you.  They maybe local or global. Additionally, I ask what your logo looks like and the colours in your branding.

Also I want to know what your future plans are?. Is your business the first of many?  Do you want to franchise your business?  Or branch out to retail or merchandising?  Once I understand your business goals, I can understand how this will translate into the interior design.

Your vision doesn’t have to be highly sophisticated.  Some of my client’s cafes are simply an extension of themselves. I think the best way to understand how your vision impacts the interior design story is through actual case studies.

Example Vision 1 – Charlie & Leo’s

Charlie and Leo wanted to open a café after years working in corporate jobs.  They both had a love of food and wanted to explore this passion.  They found a space in Lower Plenty that used to be a wood fire pizza restaurant. 

Their vision was to create a ‘hive of activity’.  A place that was ‘modern, warm, comfortable.’  They wanted a communal table and the colours green, orange and red. Simply their vision was a representation of their own personalities.

This brief impacted the interior design concept I presented through colour and texture.  I wanted to include a textured green feature wall. Creating a light and bright space delivered through white chairs and inviting foliage.  The hexagon shape was also important to communicate the ‘hive’ of activity they wanted to achieve.

Example Vision 2 – The Spade

The Spade is the second café I designed for JVGL Enterprises.  Their first being Sycamore Meadows in Reservoir.  The vision for the Spade was simple.  A monochrome urban jungle. With a strong ‘rock n’ roll’ story as the foundation of the overall look and feel.

My clients were inspired in their vision by a shared love for LA based musician, Butch Walker. So they researched LA based cafes and got some great ideas that would translate well in the Melbourne landscape.

Monochrome urban jungle as a vision was straightforward.  The key to achieving this aesthetic was pattern and texture.  Every surface either black or white needed a pattern or texture.  My rationale for this design decision was to ensure the space was warm and inviting. Something a flat surface can’t necessarily achieve.

The rock ‘n’ roll elements can be found in the neon sign, and the faux leather bench seating.  Leather is synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll fashion and prints of musicians loved by my clients. These pieces adding a personal touch.

Example Vision 3 – Bekka Lebanese Restaurant

The vision for Bekka Lebanese Restaurant was my client’s Lebanese heritage but specifically the Beqaa valley in Lebanon.  The Beqaa valley is known for its fertile land and produce. I defined the client’s style goal as ‘modern European Lebanese space with subtle cultural influences and a clean finish.’

How this translated into the design concept I presented is shown through the green ceramic splashback.  This is a direct connection to the lush green colour of the Beqaa valley. There were hints of the Middle East through the Arabesque style ceramic black and white tiles used on the façade of the front counter.

The use of black and tan is the ‘modern’ element of the brief and the wall panels reflect the design vision for European influences.

In these examples above the client’s vision has been derived from a variety of sources.  The first example saw the vision being an extension of the client’s own personality. In the second example the vision was for my client’s shared love of a specific musician. The final example shows that your culture can be a strong source for your vision in a hospitality interior design project.

A design concept can be a literal or abstract response to the client’s vision.  I try to combine both so that the client is satisfied that the brief has been met but that the space has a high level of interest.

How an interior designer can realise your vision

As an interior designer will respond to a client’s vision as confirmed in the brief. The brief is the first stage of the interior design process.  For your interior designer to present a concept in response to your brief, your vision needs to clear and sound.

There are other aspects that contribute to the realisation of your vision in a hospitality interior design project, such as experience.  Dining out is highly experiential and therefore emotive.  My clients want their customers to have a good time. 

Customers have a good time through tangible things such as good food and good service. But the intangible aspects such as the interpretation of your vision. Interpretating your vision into a workable interior design is critical to creating a good experience. It’s a good experience that ensures your customers rave about your business long after their visit.

Given, that word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, how your vision is interpreted and delivered is a winning combination for a successful hospitality business. Over the years our experience in hospitality interior design has evolved to deliver sophisticated spaces our clients and their customers love.