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In 2021, restaurants have become more adaptable, pivoting quickly to the changing needs of diners

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DURING THIS TIME of industry disruption, restaurants have continually proven themselves resilient, adapting interiors and pivoting to novel service offerings to keep afloat. But where does the sector go from here? What are some of the enduring trends in interiors and architecture that we’re seeing as restaurants move forward in this new reality?

Dauphine’s in Washington, D.C., was inspired by NOLA and features design elements like a tiled fountain and wrought iron furniture. 📷:Courtesy Of Kristopher Ilich, Washington, D.C.

Dauphine’s in Washington, D.C., was inspired by NOLA and features design elements like a tiled fountain and wrought iron furniture.
📷:Courtesy Of Kristopher Ilich, Washington, D.C.

ESCAPISM, BEAUTIFUL RETREATS

The idea of dining as a respite from everyday life had already been building pre-pandemic, but it’s more relevant now for lockdown-weary diners.

Take for example Washington, D.C.’s Dauphine’s. The 6800-square-foot New Orleans-inspired eatery “has encapsulated the escape people are looking for,” according to Griz Dwight, Principal, GrizForm Design Architects (Washington, D.C.).

The restaurant plays up its inspiration city’s French and Spanish roots, layering oak parquet flooring, walnut millwork, mosaics, marble, tile and wrought iron alongside vintage fabrics and art. A French Pavilion-style canopy and mezzanine dining area also spur Bourbon Street nostalgia.

A different take on the trend of escapism is in the Pudong district of Shanghai. Here, ATLATL Restaurant hosts scientists from an adjacent research and development campus with a retro-futuristic feel. Soft curves, circles and spheres throughout the furniture, surfaces and architecture – especially the floating ring in its domed atrium – echo the orbit of the planets.

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“We wanted customers to experience scenes they could not experience in normal life,” says Qianyi Lin, Co-founder and Chief Designer, Various Associates (Shenzhen, China).

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ATLATL uses curvilinear designs to impart a celestial aesthetic. Windows to the outside bring a pleasing touch of nature inside. 📷: Courtesy of ATLATL

ATLATL uses curvilinear designs to impart a celestial aesthetic. Windows to the outside bring a pleasing touch of nature inside.
📷: Courtesy of ATLATL

THE OUTDOORS, INSIDE AND OUT

The COVID-induced pivot to all-season outdoor dining is another trend that, in various manifestations, is also likely to stay.

At Dauphine’s, the outdoor patio is central to the New Orleans-inspired concept. A nod to the famed courtyards of NOLA, the space is fitted with a fire pit, wrought iron design elements and a tile-clad fountain.

Even at ATLATL, where the vibe is extra-planetary, biophilia plays a role. The restaurant grounds its “celestial” experience with a large bank of windows that, when combined with the soft green hue throughout the space, relaxes the eye and makes diners feel more at ease. “Nature is always needed and healing,” says Lin.

The Freshman uses materials along with specific circulation paths to transform from a morning coffee stop to an evening dining destination. 📷: Joseph Tran, Washington, D.C.

The Freshman uses materials along with specific circulation paths to transform from a morning coffee stop to an evening dining destination.
📷: Joseph Tran, Washington, D.C.

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DESIGN FLEXIBILITY

We’re also seeing a bigger priority given to adaptable design.

In Arlington, Va., that idea brings the concept of The Freshman to life. An all-day dining venue designed by //3877 (Washington, D.C.) that opened near one of Amazon’s headquarters, the restaurant uses a coffee-meets-cocktail-bar concept to guide design and reflect the duality of the space.

Material selection was key: using brass in tabletop details, light fixtures and hardware, brings warmth to the daytime space, but provides an elegant twinkle in the evenings.

Circulation paths also blur the lines between night and day. For morning coffee service, traffic flows directly along a colorful 50-foot mural wall. But, when evening comes, the flow shifts to the dining area, and your view of the same vibrant mural is obscured by lighting, the height of the bar and seating elements in the space.

An operable glass wall also signals that day-to-night transition, opening in the evening as the interior spills out to a 50-seat patio.

“That experiential aspect supports the restaurant’s mission,” says Ethan Bingeman, Architect with //3877. “It provides locals with a truly dynamic place.”

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PHOTO GALLERY (91 IMAGES)
📷: Courtesy of: ATLATL | Kristopher Ilich, Washington, D.C. | Joseph Tran, Washington, D.C.

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