Restaurant & Bar Design Horrors – Style Over Substance

Good design isn't just design that looks good, it should work too - here's some examples of some that haven't


Vic Searl

In the summer of 95 I opened my first pub, a wood heavy concept known as a ‘Firkin’. In true big-company style, the re-furb went way over schedule but the opening date remained the same, meaning that me and my team stayed up through the night setting up the pub for it’s grand launch that day.

It was only when attempting to put pint glasses on the shelves that we realised we’d witnessed the first of many Firkin ‘design horrors’ – they didn’t fit!

And that’s not all! The Ignite team has plenty of tales about bar light fittings being so low that foreheads got smashed at least 5 times a shift, or the classic bar or restaurant design error… a skating rink where a floor should be!

Now fast forward a few years to the sexy bars, pubs and restaurants of today. Design is at it’s sharpest but how much have we learnt about the usability of that design?

How do you get the balance right between exquisite aesthetics and operational ergonomics?

Let’s make something clear. We LOVE design and we LOVE designers. We’ve had the privilege of working with some of the UK’s most talented and visionary designers. One or two of them even have awards to prove it!

And the thing we love most about these particular designers is that they totally understand that making a restaurant or bar beautiful is just not enough. The design has to be functional, clever and make life easier for those who work within it. And equally importantly, your customers should be in awe of the design, not bewildered by it.

So when you first set out to build the bar or restaurant of your dreams, make sure that your designer or architect considers each aspect of the design from an operational point of view. Get a smart GM or Operations Consultant to objectively look at the plans and always keep the people who use your space at the forefront of your mind.

Don’t let it be your bar that has no room to swing a cat, let alone a boston!

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