When I receive a new brief, there are two elements that I consider before I even begin to look at the design. One is the location of the project, be it a town centre wine bar or a country pub, and secondly the target market for the concept.
The design of a community ‘local’ would be considerably different to that of a gastro country pub, city centre restaurant, wine bar or craft ale bar. Before embarking on a project, the very first question should be what kind of atmosphere are we looking to create? The environment should be influenced by the type of customers you want to attract and so your decisions about everything, from lighting and coasters to furniture should be informed by your target market. It’s important to have a clear vision about what you’re trying to achieve from the offset.
The design often comes secondary to the operation of a concept. Regardless of how great the design is, the premises could falter if its service does not meet the expectations of the target market. I have seen projects where the client’s range of offerings is too vast. It’s essential to focus on what you do well rather than try to be too many things to too many different people.
Obviously the budget plays a big role in determining a brief, so it’s important to invest time on quirky elements, to set the concept apart from other competitors and create a talking point for customers. This could be digital wallpaper or an item of theming, which can then be easily changed at little expense in order to keep the pub up to date.
‘Mis-matched’ is also fashionable at the moment as it offers a design that looks eclectic and as if it has evolved over time without being too contrived.
The exterior of the pub is also an area that often gets overlooked but must be considered: you need to have ‘kerb appeal’ as few want to venture inside an unattractive pub. This can be achieved easily with planters, outside furniture and attractive signage.
It is also important to focus on details that customers notice such as finishes, fabrics, furniture and interesting bric-a-brac items.
These smaller touches can really affect the ambience of your bar in addition to effective lighting. Without good lighting any design can look dull. There are infinite possibilities with the decorative light fittings available on the market, bespoke fittings and dimmers to change
the mood as the evening moves on.
Lastly, I would stress the importance of keeping toilet facilities maintained and stylish. Toilets which look tired and unloved can often give the impression of poor hygiene standards.