Award winning interior designer shares the biggest design trends for pubs

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Award winning design consultancy: Harrison has created over 6,000 designs
Award winning design consultancy: Harrison has created over 6,000 designs

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Founder and managing director of award-winning, global strategic architecture and design consultancy Harrison, Philip Harrison, has had a design career spanning over four decades with offices in London, Birmingham, Dallas, and Melbourne.

Below, Harrison gives his thoughts on design trends for pubs, which he believed would elevate the customer experience whilst improving a pubs bottom line. 

Comfort and style

Inviting, rich, warm interior colours, comfortable furnishings such as fabric Chesterfields and dining height tables with lighting a key element were key to make customers feel welcome.

At The White Bear in Kennington, South London, Harrison worked with Young’s Brewery’s to create a traditional yet modern venue that showcased its 240 years of heritage through an interior framed around eclectic, layered artwork, and weathered bric-a-brac, as well as a number of discreet ‘snug’ areas for extended comfort.

A theatrical approach

Create a sense of ‘theatre’ through themed interior and different focal points to capture attention.

At the White Bear in Kennington, Harrison created a dining area with an open kitchen, so customers could watch meals be prepared and experience the sights, sounds and smells of a busy kitchen service. 

With outdoor spaces so crucial to reopening during the pandemic, the venue’s large beer garden was also adapted to include three beehives which produce the honey used in a number of dishes on the pub’s menu.

Tell your brand’s story

Objects from your venue’s past, like old brewing barrels or distilling machinery could be a good way to showcase a pubs heritage.

Harrison worked with Fuller’s on the Sail Loft in Greenwich, London, where the views of the River Thames were at the forefront of the design.

Even a new venue can have a history, in the Sail Loft’s case, it was from the historic maritime location around it, and a warm, intimate interior was created by linking the venue’s two floors and the use of characterful timber and an aqua colour palette.

Embrace technology

Technology can be a great way to create the theatrical experience mentioned earlier and capture customers’ attention.

Mobile phone ordering and pre-payment was brought in to limit social contact in pubs during the Covid-19 restrictions and super-fast Wi-Fi as well as charging points integrated into a work-friendly table design, could target workers during the day in the same way coffee shops do.

Thoughtful sustainability

Sustainably sourced, local ingredients in a varied menu will set many pubs apart from their competitors but customers also want to feel they’re part of something that promotes sustainability and are consistently looking for options that allow them to feel as if they’ve played their part.

Everything from homegrown food and cutting down on waste, to energy-saving interiors and healthy eating are important, socially responsible movements to be a part of.

A sense of community

After a year where people were pushed apart more than ever before, customers are expected to seek a sense of community with like-minded people, and this could come from holding events as well as how a pub works with other local businesses; think ‘camaraderie’ and it won’t go too far wrong. 

Harrison explained that, overall, landscape for pubs and licensed venues has changed, but only in part because of the pandemic, and those who were already adapting brands to cater for a new generation of customer are the brands who will get stronger and faster as we move through the Coronavirus reopening process.

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