After taking a look at all the big bars and restaurants that have opened in the past six months, it was hard not to notice that a few of the same design elements kept popping up. Some are as small as a piece of furniture, some are as large as entire dining room concepts. Here now is a list of ten of the New School Restaurant Design Trends of 2010:
10) Boiler Room Chic: Dining rooms with exposed brick, tan wood accents, and utilitarian lighting fixtures give off a cool, subterranean vibe, that is also at times reminiscent of a janitor’s closet. The message here is that the food is the main attraction, or that cocktails are best enjoyed in a secret, craggy nook where no one will find you. (see: Hecho in Dumbo, Penny Farthing).
9) The Lyon Stool: This boxy, tin, backless chair has made appearances at many, many new restaurants this year. It has a clean, vaguely retro look, as well as a certain craftsman appeal (it is most commonly found in electrical and carpentry workshops). You might see these in grey or red, with an oval-shaped hole in the top, or with a patch of cork board on the seat. (see: Betel, Anfora, Terroir).
8) Lady Parlours: A lot of the big new lounges and cocktail dens this year boast antique fixtures, splashy paint jobs, mix-and-match patterns, over-stuffed furniture, and tchotchkes galore. It’s a lush look, and one that is undeniably feminine. (see: Cocteleria, Rabbit in the Moon, Mari Vanna)
7) Fake Ivy: Long, creeping tendrils of ivy on brick exteriors make a restaurant look both old and prestigious (and vaguely clubby). Unfortunately, a proper ivy wall takes years to grow, but the fake stuff can be put up in no time at all. (see: The Lion, Rabbit in the Moon)
6) Recycled Junk: Furniture and architectural details made from discarded or repurposed materials not only draw attention to the design interest of the space, but also suggest an eco-friendliness. Sometimes this can give off a nice lived-in feel, other times it makes an eatery look like a tricked-out tree house. (See: The Collective, ABC Kitchen, Lady Jay’s).
5) Stationary Retro Food Trucks: A few new restaurants have incorporated Airstream diners and vintage food trucks into their permanent designs. It’s all the fun of a food truck, without all the actual headaches of operating a mobile restaurant. (see: Le Bain, Goods Food, Senor Tacombi).
4) Pottery Barn Nautical: This style references the classic Jolly Roger vibe of a touristy fish shack, in a pared down, refined way. There may not be buoys hanging from the wall, but a nicely matted, Captain Ahab illustration from an old edition of Moby Dick, or a vintage painting of a weary Maine lobsterman are all par for the course. (see: Choptank, Luke’s Lobster, Mermaid Inn Oyster Bar).
3) Nothing, or One Thing on the Wall: A "less is more" aesthetic is having a moment right now. Some places keep their walls totally empty, others hang one impressive, unusual piece of art so that diners can use it as a conversation piece. (see: Ma Peche, Luke's Lobster).
2) Exposed Wine Cases: Not a new trend, but a popular one this year. These temperature controlled, transparent cases make a restaurant’s wine collection into a strange piece of glass sculpture, while also suggesting that the bottle list is some next level stuff. (see: Quattro, The Mark).
1) Creams, Dark Pastels, Shades of Grey: For whatever reason, a few of the big new restaurant spaces this year have put the design focus on big swaths of mute colors, sometimes paired together in various geometric shapes. (see: The Mark, Faustina, Tamarind, 1 or 8)