How to… furnish your restaurant sustainably

18 November 2011
How to… furnish your restaurant sustainably

Most restaurants focus their sustainable efforts on the food on customers' plates. But increasing numbers of restaurateurs are looking at the very fabric of their eateries and building in sustainability from the ground up - whether from scratch or as part of a refurb.

Refurbs and refits can be a challenging business, but managed carefully and with some expert input can save you money and create a more attractive restaurant, which in turn will attract more diners.

For initial advice on sustainable building projects we'd advise restaurants contact the Charterered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE). They have a wealth of information covering everything from roofs and floors to insulation and landscaping.

Reusing existing resources and making the most of salvage yards and antique markets can save you serious cash as well as give the restaurant a great look and feel. Recycling materials for which you have no further use is also a great idea.

Carnaby Burger Co recently decided it wanted a new look. They approached sustainable designer 3idog with a brief to portray the sustainable practices and social responsibility that are key to the restaurant.

The exterior shop front and design of the restaurant needed to reflect the importance of the environmental practices, ethics and partnerships with the local community.

Central to the space is a semi open plan pass which reveals the theatre of the kitchen beyond. Bespoke hand drawn illustrations will cover the entire elevation delivering the message through a fun and unique artwork.

A decision has been taken to replace the existing tables and chairs. They are from a sustainable, traceable source and the solid oak table tops will replace the existing walnut ones.

Next on the list was the lighting - new pendant energy saving lamps are key to this and the timber veneered light shades are manufactured in Britain.

They've managed to keep down costs getting free end of batch rolls of wallpaper and using pallets as wall cladding.

The tired displays will be up-cycled and the existing menus enhanced with new frames made from re-claimed timber and previously discarded ones to create a focus on the gourmet style food.

Steve Combe of 3idog explains: "The Carnaby Burger Co has shown a willingness to be creative on a limited budget and by following some basic design principles. We believe that through the combination of creative design and craftsmanship, with an environmental agenda we can generate richer and more beautiful interiors."

Darnell Bryan of Carnaby Burger Co says social responsibility forms an integral part of the business' policies. "We take sustainability very seriously; hence we wanted this refit to leave little or no ecological footprints," he adds. "3idog lead us with innovative ideas, transforming what we considered to be ‘waste' into excellent new products. Apart from the massive cost savings, we ended up with innovative, functional designs which are current but with no compromise on quality."

five ways to furnish sustainably

1 Address sustainability at the design stage and take care of 80% of the environmental impact.

2 Design in plenty of natural light to enhance existing features and materials.

3 Evaluate what you have. Can furniture fixtures and fittings be re-used or redesigned? Up-cycle wherever possible as they could be integral to the concept, breathing life into old furniture.

4 Create a healthy space by using materials and paints with zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

5 Ask your builder or joiner to source materials from waste disposal or recycling centres. Large commercial building sites can be a great source of material, so liaise with the site contractors.

The Sustainable Restaurant Association is a not-for-profit organisation helping restaurants become more sustainable.

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