Nice food, shame about the decor

05 February 2010
Nice food, shame about the decor

While restaurant menus are nationally focused, their interior design is becoming increasingly defined by bland branding, according to David Anderson, co-founder of CADA Design Group.

National cuisine is like a hot air balloon. We all know where it comes from, but nobody can predict where it will end up.

One could argue that national cuisine has always been regional in its country of origin, but once exported, it too quickly becomes regionally defined, either aggregated but separated on a menu or as a regional speciality restaurant.

Street food from all over the world is being adopted and adapted for the British market and palette. But in the coming years will it be possible to authenticate food at the point of origin or will cuisine have become a truly homogenised global phenomenon?

For the future I foresee true homogeny and distinction. There are already first class restaurants in Paris with foie gras and Mandarin duck on the menu.

The world has shrunk. International air travel, the internet and social networking are driving internationality and homogeny but also accentuating national tendency.

The big question for design specialists in the food, restaurant and hospitality industry is what effect can we expect this to have on the built environments that we eat and drink in?

What we are seeing today are interiors that are defined by celebrity, "concept" and brand rather than point of origin for the menu in direct contrast to the fiercely nationally focused restaurants.

We will see more restaurants claiming an international influence, not a national one. On the other hand, non-indigenous national cuisine will be encouraged to further differentiate and authenticate.

Through our work right across the globe in food and hospitality, the industry seems to be largely stuck in an innovation loop. Those brands that are innovating are generally re-inventing existing successful formats or transporting them to new territories.

Will history repeat itself? The stripped wood floors and white walls of the ubiquitous austerity model of the last recession gave way to the concepts that are still being empirically polished today.

Will the end of the recession see the next creative surge? We must certainly hope so. One thing we can be certain of is that the industry as a whole must be ready to tackle and reinvent both national and international food for the second decade of the millennium.

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