We work with a new wave of fast-casual restaurants - high street names such as Byron, Carluccio's and Jamie's Italian - who are redefining the experience of affordable dining with a powerful combination of technology, sustainability and extreme customisation. Consumers are increasingly looking for an added benefit to their food - not only does it have to taste good, but the environment they sit in to eat it must make them feel good.
However, in the current economic climate clients are turning their backs on gimmicks and are no longer desperately searching for the next wow factor. Our recent work for Carluccio's really captures the zeitgeist - simplicity is at the core, the space is pared down and restrained but with attention to detail and comfort is key. Extreme customisation is certainly something that clients want in a scheme, to create uniqueness and help define their brand.
Colour is hugely important and the bolder the better. Carluccio's blue is customised and has become iconic and synonymous with the brand. Colour can either take the form of classic chairs in a new colour or custom furniture from young designers or manufacturers.
In many ways, good bar and restaurant design is the same as the Conran philosophy - it transcends trends, focusing on interiors that allow us to live well - beautiful, relaxed and comfortable. Not completely modern nor completely traditional, but a combination of the two - honest materials and sensual texture to add weight and ground and engage us physically and emotionally with unexpected elements that surprise and delight will never go out of fashion.
Max Pilbeam, Head ofConran Contracts