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The changing face of hospitality

As the distinction between bars and restaurants blurs, both are starting to see changes in their layout. Communal tables and bar seating can encourage even the most shy consumer to interact with the people around them. But that isn’t the only change.

Barworks Hospitality Group managing director John Hellebrekers says there is a rise in versatile design.

“People are designing establishments that can change every few years so if they want to change the focus on the restaurant or bar, there doesn’t have to be a major refit.”

The reason behind the need for adaptable spaces is the pace of changing trends.

“The market is moving fast and tastes change so while people crave trends, there may be a new one in three years.”

The rise in industrial and function spaces took hold a couple of years ago and now there is a major cross-section of outfits, between raw, functional designs to the opposite, niche spaces with lots of furniture and trinkets.

No matter what the style, there is a rise in quality materials being used in spaces to make them last, he says.

Woodpecker Hill in Parnell is an example of an establishment bucking against the industrial trend.  The company behind its fit-out was Paul Izzard Design.

Senior designer Jonathan Goss says architecture and design firms have driven a lot of the changes in the look of hospitality.

“We are out there bringing ideas back to clients and pushing them in new directions.”

While choosing a trend to follow when designing a hospitality space comes down to personal preference, the general move is towards a more refined look, he says.

“This is a reaction to the industrial and no-design pop up aesthetic. Now they are swinging back towards a more classy finish.” 

Marble and brass the biggest players in the industry at the moment and many are choosing art deco styling as well.

Hard surfaces like polished concrete and raw brick are being offset by softer materials. Leather booth seating, handmade tableware in earthy colours, and more personal touches like handwritten menus or mural artworks are becoming mainstream.

Websites like Pinterest make design ideas and trends more available to the average bar or restaurant owner, which can give them a clearer idea of the look they are going for.

“It used to be hard to source imagery and ideas and the trends around the world. Now a lot of trends are propagating quicker and staying around for less time.”

Open kitchens are now the norm, as people take a greater interest in where their food comes from and how it gets to their plates.

The transparency can also be seen in a number of bars and pubs, where the rise of on-site brewing has afforded tanks, kettles and taps the status of decorative elements.

Brewing equipment can even be the main visual focus in an otherwise stripped-back interior, making it clear that patrons are drinking in a specialist environment. Black Dog Brewery and The Third Eye in Wellington and Sweat Shop in Auckland utilise their equipment in their décor.

“It all goes hand-in-hand with wanting a firm grasp on where what we consume comes from,” Goss says.

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