How to design restaurants and bars that enhance the customer experience

Freshome is particularly interested in the design of interiors and residential architecture. However, sometimes we are also curious about other areas such as hospitality design. What is the secret to a great bar or restaurant? How can you make sure that customers return? How can the space design help with business goals? We wanted to know the answers, so we asked experts.

Blacksheep was established in 2002 by TimmuttonJo Sampson due to their shared passion for design. This award-winning agency is known for creating spaces that perform. These spaces include bars, restaurants, retail spaces, and residential areas. Jo, Blacksheep’s Creative Director, was available to answer questions about the agency’s restaurant and bar design work and what it takes to create a space that works.

Could you please give us a short introduction to Blacksheep?

Tim Mutton, the Managing Director, co-founded Blacksheep. Me in 2002. We specialize in creating exceptional food and beverage experiences and designing award-winning bars, restaurants, hotels, and other spaces. Based in London, the studio boasts specialist teams who understand the importance of an all-encompassing, holistic hospitality design service including local market analysis, brand positioning, innovative concept creation/implementation and integrated graphics and branding.

Blacksheep is known for its exceptional hospitality environment. Blacksheep has been redefining London’s nightlife scene for the past decade through award-winning projects The Cuckoo Club, Whisky Mist and Hilton Hotels & Resorts. It also serves international clients such as Fairmont Hotel Group and Hilton Hotels & Resorts.

Blacksheep created global retail concepts for Wedgwood, Waterford and the Royal Doulton Group. It also implements international shopping environments to Hermes, a luxury goods company. Jamie Oliver, a renowned British chef, has been a partner of the agency since its inception. The agency recently launched his Union Jacks concept and Jamie’s Italian chain.

How did you get started in hospitality design?

My first-class honors degree in design was my graduation. This helped me accelerate my career in the industry. I specialize in creating luxury interiors for private and hotel rooms and designing cutting-edge retail spaces. I also have an eye for styling and am skilled in selecting the best furniture and fittings. My career began at prestigious agencies Studio De Lucchi and Terence Conran, where I was able to find a designer that reflected their reputations for excellence and luxury.

Tim was born in the UK and started his career in bars during his twenties. Tim was fascinated by how people used space in hospitality environments and began studying Art and Design. He graduated with a BA Hons. in Interior Design. He began his career in the top design firms, including United Designers and Terence Conran.

Blacksheep claims it flies the flag because of a design that isn’t in line with the rules. What does this mean?

We don’t just follow the trends; we create them. Concept research is not based on what’s currently in fashion or current. This will make it difficult to find new ideas. Our work is always ahead of the curve. We try to stay one step ahead by looking at trends.

How can a restaurant or bar design contribute to the business’s effectiveness?

100%! Everything from the seating area to the bar to circulation spaces all plays a role in the operation of a space. The space’s operation is affected if people cannot get a drink or food that is too cold.

What strategies does Blacksheep use to design more enjoyable venues for guests?

Good planning and making the place work are key. Customers would never know. It is also about the atmosphere, lighting and music. It is important for people to feel comfortable. Before we begin a project, we do extensive research into the area and the offer to ensure that our design is appropriate to the target demographic.

People visit bars and restaurants to satisfy certain psychological needs. How can hospitality designers ensure these needs are met with the tools and strategies?

It’s not about the psychological needs but social ones. The customer decides which venue suits their mood and requirements best. Do they want to meet someone? Or are they looking for a private dinner? This will determine the venue.

Which design elements greatly impact how long customers spend at a bar or restaurant?

Service, comfort and food are the most important things! It is important to feel welcome and valued. The atmosphere must allow you to relax and enjoy the event.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing hospitality designers today?

Clients need to find good sites with the right rents. This can have a significant impact on project budgets and the owner’s bottom line. This can result in a decrease in the price of food and drinks, which will also impact the customer base.

What are some of the most common errors in designing restaurants and bars?

Planning fundamentals – kitchens, circulations and the ability to serve a restaurant well and create an atmosphere. It is important to create the right atmosphere, not too loud or cold, and not too many dishes. There is no need for a set menu when it comes to mains.

What’s the most important thing you should remember when designing a restaurant or bar?

Customer! How do we attract them? What’s the best way to make their experience memorable and keep them coming back?

We want to thank Jo for taking the time to answer all our questions and giving us an insider’s view into Blacksheep. We’d love to hear from you about your experiences with a great bar or restaurant design. We want to know what keeps you coming back to your favorite restaurant or bar and what design can make it better.

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