Curated by Shea: March

At Shea, we pride ourselves on staying on top of what’s happening in design news so that you don’t have to—and we pull what’s smartest and most forward-thinking together to save you the time of sifting through it all. It helps us keep tabs on what’s fresh, inspiring, and happening in the world—and we make a few headlines of our own, too.

“Bars in Office Buildings: A Reason to Return to the Office, or One to Never Leave?” – Fast Company:
Fast Company is talking office-building amenities, with bars built into complexes taking center stage as a next-gen trend. Like all communal and amenity spaces, more and more office towers are dedicating square footage to bars, whether they’re event-focused and banquet-esque or “regular” bars, designed to not only draw tenants and employees to offices as an amenity, but to provide a place for work, meetings, and team building. The piece gets into design considerations specialized to office bars, including the acoustic treatments to give the space a buzz in what’s typically a quiet environment, and designing the spaces to be sleek and energetic without losing a general sense of professionalism.

“Shea Design Director Speaks on Space Management in Restaurant Development + Design” – Shea:
Shea Design Director Cori Kuechemeister speaks with Restaurant Development + Design to detail the importance of post-pandemic space planning for restaurants, emphasizing its vital impact on the diner experience

“Restaurants Learned the Wrong Pandemic Lessons” – The Atlantic:
The Atlantic discusses the seemingly lasting changes in restaurants post-pandemic, and why some are the wrong things to be focused on for the future. With reservations back up to or even outpacing pre-pandemic levels and cities dropping vaccine requirements and mask mandates, restaurants are at a turning point where they need to apply the lessons learned. The most valuable ones to focus on should be regular HVAC tune-ups and filters (which help tamp down all respiratory illnesses), dedicated areas for takeout and delivery for seamless operations, smaller menus, systems that allow for less worker/customer contact, and reduced labor—all features that maximize efficiency and cut down on costs.

“Strategic Repositioning: The Key to Reimagined, Livable Work Environments” – Work Design:
Workplaces aren’t exclusively housed in office buildings any more, and this Work Design story examines the different arenas where productivity is happening. Having flexible work options in all types of developments is a trend on the rise as people look for live/work spaces outside of central business districts—or in the heart of everything with livability emphasized. For a physical urban workplace to thrive, brokers need to cater to tenants in terms of wellness, experience, and environmental impact. Holistic wellness, from social interaction to active streetscapes and natural surroundings, is a major draw for companies. Workplace experiences that inspire employees to do their best and engage with their companies and communities are important. And the push for reduced environmental impact of office buildings continues, as both societal pressures and government regulations move towards decarbonization.

“Did COVID Kill the Dining Room? Not Even Close, Restaurant Leaders Say” – FSR:
The takeout and delivery sectors may continue to rise post-pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that the dining room is dead. FSR predicts a major bounceback that has already begun, with customers’ appetite for dine-in rising by the week—with takeout, drive-thru, and delivery just serving as additional revenue channels. The dining room has started to evolve, with technology entering the sit-down space (by way of QR codes, specifically), putting cleanliness on clear display, and preserving the guest experience while emphasizing service, supply, and labor as much as possible in a challenging market. Many quick-service spots are shrinking their prototypes to include smaller dining rooms, but it can be a market-dependent factor. Just as it was pre-COVID, the most important part of operating a restaurant continues to be creating a diner-driven experience that caters to the desires of the customer while also taking care of operations and staff.

“Three Key Considerations Affecting Retail Design in 2022” – Retail TouchPoints:
Amidst a winding-down pandemic, inflation, and the ever-changing whims of shoppers, Retail TouchPoints discusses the impact on retail design of the evolving market. Designers need to work with their clients to focus on “shop-ability,” or converging multiple shopping channels to maximize business success. Spaces must be designed to easily tie into the online and social experience, while also standing out as a distinct physical experience. Using imagination in terms of retail spaces—redeveloping them and creating retail in spaces that are untraditional—is also important. And designing retail spaces that can be used for more than just selling, to really create a brand experience by building a community space for customers, helps build loyalty and overall brand success.

“What Makes for Award-Winning Restaurant Design?” – Shea:
The How We Create piece by Shea, discussing what really makes for accolade-worthy design, in terms of not only aesthetics but functionality and smart solutions.

“Design Full-Service Dining Experience for Optimal Efficiency” – Foodservice Equipment & Supplies:
With the labor market tougher than ever in the restaurant industry, efficiency has become the name of the game in the operational side of restaurant design. Full-service spots are coming back strong, but with operators looking to have spaces designed to give customers more control and that require less hands-on time from staff. This piece breaks down the different service aspects of a restaurant experience, and discusses how each can be designed in the most efficient manner to minimize labor needs while still providing the customer experience that diners are looking for.

“Biophilic Design Beyond the Buzzword” – Hotel Designs:
“Biophilic design” is one of the most commonly tossed-around phrases in design today, but really incorporating it into a space is about more than just talking the talk. This piece highlights brands and products that help consumers really connect with nature and the feeling of wellness that it brings (the crux of the idea of biophilia), in terms of pattern, color, materials, and texture. The resulting spaces should bring in multiple natural elements to create enduring, livable spaces—whether it’s about soft furnishings, sustainable textiles, or designs inspired by flora, fauna, and botanicals.

“Chef Jorge Guzman of Shea-Designed Petite Leon Scores James Beard Nomination” – Shea:
News on the nominees for the prestigious James Beard Awards, including Chef Jorge Guzman’s third nomination in the Best Chef Midwest category—and his first at Shea-designed restaurant Petite Leon in Minneapolis