Shea Links: August

At Shea, we pride ourselves on staying on top of what’s happening in design news. 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. Here are some recent articles delving into design, experience, and what’s buzzing in our community:

“Taking Restaurant Guest Experience to the Next Level” – Foodservice Equipment & Supplies:
This piece looks at how restaurant operators can take steps through design to create a guest experience that gets diners really invested in the brand, including bringing signature elements of menu production in house, like baking breads, making pastas, and dry-aging and cutting meats. These features bring an artisanal element to the restaurants and allow for new design features like display kitchens and dry-aging rooms to put the food at center stage. These new production areas mean new facilities and design considerations, including temperature control and equipment configurations, but can pay off in a truly differentiated guest experience.

“Why Restaurants Are Abandoning Conventional Service Models” – QSR:
This piece examines the nonconventional service models that restaurants are taking on to stay competitive in the restaurant industry, from ghost kitchens and delivery-only restaurants to food trucks to the ever-growing “grocerant” movement. This is, in part, a response to the shifting demands of the public, and in part a way to keep overhead costs lower and streamline service. But with the pandemic winding down, restaurants need to look at their makeshift operations and consider what’s most advantageous to keep around. Combining existing service models seems to be the safest way, creating community hubs and spaces that customers really want to support.

“Shea Principal Discusses Incorporating Retail Into Restaurants” – Shea:
A Restaurant Development + Design piece featuring Shea project Vivir in Minneapolis, and Principal Tanya Spaulding’s take on the restaurant/retail movement

“Are We Approaching the Death of the Hotel Lobby?” – Architectural Digest:
For the sake of convenience, contactless hotel operations were already making their way into the industry before 2020—but the last year has made them a mandate. And with everything from concierge to dining also available by machine, lobby design is bound to change. It’s still a hotel’s first impression in terms of design and service, and needs to b thought of as downsized rather than eliminated. Many large hoteliers are considering eliminating the check-in desk in favor of kiosks and roving ambassadors, and less focus on lounge areas. But for higher-end hotels who consider customer service to be a part of their identity, the human and comfort elements of a greeting area and cozy lobby are too important to be eliminated.

“The 2021 Restaurant Aesthetic is Optimistic, Nostalgic, and Vacation-Obsessed” – Eater:
After the last year and a half, it’s no secret that diners are looking for an escape. New restaurants are opening with this in mind, and are getting the message across by way of brand and design—an abundance of palm fronds, bright hues, wicker, and tropical vibes, or going in a different direction with spaces that immerse diners in a completely new corner of the world. Many of these designs take inspiration from previous “world reopenings” in the 1920s and 1950s (after both world wars), explaining the presence of Deco-like glamour and midcentury elements. It’s history with a twist all over the country, with nostalgia that still feels modern, laced with peppy optimism—all signifiers that diners are looking for a break and a bit of brightness in their lives.

“Branded Environments and the Impact on Employee Mental Health” – Work Design:
Work Design looks at how designers can work with companies to incorporate their brand language into an office space by way of material choices, colors, design moments, and one-of-a-kind experiences to reinforce an ethos and mission—ultimately resulting in deeper staff engagement and investment in a company’s brand. Talking to employees is key, as is analyzing market trends and research to develop a personalized design strategy for the client. Designers must find the combination of characteristics that represent the company and implement them in a way that shows what the client stands for. These personalized, dynamic spaces give workers a sense of ownership and pride in their employers, a huge morale boost.

“Restaurants Get an Outside Overhaul” – Restaurant Development + Design:
Creating interest for a restaurant by way of exterior design is more important than ever as people are enticed from the streets and their cars. Exterior lighting is a huge factor, with optimal transitions from day to evening that will also allow interior lighting to shine through and draw diners in. Color is key, whether it’s a simple paint scheme or a bolder mural or design that draws attention. Strong branding that truly reflects the restaurant’s mission, ethos, and food philosophy needs to communicate effectively with the customer, and if the restaurant includes a drive-thru or pickup-area component, it must be both purposefully designed and created for functionality.

“EaTo Set to Open With a Shea Design” – Shea:
A news roundup on EaTo’s recent opening in Downtown Minneapolis, starting with a walk-up window and moving into different phases through the fall

“Forget Gyms and Roofdecks. Your Next Apartment Building Could Have a Room for TikTok Influencers” – Fast Company:
While traditional apartment-building amenities like gyms and outdoor space are still popular, more and more are adding recording studios and video rooms to keep up with the content-creation economy that many residents are embracing. Acoustically-protected rooms for podcasting studios and video production are big draws for a generation invested in social media and with jobs that require spaces for creative work. Fast Company looks at a handful of buildings that have included these rooms as amenities, and how they’ve been incorporated and used so far. They’re not big space or budget-eaters, and give residents an extension of their homes as remote working and side hustles continue to be prolific.

“Raising the Bar in Bar Design” – Foodservice Equipment & Supplies:
Foodservice Equipment & Supplies looks at the magic behind the details in bar design, and what’s necessary for them to operate both aesthetically and functionally. Form has to follow function in order for guests to come back, no matter how eye-catching a design is. Concept has to be determined first, and that will determine the bar’s size, equipment, and layout to ensure the most seamless, efficient operating system. Then it’s about making it look flawless, with smart backbar design and perfect lighting, and paying close attention to heights, custom elements, and design features that will further a concept.