Shea Links: November

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:

“How Hotel Restaurants Are Climbing Back From COVID-19” – FSR:
This piece looks at how the two sides of hospitality—lodging and dining—intersect at hotel restaurants, and how they’ve been dramatically affected by the results of the COVID pandemic as people are reluctant to both travel and go out to eat. It’s very dependent on location and clientele—neighborhood spots with a strong local following may have recouped some losses, but locations dependent on events and conferences have been especially affected. Some high-end resorts have been working harder to cater to tony locals, and everyone is trying to reinvent what five-star hospitality looks like in their restaurants by being hyper-aware of safety and guest needs.

“Shaping What’s Next: The Role of Design in Pandemics” – Work Design:
This piece looks back at pandemics throughout history and how they have impacted design long-term—from the influx of easy-to-clean tile in bathrooms after the 1918 flu to the addition of fire escapes to reduce germ spread in tenements. It also discusses the long-term role that design will play post-COVID, causing new ideas and innovations to take hold—and designers will have to react accordingly to give clients what they seek in their spaces. With more flexible work, the balance will shift in the built work environment. People will be looking for more psychological safety, and signage will be more explicit. Expanding into outdoor spaces and using data in design are more important than ever, and considering buildings as instruments of public health and working with policy partners will be key.

“New Cleaning Technologies Are Pitched as Game Changers for Restaurants, But Do They Work?” – Restaurant Hospitality:
This piece delves into the use of and innovation around sanitation technology, particularly sanitizing UVC lights—their effectiveness, cost, and what’s coming next. Some operators have realized that a blended approach is imperative—adding UVC lighting (pointed at the ceiling to keep it safe for patrons) as well as sanitizing the space with ozone gas, as well as adding additional fans. Other UV lights offer less or zero risk for human exposure depending on how and where they’re installed. Further innovations include “sanitizing robots,” but it’s important to remember that “regular” sanitation methods are just as essential.

“Sidebar Scores in Foodservice News” – Shea:
A Foodservice News story on the new Sidebar at Surdyk’s, the story behind the Shea-designed space, and how this generation of Surdyks is putting their own stamp on the family empire.

“A 3-Step Approach to Creating Meaningful Workplace Experiences” – Interiors + Sources:
With everyone rethinking the office, Interiors + Sources describes a three-step approach that can help create a meaningful workplace experience for employees: Make the workplace a destination; Harness the power of propinquity; Embrace the emotional transition. The goal is to get employees to consider the workplace as an ecosystem of places, tools, and experiences, where they have more choice and autonomy to connect and focus, with a deeper sense of belonging and commonality (“propinquity”) between colleagues. And companies must express sensitivity to the emotional transition that employees will have coming back to the office.

“Chain Prototypes” – Foodservice Equipment and Supplies:
This piece looks at how the changes being made to chain prototypes reflect the market shifts in the restaurant industry resulting from the pandemic. With business models in flux, there’s a stronger emphasis on drive-thru and pickup features. Kitchens still span from open to closed cooklines, with the goal of creating the most efficiency possible. And chain prototypes are being designed to serve as test locations for new items, training, and courting franchisees.

“Hotels Lag in Energy Sustainability. One Project May Change That” – New York Times:
The Times looks at a conversion in New Haven, Connecticut, of an office building into a hotel with net-zero energy standards. The hotel industry has fallen behind other real-estate sectors in the adoption of energy-efficiency measures, but the developer behind what will be a 165-room boutique hotel hopes to change that with his building, since the hotel industry could be a key benefactor in sustainability. While major chains are working to reduce their carbon footprint, this hotel will include solar canopies for electricity and high-efficiency air-source heat pumps to heat and cool, along with many other efficiency measures to help.

“Saving the Workplace By Design: The Hidden Psychology of Safe Space” – Work Design:
Work Design dives into how designers can use tactics that make offices feel like safe spaces for employees post-COVID, based in psychological research. These include incorporating more curved elements into the space, adding furniture and spaces that allow employees to recline, and the ever-popular notion to “bring nature in” with plants, fireplaces, and natural light. The piece also touts the popular “resimercial” idea as a way to make workers feel more comfortable and at home—all of these are ways that companies can be using design to their advantage to create a happy, healthy workforce.

“Why Plexiglass Alone Can’t Prevent COVID-19” – Vox:
Experts weigh in on the debate about the effectiveness of plexiglass in preventing the spread of COVID as it becomes more common in businesses. While the barriers can prevent large transmission droplets, smaller particles can stay airborne for longer. However, when there’s close customer interaction and masks are used, the dividers can be helpful as one layer in prevention—and give an additional layer of security for both customers and workers (psychological or real). The key is good air flow, which is what helps the plastic barriers be effective, so air purifiers, opening doors and windows, and other methods to increase the indoor air-change rate should be employed to help.

“Why Would Anyone Open a Restaurant Right Now?” – CityPages:
CityPages thoroughly investigates restaurant openings over the past six months in the Twin Cities, talking to several restaurateurs and chefs about the logic and their perspectives on the future. Those who have opened with models that resulted from COVID or pivoted easily (like Tortilla Nixta) have flourished, because they had the advantage of incorporating constraints from the beginning and catering to what clientele are looking for now. It’s also made it easier for some restaurateurs to negotiate with landlords, especially as existing restaurants are closing and others can snap up their spaces. Others have taken advantage of the influx of ghost and dark kitchens for low overhead, and emphasizing a higher-end takeout experience. Finally, restaurants are embracing collaboration and the importance of their staffs—although this is certainly a work in progress.

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