Mark Landini is creative director of Landini Associates, a multidisciplinary design and brand consultancy working globally from its base in Sydney, Australia. Since 1993 Landini Associates has created and evolved retail brands, including McDonalds, T2, Aldi, Glassons, Sass & Bide, Jurlique and Coles.
What restaurant trends, if any, will carry over from 2020 and the pandemic?
ML: Restaurants will flourish again, but I suspect that their business thinking will have become more agile throughout this pandemic and hopefully that will continue. Cooking is a type of alchemy, and so now’s the time to apply this to the business model as well as the dish.
A restaurant is one of the few places where the human theatre of factory and consumption combine. This will likely continue as the kitchen is able to make a product that is not confined to being consumed at source. As such, in-house dining and the retailing of a finished product to take away might merge more. Restaurants will become more like shops as shops have been becoming finished food purveyors.
Prior to the pandemic, art deco and over-the-top glamour was becoming a top trend. What do you think will gain in popularity post-pandemic?
ML: I’ve no doubt that after this period of hardship and confinement an era of over-the-top glamour will re-emerge. I do not like design theming, so I can’t speak to what superficial style this might take. If history is mimicked, then periods of hardship often lead to huge bursts of creativity and original thinking. So, I hope that moving forward it will be less about mimicking period styles and more about designing unique experiences that stand out in this time and place. What that looks like is up for grabs.
What can designers do to help improve the off-premises dining experience for restaurant patrons?
ML: As the pandemic has made it less safe to consume on-premises, I suspect that order, pickup, drive by and delivery services and solutions will be reassessed and improved. This, of course, comes at a cost, and so footprint and systems usage will need to be rethought. The direct impact will be on the speed and efficiency of order to delivery. When you have a seated and captive audience you can be inefficient and inconsistent but when you don’t, you can’t.
We practice what we call “reinventing normal;” that is to challenge everything, break it down, then reassemble it again in a more appropriate, more enjoyable but efficient way that benefits both the retailer and customer. Just because something didn’t exist pre-pandemic doesn’t mean it won’t be the market leader in a nanosecond. At least that’s what Amazon has taught us and recognizes.
What’s one fast food trend you’d like to see go away?
ML: The notion that fast equals uncomfortable, un-textural and clinical. If the industry is going to call itself QSRs then let’s learn from great restaurants and the human experience they can deliver.
What were your key goals in redesigning the McDonalds global flagship prototype?
ML: The overall design goal of nearly all our projects is driven by their commercial success. Sometimes this is achieved by repositioning or modernizing a brand, sometimes by making it more efficient or customer friendly or both. In this case, we were just being true to McDonalds’ core value of innovation, so it was more about going back to the future. McDonalds speed to service and consistent quality is world leading however much mimicked. As such, an important factor in our thinking was to create a place of calm and respite from today’s rowdy competition and the noise of the world that we live in.
What are you most looking forward to in the next year?
ML: It’s been a chaotic year but also one that has helped us all reassess what’s important in our lives, the way we work and how we balance that with family. Pre-pandemic many in our studio were jetlagged much of the time as we were often traveling to be with our worldwide clients. So, I’m optimistic that we may travel again but maybe less than before. I do miss meeting and eating with our overseas friends, so maybe next year we will do it again but less often and celebrate it more when we do. That said, I’m looking forward to moving more and shedding a few kilos!