One of the advantages of offering over 10,000 foodservice furniture products at Restaurant Furniture Plus is having your finger on the pulse in terms of what styles, products, materials and colors are trending up or down, from year to year.

What Are The High Level Design Trends Influencing Furniture Decisions?

Industrial designs with reclaimed wood, exposed lightbulbs and exposed brick, typically coupled with metal furniture has peaked and continues its decline after many years of success.  Many restaurant owners are seeing this style as overdone and outdated, and are looking for new design styles to break out from the crowd.  Some of the up and coming design trends include:

The Great Outdoors. 

Thanks to COVID, outdoor spaces have become the preferred way to eat in the eyes of many diners, and many restaurants are capitalizing on this demand.  Outdoors spaces were growing even before COVID, as restaurants were looking to drive more revenues, expanding their services from indoors to outdoors to add more tables.  COVID put this trend on steroids.  This is driving material demand for outdoor patio furniture, shade umbrellas, beer garden style tables, fire pits and patio heaters.

Save Me Some Money. 

Restaurants have been financially devastated in the wake of COVID.  And, since stocked furniture can be around 25% less expensive than custom furniture, many restaurants want to stretch their dollars further.  So, true custom designs have taken a hit in the last year.  That said, if you are looking to differentiate your look, several manufacturers offer affordable semi-custom options where you can pick your wood stain and fabric options on a pre-set frame.  Also benefitting from this desire to save money: (i) nice-looking laminates taking share from real wood; (ii) thinner tops taking share from thicker tops; and (iii) reclaimed wood taking share from new wood tops.  So, there is an affordable solution for every budget range.

Design Mashups. 

Many restauranteurs are starting to mix multiple designs within one restaurant.  For example, perhaps they will have a casual feel in the front bar, and couple that with a more formal feel in the back dining room.  So, whether the customer is in a casual or formal mood, there is a solution for everyone.

Modern, But Not Ultra Modern. 

Words that come to mind here are Swedish sleek and more than minimalist, moving beyond white walls and adding bold colors into the design.  Colorful pastels with clean lines in the furniture are growing very quickly, as an example.  Some people are taking this quite retro in the looks of past decades, including the use of chrome, neon lights, linoleum and plexiglass.  The more visually striking the space, the more it will get shared on social media, driving new customer awareness.

This is not to say industrial is entirely dead, as many of these newer designs are still using industrial elements within that overall design, continuing to use metal bar stools, as an example.

What Are Key Trends in the Furniture Itself?

Obviously, the types of furniture purchased will flow directly out of the high-level furniture trends above.  But, there are also some interesting trends happening to the furniture itself:

Dual Purpose for Indoors and Outdoors Use. 

With the growth of outdoor space, restaurants are looking for furniture that serves a dual purpose, and can be used both indoors and outdoors.  In 2021 with COVID, maybe half of your furniture is outside, and the other half is inside.  But, as COVID restrictions and social distancing requirements end, restaurants can easily move their outdoor seating inside, and it will look exactly the same.  This is creating more demand for resin and concrete tops.

Must Withstand Heavy Cleaning. 

Furniture is getting cleaned more than ever, in the wake of COVID.  And, not all furniture is designed to withstand the high level of repeated cleanings with all those chemicals.  The good news is: several manufacturers have designed their newest products in ways to withstand those heavy cleanings.  And, no surprise here, upholstered furniture is seeing a lot less demand for this reason.

Electrical Charging Stations. 

Take a lesson from Starbucks, which has become personal workspaces for many.  You want a diner to stay in your restaurant, and keep eating over an extended period of time, add electrical charging ports directly into your table tops, to keep their personal devices charged and working.  That may be the exact reason they visit your restaurant, if they are “running low on juice” (not kind from oranges!).  There are conversion kits that can be purchased to retrofit your current tops, if desired.

Smart Table Tops. 

You heard it here first, the restaurant table will replace your iPad inside restaurants.  Through overhead projector systems or smart table screens you will get more visuals around menu items, be able to order and pay for your food through a tap of the table and automatically get refills based on smart sensors knowing your coffee cup is empty.  We are a little ahead of ourselves talking about this in 2021, but hang on to your hats in the years to come.

If you would like to learn more about these trends or other furniture related questions, feel free to call any of the project managers at Restaurant Furniture Plus at 844-480-0855.  Simply tell us what you are looking for, and we will track it down for free at guaranteed best prices, or we can help you custom build it to your exact specifications.