Designers slam 'monotonous' outlets

    Middle East must move away from dull design, say professionals
    Bluehaus' Ben Corrigan.
    Bluehaus' Ben Corrigan.

    Middle East F&B operators must move away from dull design and embrace new interior ideas

    The design standards of the region’s F&B outlets have become “monotonous”, according to a group of experienced restaurant designers.

    Commenting on the standard of interior design, Rockwell Group director of operations Chuck Wood said: “Licensed restaurants are constrained to hotels and there is a certain level of monotony.

    “In this region, design firms are generally responsibly for an entire hotel; therefore a lot of the F&B venues are designed by the same team and are not necessarily coupled to really strong concepts.”

    Bluehaus senior designer managing partner Ben Corrigan added: “If we had to criticise [the region’s design standards] I guess we would also say it was a little monotonous.”

    However Corrigan suggested that current economic restraints might force some Middle East F&B outlets to undergo a creative upheaval.

    “I wonder whether a slowdown on capital expenditure budgets in F&B outlets might actually promote a little bit of creativity, rather than clients generally following the brands that are tried and tested in other markets,” he commented.

    “We’re actually finding one or two of our clients are now looking to introduce new ideas, rather than just taking on franchises.”

    Kristina Zanic, founder of design firm DWP, noted that the creative progress of Bahraini F&B outlets had been “pretty slow”, adding that the country did not have many “good restaurants”.

    “The typical restaurants you get in hotels are not fantastic — so there is a lot of scope and room to manoeuvre for designers in Bahrain,” she asserted.

    According to Keane client services manager Helen Beardsley, designers are “all a little restricted in regards to food and beverage in this region”.

    “You have your quick-service restaurants and your casual dining, which is a bit rough around the edges in this region; then you jump from that over to fine-dining, because everything is in a hotel,” she pointed out.

    “If you look at chains that do well here — like Wagamama, for example, which is really quite basic in terms of design — they are very popular. This is because diners do not always want chandeliers, with everything draped in velvet and the finest items you can buy on display.”

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