24 September 2012

When is an Interior Considered Too Much?

Have you ever walked across this beautifully designed restaurant in the middle of one Friday pay night in a very populated neighborhood only to find a few people eating inside while the other two restaurants beside each end of it are packed by crowds of people?

There’s nothing really wrong with their food, they’re serving pizza or burgers (which by definition are happy comfort foods for most people) offered at fair or competitive price point levels in comparison to its neighboring restaurants. The traffic flow and space planning are impeccable and conducive to the staff’s efficiency of service. Every surface has been kept clean and pristine.

So what seems to be wrong? Why aren’t people going in?

It’s Not You, It’s Me
More often than not, the reason I usually hear when it comes to cases like these is that they were intimidated by the interiors of the restaurant and the place looks too expensive even though in reality your bill would be just the same as eating at Chillis. Of course this point differs from case to case. For example, if this happens to be a residential space then by all means be proud that you have made it look luxe than it actually is. But in cases of business or commercial spaces, I beg to differ.

Too Much?
If you have noticed, I refrained using Interior Design and opted using the word Decorating instead. And before you ask, yes my dear, there is a distinct difference between the two. But more on that on another entry. As I mentioned previously, what if the space has no problem with the traffic flow or “functionality” per say but more of how it was furnished or decorated?

Sometimes as Interior Designers we get too much excited about putting all our creative efforts into the space that we tend to forget or bypass the mind frame of our target market, the client/s or basically the kind of people who would be occupying the space. Sometimes we think what do we, as IDr.’s (short term for Interior Designers, by the way) want to see when we eat in this so and so type of restaurant. At an extent it can be okay, but sometimes it leads to biases and “design malfunctions” such as the scenario I’ve stated at the beginning of this entry.

So how can one avoid this? Or if it’s already been done, what could you do about it?  

Friendly Suggestions
  1. Get over yourself. Take off those pair of snobby pretentious-tending stilettos (or loafers, whichever) and place yourself in the shoes of the client or potential clients. Imagine yourself in their lifestyle and how they would react with the environment you envision for them. If the target market are yuppies or young working professionals then imagine how they would spend their money, if they would rather end their work days with stiff formal settings or a laid-back casual atmosphere instead.

  2. Put an over-sized version of the menu at the entrance. If the so-called “damage is done”, place a bigger version of the menu near the entrance or where most passing people could see it. A lot of restaurants are using this nowadays not just for promotion or advertising, but to encourage customers to go inside if they see that the price is okay before they get “discouraged” by the intimidating Interiors. Sometimes it’s inevitable, you want to give people a good-looking place to hang out or eat merrily at, but they think they don’t deserve it. True story, but ah well we just need to find the fine balance between the two.

  3. Remember, remember. Don’t forget the purpose of what you are doing and why you are doing it. Sometimes there are certain factors like budget or opinions of people who think they know what you’re doing but not really or entirely that could sway you from the ultimate reason of why we do this in the first place. Remind yourself, you’re doing this for the improvement of lives or helping them do so. Whether it be for the sake of profits or lifting people’s spirits up, never forget your purpose.

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