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‘Decor and the food need to be in perfect harmony in a restaurant’

Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 17:25 Hrs  [IST]

Ar. Smriti Raheja Sawhney was brought up in an architectural household. In 2001 she started her own architectural firm called DesignEx with just 6 architects and a small management team. Today, she has two offices in Delhi NCR and Kolkata. designed primarily works in the F&B sector with more than 25 restaurant chains as their clientele. Some of her celebrated projects include Home Delhi for PVR Director's Cut, Anidra, Punjab Grill, Mistral, L'Opera and SETZ. Hospitality Biz spoke to Ar. Smriti Raheja Sawhney to understand her design philosophies and the latest trends in restaurant design.



Q Today, the F&B sector is as much as the design and ambience as the food and hospitality service. How do you see these two major aspects of a restaurant walking hand in hand?
The patrons these days seek for nuance and experiential designs. People today are well travelled; with exposure to world aesthetics they have their own design standards. The mood is hence often set around the concept of making eating-out an overall experience worth savouring. The eatery is supposed to maintain the customer's intrigue, comfort, food quality and worldliness. Therefore, the design and the food must be in perfect harmony with each other with the agenda of justifying the theme of the restaurant.

Q What are your core philosophies when you design a restaurant/cafe?
The notion initially is to provide sync between the authenticity of the type of cuisine and the brand image of the restaurant. The soul of the brand is supposed to be reflected through design. Branding has a profound impact on the restaurant/ cafe, as it boasts of the story, attracting the target market and making it stand out amongst its competitors.

The design, however, is a complex system that requires innovation in the form of various aspects including furniture, lighting, colour scheme, etc. Each one of these attributes aids on the effect on how a restaurant brand will be conceived. Last but not least, space must serve its functional regime.

Q F&B is a crucial part of every sector from corporate, entertainment to public space apart from hospitality. What is that fine line in the design factor that significantly distinguishes them?
The F&B in a corporate is a breakout area for its employees and therefore it's a mandate for this space to be invigorating as it focusses on brightening up their monotonous schedule and refreshing their minds.

In the entertainment industry, it is an added service which has now become a necessity, taking on a new dimension as it is one of the leading attributes of sales and revenue generation. The aim is to encourage the user to sit back and spend some quality time, eating /drinking at the venue. The recently done PVR Ambience Mall, Gurugram is one such example of F&B being aptly designed, compelling the customers to relish the ambience and food. The sales there are increased by 30 per cent within the first 3 months of opening.

Q What are the technological advancements in the F&B design area?
Technology-wise lighting control systems, the seamless POS systems, mobile app ordering, recognition of customers through their personal loyalty cards etc have taken control nowadays. Automatic temperature controls and fragrance in HVAC systems are also subtle enhancements that are gaining ground in trending restaurant designs.

Q What are the key details one needs to watch while designing an F&B space?
The objective is to grant an unusual experience of an offbeat time or place to its customers by appealing to their senses and imagination. Creating reality out of fantasies, a creative theme brings uniqueness, enabling the owners to use a distinguished identity to establish their brand.

The material palette, furniture design, colour scheme, lighting and other design elements saliently determine the schema of the sphere as a whole. The patron's choices are affected by both, what's on the menu and the mood infused into the restaurant by a befitting theme.

 
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