Dining out is as much about the restaurant experience as it is about the food, with modern diners seeking out businesses and restaurants which combine a great menu with a cohesive sense of design, and an atmosphere that matches their preferences or the occasion.
When we talk about acoustics in a restaurant or commercial space, we are likening the projection of sound to the overall atmosphere and the way it impacts the guest experience. In a restaurant specifically, diners usually want to feel welcome and embraced in a busy and lively atmosphere, while also enjoying a sense of privacy and intimacy at the table. And it’s here that acoustics meet restaurant design, and where interior specialists are required to balance a lively setting with the need and desire for intimacy.
How do acoustics impact the guest experience?
Acoustics can be a difficult detail to manage in your restaurant design because while giving guests a sense of privacy and intimacy at the table makes for a good personal experience, you want to balance this with the desire for a bustling and lively restaurant which feels and looks popular from the outside and entranceway.
To understand this, you need only consider what draws you towards a restaurant when you’re going out for an evening or away on holiday. We tend to be drawn towards those restaurants which look busy, because the presence of others tells us that the food and guest experience are positive. This means that there is some element of sound projection which comes from a busy restaurant floor – which is where acoustic management comes in.
A restaurant needs to be busy without being deafening, and without feeling overwhelming or stressful for guests or staff members. Here are a handful of ways that you can take control over the acoustics and sound level of a restaurant floor, to create a lively but enjoyable and welcoming atmosphere for diners.
Tips for managing the acoustics and ambience of the restaurant floor
First and foremost, the materials used in the design and furnishing of your restaurant have a huge role to play in the acoustics. While flat surfaces are among the worst offenders for reflecting sound and causing it to reverberate around the space, acoustic sprays and plasters can be used to absorb sound energy – creating a coat atop your surfaces which help to minimise the reflection of sound.
Another thing you can do is simply bring more soft furnishings into your restaurant – a move which, when done correctly, can maximise the comfort and luxury aesthetic of your restaurant at the same time as managing the sound levels. Textured surfaces and furnishings are a popular way of injecting aesthetic and sensory detail to modern spaces without the need for colour, creating juxtaposing surfaces and finishes with ease and style.
Rugs, sofas, carpet, and fabric wall hangings and coverings can all help to minimise the reflection of sound in an interior space. Similarly, the placement of tables can prove integral to managing sound levels throughout a restaurant, situating intimate two-person tables further away from larger tables where big groups are likely to gather.
Finally, if sound and acoustics are something you want to control and minimise, consider the integration of booths across your restaurant floor – creating self-contained dining areas which are shielded from some of the sound by a fabric-coated booth. These are great for intimate tables, creating the illusion of private dining even on a larger open floorplan.
Acoustics across the backstage areas of your restaurant
This is the part of your restaurant design where we consider the acoustics of the kitchen, the bar area, and staff areas. In these spaces, acoustics revolve more around soundproofing and controlling the movement of sound outside of these areas – with the type of restaurant you’re designing playing a huge part in the way you approach your design.
A restaurant where the drama of the kitchen is part of the experience might choose to make the sounds, sights, and smells of kitchen life a part of the design. These types of restaurants can integrate a Chef’s table into the centre of the restaurant, build private dining spaces with a direct link to the kitchen, or keep a window into the kitchen open for diner and guest viewing.
However, if you want to keep the kitchen interruption at a minimum, location and soundproofing are key considerations – impacting the placement of doors and access points, as well as other furnishings which soak up the sound.
Acoustics are just one element of restaurant design which you should consider, balancing the transfer of sound with the aesthetic detail and finishes throughout your space.
For more information on how to bring your restaurant business to life through design, get in touch with Carroll Design.