about restaurant lighting

You’ve been out to eat, right? So you know the difference between eating at the local fast food joint and that fancy white tablecloth place downtown. Aside from the food, the furnishings are different, the colors, the art and probably most significantly the lighting. Restaurant is theater. As a designer, I am tasked with creating a space that meets the aesthetic and operational needs of the owner/operator whether this is a fast food place, fast casual, casual or formal. Based on these needs I recommend where the POS stations will be, how the floor staff will interact with the kitchen staff to communicate and pick up food, where tablecloths will be stored so that they are accessible to staff, where the host will be located to greet guests and guide them to a table, choose furnishings and finishes that set the stage, help with art, etc. The single most important part of restaurant design just might be lighting, because if that is not done well and effectively, everything else will be diminished at best and a massive failure at worst. Lighting a service area is accomplished very differently from lighting at table tops, and this is not just about light levels: it’s also about the type of lighting, the color of the light, the orientation and location of the light, the quality and quantity of light and even the special effects of the lighting.

Great designers are all about the lighting no matter what type of restaurant they are working on. Based on the design, they create and coordinate a lighting scheme that enhances both the design and the operation. And just as they don’t build the furniture that they specify, they will hire and coordinate a consultant to craft the lighting design. When this partnership is done well, you won’t even notice. When it’s not done well, you can’t miss it.

all photos courtesy Yabu Pushelberg/Evan Dion

At Yabu Pushelberg they get lighting. They created The Clement at The Peninsula Hotel in New York and the lighting is gorgeous. (Restaurant & Bar Design has a nice writeup). Check it and remember how important lighting is when you do your next project. Your guests will thank you.

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