Best New Design Trends

For today’s restaurants, Ron Novak, design architect and partner at Oakley’s Drawing Dept—which has created spaces for Boca, Sotto, and Taft Ale House—says, “the best trend is no trend.” Eateries are foregoing the fads of yesteryear to adopt bespoke interior aesthetics.

Illustration by Muti / Folio Art

Out with the Old
For the most part, Novak says, industrial touches like Edison bulbs, subway tile, and gas piping are out, and Mid-Century Modern—a hint industrial, yet minimal and chic—has gained a foothold, with an emphasis on incorporating tailored, handmade furniture and decorative elements to drive a brand-specific concept.

All Are Welcome
“Approachability is king,” says Novak. “Fine dining has been disarmed…. It’s not popular with [millennials].” The stainless steel doors once shielding sight lines of the kitchen are gone, and views onto the line, or at least the expo station, let diners seeking transparency sneak a peek behind the scenes.

Talk of the Town
How can a restaurant dominate on the ’gram? Layering textures and finishes certainly helps. While floor, wall, and ceiling tiles in ceramic or stone are popular standbys, glass, wooden, and metal tiles—or even tiling framed artwork—are unexpected twists. The technique, Novak says, imbues “a heavy ambience that wows as soon as you walk in the door.”

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