We recently sat down with the creative genius behind Look Book Vol. 1 and the new Look Book Vol. 2 (which you can download here), Lindsay Jones, to discuss what influenced her, what are the next big trends in restaurant design, and where she finds inspiration.
Dean Jeffery: Where do you find your inspiration?
Lindsay Jones: Everywhere! I really relate to what Grace Coddington, the former Creative Director at Vogue, said about inspiration: “Always keep your eyes open. Keep watching. Because whatever you see can inspire you.”
So, I try to always keep my eyes open or take pictures that I’ll reference later. Books, magazines, design blogs, and visiting beautiful interiors and restaurants provide the most direct inspiration for the Look Book. I love, love, love Instagram and I’m always taking screen captures when an image comes up that I want to hold onto. I have about a million inspiration folders, both digital and physical. Trying to find the right reference images and edit the ideas and influences is the real challenge. It might be just one color, shape, or finish that we want to borrow, or it could be an entire space that we find so inspiring that we try to reimagine it using GR Chair products.
DJ: Did you have a favorite setting? Why?
LJ: It’s hard to pick just one, because our stylist, Jan Bridgeman, and the photographers at DVDP make every shot turn out like a dream. But the Look Book setting where I wish I could enjoy a meal in real life is the shot of the new Tilly Chair (available in November), which is so relaxed and sophisticated. I can imagine having a great glass of wine and an afternoon meal there. We also loved how the overhead shot of the Dylan Communal Table turned out. It was so much fun ordering all that delicious prop food from Taqueria San Jose and then eating it!
DJ: Where do you find inspiration for each setting, and how did you get in the zone for each individual “restaurant” concept?
LJ: We did a lot of searching online for real-world restaurant imagery that inspired us, while keeping the customer’s sensibilities in mind throughout the product selection. For a more active, social atmosphere, we opted for barstools, a pub height table, or bold metal color finishes. The more intimate or refined spaces were treated with tactile finishes of wood, custom table tops, or upholstery. All throughout the process, we thought about what kind of cuisine or beverages would be served in each space. That really helped shape the aesthetic concept for each shot and informed the use of props, food, and drinks that brought each setting to life.
DJ: What are some great design and branding tips for young restaurants that want to bring their brands to life?
LJ: Figure out who you are as a restaurant, what is unique about your establishment, and why your customers come to you. Of course, I would recommend working with a branding or interior design studio to help direct this process and develop a brand or interior concept that aligns with your restaurant. They may push you in new and unexpected directions that will get you out of your comfort zone, in a good way! At Square One Design, we believe collaboration is key to branding, and we connect our ideas and experience with the clients’ needs. It also helps if you have a talented photographer or designer on staff to keep your social media feeds filled with beautiful photography and witty captions.
DJ: What did you like about working with GR Chair products when specifying sets?
LJ: The product lines allow for so much customization, and the finishes are so extensive that we can realize any specification we want. With 16 wood finishes, 27 metal finishes, and the ability to custom color-match, our options always feel limitless. The quality and craftsmanship that goes into each piece is so exciting to see in person when we get on the set. We especially love to see how the beautiful upholstery turns out. It’s also exciting to work with the creations of talented designers like Joey Ruiter, who created the Leo and Harper lines featured in the Lookbook.
DJ: What do you think is the most important element of restaurant design, especially when we’re thinking of QSR and Fast Casual environments?
LJ: Our sense is that restaurant customers want to feel welcomed and comfortable during their culinary experience. Even if time in the restaurant is brief, as with Fast Casual dining, the interior should reflect a message to visitors. Interior brands are strongest when every aspect of the environment is considered with the brand in mind. From the menu to the floor tile to the furniture, every element should work in concert to reflect the personality of the restaurant.
DJ: What design trends do you see taking 2016 by storm in commercial restaurant spaces?
LJ: I think people are obsessed with knowing where their food comes from and who’s growing it, along with cooking it and understanding its value. You see that in the trend toward open kitchens, listing sources on the menu, and taking pride in making dishes from scratch. Food has become so personal, and the spaces where we share it need to support that and feel authentic. From a design standpoint, some of the things that can contribute to that are real materials like wood and metal and a sense of comfort, whether you’re sitting down for a quick bite or a long, luxurious meal. Regardless of price point, we all want to feel that the dining experience is just for us, and warm, beautiful furniture is an important part of making people feel special and well cared for.
For the latest restaurant and design, style, and inspiration, download our Look Book Vol. 2 today.