Lauren Ho is one of this year’s Restaurant & Bar Design Awards judges. We caught up with her to find out what Warsaw and Prague can offer in food and beverage design as well as her opinion on emerging design trends.
South African-born Lauren Ho moved to London 13 years ago with the intent to pursue her passion for travelling. Supplementing her habit with the odd freelance job for various travel-related titles, Lauren explored the world, before arriving at Wallpaper* seven years ago, where she is the current Travel Editor. Her job now involves visiting and writing about luxury design-led hotels and restaurants and keeping abreast of new launches and design trends.
What will you be looking for that sets a design apart in the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards entries for 2015?
Lately I have been to too many restaurants or bars that tick all the right boxes from a visual perspective, but once seated, it becomes obvious that the designer did not put his work into practice before delivering the final result; uncomfortable chairs, tables that are too high, too small or too close together, ill-considered lighting and randomly placed music speakers are just a few from the list. Restaurant and bar design is not just about the visual appearance; functionality plays an important role and for me, good design considers the subtle intricacies that not only contributes to the customer’s impression of the food, but also boosts and nurtures their entire experience.
What do you think are the best current restaurant and bar Design Trends?
I am pleased that the tough, industrial aesthetic of bare bulbs, exposed brick walls, steel and concrete are slowly being replaced by a more subtle, feminine look; interior plants, softer colour schemes, tactile materials and even less cavernous room choices are creating inviting and cosy atmospheres, which immediately sets a psychological tone for an enjoyable meal.
How do you think great food and great interior design are linked?
I believe that food, service and design are dependent on each other; you need each elements to be functional and of great quality for the whole experience to work.
What design challenges are unique to hospitality?
The fact that you are designing a space that needs to cater to the complexities a wide range of people and provide an efficient and functional floor plan that ensures smooth and timely service are both design challenges unique to hospitality.
Which area(s) of the world do you see as the best for emerging hospitality design?
Definitely Eastern Europe and South America. At the moment I am seeing interesting offerings from cities like Prague, Warsaw and also Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
What’s your greatest source of inspiration in your travel writing career?
Being able to travel and experiencing things in person is so important for inspiration and understanding. There are elements specific to certain establishments that you wouldn’t necessarily think of without that background knowledge. Also meeting the people behind the concept always adds value.
Image © Lauren Ho