There is a popular saying in the restaurant industry: “the first bite is with the eye.” So with first impressions being so crucial, the interior design of your restaurant is vital for creating a unique dining experience, and for bringing customers in the door. You can have the best food, most professional and friendly waiters, an excellent menu, and still go out of business if nobody is intrigued or excited to actually come into your restaurant.

Pick a main street in Blackburn, Brunswick, Frankston, or any other suburb in Melbourne to walk down, and you won’t have made it half a block before you find your first cafe, restaurant, or eatery. Melburnians love to dine out, and finding a way to bring punters through your doors and stand out from the crowd can be difficult, but a welcoming, striking aesthetic is a great place to start.

The industrial chic style, with exposed brickwork and concrete, is being adopted by many restaurants to get diners in the door. Here’s why it’s working.

What is Industrial Chic?

It goes by many names: ‘industrial chic’, ‘urban industrial’, ‘modern industrial’, and it’s been taking off quickly in the interior design world. 

Urban industrial is defined by exposed brick walls, concrete, metal beams and fixtures, exposed light bulbs, and often exposed piping, scaffolding, and other functional pieces of architecture that were traditionally considered ugly. These ‘colder’ elements are often softened with warmer, more organic materials like raw wood, leather and furs. The colour palette uses neutral tones (usually grey) brightened up with splashes of colour.

 That description probably conjured images of a few of your favourite restaurants and cafes, so why are so many restaurants chasing this industrial chic look?

Why restaurants love the urban industrial look

The industrial chic look has set the bar for Melbourne restaurants. The versatility of concrete means the world is your oyster when it comes to looks, so you can pick your palette, and build your space around it.

But there are a lot of benefits beyond looks when it comes to polished concrete, and the urban industrial look. Restaurants are working spaces, so your design needs to account for both function and style. It’s no good having the best looking restaurant in the world if your staff can’t work and your customers aren’t comfortable.

Concrete is a fantastic choice for your restaurant floor. Because concrete is so tough, it can stand up to constant heavy foot traffic without signs of wear. The act of polishing the concrete makes it tougher still, and resistant to stains, heat or chemicals. It’s also one of the easiest floors to clean.

If you add a coating of epoxy, or acid-etch the concrete, it becomes slip-resistant and even more resistant to stains and bacteria, making it the perfect floor for a commercial kitchen.

If you go for a gloss finish on your polished concrete floor in the dining area, it acts an enormous mirror, bringing light to the space, and giving diners an enjoyable, airy dining experience.

Thanks to its high thermal mass, concrete is also fantastic at keeping a space warm, and with the right rugs and carpets, can create a truly cozy space for diners to shelter from Melbourne’s winters with a cup of coffee.

How to get the industrial chic look in your restaurant

If you look at the winners of the Eat Drink Design awards in 2019, it’s no surprise that you see polished concrete floors in the best restaurant and hotel, and urban industrial stylistic flourishes in all of the winning designs.

To get the industrial chic look for yourself, the first step is to analyse your space and look for existing architecture that you can draw attention to. The urban industrial style appeared in Melbourne as a reaction to the opulent, over the top decoration of the 90’s, and part of the look is working with the space, rather than covering it.

Strip the paint off your brick walls, expose your light bulbs, and take up the floorboards or carpet and expose the concrete below. It’s important to pair your raw materials with aged woods, reclaimed furniture, furs, leathers, indoor plants, something to contrast the stark nature of these industrial pieces. This takes the space from neglected or cold, to modern, sleek, and comfortable.

To get the industrial feel, it’s important to stick to neutral colours – a mix of greys, browns, and other muted hues, which you then liven up with splashes of colour that pop and create warmth, making an inviting space that customers will love to spend time in.

Concrete is paramount to the urban industrial look. Due to it’s versatility, you can tailor the look to perfectly match your restaurant’s style, and create a consistent theme that runs throughout the entire dining experience. If you want a rustic look, raw concrete, or a matte finish polished concrete floor with nil aggregate exposure, will achieve it. If you go for a high gloss polished concrete, you can create a look to match your modern and stylish menu.

It doesn’t end there though, polished concrete can have patterns or stains added, and you can take an old, damaged concrete floor, and through artfully applied staining, create a breathtaking floor which borrows from the japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, or finding beauty in imperfection.

When it comes to concrete, you should make your design decisions at the start of the project. Work closely with your concrete installer and consider the colour, aggregate exposure and level of polish (matte through to high gloss) before you begin pouring.

How to get the industrial chic look in your Melbourne restaurant, with a stunning polished concrete floor

If you’re thinking about the urban industrial look, and want to install a polished concrete floor, get in touch with us today!

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