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The 2021 restaurant aesthetic is optimistic, nostalgic, and vacation-obsessed

New restaurants take their furnishings with them on vacation.

In Charleston, South Carolina, hospitality group Gin & Luck has Little Palm im Ryder Hotel. Instead of the dark, atmospheric and dramatic interiors of Gin & Luck’s Death & Co Bars in New York, Denver and Los Angeles, Little Palm is adorned with pink palm frond wallper and turquoise tiles. Further south in Miami, at the new Pharrell Williams and David Grutman restaurant Strawberry moon by doing Goodtime Hotel, Designer Ken Fulk channeled mid-century resorts like Havana and Aculco with a pink scalloped bar with green tiles, pink and white striped curtains, and wickerwork everywhere.

The look is not limited to warm weather locations. In Brooklyn Fandi MataThe soaring storage room is adorned with Moroccan tiles and filled with potted palms to create a Mediterranean and industrial atmosphere. Kokomo, a restaurant that opened in Williamsburg last summer, also transports diners with a bamboo bar, planted patio, and Bob Marley’s iconic “Everything will be fine” lyrics as the backdrop for their lively alfresco dining area. The New York version of Vacay Vibes is a bit darker and more somber, but the impulse to make restaurants appear like sunny retreats is the same: We all long for a break from everyday life – even if it’s only for a few hours at the Dinner.

Much has been written about how COVID-19 will change the design of restaurants. From touchless technologies to outdoor four-season restaurants, the forecasts all show how the layout and operations will change. With new bars and restaurants reopening, we can finally see how all that time at home affects restaurant interiors – especially in Miami, which has been full since September 2020. With just a handful of new ones, it’s hard to predict where we’re headed, but nostalgic vacation decor is one of the first clear trends we can name after the Vax in restaurant interior design.

Take a look at the biggest openings and you’ll see glimmers of decades past, particularly the 1920s and 50s, two periods when America celebrated post wars (and post wars (and a pandemic in the 20s) too). In July, Los Angeles-based H.Wood Group opened an outpost of their lavish ’20s-style supperclub Delilah at the Wynn Las Vegas; It is influenced by Las Vegas’ earliest supper clubs from the 1950s. In addition to the Strawberry Moon, which was influenced by the 50s, Fulk designed the newly opened ZZ’s sushi bar with touches of mid-century style, including bentwood benches, palm frond lights, and clamshell dining room chairs.

The dining room of the ZZ with blue patterned chairs with shell backs.

ZZ’s Sushi Bar in Miami

Giovanny Gutierrez / Chat Chow TV

Todd-Avery Lenahan, President and Chief Creative Officer of Wynn Design & Development, points out that this need for a sense of history has been growing for years. „A younger audience has been drawn to legacy design because millennials in particular have grown tired of the trending, throw-away quality of so much that is being forced on consumers today,” Lenahan told Eater. „That’s why design that has a greater sense of history and permanence is very popular in this turbulent socio-economic era.”

„Trendy throw-away” design is the trademark of the so-called millennial look, which in. is described Molly Fischer’s essay „The Tyranny of Terrazzo” was ominously published in early March 2020. In this essay, Fischer writes: “Ever since modernity brought industry into design, tastes have alternated between accepting and rejecting what it produced. A forward-looking, high-tech style obsessed with mass commercial peeling will give way to a backward-looking, handcrafted, authentic style – which will then give way to a new twist on the tech-forward-looking mass style. ”The Millennial Style – clean but quirky , sweet, but occasionally self-serious – touched everything from dishes to deodorant. And then millennials were locked in their homes and artwork, staring at all of those blob-adorned ceramics, minimally designed skin care products, and pastel third wave coffee.

At that moment after the vaccination, guests long for something more layered, nuanced than the pale pink and blonde woods that dominated before the pandemic. We want a sense of history, but instead of the sheer nostalgia of the aging MAGA people, young guests realize that the past was great only for the privileged few. What the guests react to is history with a twist – maybe even with a sense of humor. Fulk points out that his designs and indeed other nostalgic rooms are not purely historical replicas of, for example, Aculco’s Hotel Los Flamingos in its mid-century. Instead, Fulk says: “They are reminiscent of another time or another place, even if that place never really existed. I don’t know what Miami was like in the 1950s, but I can imagine what it might have felt like in its heyday – a glamorous time my parents might have danced to a big band on their honeymoon. You take that feeling and create something that is absolutely modern and elsewhere. ”

The Panorama Room, which Snøhetta designed for the Graduate Hotel on Roosevelt Island in New York City, shows this looking back when looking ahead. Designer Marc Rose and Med Abrous said Fashion the design for the new restaurant on the 18th floor was inspired by futurism early 20th century. “Because we felt like we were doing something unprecedented in NYC, we decided to really embrace the future,” says Rose. Chrome and glass evoke the futurism’s obsession with the speed and movement of the machine age, and the velvet cabins are vaguely retro. But the overall effect of the room feels like something from the not too distant future.

The nod to the near past can also evoke a sense of Esce. The Reagan-era revival that hit the design world for the past five years can still be seen in restaurants, but this time it’s more Miami Vice as Memphis. The Ettore Sottsass-inspired designs (all terrazzo, all those flourishes) are being replaced with something that looks more like a fancy grandma square in Boca (see these folding chairs at ZZ). “The 1980s was a very American moment,” says Fulk. „They had a bit of lightning and fun, but also that attitude of confidence.” (It’s a trend that is likely reflected in guests’ outfits as well, as there doesn’t seem to be an end to the 80s and 90s fashion trends that can be revived.) For older millennials like me, this is Miami Vice Vibes are reminiscent of our childhood, but I wonder if something else is at work here. In the cyclical nature of design, it is typical to single out trends from before birth. So if the ’80s-90s aesthetic is turning to Generation Z, it could have the benefit of making millennials feel young and hip, too.

Millennials craving the next new thing could also be responsible for the pendulum swing moving away from the black boxes and minimalist white interiors that were so popular in the early years and early teenage years. In 2021 the restaurants will be full of bright colors with turquoise, orange and especially pink tones (Little Palm and Fandi Mata both have the pink hue). Restaurant designers have stepped up the intensity from pre-pandemic dusty pastels to downright poppy hues. Color feels up-to-date again.

The pool bar at Little Palm in the Ryder Hotel in Charleston.

Little Palm dining room with frond wallper and coral-colored benches and chairs.

The dining room of the Little Palm.

Mike Ledford

The connecting thread through the various influences at the moment – the abundance of the 50s, the self-confidence of the 80s, the candy colors – is optimism. Arrange photos of the new restaurants and it’s clear they share an aesthetic of uncompromising joy – think of playful wallper, cheerful lighting and upbeat stripes.

Taken together, these style trends suggest that diners want a break – not just after the pandemic, but before the dark of the Trump years. We want to dine at a Wes Anderson version of a Boca Raton beach club to put our problems behind us while we put the rest of our world back together. After almost a year and a half of eating at home, these hip places feel right: Don’t you want to enjoy your first few meals in a place that will make you smile?

„It’s hard to describe as a design direction, but I think part of the DNA of them is that they are these incredibly upbeat spaces,” says Fulk of Strawberry Moon and ZZ’s Sushi Bar. “They are hopeful, entertaining spaces that are purposely designed to be part of a party, to come together, and actually to be close together. Who would have ever thought that it felt like that? ”

Laura Fenton is the author of The little book of life small. Her letter was also published in Better houses & gardens, Braked, new York magazine, and Very easily. She lives in Jackson Heights, Queens.