On designing successful interiors for dining

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At Artichoke Night School: (left to right) Rowena Cornwell, Geoff Bainbridge, Penny Craswell and Byron George.

At Artichoke Night School: (left to right) Rowena Cornwell, Geoff Bainbridge, Penny Craswell and Byron George. Image: Lara Masselos

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Artichoke night school audience members at the Space showroom, Brisbane.

Artichoke night school audience members at the Space showroom, Brisbane. Image: Lara Masselos

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Rowena Cornwell speaks to the assembled crowd.

Rowena Cornwell speaks to the assembled crowd. Image: Lara Masselos

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Food and design was the topic of the sixth Artichoke Night School, held at Space in Brisbane.

There is a lot to consider when designing a restaurant. There’s the look and feel of the interiors, which must relate to the restaurant’s cuisine or ethos. There’s the comfort of diners – how they are positioned as well as the surrounding lighting and acoustics. And there’s the function of the space for the staff – how the waiters move through the space, how easy is it to get orders to, and food and drinks from, the kitchen. These topics and more were discussed during the most recent Artichoke Night School in Brisbane, with three speakers taking on the topic: Rowena Cornwell of Coop Creative, Geoff Bainbridge of Fabio Ongarato Design and Grill’d Healthy Hamburgers and Byron George of Russell & George.

Rowena Cornwell began by talking about the relationship between sex and food, which got the evening off to an exciting start. She then spoke about how the dining room has changed – no longer a separate room in the home, it has, more often than not, become a space within restaurants and hotels instead. Finally, she discussed how the kitchen, and cooking itself, has become part of the show of having a dinner party, with the “butler’s pantry” hiding our mess.

Geoff Bainbridge’s experience as part owner of Grill’d has meant that he has spent time on the client side of designing a series of new restaurants. Coming at the topic from this slightly different angle, he spoke about how brand and developing your audience are the key things to creating a franchise, with the interior design also playing a crucial role.

As the final speaker, Byron George spoke about his experiences designing low-cost, high-impact restaurants, cafes and other eateries. He also explained how his experiences working in hospitality when he was studying have stood him in good stead when it comes to understanding the inner workings of kitchens and how restaurants function.

The panel discussion that followed was lively and included a discussion of the communal table, the dining room, budgets and the importance of finding the right client/designer in any hospitality project. The event was presented in partnership with Space and was was held at its Brisbane showroom.


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