What keeps people coming back to restaurants and bars? It’s surely not just the delight of sampling food and drink they might not have the time nor inclination to make at home. To us, eating and drinking ‘out’ is a way of suspending reality and being fully present in the presence of others. Hospitality is defined as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” It conjures the image of an intimate and shared experience – with those closest to us, the guests we dine or drink alongside, and the staff looking after us.
Image: Annabel’s Mayfair – The Rose Room
This sense of intimacy and conviviality is no doubt partly the result of careful, considered hospitality design. When people talk about the atmosphere of a restaurant or bar, what they’re often discussing is how they interact with a space and how it makes them feel. Lighting, colour palette, ceiling height, architectural detailing, artwork, and floorplan: bar and restaurant interior design is clever because it forms a narrative that connects a venue’s physical presence with its story and heritage.
There’s no feeling quite like getting lost in conversation with a group of your closest people, in a space that transports you from the context of your everyday. But right now, times are undeniably tough for the hospitality industry. Until we can get back to enjoying our favourite venues, we turn the spotlight on the exceptional bar and restaurant design from across Europe and beyond.
These are our top 10 restaurants and bars created by leading names and rising stars in the hospitality design world.
Image: Annabel’s – Interior design by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio
The spirit of English eccentricity is the aesthetic thread running through Annabels, a private members’ club designed by Martin Brudnizki in London’s Mayfair. When we talk about restaurants and bars as a form of escapism, this is the kind of establishment we have in mind. It’s difficult not to be transported to an entirely different era when you step into maximalist opulence across three floors of a Grade-I listed townhouse. Restaurant design highlights include oversized crystal candelabras, walls frescoed in scenic flora and fauna, and clashing tones in every direction.
Image: Beefbar – Interior Design by Humbert & Poyet
The team at Humbert & Poyet discovered these ornate wall panels while renovating the 19th-century atrium of the Parisian building now home to Beefbar. Dining at this world-renowned steak restaurant places you against a backdrop of gold gilt and extravagance, jewel tones and sumptuous rich textures. For us, this is the epitome of art nouveau sophistication in restaurant interiors.
Image: Hide Restaurant – Interior Design by These White Walls Studio
A friend of Pigmentti, Rose Murray of the design studio These White Walls was the brains behind Hide restaurant on Piccadilly. Set over three floors, the team conceptualised spaces based on the notion of ‘dwelling’. They focused on reimagining playful emblems of domesticity and instilling them into hospitality design. An all-woman team of artists crafted site-specific installations, including intricate bas-relief panelling designed to challenge people’s perceptions of the ordinary. A sharp focus on natural materials, carefully hand-crafted pieces, and homely touches create a truly nostalgic fine dining experience.
Bob Bob Ricard, London
Image: Bob Bob Ricard – Interior Design by David Collins Studio
David Collins Studio designed Bob Bob Ricard back in 2008, drawing inspiration from the Orient Express and the golden age of travel. Gold gilding coats many of the restaurant’s surfaces and contrasts with deep blue leather booths, taking guests back in time to the glitz of the 1920s. The overall design scheme balances quirky eccentricity with an ornate timelessness that still endures today, 12 years after the establishment’s grand opening.
Image: The Glade at Sketch – Interior Design by Carolyn Quartermaine and Didier Mahieu
London’s Sketch is a destination for food, drinks, music and art inside a grand Mayfair townhouse – with five distinct spaces each designed to transport guests to an alternative aesthetic reality. Artist-designer duo Carolyn Quartermaine and Didier Mahieu designed The Glade as a fantastical enchanted forest. They did so using their distinctive modern take on the age-old craft of decoupage. Hand-painted woodland scenery, deep pile carpets, and artisanally crafted furniture come together to create a discreet yet otherworldly atmosphere.
The Jane, Antwerp
Image: The Jane Restaurant – Interior Design by Studio Piet Boon
Fine dining meets rock’n’roll at The Jane, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the chapel of a former military hospital in Antwerp, Belgium. Studio Piet Boon designed the interiors in collaboration with artisans and creative partners, amplifying original features with a stark palette and minimalist furnishings. Suspended from the chapel’s restored vaulted ceiling is an 800kg chandelier centrepiece, designed by Beirut studio PSLab and featuring more than 150 individual lights. This is an exceptional example of careful, considered restaurant and bar design in a period building.
The Berkely Bar and Terrace, London
Image: The Berkeley Bar and Terrace – Interior Design by Bryan O’Sullivan Studio
Designed by Irish studio Bryan O’Sullivan, artisanal craft and history are focal points in the newly designed The Berkeley Bar and Terrace in London. The thread running through the restaurant interiors scheme is an exquisite walnut wood, taken from a 300-year-old tree felled in Lincolnshire. It’s complemented by an intricate plasterwork frieze, Brutalist-inspired arch forms, and a muted palette of soft corals, pinks and creams.
Siblings Lucilla, Lucrezia, and Ludovico Bonaccorsi created LuBar as a pastel-toned Sicilian paradise in the heart of Milan. The building is an example of 17th-century Baroque architecture and its interiors feature intricate bas-relief murals and architectural detailing. Its history is brought into the contemporary with extensive greenery and chic, subtle furnishings.
Inns Bar, Chengdu
Image: Inns Bar – Interior Design by Wooton Designers
Inns Bar is a whiskey bar in Chengdu, China, which Wooton Designers spent four months transforming into a space that blurs the boundary between bar and art installation. The design studio lowered the ceilings and rounded the walls to create an organic, cavern-like space before gilding the surfaces with gold leaf.
The Vaults Parlour, Dublin
Image: The Vaults Parlour – Interior Design by Kingston Lafferty Design
Irish history and immersive, whimsical magic are central to the design of The Vaults Parlour in Dublin. The studio behind the interiors, Kingston Lafferty Design, sought to create a surreal and theatrical space informed by the Vaults’ new mascot, the Irish Hare. They altered the roof light to create a tunnel effect to the sky and positioned another to reflect the Alice in Wonderland inspired chequered floor, among other clever design techniques.
Contact us today for a consultation or for further information on how to incorporate bas-relief and painted decoration into your restaurant and bar designs.