Years ago, the only places where people could go to have a casual cup of coffee would be at a restaurant lunch counter. These places were usually hectic spaces that offered good company and people watching to go with the coffee, yet the interiors tended to be bright and busy, with a lot of hard surfaces and color schemes that tended to neon orange and aqua blue. Then McDonald’s restaurants took off as franchise spaces, where people could get a quick lunch and drinks, without staying to linger over coffee and conversation. The red and orange design scheme of these restaurants ensured that people would be attracted to come in, but wouldn’t feel comfortable staying around.
These businesses all used certain concepts of retail interior design to send a message about what kind of businesses they were. They were places that offered customers a haven for refreshment, without offering a place to relax for over an hour or so. The design of these establishments reinforced this message, and did that job well.
The Cafe Revolution
Today people frequent Starbucks and other coffee houses to get the same “time out” from the world that these other restaurants offered, but the message of the design is different. The muted, more textured design of today’s popular cafes seems to offer customers a chance to relax a bit more, and stay around if they want to. The message in this design is that it’s okay if you want to stay and read or visit while you have the coffee, you don’t have to just rush out.
All of these ideas are part of what makes interior design so interesting. It’s the subtle messages these places send that are part of why we visit them or not. Good designers know this, and they use these messages to help their corporate clients create retail spaces that attract the kind of customers they are looking for.
Yes, interior design is a complex study. Done with smarts and savvy, it can have a huge impact on the success of a retail business, which is why the smart businesses invest in good design. Good design matters, and it’s worth the work of getting it right.