Embrace a nature-inspired design for your restaurant

By Charli Tanner

Design trends change all the time, with new concepts emerging, but one of the hottest design trends for restaurants in 2024 is a nature-inspired feel or biophilic design. The word “biophilia” comes from the Greek word “philia,” which means “love of,” so this trend embraces “a love of life and living things.”

Whether you’re looking to make small adjustments to your current design or you’re going for a full-on makeover, here are a few suggestions to get you started on incorporating a nature-inspired design in your restaurant.

Bring the outdoors in

Nature-inspired design is all about focusing on outdoorsy elements, and the award-winning restaurant Botanist in Vancouver is a great example of doing this successfully. One of the simplest ways to add a little nature is to incorporate potted plants throughout your restaurant’s décor. This creates a feeling of being surrounded by nature and adds life to any space. Depending on your restaurant’s layout, consider varying the size of the pots and the plants, creating living walls or small garden clusters to enhance the ambience.

Plants not only bring the outdoors in, but they also help to create privacy screens and organically reduce noise. Using greenery, you can dampen the sounds of the kitchen, patrons chatting, and waiters and bar staff conversing, while maintaining your desired aesthetic. Get creative with your approach! People love little terrariums where a tiny garden scene has been created in a small glass bottle or bowl. Depending on the design of your restaurant, you can hang these terrariums from the ceiling or use them as table centrepieces.

Another option is to create a vertical garden wall that features dozens of small pockets where you place potted plants. This type of wall can serve a dual purpose, as you can grow herbs that you use in your dishes here, too.

Focus on natural colours and prints

Biophilic design is not just about filling a space with plants it means evoking nature-based imagery in any way you can. You could do this by using colours like green, teal, and brown for walls and soft furnishings, and if you use table linens, you can extend this colour scheme to include them too.

Hanging large natural prints or photographs can also be a great way to incorporate natural colours, or you can create feature walls using botanical print wallpaper. Incorporating natural-coloured ceramics as décor or even tableware is another option to add a more rustic and natural feel to your space.

Use wood throughout

Wood is a wonderful natural addition to any space as it enhances the feeling of warmth, so try incorporating it into your design. Wooden tables, ceiling beams, bar stools, flooring, or any other design elements will add to the natural feel. You can take this idea even further by using reclaimed wood, especially since it’ll pair perfectly with your green walls and potted plants. Look for upcycled alternatives for every item you’ve got inside your restaurant, and you’ll be able to create a one-of-a-kind experience for your diners.

Alternatively, don’t be afraid to consider faux wood, whether for ceiling beams, furniture, or even flooring. There are some incredibly lifelike options on the market, and they’re worth investigating if real wood isn’t an option.

Add a water feature

Installing a water feature not only creates a point of interest and provides relaxing sounds for your diners, but it’s also the simplest way to add a touch of nature to your space. Once you know the scale of your water feature, you can decide where in your venue its best suited, but wherever you choose, know that it will deliver an instant attraction for your guests and help you stand out from your competition.

Avoid straight lines

The forms that make up our interiors can evoke different responses, and studies show that symmetry and curves create more positive reactions in people than angular or straight shapes. You can incorporate this idea in your restaurant by using circular forms and curved edges throughout the dining space and décor.

Incorporate florals

Ikebana is the Japanese art of arranging flowers, and different schools have different philosophies. Some are very artistic and bold, while others are more minimalist and subdued, which means that it is easy to find something that suits your restaurant.

You can put dried flowers on tables, incorporate arrangements into your décor, and fill your restrooms with fresh florals from a flower club or local florist. Just ensure that the scent doesn’t overpower your patrons in eating spaces or influence their sense of taste.

Maximize light

Maximizing light exposure with nature-inspired design elements can vastly improve the atmosphere of your restaurant. A space that is light and airy is welcoming and it feels more connected to nature, too. However, relying on natural light isn’t always possible, especially during the darker winter months. Here are some tips to mimic natural light using artificial techniques:

  • Use mirrors: Ornamental mirrors can make areas feel bigger and reflect more natural light into spaces.
  • Add gloss: Adding a fresh coat of white gloss paint to ceilings, hard furniture, trims, and walls will reflect more light in the same way that mirrors do.
  • Add hanging greenery: With hanging greenery, the appearance of the space is enhanced, and the illusion of being in nature is created.
  • Diffuse light: Put artificial lights behind your curtains to mimic windows, creating what looks like natural light.

Make a statement with a nature-inspired design

Biophilic design offers many benefits, including delivering optimum levels of thermal comfort, enhancing creativity and clear thinking, improving overall well-being, stress reduction, and protection against disruptive noises. This is a design trend that has timeless qualities that benefit not only your patrons but also your staff.

Even if you don’t have the budget or the time to redo your entire restaurant or bar, this shouldn’t stop you from making the most of the nature-inspired trend in 2024 and beyond.

Simply choose a few principles outlined here or the natural materials that appeal to you and incorporate these looks into your existing décor. This way, you can experiment with a range of design elements that are easy to change while still keeping your restaurant up-to-date and offering an appealing ambience for your guests.

Charli Tanner is a content champion for a variety of online publications. She often covers topics that cater to business owners and entrepreneurs with a strong focus on finance for startups, productivity, management, and a few other topics.