When it comes to deciding where to book a dinner reservation, a restaurant's decor is often as important a consideration as the quality of the food itself. The design elements -- from the color scheme and lighting to the furniture and flatware -- set the atmosphere for the meal, and reflect the tastes and intentions of the restaurateur.
The consistent, cookie-cutter design of a fast food chain, for example, can evoke a sense of comfort and familiarity. But a more inventive, thematic approach can be transportive, facilitating a truly immersive dining experience.
It's this genre of restaurant that German publisher Gestalten has highlighted with "Appetizer." The new coffee table book features an impressively international selection of destinations (including a sumptuous, Mughal-inspired bar in Jaipur and a candy-colored Guatemalan cafe) designed by an equally eclectic mix of designers.
"Many look almost edible themselves," the editors write of their selection, "and might, to the careful viewer, suggest something about who we are today: endlessly optimistic, evolving and diverse in our definitions of good taste, and most of all healthfully human in our cravings for color, light, nature, and each other."
Here's a peek inside some of the world's most beautiful restaurants.
Bar Palladio Jaipur by Marie-Anne Oudejans (Jaipur, India)
Courtesy Marie-Anne Oudejans/Henry Wilson/Gestalten
The luxurious Bar Palladio Jaipur
was founded in 2013 by Barbara Miolini, a Swiss-Italian who moved to India in 2005. She tapped Dutch interior designer (and former fashion designer) Marie-Anne Oudejans to decorate the space in a way that evoked the glamour of Venice's Caffè Florian and Harry's Bar, while incorporating traditional Mughal motifs.
Local craftsman, muralists, metalsmiths and masons brought the concept to fruition.
The Refuge by Volta by Michaelis Boyd (Manchester, UK)
Courtesy Michaelis Boyd/Luke White/Gestalten
British designers Alex Michaelis and Tim Boyd
, the interior architects behind London's Groucho Club, revitalized Manchester's Principal Hotel (formerly the Palace Hotel) with this 10,000-square-foot food and beverage space
. The duo played up the Victorian Gothic building's heritage features, such as the exquisite tiling and timber paneling, but employed midcentury-inspired furniture and decorative touches to keep the space from feeling sedate.
Habanera by Jorge Lozano (Madrid, Spain)
Courtesy Jorge Lazano/Jose Parreño/Gestalten
With his firm, Proyecto Singular
, Jorge Lozano sought to recreate a nostalgic vision of Cuba at Madrid's Habanera
. The use of wood and the green color scheme in this room are a nod to the island's natural beauty, while the elaborate ceiling moldings and tiled floors play on its colonial architecture.
OneOcean Club by El Equipo Creativo (Barcelona, Spain)
Courtesy El Equipo Creativo/Adria Goula/Gestalten
port-side location had a profound impact on local firm El Equipo Creativo's
design for the space. The reflective ceilings recall the surrounding sea, and the vertical elements (hanging brass lights, gold-plated supports for the plants) are meant to recall the masts of the docked yachts.
Clerkenwell Grind by Biasol (London, UK)
Courtesy Biasol Design Studio/Paul Winch Furness/Gestalten
Grind is a trendy chain of coffee shops and restaurants, but you'd never guess it upon entering its outpost in Clerkenwell
, an the enclave for the high-end design industry. The contrasting color scheme, luxury materials (velvet, marble and brass) and soft lighting, designed by Melbourne firm Biasol
, are a sophisticated departure from the exposed brick and wood that typify the chain.
Madero by Taller KEN (Guatemala City)
Courtesy Taller KEN/Gestalten
From the outside, Madero looks like a dull, windowless red cube (albeit one with cars protruding from its exterior) next to one of Guatemala's busiest highways. But inside, it's a candy-colored bistro worthy of a children's book. Taller KEN, which has offices in Guatemala and New York, filled the space with vibrant patterns, vintage cars and tropical plants to create an oasis from the bland world outside.
Keleo by David/Nicolas (Beirut, Lebanon)
Courtesy David/Nicolas/Marco Pinarelli/Gestalten
design for Keleo
is a surprisingly playful, given it was inspired by nearby historic churches and the mystery of the cosmos. The Kandinsky-esque carpet hanging from the back wall, a collaboration between the Beiruti studio and the Dutch Moooi Carpets, encapsulates the colors, concepts and textures featured throughout the space.
Foxglove by NC Design & Architecture (Hong Kong)
Courtesy NC Design & Architecture Ltd/Dennis Low/Gestalten
If you harbor James Bond fantasies as well as an interest in design, Foxglove
is a must-see in Hong Kong. To get in, one must pass through a secret door at the back of an umbrella shop that can only be opened by touching a specific umbrella handle. Once inside, you're met with a curvilinear space that at once evokes an airplane, a vintage car, the dining car of an old school train, and an elegant hotel bar. NC Design & Architecture
said the colors, materials and finishes give the space a "masculine allure."
published by Gestalten, is out now.