Making restaurant design easy

In design simple is beautiful, but has the MidEast grasped this idea?

Aidan Keane is  founder and creative director of Keane Brands, one of the world's specialist design houses based in London, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur.
Aidan Keane is founder and creative director of Keane Brands, one of the world's specialist design houses based in London, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur.

I have just been wandering the streets outside our studios here in London. As wet and busy as they are, they are alive and bustling, bursting with an energy I haven’t seen for a while and filled with an expectancy of great things to come.

I know the papers would have us believe that all is doomed and downward but I just cannot see it.

Really, I cannot. What I am seeing is people hustling to get things going. Giant food operating corporations clumsily trying to get down with the kids and the new kids looking, and in many cases, finding funding to get started with a new venture.

New restaurants are popping up daily with a funkiness and edge that has been missing for a while. A new breed that is making the former, more fussier operator seem as out of date as a cigarette at the dinner table.

I’m a great believer in discovery and encourage all I know to explore and indulge in new stuff – and how much new stuff there is right now. So, if you find yourself in London I fully recommend you get yourself out and about, sampling some new and über-fun operations.

Places that have taken the pared down philosophy completely at its word – food, drink, design, packaging – the full shot – it has made going out fun again. If a place is only selling one or two items on its menu then it makes you want to try other places too.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes for this pared down movement to travel over to the Middle East. It should be great fun to watch. Recycling old materials and giving them a new purpose, limiting choice but upgrading the quality – two new ways of thinking that the region is going to find very hard to grasp.

It has taken 10 years to dilute any design scheme in the region with a sense of minimalism and control. Is this new direction a step too far? We’ll see.

I found myself enjoying a simple but beautiful hot-dog recently with a glass of fine champagne and some friends in an outlet that looks nothing more than half-finished. Having said that, it felt fresh and new and urban and underground and in an odd way, naughty. Brilliant! Now anything that can deliver all those adjectives in one sentence deserves a place in any city.

Get along to Bubbledogs, to Dirty Burger and the daddy of them all, Burger and Lobster. Enjoy!

Aidan Keane is the larger-than-life founder and creative director of Keane Brands, one of the world’s specialist design houses based in London, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur. Detail: www.keanebrands.com

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