As the world becomes smaller with the access to the internet and the opportunity for us to be exposed to new ideas and experiences, our tastes have become more sophisticated and our expectations when eating out have become more demanding. It isn’t enough anymore to provide excellent quality fare and stand out service, instead we expect a well rounded sensual dining experience. As such, the role of the designer has become much more crucial than at any other time. In collaboration with graphic designer, Kristy Elliot from Tandem E. Tandem, Tartare Steak and Seafood at Harbourside Market on the Gold Coast delivers on providing this sensual dining experience.
The brief from the Clients was to create a unique steak and seafood dining experience on the Gold Coast. This corner position at the entrance to the gourmet food precinct which is Harbourside Market, with its wide entrance and corner bay window and clerestory windows provided an abundance of natural light. This inspired us to design a steak and seafood restaurant that responded to these site conditions. Additionally, most of the ingredients were sourced locally and so we also decided to capture the feel of the local natural environment.
The challenge we faced from the very beginning was how to convey and integrate the two very different produce on offer. Traditionally, steak and seafood restaurants use dark timbers and have a very ‘heavy’ masculine feel to them, being more ‘beef’ than ‘reef’. We also wanted to move away from what a steak and seafood restaurant should look like, away from the ‘reef and beef’ and ‘surf and turf’ restaurants dotted throughout Australia. This restaurant was to celebrate where the food originated from with style and sophistication.
The Client hadn’t come up with a name for the restaurant and we felt strongly that to design a strong brand we first needed to come up with the right name that would instantly convey to anyone what the business offered. We took it upon ourselves to come up with a name that would reflect our aspirations. ‘Tartare’ was the result. Short, simple, memorable and most of all, it connects the ‘steak’ side – steak tartare – with the ‘seafood’ side – tartare sauce – in a smart and sophisticated way.
The logo was cleverly developed by Kristy Elliot from Tandem E. Tandem. The logo combines the fluid curves of both a fish and the horns of a bull in a way that is subtle and instantly is recognisable as a brand of quality. We have worked with Tandem E. Tandem now on a number of projects and this collaboration has been not only enjoyable but has allowed us to create well rounded brands.
Design is such an organic process for us. The brief grows and changes, and influences and inspiration is gleaned from many different points along the design journey. In fact, one could say that design is like a jigsaw puzzle in which the pieces ‘miraculously’ come together with amazing synchronicity if one is open to letting go of having to know and control everything at once and let ‘co-incidences’ and ‘accidents’ happen that bring to you at the right time exactly what you need. Each piece of information helps to bring together the pieces of the puzzle till you can stand back and see the big picture.
Layers Of Meaning
Having come up with the perfect name and having created the perfect logo we then set about bringing together the different bits of information and ideas to create a rich multi-faceted tapestry. The main concepts we began to weave together was creating a steak and seafood restaurant that celebrated the origin of the food in a sophisticated way, which meant highlighting its organic nature and the natural local environments that the food came from. With this in mind, we began to combine colours and finishes that reflected the ocean where the seafood was sourced and the land where the cattle grazed.
In fact, the more we thought about it, we realised we needed to go ‘landscape’ not ‘portrait’ in our design. ‘Portrait’ or vertical is more masculine and imposing as opposed to ‘landscape’ or horizontal which is more feminine and natural. It is this level of thinking that creates a design that is not only sensual but cerebral and multi-faceted. As we explored this concept further, as one looks to the horizon, whether at sea or on land, objects seem flatter, lighter in colour and have less contrast. Hence, the finishes and colours throughout the restaurant are light and within a particularly narrow tonal range.
A rich palette of finishes were used within a limited range of lighter tones. The ‘striped’ timber look vinyl flooring creates a sense of perspective at it draws people’s eyes from the front to the back of the restaurant. The black heart sassafras and travertine grain further help to emphasize the horizontal. Just as landscapes can have a calming effect on the psyche, the natural finishes, together with their horizontal grain combined with the natural light that streams into the restaurant through various windows and openings, come together to create a relaxing ambience. Diners can treat their palette to the fresh fare on offer as the rich yet subtle palette of colours, textures and finishes delight their other senses.
The finishes work on many levels which astute diners may pick up on. For instance, the galvanised iron clad outdoor tabletops with their mottled silver finish remind one of fish scales and at the same time of corrugated galvanised iron used for the construction of rural sheds. Similarly, travertine, a form of limestone, was created by the precipitation of carbonate minerals from surface and ground waters, thus similarly connecting the concept of earth and water.
On another level, the emphasis in the design on the horizontal reminds us of the rich abundance and fecundity of our natural environment to provide us with what we need to survive. Literally, it is the landscape ‘doing the horizontal’ that ensures that we have food on our table.
Designing An Extra-Sensory Dining Experience
The role of the designer is to bring together the various elements from the functional aspects, to the branding, to create a unique customer experience. Dining out has become an extra-sensory experience. It isn’t enough anymore to provide food that tastes good. Food needs to ‘look’ good and titillate not only our taste buds but our other senses. Similarly, we need to create a extra-sensory dining experience – one that engages the diner on many different levels.
Often when one enters a restaurant and feels relaxed, one can’t always put a finger on what it is about the space that makes one feel this way. Sometimes, it just ‘feels right’ and this feeling is what good design creates. It is a combination of many things, thoughts, decisions and ideas that come together to create something that engages us sensually, emotionally and cerebrally.
We have designed Tartare to work on these many different levels to create a well rounded extra-sensory dining experience.
It makes good sense to engage an experienced designer for your retail or restaurant project – ask us how we can help you.