Opening a new restaurant or about to give one a refresh?  Here are the top restaurant interior design trends for 2016.

  1. Go soft

While hard edges and lots of concrete, steel, glass and exposed lighting are still popular, designers B3 designers say that you could create a point of difference by using softer finishes like paper, fabrics and soft textured materials.

Contrasting with hard materials like steel and concrete, these touches evoke delicacy and softness, helping people feel relaxed and more like lingering in the restaurant longer.

  1. Go humble

For design consultant at Catering Design Group Hannah Somers, the continued growth of casual dining goes hand-in-hand with a restaurant interior design that communicates a humble, personal feeling, and that it’s ‘all about the food’.

She told Big Hospitality we’ll see walls lined in corrugated metal and scaffolding posts used as dividing screens.

  1. Go raw

Designers Amy Ilic and David Pentland from Ardour Design say that one restaurant interior design trend that will continue to grow is the use of raw and natural materials like stone and wood, as well as exposed functionality – conduit lighting for example.

Interior designer Paul Papadopoulos from DS17, points out that in the place of the tablecloth is now often the exposed timber table top.

Restaurants are using quality woods to put the focus on the food and promote a relaxed, casual vibe.

  1. Go high

Papadopoulos also says that we're increasingly seeing diners eating at the bar, or at an open kitchen, where the operations and heart of the establishment are out for all to see. This helps people feel like they're amongst the activity.

  1. Bring back the tablecloth?

Francisco Beltran, founding partner, Design Republica told the Washington Post that “the white tablecloth may make a resurgence but to a limited extent. ... The people that are frequenting these industrial and quirky places, they’re getting older, they’re going to want something a little less loud, they’re going to go somewhere that’s a little more their age.”

This leads us to this: while raw materials, nude tables, and open kitchen areas may be the trend, they do bring with them design and dining experience issues.

The trend away from soft furnishings to hard surfaces has created restaurants where sound is allowed to travel freely and reverberation times become excessively long. This means that noise levels in that kind of environment just keep rising.

To find out how to stay on trend but design for better acoustics, download the guide for Acoustic Design Guide for Restaurants.