A Q&A with Jon Dover, Managing Director of Dover Design
What are your memories of your first restaurant design project?
It wasn't my first restaurant project, as that was a long time ago, but this restaurant had burnt down and as we re-built it, we took the opportunity to reinvent the Chiquito brand in Port Solent. The staff had mainly worked in the original restaurant, and couldn't contain their excitement right before they opened the new store to their customers. In place of their nice tidy adobe hacienda, they now had a knackered but buzzy Mexican cabana!
To date, what has been your most challenging design hurdle to overcome?
We like to turn those challenges into assets, that's part of the job! One recent example was discovering - after the strip out of two units to form one larger one, a large sprinkler main like a fire hydrant, bang in the middle of the diner. Nobody could find where it came from or how to isolate it. Well they did eventually, but meanwhile we did have to come up with plan B!
The real challenge for me is always too much time, or for whatever reason, delays - it destroys the impetus, clouds the design and weakens the outcome
What inspires your work?
Understanding my client's customers and what I believe they might enjoy, and combining a strong brand with the physical elements and conditions that us humans really want.
Which of 2016’s design trends have caught your eye?
The popularity and longevity of the industrial look - in fact it's been a mainstay of the casual dining hospitality style for so long now, the support industries are totally geared up for school chairs, 'factory and workshop' fittings, 'reclaimed' wood etc etc, that I am looking forward to the time when my clients are ready for something different...The point being that then they will be taking a gamble, bravely risking their business on a new look.
What are the emerging design trends we should look out for in 2017
I'm pushing for the return of glamour, pattern, texture and wit. I want more feminine-inspired interiors, the return of beauty and elegant solutions, and comfort for our customers.
I was at the opening of the Tate extension and naturally looked in at the restaurant. Sadly it has none of these attributes, being a minimal, poorly lit and fabric-free zone, rendered in a brown wood palette. In this £263m project I expected at least a cool, classic design that will endure and supercede fashion.