Fast food giants may not be redesigning their menu for the better, but some of them are trying to up the quality of their restaurants by hiring actual designers to update their interiors. Recently, McDonalds hired Patrick Norguet to redo all their French chains to appeal less to teenagers and more to families, emphasizing an “urban and adolescent tone.” Norguet, with his affinity for modular storage and corporate meets contemporary furniture, is a good choice. He designed booth where families can sit and order from instead of wrangling all their kids into line at the counter. The Mondiran-inspired white and metal storage facade looks good now, but I imagine some of Norguet’s swopping, atomic-age moves will look dated even before they get dingy with use. Apparently, there’s also some kind of plant metaphor going on, “its branching development, this root common to the brand and to the family, is transformed here into an architecture which is transversal and expansive: birch plywood takes root and branches out in the restaurant in order to create areas, functions and moods for different social requirements without compartmentalising.” Um, yeah whatever, McDonalds.
As a fitting counterpart to my post on redesigning trailer homes and bringing high design to the heretofore undesigned, here are two more fast food chains that got a make-over. The UK-based chain of Little Chefs hire London designers Ab Rogers for their interiors. Do you think it’s supposed to look this dated, or should I say, retro? They did say they were inspired by “influences from the history of roadside eating.” But isn’t red vinyl booths and white tile floors exactly what we’re trying to get away from here? There’s also an “interactive sound” that gets triggered when someone stops along the roadside just to use the bathroom to encourage them to stay for food. I find that weirdly creepy, but I do dig the photo-realistic tiled ceiling.
The best example of a real step up in the game is the redesign Ippolito Fleitz Group (personal faves of mine) did for a chicken restaurant in Germany. The wooden floor and outdoorsy wallpaper and calmer paint colors are immediately more relaxing and inviting than the bright white and red combo usually favored in fast food. Seriously, when did hospital white and ketchup-red become the standard? It reminds me more of the ballroom bathroom in Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING, not exactly what I want called to mind when I’m eating. But it’s not like I’m ever going to eat in a McDonalds, even if it’s a fancy new one in Paris. As a side note, check out the minimalist, logo-less McDonald’s pop-up built in Tokyo in 2009 as way to introduce the brand to Japan without berating with a sudden influx of golden arches.