Sifting and winnowing through the big, wide world of products to find just the right mix for creating unique and competitive restaurant environments is no small task. And neither is keeping up with the steady stream of new options, enhancements and product technologies hitting the market.

rd+d’s Products Guide is here to help. 

Designer Insights: Anita Summers, Principal & Lighting Designer, The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry

Trending: Decorative lighting is back in a big way — lots of pendants, repeating ceiling fixtures, floor lamps, sconces and table lamps. Restaurants aren’t as dark and moody as they once were. There’s a trend towards a soft, brighter glow on each table. Everyone wants to look good on Instagram, so it’s brighter but it’s not a bright light from above, it’s individual points of light all over the restaurant.

When the weather is nice, the view is appealing and/or the ambience is just so, restaurants with outdoor dining spaces often find it’s hard to fill seats inside — everyone wants to enjoy the outside experience. With the appeal of dining al fresco growing, smart operators pay more attention to patios, rooftops, sidewalk cafes and terraces and invest dollars and design efforts accordingly.

Yes, Instagram-worthy restrooms are now a thing — but that should come as no surprise. After all, restaurant guests today have a big appetite for recording and sharing images of just about anything that catches their fancy — even if it’s in the loo.

Part art, part science, menu boards and signage serve as important communication tools in a restaurant — QSR and fast-casual operations, in particular.

Designer Insights: John Paul Valverde & Miguel Vicens, Partners, Creative Directors, Coeval Studio

The big picture. Too often, when people think of wallcoverings they only think of wallpaper. We think about the category in a bigger way. It might be wallpaper, but it can also be a finish or a material like a veneer, or graphics, or tile, or a custom-printed vinyl that reinforces the brand. You can even find a lot of great natural materials like paper-thin wood that you install like wallpaper.

Unlike many other aspects of a restaurant’s design, doors and windows must be carefully selected with multiple mission-critical functions in mind. First, they have to look good and contribute to the restaurant’s brand messaging and ambience from both inside and out. After all, an entry door provides guests with their first up-close visual and tactile interaction with an operation.