Restaurants are offering more opportunities for social interaction, while people are creating more restaurant-like environments at home.
Trendspotting: The economy turns the tables on dining out
A trend sweeping restaurants and homes around the world involves a reversal of styles: many venues are offering opportunities for social interaction similar to home entertaining, while people are creating more restaurant-like dining environments at home. It seems that eating in is the new eating out - and vice versa.
The reasons why these trends are emerging make perfect sense if we look at the economic climate and modern working environments. Digital technology enables more of us to work from home and to spend our free time on the internet. Although this allows a greater degree of flexibility and convenience in our lives, it can be very isolating.
To counteract this, people are increasingly seeking more interactive and communal "eating out" experiences. Direct contact with chefs and access to the drama of the kitchen give customers connections with the creators of their meals.
In Dubai, live cooking stations at Anise provide guests with a stimulating "chef-to-diner" experience, and at Traiteur the elevated show kitchen literally puts the restaurant's chefs on stage.In urban restaurants around the world, the introduction of large communal dining tables, as found at Mango Tree in Downtown Burj Dubai, are bringing single diners, couples and groups together for a family-style dining experience.
It is an opportunity, during these often isolating times, for "real world" conversations, and a platform for friendship and understanding among our diverse city communities.
Meanwhile, the economy has led to fewer people eating out. This has been the catalyst to create a special dining atmosphere at home. Just as hotel interior design has influenced residential bathroom and bedroom styles, now chic restaurant styles are influencing home dining room decor and food presentation.
At the European design shows this summer I saw an array of innovative products directed at helping make our home dining spaces and mealtimes more spectacular. My favourite piece was the wonderfully quirky and versatile TrackTile Table from Three Foot Three Design. The table brings together a selection of beautifully veneered tiles that are smooth on one side but form a variety of railway layouts when flipped over. Motorised Brio trains can be loaded with a cargo of delicious nibbles to deliver olives, nuts, chocolates or mints around the table.
The creator, Paul Mottram, says that with "a TrackTile Table, dinner parties and mealtimes can be fun. The tables seem to bring out the inner child with everyone who sits at one, and each guest always wants control of their own train. TrackTile Tables are a real 'social network'."
The TrackTile Table puts a playful new spin on home dining - so get on track.
Victoria Redshaw is the managing director of Scarlet Opus. For more information visit www.trendsblog.co.uk or www.scarletopus.com. TrackTile tables are available in a variety of sizes and styles. To learn more visit www.tracktiletables.co.uk