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Comfort eating

White plastic chairs make way for eye catching colours, comfy cushions and deft designs to ensure food and beverage furniture is sitting pretty.

Belar contract
Belar contract

White plastic chairs make way for eye catching colours, comfy cushions and deft designs to ensure food and beverage furniture is sitting pretty.

Food and beverage furniture has come a long way over recent years.

Where white plastic chairs and tables used to dominate our dining experiences, today has now been replaced with the most sophisticated of styles, designs and materials.

More and more designers and manufacturers are experimenting with materials and colours to ensure versatility, comfort and health and safety measures are all taken in to consideration in commercial restaurant and bar areas.

"In the past, people would look at chairs strictly from a commodity point of view “to sit people' and today, the restaurants are looking at chairs to enhance the whole design of the restaurant and for aesthetic reasons. The more pleasing a restaurant, the more inviting it will be for the clientele to come in and have a drink and a meal," said Bill Bongearts, president of Beufurn Furniture.

"Comfort, design, affordability, and appropriate commercial construction that will hold up in a public environment, these are all things that need to be considered. I think that mixing different materials such as wood and metal, or plastic and metal, although they can be challenging to source, work well together and perform in the commercial field," he added.


Moving away from traditional table and chair design, designers are also looking at the entire concept of a room, and how the furniture will fit in with interiors as a whole, rather than simply filling a space.

According to Talal Saeed, managing partner at Fino International, purely designing a chair or a table is not enough. For a restaurant or bar to truly , the furniture must correspond with each concept of the room, the colours of the walls, or even the placement of the lights, for example.

"Paint, metal, fabrics or woodworks, everything needs to work together coherently to make the perfect solution. In the end you'll wind up with so many nice products that do not mesh well together - the coordination stage must work with everything, all the way down to the electricity or a nice air flow, for example," said Saeed.

Fino International, an interior contracting company established in Dubai two years ago, has been working on the latest Giorgio Armani Hotel, including the design of all food and beverage furniture for the hotel's public areas, restaurants, cafes and bars.

"The current trend in food and beverage furniture, is smooth and light colours, something simple, and not as lavish as they used to be. If you look at the Armani line of fashion for example, this is all simple - this is the style he's opted for in his furniture, and is the mood of most hotels at the moment. Main materials are veneer woodwork and fabrics, and of course vaneeshan plaster - what we call a special decorative paint - these are the three main materials," said Saeed.

"Giorgio Armani personally made the concept, and we are simply translating this idea in to reality, making things work with each other. Sourced from Italy, Canada, North America and Europe, we import the raw materials, stone, paint, wood works or even metal, and we manufacture all these items in our own factories in Jebel Ali, Dubai," he added.

Outdoor dining

Living in warmer climates such as those in the Middle East, food and beverage furniture need not be limited to indoor environments. With numerous bars and restaurants scattered across the region, and with more potentially on the horizon, there are plenty of outdoor spaces that need furniture, made to meet certain specifications. Adopting materials that withstand some of the harshest of weather conditions is perhaps, one of the most important factors to consider in furniture production, especially where commercial longevity is concerned.

As Angela McGlinchey, general manager at Global Furniture Solutions, representatives of Classique furniture explains, "People have moved a long way from the standard plastic white furniture, cast aluminium and timber."

"All the Classique products are synthetic wicker, perfect for indoor and outdoor dining. Our biggest seller is glass tables, rather than the granite, as the granite gets much hotter in these climates. These are also stackable, making them ideal for hospitality purposes, and very versatile.

"All of our cushions are generally supplied with a polyester fabric, however we are also starting to produce with Sunbrella fabric, but we are having to put the prices up with this. As it's a very expensive product," she added.

Global Furniture Solutions based in the Middle East, represent Classique leisure products in the MENA region. Predominantly supplying furniture to the hospitality sector, Classique furniture has been used throughout major hotels in Dubai, such as the newly opened Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina.

"We've supplied the Westin with the Espresso, and Latte colours. Our modular seating, which we're having in Bosola restaurant is the three level dining, the high-dining close to the bar, main level dining, and at the edge, (so you're not blocking the view from other diners) we will supply low level seating. This contemporary style will run throughout the entire restaurant," she added.

Established since 2004, Classique designs its own products in Australia. Manufacturing its furniture in China to maintain a competitive price, the raw material wicker is sourced from Kuwait.

European influence

The concept of an al-fresco dining experience inside is also exemplified through the amount of Spanish and Portuguese food and beverage furniture designers entering the region's burgeoning restaurant and bar sector, introducing lavish, yet contemporary designs from the western world.

"Leather and suede-like material is used to cover chairs, and puffs across many hotels in Portugal completed by ourselves at Belar Group. We want this same idea to enter into the Middle Eastern market," said Monica Santos, assisting CEO, Belar Group in Portugal.

"Most of the time we design the seating structures ourselves, and the fashion nowadays tends to be steel, or a mixture of steel and wood. Classic concepts combined with modern ideals are also popular - especially for the younger and newer generation. Tradition is still important, and once incorporated into a modern format, will prove quality, as well as aesthetic pleasure.

"We have special chairs and tables appropriate for food and beverage settings, and on occasions, we have interior architects come and design a chair which, is just not appropriate, not comfortable, not versatile but, we transform that idea in to a practical one," she added.

Jose Moreira, export manager of M+re Contract in Portugal also has great plans to break in to the GCC food and beverage furniture market.

"We created a trademark for contract furnishings, so we are here in Dubai to strengthen our name in the GCC market. Our products are used for hotel lobbies, but particularly in restaurants. Customers/clients are now looking for a trend that moves towards the classic era, this is what's popular again in Europe and I think here in the GCC too. Made from beachwood and velvet, we try to design things that are re-sellable, comfortable, and easy to use - we have options to suit everyone," said Moreira.

Other examples of European companies bringing their influences in to the market are Enea Contract from Spain recently introducing its ‘Konic' armchair and ‘stacky' bar stool, designed by Josep Llusca, are stylish, modern, yet simple in their concepts, and available in an assortment of bright colours.

Now that a huge variety of food and beverage furniture designers, and manufacturers are keen to break into the region's ever-increasing hospitality sector, whether a contemporary classic, or bright and funky atmosphere is at preference, there will be restaurants and bars designed to suit everyone's dining needs.

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