It’s a refrain often overheard inside new restaurants these days. As restaurateurs deploy design as a way to tell their stories, their messages are carried through every element, from memorable menu typography to bespoke bathroom details.
Spots like The Gregory and Overpass Merchant, which both opened in 2016, are decked out with sparkling chandeliers and gilded mirrors. Later came the famously wallpapered rooms at Soji: Modern Asian and Hayride Scandal.
“Restaurants now are looking to create that big moment in multiple spaces in a restaurant. The bathroom is one of those places where we can have fun and introduce some color. You’ll see people taking selfies in there, so why not give a backdrop for that?” says Tiffanie Pitre, art director at Xdesign, Inc.
Xdesign has done branding and design for restaurant clients around Baton Rouge, including SoLou, which opened this spring.
SoLou, short for “South Louisiana,” is a complete celebration of the Capital Region, from the boudin- and seafood-studded menu items to the vintage maps of the Mississippi River above the dining tables.
While Louisiana is the restaurant’s DNA, the design team also wanted to give diners an immersive escape.
“We wanted to give people this experience where you don’t feel like you’re in this little restaurant off of Perkins Road,” Pitre says. “We had our theme, centering around magnolias and egrets. When someone gets up from their table, you want to ensure that experience continues.”
For the restrooms, Xdesign senior graphic designer Simone Broussard translated some of the intricate, ornate illustration work she’d done for the restaurant into a custom wallpaper. White magnolias and majestic egrets glide over a deep teal background.
“We were looking online for fun wallpapers and didn’t find anything that felt super SoLou, so that just opened the opportunity to create a custom wallpaper,” Broussard says.
When Gov’t Taco opened last fall, Kenneth Brown Design interior designer Jake Loup similarly splashed themed “moments” all over the interior.
The moody, sultry space’s subtle nods to the restaurant’s government conspiracy-theme are carried through the restrooms, with imagery of the moon landing and portraits of Marilyn Monroe and JFK carefully positioned on the walls.
At healthy food restaurant Playa Bowls, the interior is painted with palm trees and pineapples.
Step into the restroom to find the wavy arms of a giant painted octopus stretched across the wall. Even the floor is hand-painted to resemble waves crashing onto a sandy shoreline.
And just like at SoLou, diners feel worlds away from Arlington Creek Center’s car-packed parking lot outside. thinkx.net
This article was originally published in the October 2021 issue of 225 magazine.