Adding purple it to restaurant décor is one of the easiest ways to make your guests feel more comfortable, tone down or illuminate an otherwise dull event space, and up the romance factor. After all, ever since ancient rulers donned purple capes and Persian King Cyrus showed up in a purple tunic, purple has been a symbol of royalty and extravagance. Possibly the most famous of contemporary royals, Prince himself dedicated hit tunes to his favorite pigment in “Purple Rain” and its kissing cousin “Raspberry Beret.” From rich wines and lavender to lilac and the deepest amethyst, it’s no wonder the color matching masterminds at Pantone chose ultra-violet as its color this year.
When decorating with purple, restaurateurs must ascertain: just how much is too much violet? A vibrant white bowl of artfully arranged eggplant might be just enough while installing an aubergine and opposing colored accent wall is décor madness. In a restaurant, a color scheme defines the atmosphere. It can help or hurt diner reviews. In a redesign or on opening night, making the wrong choice can be a costly mistake.
Celebrity designer, author, and renowned party planner Colin Cowie applies the violet spectrum in some of the world’s most extravagant dining settings. As a sought-after color by most of his clients, he says violet is having a moment in time. “It doesn’t matter where in the world you come from, purple always makes you feel and look good,” he says. “That’s one of the reasons we love purple, lavender, and lilac because they are all skin-tone friendly colors and I love the idea that with violet, you can dial it up and dial it down.”
Despite Cowie’s client list of the world’s most famous faces (Oprah, Elton John, and Jennifer Lopez, to name a few) and his partnerships with the elite culinary minds of Laurent Tourondel, Ming Tsai, and Alfred Portale through his hospitality design venture F.O.O.D. Inc., Cowie says putting purple front and center is entirely possible without spending a fortune. “It’s most effective when you mix it to see the texture of this beautiful color,” says Cowie. “Don’t be afraid to juxtapose with lighter purple and big shocks of dark purple or add metallic finishes to include sparkle – and to that gorgeous big bowl filled with Japanese eggplants, add a few limes and maybe even kiwi fruit.”
Violet is most striking against mirror. Matching it with silver is the more contemporary route while adding gold accents makes purple more traditional and opulent. “So many restaurants today are highly designed, but you can influence diners in a big way with small things – today’s centerpieces are tomorrow’s eggplant Parmesan and we’re seeing shades of purple foods with bright green grapes and big jars of bright green olives,” says Cowie. ”And a long purple velvet runner is so sexy.”
From the man whose mantra is “everything matters” and made the phrase “love is in the details” mainstream vernacular, Cowie advises against restricting purple to common areas. Even bathrooms need a violet touch. “Restaurants often put the worst light in the bathroom so you think you’re about to have your teeth cleaned, but if you add a little purple, everyone will come out there feeling twice as fabulous,” he says. “Dip lightbulbs into lavender ink; buy sleeves that fit on fluorescent tubes and wrap those in lavender gels.” Even in a gastropub, purple has a place. Cowie recommends pairing lavender light bulbs with silver to evoke images of wintertime, cozy eats, and drinks.
One example of how purple lighting can make a space more theatrical, especially a restaurant with adjoining lounge, was captured at Pittsburgh’s Savoy Restaurant and Wine Bar. The chairs and accents are white, but cue a few purple accent lights and the restaurant is illuminated in dramatic fashion. By contrast, Kimpton Hotel Eventi’s The Vine in Manhattan is a contemporary hotel in Chelsea. In this space, the rich purple tones create an understated result, but it’s just as alluring.
Due south, Wilfredo Emanuel rose to design acclaim in South Florida for his signature merging of design and high fashion. A premier mentor for Christian DIOR USA House, Univision television personality, and remarkable photographer, Emanuel is spellbound by purple in all its glory, the embodiment of richness and power it imbues in any size space. “It goes to your senses, whether you sit down at a table to find it in glasses, artwork, or furnishings; everything purple signifies importance and a sense of uniqueness from napkins to vases of flowers,” he says.
Emanuel says anyone can incorporate violet into restaurant décor, through paint, a single pillow on a chair, or, in the case of furniture, in one small piece like a charming reclaimed chair, so bold, darker purples don’t overtake the room. Emanuel loves how creativity flows from chef to table in vibrant platters and in the stark contrast of white plates brimming with kitchen specialties. “Look around your restaurant and you’ll be surprised at how much you have to work with, from purple cabbage and beets to berries, and mix those to thoughtfully place about the space,” says Emanuel, who appreciates when there is a symbiosis between cuisine and decor.
Emanuel has another timely reason for adding violet to the mix, and it’s something that resonates like never before. Cultural diversity is a huge topic right now and is here to stay. Diners crave stimulation beyond the plate, savoring what they see, touch and feel. “All of the shades of purple are colors without gender, so you can use it anywhere, applied in the right quantity,” says Emanuel. “Don’t forget how versatile foliage is and it can be very simple, like clear vases full of floating vegetation which fortifies the water into these beautiful shades of violet.” [Read more…]