In the last decade, Social Media apps (Instagram, Facebook, Path, etc.) have conquered the way we socialize. Because design is a creative and social process revolving around people, designers have no choice but to include it as part of their design process. This is especially true for food related designs where the spaces are used by diverse groups of people. Designers are not just designing for one client or a set of committee anymore, but how best to gain the most attention in what is supposedly an incorporeal world.
Social Media provides free branding for businesses. If 10 years ago businesses had to set aside some of their operating cost for marketing, this cost can be greatly reduced with the right Social Media Branding.
Type 1: The Minimalist Photo Backdrop
Before Facebook, hospitality design is about creating feeling of the space, with Social Media in the equation, designers are designing giant backdrops that enhance photographs of products in hope to achieve the most ‘Likes’, ‘Thumbs Up’, and hashtags in Social Media.
Lady M is an example of a well branded space that takes advantage of Social Media. In all of their branch stores, they repeat successful design elements from their Upper East store. The design becomes their brand standard and instantly recognizable on social media outlets.
The White Minimalist Backdrop and simple lighting creates these photos where the product is the center of attention. Almost a thousand of these pictures that all look similar had been submitted on Yelp by Lady M customers. The large Wall-to-Ceiling glass storefront brings plenty of natural daylight, providing the best lighting for social media users.
Lines of customers waiting to go inside either for takeout or dine-in. Like everybody else living in the digital age, these cake fans are on their phones, taking pictures of the rows of cakes, and post them on social media while they wait.
Type 2: The Industrial Auto Filter
The typical industrial NYC-Chelsea feel (Weathered Brick Wall and Wooden Floor) is a style often being repeated in restaurant designs with different lighting designs. The best lighting to get the best photos for social media is a mix of natural white lighting with spot lighting at the seating. The warm color of the wood furniture reflects the lighting. As a result, the photos uploaded on social media by users look as if it has an auto warm filter on it.
Rows of Black and White Wainscot wall with warm wood furniture leads the view towards the kitchen. Similar to Lady M’s row of cakes, Her Name is Han’s row of tables create a picturesque tectonic line that is repeated on the ceiling and wall.
The mix lighting and wood furniture produce warm photos. The oldest review is from Late September 2015. Within 3 months, there is already more than 100 ‘free marketing’ photos on Yelp.
Type 3: Architecture as Photo Studio
Another way to maximize Social Media Branding is to use the space itself as a Photo Studio. A good example is Omotesando Coffee in Tokyo, Japan. The interior incorporates abstract line element that makes it easy for people to create scenic photography viewpoint.
The café has repeatable ‘Framing’ element subconsciously urging amateur photographers to create photography viewpoints pushing imagination and creativity.
Omotesando Coffee is a pop-up that is supposed to only open for one year following the 2011 Tsunami. Due to demands, they have been opened for 5 years, but planning for their last service on December 30th 2015. Their sister coffee shop , Toranomon Coffee opened last year with a Hong Kong store planned for future 2016 opening.
While it is unknown whether the designers of the above spaces take into account Social Media Branding into their design process or not, it is nonetheless true that their design has been proven a hit on Social Media based on the amount of photos and reviews.