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Is Industrial Chic on Its Way Out?


You’ve seen it in your favorite restaurant, as well as the upscale grocery store around the corner. It’s lurking in Arby’s and Panera, but also surrounding you at breweries and tap houses: industrial chic. This design aesthetic that took over the world since the dawn of warehouse conversions (and Chipotle) appears to be on its way out.

Whether you’re renovating your home or dreaming up a new look for your restaurant, it may be time to look beyond mixing metal and glass with distressed, barn-like wood. If it’s a large-scale redesign covering several/many units, you should be even more on top of these shifting winds, as a design lasting 5-15-plus years needs to be as timeless as possible.

So what’s heating up as stainless steel and friends are cooling off? Clean lines and authentic materials aren't going anywhere, with sleek stone, handmade brick and a more restrained use of metal replacing the barnyard chic thing we’ve seen throughout the last 10-15 years.

Thanks to robots and the coming wave of automation, plastic may be getting another heyday as 3D printing makes intricate, custom-designed fixtures, artwork and structural elements easier and cheaper by the day.

Wallpaper, if you can believe it, also seems to be hot, with new patterns providing texture and accent walls in commercial, hotel and residential applications. Ethnic fabrics are another side of this trend to soften intentionally cold designs. Look for art deco to come back into vogue as elaborate patterns replace organic designs.

Like the 1980s, best defined by Patrick Bateman’s apartment in "American Psycho," white minimalism is back in style, punctuated by distressed, heritage or salvaged pieces providing warmth and contrast to the classy-yet-stark vibe. Mixing old and new—so hot right now.

All of this being said, I’ve got plans to build a dining room table in my new house with barn wood off of my Grandma Kaiser’s beautiful, crumbling old barn.

Do I get a pass for sentimentality?

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About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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