"Oh how incredible it feels after a year of intermittent fasting from social contact, not being able to hang out with others, we are finally able to hang up our headphones and escape the dreaded zoom social to hang out in real spaces with real people! When it comes to designing an outdoor, or in fact any space, I think the biggest factor is the feeling of human warmth. The encouragement of feeling at ease and enabling us to be at our best socialising, enjoying being out and also embracing the hedonism that comes along with the escape from home.
Terraces are popping up everywhere, from makeshift outdoor dining outside kebab shops to the lucky venues who already had outdoor spaces to play with. Foliage and ivy-clad walls, if you’re lucky enough to have them, are amazing. They not only make us feel like we’re in some kind of forest enclave but act brilliantly as acoustic baffles, deadening the harsh bouncing around of sound you get from hard surfaces. Lighting ideally is in that lovely golden sunshine at dusk, but as the evening progresses shouldn’t be harsh and should evolve in waves with the night, giving you a chance to acclimatise and still enjoy the feeling of the evening sky overhead.
Our recent Sourced Market project, opened during lockdown in Skelton Lakes, was an amazing foodie destination beside a wildlife reserve, and our lighting strategy there was all about soft layers to reveal textured surfaces like the Kent clay brick walls, but within quite an atmospheric space, good lighting overhead onto tables (recycled yoghurt pot terrazzo, no less) helps retain the intimacy between diners but avoids the ‘I can’t see my food feeling’ which can be really off-putting.
As for sound, the joys of birdsong and those inconsequential, easily-overlooked but soul-drenching tinkles are really important. We are ultimately connected the more human and real our experiences are. Don’t worry about the fairy lights but think about the subtle things that enrich us and subconsciously make for the ultimate social reboot, we all need it!”