Taking the headache out of restaurant design

Knauf AMF Commercial Director Peter Symons examines how acoustic ceiling and wall solutions can create inspiring interior designs and offer a comfortable atmosphere.

Research suggests that the number of people choosing to eat out in the UK this year is expected to grow by 83m visits with the over 50s group seeing the largest increase to 130m visits by 2022*.

Whilst these numbers are good news for the hospitality industry, noise is still cited as one of the main reasons diners choose not to return to a restaurant, no matter how good the food and service. National charity Action on Hearing Loss says noise levels in some popular restaurants can top 90db on busy nights – equivalent to eating next to a motorbike or lawn mower. In their poll, ninety-one per cent of 1,200 people said they would not return to a loud environment.

A certain level of noise is welcomed by customers. Some background chatter and unobtrusive music can add atmosphere to a restaurant, as long as diners can still hear their companions. So how do you achieve the perfect balance? Installing the acoustic ceiling and wall absorbers can be an extremely cost-effective solution to control sound, and there is a wide range of materials, face patterns, sizes and shapes available to enhance any interior design.

Colour can help create mood in a restaurant. A ceiling can be designed to work with any colour scheme. Manufactured in any colour or pick an image that’s replicated onto the surface, a suspended ceiling can add a sense of warmth and visual impact to an interior. It can be fitted directly to the soffit or installed using either an exposed or concealed grid system.

For restaurants with low ceilings, period features or exposed services, ceiling rafts or baffles are a versatile option for controlling sound. Rafts are lightweight, frameless, durable and easy to install. Fixed to the ceiling using discreet wires, they appear as if they are floating in air. Produced in a range of shapes and colour options, they make an architectural statement.

Baffles are ideal for interiors fitted with floor-to-ceiling glazing or with concrete soffits. By varying the distance between the rows of baffles or changing their size, the perfect acoustic performance can be achieved. Baffles are manufactured with smooth or textured surfaces in a range of colours and shapes.

Wall absorbers can be used in conjunction with an acoustic ceiling or independently to improve sound absorption and offer high impact resistance to cope with tough daily use.

Metal is a versatile and durable suspended ceiling material which lends an industrial chic to contemporary and classical interiors. Acoustic metal ceilings are manufactured in a choice of dimensions, shapes, edges, face patterns and colours to create unique designs that express creativity.  

Acoustic ceilings that are specially developed for kitchens incorporate anti-bacterial technology which helps prevent the growth of micro-organisms. They also offer 100% humidity resistance, excellent sound absorption and a wipe-clean surface.

There are currently no building regulations for acoustics in restaurants, which is why sound control is not always considered at the design stage. Installing sound absorbent materials once the furnishings are in place can be expensive and not always easy. But if noise is driving customers away, the ceiling is often the only space available for acoustic treatment. Ceiling baffles and rafts can be installed around existing services and fittings, and harmonise with the interior design. Wall absorbers can provide additional sound control.

If customers feel relaxed and can dine in acoustic comfort they are more likely to return and recommend the restaurant to others. And that means better long-term business. For more information about the range of Knauf AMF acoustic ceiling and wall absorbers visit www.knaufamf.com.

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