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Dublin: 16 °C Wednesday 18 July, 2018
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The Rise of the Instagram Restaurant: How your feed is changing your food

Restaurants and cafés are using innovative decor to get noticed on Instagram. Here’s how it works.

The interior of Tribeton in Galway
The interior of Tribeton in Galway
Image: Tribeton

IT’S SUNDAY MORNING. You’re lying in bed, flicking through your Instagram feed, when you stumble upon a photo of a café that looks particularly inviting.

Intrigued, you click into the geotag and soon find yourself down an Instagram rabbit hole, admiring perfectly assembled avocado-and-egg concoctions and impossibly hip light fixtures. You make a mental note to go there so you, too, can get your own photo for the ‘gram.

In the era of social media, cafés, restaurants and bars are increasingly reliant on the likes of Facebook and Instagram for spreading the word. As a result, such establishments are making more considered decisions about their interiors in an effort to distinguish themselves from the pack and make themselves more photogenic.

It’s no longer enough to serve up good food. You now also have to be a customer’s selfie background. Welcome to the age of the Instagram restaurant.

Pot Bellied Pig in Rathmines

Pot Bellied Pig opened in Rathmines earlier this year. It’s a quaint little café that lives up to its name by serving up a variety of porcine products, including delectable rasher sandwiches. It also happens to have the sorts of interiors that wouldn’t look out of place in a high fashion shoot. We’re talking candy floss-pink couches, turquoise tiles and floors just begging to be captioned #floorgoals.

Owner Lema Murphy didn’t have a clear idea what she wanted at first. “I don’t think I per se had a plan to have a pink cafe, to be honest,” she explains. “I initially thought I’d throw a few chairs and tables in and it would all be grand.”

She then enlisted the services of Roisin Lafferty of Kingston Lafferty Design, a renowned interior architecture and design agency, who executed a vision that was “a perfect mix of tropical, marshmallow and monochrome”.

Brunch Club part 2 this week @ The Pot Bellied Pig, Rathmines 🐖🐖🐖🐖🐖

A post shared by SARA (@sara.sees) on

Since opening, Murphy says that Instagram has become the café’s “best friend” and helped turn it into a destination of sorts.

I think Pot Bellied Pig has become a place to visit firstly because people have shared the interior and secondly, once there, they’ve realised that we really do have the coffee and food to back it up.The place photographs beautifully. And the diversity of shots I’ve seen with some of the shoots that have taken place there means that a even a slight change of angle can mean a totally different picture.
The interior is a big reason why people love it and share it.

Light after Ophelia! #tribeton #galway

A post shared by Tribeton (@tribeton) on

Tribeton in Galway

Tribeton in Galway is a restaurant and bar situated in an old warehouse with a distinctly industrial feel. With neon signs, giant murals behind the bar and light fixtures dangling from the ceiling, it can be reasonably characterised as Instagram catnip.

“The bar and restaurant area on the upper floor has warm lighting, soft furnishings, beautifully tiled floors and expansive art pieces decorating the walls,” the owners say. “It’s eclectic and we love it.”

Like Pot Bellied Pig, Tribeton has benefitted from being pleasing to the eye. “Social media is an integral part of our marketing strategy and it doesn’t hurt that Tribeton is very camera friendly. Instagram arguably plays the most important role of all the social platforms for us as the apps core demographic is very similar to ours.”

Picture perfect. Morning has broken, brunch ready! #tribeton #galway #brunch #sundayfunday

A post shared by Tribeton (@tribeton) on

Such an amazing spot .. cocktails are amazing best g&t selection and a pretty kick ass live band wonderful evening

A post shared by toridempseywalsh (@toridempseywalsh) on

They say it’s important for cafés, bars and restaurants to make a statement with their look if they want to compete in an increasingly competitive hospitality industry.

First, as well as lasting, impressions matter hugely so the aesthetic needs to match the top service and premium food and drink offering guests experience at each visit.

@ocallaghanhotels Alex Hotel design stages progressing lovely #dublin #interiorarchitecture

A post shared by 21 SPACES (@21spaces) on

The Alex Hotel in Dublin

So what do the people who design such spaces reckon? John-Henry Boyle works with 21 Spaces, an interior design and architecture firm based in Dublin.

The firm most recently worked on The Alex Hotel’s refurbishment, a makeover that has rendered the hotel barely recognisable from what it has before and seems to have been conceived with a social media-friendly generation in mind.

Boyle says that the big trend at the moment is crafted interiors. “By that we mean really well-designed and crafted interiors with fine detailing that are environmentally conscious,” he explains. “This has many Scandinavian influences. Not ostentatious or too glam.”

Since the recession, Boyle says he has noticed that “a more well-designed and confident interior” is prevailing in Ireland and cites Bunsen and Bear Market as examples of establishment that are pulling this off with aplomb.

Life’s so good it hurts

A post shared by @sophiewatkins on

Bear Market Coffee in Blackrock

For Boyle, the importance of striking design can’t be overstated. “A strong interior is a pivotal extension of the brand,” he says. “It’s the experiential aspect of the brand which helps people make an emotionally connection with the business.”

While he may not be explicitly designing with social media in mind, Boyle concedes that it’s an aspect that appeals to the brands he works with. “As a trend it’s definitely an aspect which excites clients because it helps customers engage before they have even tried the food,” he says of Instagrammable decor. “Detail is vitally important to this end thus we focus a lot on quality and material.”

So, take a seat and take a selfie because this trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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