Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Restaurants and Bars Are Designing Themselves for Instagram Fame

Casey Newton, the Verge:

For years now, Instagram has sat at the center of trends in food and beverages. Rainbow-colored “unicorn foods” are often designed with Instagram in mind, and entrepreneurs responsible for popular treats like the galaxy donut and Sugar Factory milkshake often see lines around the block after images of their products go viral. Firms like Paperwhite Studio specialize in turning restaurants into Instagram bait by designing twee sugar packets, menus, and coasters bearing slogans like “hello, my sweet” and “hug more.”

Now some entrepreneurs are taking the idea a step further, designing their physical spaces in the hopes of inspiring the maximum number of photos. They’re commissioning neon signs bearing modestly sly double entendres, painting elaborate murals of tropical wildlife, and embedding floor tiles with branded greetings — all in the hopes that their guests will post them.

It’s easy to be cynical about this — I know that I’ve never felt pandered-to more than when I’m sitting in any restaurant or bar and I see clear signs that they want me to post a picture. But the inverse situation — a place that actively forbids customers from taking photos — can feel downright oppressive.

If anything, I’d argue that these restaurants aren’t going far enough. It’s pretty clear that people won’t put their phones away during dinner service so, instead of coaxing customers into taking pictures of the decor, why not make their devices a complete extension of the dining experience? I don’t know how — I don’t want to be served a caper vinaigrette placed on the plate in the form of a QR code — but it would be a more earnest use of technology, in a futurist cooking-esque kind of way.