I was sitting in restaurant the other day and my eye was drawn to a very interesting textile hanging from the wall. It was very colourful, but the medium of the textile made it muted and soft at the same time. The whole effect was comforting and homely, perfectly matching the vibe that particular place wanted to project.

For many restauranteurs, proprietors and chefs, simply having food that shines is often not enough. We have all sat in bars, cafes and restaurants, enjoying the food but feeling there’s something lacking about the decoration and vibe.

For diners, the enjoyment of any dish can be immeasurably heightened by the ambience of their environment. Not every restaurant can offer the idyllic setting of a secluded Mediterranean bay to enhance the flavour of the fish, but there is so much than can be done to improve any dining experience.

It will not be a surprise to many that, as a pioneering capital city, London is a leading light in respect of this trend. From high profile restaurants with lots of wall space to smaller-scale boutique venues, there is an opportunity for any proprietor to follow suit and use art to both speak to their clients and temper the dining experience.

Possibly the best examples of this are any of the establishments which make up the Hix restaurant group.

With a handful of venues positioned mostly around the capital, artworks form an integral part of the experience of eating some of the best food the country has to offer. Enjoy a gin Martini or a sizzling steak amidst museum quality artworks by Damien Hirst, Harland Miller or Sarah Lucas (to name but a few…).

Mark Hix has taken the relationship between eating food and appreciating art one step further by creating a fantastic art space beneath one of his restaurants, Tramshed, in Shoreditch, East London.

The Gallery sources new talent and venerates established contemporary masters whilst offering top quality food. To understand more about the space, take a look at HIX ART gallery’s website http://hixart.co.uk/about/ where they summarise this symbiotic relationship perfectly: ‘HIX ART transforms into one of the coolest dining spaces in London. We have hosted wedding receptions, corporate dinners and birthday celebrations. Decorate the room and tables as you wish, sit back and enjoy beautiful art and Tramshed’s fantastic food.’ The food and art truly seem inextricably linked.

This practice, however, is by no means a new phenomenon. In their informative article on restaurants positioning themselves as art galleries, the Independent recall the magnificent works commissioned by New York’s Seagram Building in the middle of last century; ‘the Mark Rothko paintings known as The Seagram Murals, commissioned in 1958 for the Four Seasons restaurant’ were a pioneering force for those extolling the benefits of bringing artworks out of the galleries and into the restaurants.

One of the first prominent restaurants in London to happily embrace the art gallery dining experience was Pied à Terre in 34 Charlotte Street, this Michelin star restaurant developed under the creative force of David Moore quickly attracted a HNW crowd and it was not long before artworks by significant British artists were hanging on the walls.

The Turner Prize-nominated and Fourth Plinth commissioned artist David Shrigley has for some time decorated the entire wall space at Sketch in Conduit Street, as this restaurant looks to a long-term exhibition programme for artists. Shrigley’s first series of 239 drawings, full of witty and satirical messages that are now to be replaced with 91 new colourful works and ceramic tableware emblazoned with the artist’s sharp humoured texts and drawings. This is an example of one artist’s work dominating a restaurant space.

According to WGSN.com the top 5 art inspired restaurants are: the Arts Club in Mayfair, Coya London, Hixter Bankside, Magazine and Pharmacy 2.

Each of these restaurants offer a unique approach to combining art and dining, from the exciting murals commissioned by São Paulo street artist Loro Verz and a rotating series of artists, that include works by Amrita Bilimoria’s at Coya restaurant in 118 Piccadilly to the fully immersive art-food experience of Pharmacy 2 in Pimlico.

For those who loved Damien Hirst’s original Pharmacy, this collaboration between Hirst and Hix within Hirst’s art gallery space takes it to another level by showcasing a range of top artists as well as displaying iconic works by Hirst such as DNA strands in etched glass and hand-crafted pill designs embedded within the floor.

The Rosewood Hotel has paid homage to British cartoonist and art world figure Gerald Scarfe in their in-house bar, ‘Scarfes Bar’. On their website they confirm that ‘the collection of amusing and conversation-provoking paintings…adorn the marble walls turning Scarfes Bar into a living canvas’. Visitors to the bar are encouraged to engage with the works while they sit and enjoy the wonderful selection of cocktails this institution boasts.

With so many opportunities to enjoy art and food in unison, it seems this trend has taken force. If you have a restaurant or establishment and you too can see the immediate value art can add to a setting, please contact VEDO.

Our specialist art consultants can help source art that matches your brand and ethos, so the art has an affinity with your company reinforcing your values to your client base and staff. Whether the brand and ambience are designed to appeal to a young professional crowd, an arts and creative crowd or an older more sophisticated clientele, the art you choose can really speak volumes about your company and your creative vision.

We have found that where restaurants have a strategy for their art and a collection plan, the impact can be extremely impressive. For those wishing to generate unique dialogues with their visiting clientele, we can guide you through the myriad of opportunities available to you.

You don’t need to fill the walls with Hirsts and Emins to create a wow factor, there are many different types of artworks and artists whose works sell at varying price points. From talented up and coming emerging artists to established artists, to a cross range of interesting crafts, antiques and collectibles, all of which can be in the affordable price bracket from £100-£500 for prints, ceramics, photographs, drawings and small works up to £1,000 – £5,000 for larger works such as paintings on canvas, any of which can add great interest to the space and transform the overall experience.

Commissioning bespoke art is also another option open to clients, where artists will create a work that meets a client’s specific requirements. We work with a group of very talented contemporary artists, including sculptors, painters, etchers and other visual practitioners, each of whom can create bespoke commissions to suit any kind of space. Please see our website here for more details.

It’s time to provide a more engaging dining experience and VEDO is the company to help you start that process.