meet the team

September 25, 2014

during our DESIGN+DINING series we’ve included an invite to work with you and your designer to uncover the full potential of your public spaces, such as restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, hotel lobbies, etc.

it’s time to give credit to the talented team that makes uncovering that potential possible. here’s some of us below from a photoshoot for the back-cover of Commercial Interior Design Magazine. the magazine will be distributed next week during the Dubai Hotel Show.

we’re going to be at the show. if you’re attending, drop us a line, we’d love to meet you.

casafekra team

behind the scenes:

0

DINING+DESIGN series (part 5) — are F&B concept developers missing out on the full potential of their dining experience?

August 28, 2014

these 5 discussions with your designer can unlock that potential

part 1  —  the first encounter »

part 2  —  the journey »

part 3  —  the dynamics »

part 4  —  the essentials of furniture specifications »

part 5  —  the great outdoors

are you leveraging skyline views, waterfront vistas, sunsets, people watching, and more? outdoor dining can offer a sense of time, place, and wonder that even the most intriguing indoor spaces cannot.

a study of more than 3200 adults, aimed to understand customer perceptions regarding outdoor dining, convincingly shows that restaurants are leaving money on the table, by not leveraging their outdoor space’s full potential of propelling traffic and revenue.

the study shows that restaurants with outdoors spaces that include a bar, generally generate higher revenue than those without bars. however, there are practical considerations. 74% of those surveys felt that the service was slower outdoors. a fact that is understandable seeing that the tables outside are further away from the kitchen than those indoors.

consider minimizing this drawback by adding an outdoor bar, thus reducing the time for drinks to reach the tables. also consider an intermediary area that collects outgoing and incoming dishes, with dedicated outdoor staff that services only from and to this intermediary area.

in most cases, leveraging an outdoor space may be obvious. if that’s the case, as a restaurant owner, you may want to discuss with your designer how you intend on tackling the potential of a slower service, as well as the possibility of a bar—as an outdoor focal point.

in many cases, outdoor spaces are not an obvious choice. forward looking restaurants are benefiting from creating the first impression of a ‘sidewalk cafe’ by just adding a couple of tables outside the entrance. unsurprisingly, this small tweak has been shown through the study to disproportionally increase traffic and revenue..

 


questions to guide your briefing discussion
with your designer


• how are we leveraging the outdoor space’s full potential of propelling traffic and revenue?
• are there less-obvious outdoor spaces that we can leverage?
• can we put an outdoor bar?
• how are we dealing with potentially slower service due to longer distances from the kitchen?
• how’s this outdoor space contributing to the intended first impression?

in conclusion to this series, the dining experience is the journey from 1st impression to last impression. and while the food and service play a vital role, the design itself sandwiches the dining experience. countless chefs and wait staff have served diners at frank lloyd wright’s meyer may house, yet the dining experience there remains a timeless topic of conversation. people talk about restaurants that make people look and feel good. through the discussions from these 5 briefs, you and your designer can maximise on the potential of making your guests look and feel their best.

 

arrange a free consultation with us, and our furnishing specialists will work with you and your designer to uncover the full potential of your restaurant, club, coffee shop, or public space. give us a call with any question on (+961) 4 444 353 or via email at solutions@casafekra.com

subscribe below to receive similar posts by email. every edition also includes acad 3d models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:

3

DINING+DESIGN series (part 4) — are F&B concept developers missing out on the full potential of their dining experience?

August 21, 2014

these 5 discussions with your designer can unlock that potential

part 1  —  the first encounter »

part 2  —  the journey »

part 3  —  the dynamics »

part 4  —  the essentials of furniture specifications

you may not have witnessed a chair break down under the weight of man. but multiple interviews with guests who’ve experienced falling down to the floor suggest that it’s one of the more traumatic and embarrassing experiences for them and the group they’re with. an experience no restaurant would want to add to its history.

to avoid situations like this one, furniture tests and certifications for the contract and hospitality industries have been put in place to standardize comfort, safety, sustainability, and durability (i.e. CATAS tests, ANSI/BIFMA furniture sustainability standards, etc.). in addition to quality certifications, furniture designed for the contract market has the added benefit of worry-free warrantees.

safety is only one component that plays a role when evaluating restaurant furniture. within the frame of durability and sustainability, the ideal choice of materials plays a vital role. seaside restaurants demand specific materials that are resistant to sea-salt. high traffic areas have their own considerations, from abrasion resistant legs, to washable fabrics. stackability and storage methods may need to be considered, especially for restaurants with outdoor areas or ballrooms.

furniture specifically designed for the contract industry may be complemented with locally produced custom furniture. finding the right balance between budget, reliability, function, and aesthetics is not an easy endeavor, but is vital nonetheless. when sourcing local production, because of the lack of a certifying body, working with reputable suppliers with a proven track record minimizes future headaches.

as a restaurant owner, you may or may not be involved in the details of furniture procurement. either way, it may always be a good idea to oversee decisions around furniture comfort, safety, sustainability, and durability.

 


questions to guide your briefing discussion
with your designer or furniture-solutions-provider


• is the furniture we’re ordering designed and intended to handle the daily rigors of a restaurant and other high-traffic areas?
• what’s the right balance between imported furniture and locally produced furniture?
• is the furniture certified by a reputable body like CATAS and does the local supplier have a proven track record?
• do we need specific considerations related to the location and function of our restaurant?

part 5  —  the great outdoors »

 

arrange a free consultation with us, and our furnishing specialists will work with you and your designer to uncover the full potential of your restaurant, club, coffee shop, or public space. give us a call with any question on (+961) 4 444 353 or via email at solutions@casafekra.com

 


subscribe below to receive part 5 by email. every edition also includes acad 3d models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:


3

DINING+DESIGN series (part 3) — are F&B concept developers missing out on the full potential of their dining experience?

August 14, 2014

these 5 discussions with your designer can unlock that potential

part 1  —  the first encounter »

part 2  —  the journey »

part 3  —  the dynamics

balancing the trio of social engagement, aesthetics, and efficiency defines the dynamics of the space. the dynamics of the space is often shaped by the type of audience you’re catering to.

discussing your audience with your designer, and how their expectations affect the dynamics of the place helps create clarity and direction for the both of you. this also creates a richer, more complete dining experience for your guests. let’s take a closer look at how different audiences affect dynamics.

is the concept set to attract younger guests? then consider a communal table arrangement (one long table, or tables clumped together) surrounded with high-top or low-top seating. this arrangement has been shown to be preferred by a younger audience.

will you have couples who require a more intimate experience? or perhaps a larger crowd that want to see and be seen? consider that some guests are ‘just here for the drinks’. if that’s part of your concept, consider small pedestal tables and moveable components that may be repositioned on the fly. this approach creates a flexible space where guests can come together to share finger foods and drinks.

bars often add a focal point to the space and enhance its energy level and dynamics. however be weary of the typical sight of a line of high stools in front of the bar. this usually becomes an open invitation for a handful of guest to monopolise the bar-tenders, and wall-off new guests. instead distribute high stools widely, and add more gaps between them. this creates a sense of openness and encourages new guests to approach the bar.

furthermore, consider whether your priority is to offer more drinks to the same guests, or whether you’d rather have a higher turnover of guests. the type of bar stools play a role in how long guests stay at the bar. increase sitting time by choosing bar stools that are wide and deep. add back support and foot rests for extended sitting times.

varying furniture styles often influence the story told by the space. consider with your designer how the layout and flow of space allows all these arrangements to co-exist in harmony. avoid the temptation to cram as much furniture as possible in order to maximise capacity; often a costly mistake unless it purposely creates the intended experience.

 


questions to guide your briefing discussion with your designer

• who is the concept intended to attract, and what type of dining experience are they here for?
• how do we deliver on the expectations of the guest we’re intending to attract?
• how does the furniture and space support and reinforce the story told through the 1st impression?
• do we have a focal point that enhances the energy of the space?
• how does the use of furniture and space create the right balance of social engagement, aesthetics, and efficiency?

part 4  —  the essentials of furniture specifications »

part 5  —  the great outdoors »

 

arrange a free consultation with us, and our furnishing specialists will work with you and your designer to uncover the full potential of your restaurant, club, coffee shop, or public space. give us a call with any question on (+961) 4 444 353 or via email at solutions@casafekra.com

 


subscribe below to receive part 4 by email. every edition also includes acad 3d models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:


3

DINING+DESIGN series (part 2) — are F&B concept developers missing out on the full potential of their dining experience?

August 7, 2014

these 5 discussions with your designer can unlock that potential

part 1  —  the first encounter »

part 2  —  the journey

designing how your guests flow through the space is as important to the dining experience as considering how your staff move about. the flow starts as soon as your guests approach your space.

the experience your guests have while moving from entering the space, then to being greeted, and finally to being taken to their table contribute to their 1st impression.

as we’ve pointed out in the 1st part of these series, all further experiences will be interpreted through the glasses of that 1st impression. consider what the journey of your guests feels like. can you introduce an element of comfort, surprise, and delight as guest move from entrance to table?

it’s worth agreeing with your designer on what this experience is, and letting that decision shape the layout and furniture choices.

for instance, part of instilling an element of comfort is sitting guests at the front. this creates a ‘busy’ vibe, and helps confirm to incoming guests that they’ve made the right choice by belonging to a larger group that made that same choice. this impression can be further enhanced by placing high ‘poser’ tables towards the front.

 


questions to guide your briefing discussion with your designer

• how does the experience of taking the guests from entrance, to greeting, to their table contribute to supporting the ideal first impression for my concept?
• can the route include glimpses of more interest and excitement further into the space?
• how does the journey comfort, surprise, and delight?
• how to does that reflect on the layout and furniture selection?

part 3  —  the dynamics »

part 4  —  the essentials of furniture specifications »

part 5  —  the great outdoors »

 

arrange a free consultation with us, and our furnishing specialists will work with you and your designer to uncover the full potential of your restaurant, club, coffee shop, or public space. give us a call with any question on (+961) 4 444 353 or via email at solutions@casafekra.com

 


subscribe below to receive part 3 by email. every edition also includes acad 3d models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:


4

DINING+DESIGN series (part 1) — are F&B concept developers missing out on the full potential of their dining experience?

July 31, 2014

these 5 discussions with your designer can unlock that potential

this dining area is designed so that everyone at the table has a clear view to the outside. the backs of the chairs are designed to be very high, enclosing the diners, and creating an intimate feel to the gathering. the light is removed from the ceiling and placed  on columns at the corners of the table to soften the quality of light on each persons face. this is the genius of frank lloyd wright, so meticulously designed at the meyer may house.

although restaurateurs often focus on the food and service, a dining experience like the one designed by frank lloyd wright starts way before the food is served, and remains alive today long after his death.

good design adds to the comfort, satiety, and overall experience. these are as much a part of the dining experience as is the food and service.

in the coming 5 series, we’ll cover 5 briefing discussions that Food & Beverage concept developers and decision makers should ideally have with their designers. these discussions contribute to getting the concept and vision across to designers. they help in having this vision coherent across all aspects of the dining experience, from the 1st impression—when guests 1st see your restaurant from afar—to the last impression.

these briefs also cover often simple but overlooked aspects for leveraging traffic and maximizing revenue. these 5 briefs contribute to designing a dining space that works, a space that moves your guests, and an emotional experience that remains memorable long after the dining experience comes to an end.

part 1  —  the first encounter

the dining experience starts before your guests enter your space. the outside of your restaurant sets expectations, influences moods, and lights up feelings. the whole dining experience is influenced by whether these expectations are met or exceeded.

this first impression becomes the lens from which your guests observe the whole experience. often, restaurateurs overlook discussing this first impression with their designer, leaving it instead to chance.

it’s may be counter-intuitive to design all the aspects inside the restaurant, without interpreting those aspects from the lens of the first experience. this is why it’s vital to explicitly discuss and agree on this first impression with your designer. it’s also worth mentioning that expectations aren’t only influenced by the facade and signage.

for instance, when people see guests dining outside, it gives an energy to the place and reminds them of the hospitality they too can expect once they walk in. similarly, few thing capture attention more than a face staring back at you. if it fits within your first impression, consider sitting guests at a front-facing bar, with a view out of a large window display.

 


questions to guide your briefing discussion with your designer

• what first impression do we create in guests approaching my restaurant from afar?
• what expectations does this first impression introduce? 
• how are we delivering on those expectations?
• what story does it tell? is it inviting? is it attracting the right guests?

part 2  —  the journey »

part 3  —  the dynamics »

part 4  —  the essentials of furniture specifications »


part 5  —  the great outdoors »

 

arrange a free consultation with us, and our furnishing specialists will work with you and your designer to uncover the full potential of your restaurant, club, coffee shop, or public space. give us a call with any question on (+961) 4 444 353 or via email at solutions@casafekra.com

 


subscribe below to receive this DINING+DESIGN series by email. every edition also includes acad 3d models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:




7

perfectionism is the enemy of the creative

June 26, 2014

by william choukeir

“do you mind even a little that you are still addicted to people-pleasing, and are still putting everyone else’s needs and […] career ahead of your creative […] life? giving all your life force away, to ‘help’ and impress.” —anne lamott

what does people-pleasing have to do with perfectionism? let’s get into that right after we establish a common understanding of perfectionism.

think of it this way, in geometry, you can imagine a perfect picture-frame with right angles, and with edges that are perfectly parallel. in real life, there are no perfectly parallel lines. trying to re-create this perfect frame in the real world would be perfectionism. It’s like chasing the horizon.

“it’s actually kind of tragic”, admits david foster, because doing anything means that you “sacrifice how gorgeous and perfect it is in your head for what it really is.”

so what does people-pleasing have to do with perfectionism? it’s common for fear to be lurking behind people-pleasing, and that more often than not leads to perfectionism. i expect a couple of you to disagree with the following statement. if you do disagree, then you’re either not aware of the fear, or the following doesn’t apply to you.

“you may not be aware that fear [usually] lurks behind perfectionism. fear is the fuel that drives your compulsion to polish things to the ultimate.” says renown psychiatrist david burns, M.D.(1) people-pleasers are usually afraid. According to burns, perfectionism protects you. “it may protect you from risking criticism, failure, or disapproval.”

one perfectionist confesses that if he didn’t submit a perfect paper, he’ll let down the professor, get a D, ruin his own academic record, and people would be angry with him, he’ll be a failure, rejected by everyone, alone and miserable.(2) people-pleasing often leads us to follow someone else’s dreams and ideas, thinking them our own.

“a lot of the time our ideas about what it would mean to live successfully are not our own. they’re sucked in from other people. […] what i want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but that we should make sure that they are our own. […] because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.” —alain de botton

imagine being a perfectionist while attempting to work on a task you’d like to like. that’s a recipe for procrastination. imagine pursuing a journey you ‘thought’ you wanted, only to find out that it’s what someone else wanted.

“perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. it will keep you cramped and insane your whole life. […] it will keep you very scared and restless your entire life if you do not awaken, and fight back, and if you’re an artist, it will destroy you.” —anne lamott

perfectionism freezes you. like ice stuck in time and space. water, on the other hand, flows. it glides around obstacles, adjusts its path, and moves forward. accept that ‘perfect’ doesn’t exist. ideas are only perfect within the safety of our minds.

“remember that sooner or later, before your work ever reaches perfection,  you will have to let it go and move on and start […] the next thing.” —neil gaiman

flow; around obstacles, critics, and those who want you to follow their idea of success. accept to sacrifice your perfect idea. put it into a shitty first draft. refine a few times. then move on to the next best thing. some will like it. some will hate it. be very clear with yourself about who it’s for. it’s only those who matter. listen. improve. then move on. anything you give to the world is better than keeping it in your head. the world deserves your gift.

if you can do that, then maybe you’ll realize that passion can replace perfectionism. risk having your ideas clash with the world enough times, and you’ll learn. you’ll grow. and so will your gifts. in your eyes it may still not be perfect. but in the eyes of your audience, it may very well be remarkable. flow, despite the fears, the self doubts, and the risk of rejection.

“perfection is like chasing the horizon. keep moving.” —neil gaiman


this post is from ‘edition 11’ of our ‘inspirations newsletter’. subscribe below to receive these regular editions by email. every edition also includes acad 3d models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:


 
resources 1 and 2: Burns, David D. (1999). Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Avon Books (Whole Care). pp. 359-363.

0

test your perfectionism in 3 minutes

June 26, 2014

by william choukeir

this test is part of a highly-regarded scientific test called the DAS, developed by the renown phycologist Dr. Arlene Weissman. read each of the following statements and notice how you feel about each ‘most of the time‘. check with yourself how much you agree or disagree with each statement. then write down for each whether you:

  • agree
  • neutral
  • disagree

do this for the 5 statements before reading the rest of this post, otherwise you’ll ruin the test for yourself. because we are all different, there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to any of these statements. here are the 5 statements:

  • if I cannot do something well, there’s little point in doing it at all
  • it is shameful for a person to display his weakness
  • a person should try to be the best at everything he undertakes
  • i should be upset if i make a mistake
  • if i don’t set the highest standards for myself, i am likely to end up a second-rate person


calculate your results and see what they mean:

  • ‘agree’ counts as  -1
  • ‘neutral’ counts as  0
  • ‘disagree’ counts as  +1
  • add up your score. the range is from -5 to +5

here’s how to interpret your score according to Dr. Arlene Weissman:

  • a negative score suggests that you demand perfectionism and believe that failures are bad. you expect to look, feel, and think superbly at all times. you rarely experience the satisfaction of achieving a goal, because as soon as you achieve a goal it’s usually less than perfect, and another one instantly replaces it. you live in unrealistic personal standards that undermine all your accomplishments. if you bring your expectations in line with reality, you will be regularly pleased and rewarded instead of frustrated.
  • a positive score suggests you have the capacity to set meaningful, flexible, and realistic standards. you get more satisfaction from experiencing the journey than from reaching the destination. you see mistakes as golden opportunities to learn. you are likely much more productive than your perfectionistic associates.

resource: Burns, David D. (1999). Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Avon Books (Whole Care). pp. 261-287


this post is from ‘edition 11’ of our ‘inspirations newsletter’. subscribe below to receive these regular editions by email. every edition also includes acad 3d models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:


 

0

why nothing on this blog works; unless you have this one habit

May 14, 2014

by william choukeir

…and not just on this blog. i’m also referring to all advice, self-help blogs, books, and anything remotely related to personal and professional development.

let me explain through a story.

jake is the co-founder of vimeo. after selling vimeo, he found himself unproductive and unhappy. throughout the next year or so, he came up with a simple system that has helped him re-find his productivity and happiness. he posted this system online and called it ‘standards‘.

like most systems out there, if you try using ‘standards’, it’ll likely not work for you; unless you have this one habit. here’s why.

‘standards’ is a simple list of things you want to do (or avoid) daily. each day, you mark with a check the items you succeeded with, and with a cross those you failed at.

jake tried it the first week and failed. he tried it the second week and failed a little less. after a few months, he was accomplishing everything on his list on most days. his life started turning around.

jake had, whether knowingly or not, acquired a valuable habit that allowed him to make his system work for him. through my two years of research and experimentation with habits, i’ve come to the realization that this one habit is the father of all habits. it’s the habit that breeds habits. and habits, in my experience, are the most efficient tool to create the life you want for yourself.

this habit isn’t perseverance. it isn’t grit either.

if you keep on doing what you’ve been doing,
you’ll keep on getting what you’ve been getting.

you need to change something, not just persevere. let’s call this habit: ‘the habit of planning for banana peels.’

you’re walking happily. suddenly you feel lifted off the ground and are falling back in slow motion. before your ass hits the ground you realize you’ve slipped on a banana peel.

an expectation of yours is unmet—banana peel.
you try some advice and fail—banana peel.
you loose a project—banana peel.
your client refuses a design—banana peel.

‘the habit of planning for banana peels’ looks like this.
every time you slip, you ask—and answer—two questions:
1• how will i respond the next time i slip?
2• what can i do differently to avoid slipping next time?

with this core habit, even if you try some advice and it doesn’t work the first time, you’ll automatically choose what’ll you do differently next time.

if you don’t already have this core habit, then even this article won’t help you acquire it; without you getting some pre-requisites. these pre-requisites can be in the form of skills, habits, or knowledge (i.e. awareness of your thoughts and emotions.)

if you eventually do succeed at building ‘the habit of planning for banana peels’, maybe then, you’ll be able to make some of the valuable advice that’s out there (or here) work for you.

now you’re aware. the rest is up to you.


this post is from ‘edition 10’ of our ‘inspirations newsletter’. subscribe below to receive these regular editions by email. every edition also includes acad 3d models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:


 

1

are creatives scaring clients away by trying to come off as experts?

April 8, 2014

by william choukeir

creatives often make a common mistake during their initial meeting with a new client. while planning for the initial meeting, they believe that the client expects them to be the expert right from start.

in an attempt to position themselves as experts in their field, creatives start dissecting the client’s business by asking questions about business model, target profile, and strategy.

this approach often intimidates the client for a few reasons. they may not be able to link the relevance of the questions to the project they’re considering hiring the creative for. often they just want to get to know the creative better and build rapport. this bombarding of questions is a rapport-killer. and the worst-case scenario is when the client realises that they don’t have answers. clients want to come across as the experts on ‘their own business’. asking clients strategic questions they haven’t considered achieves the opposite results. any one of these consequences makes the client uncomfortable, and are likely to push them to commission someone else that make them feel good about themselves.

the alternative is extremely powerful yet so deceptively simple that it comes across as too simplistic. i worry that most of those reading this will skim over it and never try to implement it; not even once. having said that, and although it’s simple enough, it’s a strategic approach that takes patience and humility.

for instance, casafekra® clients understand that while they are the experts on their own business, the casafekra® team is the expert on hospitality furnishing solutions; and both parties mutually respect this distinction. trying to understand the business goals of the client are important but creatives shouldn’t position themselves as the experts on the business of their potential client.

during the initial meeting, instead of bombarding the client with strategic questions that only place the creative in good light, one can opt to fall in love with the client. creatives should build rapport, place themselves in the shoes of the client, understand why the client is having this meeting with them, what he hopes to get out of it, what’s the scope of the project, and what outcome would be considered a success?

the sole purpose of the meeting then becomes to establish mutual trust with the client—not strategically analyse the client’s business. after that, if and only if, the creatives feel that they’re the best person for the job, then they’d be doing the client a disfavor if they let him hire someone else. once the project is on the way, then creatives can allow their expertise to shine through, and start probing strategically in the best interest of their client; after all, it’s their moral obligation to only do what’s in the best interest of their client.

try it just once with your next potential client and i guarantee you’ll see results, and you’ll have a healthier and longer relationship with that client. the only regret you’ll have is that you didn’t read this sooner.


this post is from ‘edition 09’ of our ‘inspirations newsletter’. subscribe below to receive these regular editions by email. every edition also includes ACAD 3D models of chairs, stools, tables, and sofas, exclusive to our subscribers. subscribe below:




 

1
-->