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  • Writer's pictureHastings Creative

Diner Design

Although my main passion is to design nightclubs, I really don't want to limit myself. There is an entire world of hospitality out there and I am eager to spread good design in every type of project imaginable. While I was brainstorming, I really pushed myself to think of not only "what other type of projects are out there", but which of those projects instill the same kind of feelings that nightclubs do/should. That feeling of fun, flashy excitement and that's when I thought about the American Diner.


Photo: Clare Louise Jackson/Shutterstock


The more I thought about it, the more excited I became by the idea of getting to work on designing a diner. The comparisons between the spaces I wanted to create were endless. Colorful lights, mixed materials, durable yet flashy surfaces. It gives you plenty of opportunities to get creative and practice the most important rule of design; Form follows function.


Photo: Frank Marshall and published in the New Jersey Monthly, May 2018.


The original diner was created in 1872 by a man named Water Scott in Providence, Rhode Island. It was a horse pulled wagon that he served sandwiches, coffee and pies to workers as the got off their shifts late at night. Around 1900 a man named T.H. Buckley started making lunch cars and is remembered as being the inventor of the diner and started the Worchester Lunch Car Company which started manufacturing prefab diners.



Photo: Rosebud Diner

It was around 1930 when the American Diner as we know it grew into its signature style. Thankfully this was also around the time Art Deco was in high fashion. It is the combination of the two that give us the silver bullet streamline design we all know and love. Originally diners were long and streamlined because they were pulled around to various locations but this also stopped around the time of the 1930s. Although they remained that shape because it appeared futuristic and with the times. The streamline shape also represented speed and the efficiency of machinery.


Buckhead Diner


Around 1950 diners started using Formica countertops, porcelain tiles, leather booths, metal paneling, glass block and terrazzo flooring. These are all durable materials which I think if used right could be incorporated in throughout may different design applications. It is also around this time that Neon lights were included inside and out which were vital in attracting late-night workers and drawing in customers.



Originally due to the long streamline shape, there were only stools at the counter but in an attempt to be more appealing to women and families booth became a permanent staple in all diner design.


Winkler Diner in Miami - Photo provided by restaurant


As you can now see, there are definitely some major design elements that should be utilized throughout modern projects and I seriously cannot wait to try them out myself.

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