Restaurant design – McDonalds introduces unpopular graffiti tag design to newly-refurbished Brixton branch

4th March 2016

When restaurant designs go bad: A recent roll out of a new ‘urban’ themed McDonalds restaurant design across many outlets in the UK has been criticised yet again this week after it was introduced as part of a refurbishment program at one of their larger fast food outlets in Brixton, South London.

Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash

Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash

According to a report in the Independent, locals are not impressed, describing it as a “a poorly thought through, corporate attempt at being down with the kids…trying too hard to be urban cool.”

What locals don’t seem to realise is that the design wasn’t created just for their store, it is part of an identikit design, which has been poorly received throughout the UK – and not just in deprived urban areas. However, in an area were graffiti and vandalism have caused problems for retailers and homeowners alike for decades, this celebration of the scribbly art form has not been well received at all – with one local critic describing it as a ‘truly offensive idea’ in an area where street art is generally considered as a ‘blight’ of on the local landscape.

One spokesperson for a local youth support project expressed his concerns about the impact of the design, which appears to be disrespecting Brixton’s reputation: “This is just another misguided attempt by suits to identify with ‘edgy’ Brixton. They should have opened up another outlet in Brixton Village and used Laura Ashley lampshades for all the middle class poseurs around them.”

Despite being generally panned, one local resident was prepared to look on the bright side, suggesting to the Independent that: “Hopefully this is another step towards graffiti being really dated and corporate and thus not worth doing…”

Of course, the street artists disagree with general consensus– describing how murals have been used to brighten up some of the retail shutters and run down local areas as part of a campaign against a new development – and McDonalds themselves are clearly unrepentant:

“The exciting and fresh designs used in Brixton are in use across the UK and in other markets and have received a great reception. With self-order kiosks and free-to-use tablets, the refreshed restaurant has digital innovation at its heart and provides customers with more choice in how they order and pay. We look forward to hearing what local residents think of their new McDonald’s.”

So, what do you think of the design? The same urban-themed McDonalds interior has been received in comparable circumstances throughout the UK, where – in some instances – the opposite reasons are given for disliking the design: i.e. not that it is ‘mocking the area’ but that it isn’t posh enough! For example a similar restaurant interior unveiled in Redhill, Surrey last year was described by locals as ‘too ghetto’ and complaints for every other version of the new retail interior have been received from Leicester and Northampton right down to Brighton.

But is street art old hat now? Riding on the success of Dismaland, whilst Banksy continues to intrigue and delight the crowds perhaps consumers should accept that it is going to be infiltrating our culture for a while longer – and that this particular restaurant design wasn’t created especially for Brixton – it has been broadly panned throughout the UK!