The hospitality design trend making everyone feel at home | Kanebridge News
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The hospitality design trend making everyone feel at home

Restaurant, hotel and bar design is increasingly looking to residential interiors for inspiration

By Robyn Willis
Fri, Apr 7, 2023 8:00amGrey Clock 6 min

There’s not many part of our lives that have been left untouched by the pandemic. But while many aspects, like the lockdowns designed to manage exposure to COVID have been hard to live with, there have been some positive changes too. Notably, as offices closed and everyone started working from home, the traditional division between the two spheres started to break down. And while hospitality services in city centres saw patronage slow and even disappear, suburban cafes, bars and restaurants grew in popularity as customers looked to stay close to home and support local business. 

For more stories like this, pick up the latest issue of Kanebridge Quarterly here.

Creative director of leading interior design firm YSG Studio, Yasmine Saleh Ghoniem, says although hospitality businesses undeniably suffered during the pandemic, it has reframed the way many patrons enjoy and use their local restaurants, bars and cafes.

“Since lockdowns ended, I’m noticing Sydneysiders are following this notion of loyalty to their ’hood which, until now, was more a Melbourne thing,” she says. “I suppose it’s evolved from ordering in from your local to support it during tough times. 

“Hospo owners are increasingly offering a range of experiences to encourage locals in particular to frequent their venue, treating it like it’s an extension of their home.”

Creative director of leading interior design firm YSG, Yasmine Saleh Ghoniem

Borrowing from residential design to inform restaurant and bar design was already in evidence prior to the ‘work from home’ phenomenon, but COVID accelerated the design trend so that the lines have become increasingly blurred.

Bars with comfortable, or careworn, sofas and cafes with mismatched lounge chairs,  well-padded banquettes and layered textures have become the go-to options for designers.

Ghoniem says clients are now regularly cherry picking from both sides of the fence to create sophistication at home or warm and inviting spaces in hospitality environments to offer a level of subtlety and individuality. Bedroom suites resemble hotel rooms and dining spaces echo restaurant and cafe style. Even the home kitchen has not been spared.

“Let’s not forget the home bar,” Ghoniem says. “Lockdowns are well and truly over, but the habit of making a cocktail after work is here to stay. We’re incorporating them in dining rooms and kitchens with gorgeous stone selections and integrated downlights to really show off the merch as they’ve become the social magnets of the home.”

The result is greater attention is being paid to materiality, from the rough texture of brick, to the reflective surfaces of Venetian plaster and Pandamo-finished micro cement, which Ghoniem used on a recent project with Four Pillars Laboratory in Surry Hills.

A mix of materials creates a genuinely inviting space at Four Pillars Laboratory, design by YSG Studio

A good lighting design is key to tying the whole look together, as well as complying with the necessary OH&S requirements.

“Interestingly, the role (of lighting) in both resi and hospo spaces is becoming more aligned,” she says. “We’re all after less bright and more introspective lighting. We’re even staging home kitchens now with key focuses on beautiful stone surfaces or joinery details. 

“I’m all up for immortalising moods and lighting plays a key role in stirring them so that spaces never feel brand new and instead seem layered by experiences – the patinas of time.”

Celebrated UK designer Tom Dixon visited Australia and New Zealand in March to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his design studio. He has been closely observing changes in the way we live, work and dine out for more than a decade, as tech advances allowed us to work remotely and, in turn, shaped what we expected from public and private interior spaces. 

“I noticed the evolution 12 or 13 years ago at Shoreditch House in London, which was for daytime networking and night time entertaining, so we did a design which was always intended to be adaptable,” he says. “As wireless communication became more common, people started taking club memberships (there) to create a basis for their office because they preferred to work in a group setting rather than be in an office. It’s somewhere they could get good service, decent food and where they could bleed work into play.”

UK designer Tom Dixon says the lines between home an office have blurred

Dixon designed the lobby and Market Hall of Sydney’s Quay Quarter Tower, which last year was named World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival. He says the greatest design differences between residential and hospitality design are the number of ‘clients’ to consider.

“It was quite challenging to predict with Quay Quarter Tower, mainly because they didn’t know who the tenants would be to begin with,” he says. “They didn’t know the level of security that would be required so we were always trying to make it a bit flexible and neutral enough to accommodate a range of people. It’s always complicated with those public/private interactions but it was never going to be a fixed use, static design.”

Tom Dixon collaborated with top chef Assaf Granit to create the Coal Office Restaurant, which offers an intimate dining experience

Now, he says, all interior spaces, whether they are homes, restaurants, hotels or offices are required to provide greater flexibility, both in terms of functionality, as well as design.

“It doesn’t matter whether it is work, hotels or home environments, everybody is being forced to use spaces in multiple ways than before COVID,” Dixon says. “Home is interesting because it became partly school, partly office during the day, so it had to become a lot more adaptable. 

“COVID has put a lot of pressure on home and removed pressure from the office, so that it is more adaptable and less formal and there’s less of a division of space.”

Directors of award-winning design and architecture studio Luchetti Krelle, Rachel Luchetti and Stuart Krelle chose early on to focus their practice on hospitality design to stretch their creativity, but in recent years there’s been increasing interest from an unexpected quarter.

“We didn’t do a lot of residential because too many of our clients wanted to play it safe and consider (their property’s) resale value,” Luchetti. “Under those circumstances, you can’t put your personality into the space or enjoy that aspect of going all out. But now that we focus on hospitality, we get so many enquiries from people who have been to a restaurant we have designed asking if we will work on their house. 

“People want to go out on a limb in residential design as well.”

Stuart Krelle and Rachel Luchetti moved into hospitality design to avoid playing it safe

The pair are responsible for a number of interior design fit-outs in NSW and Victoria, including Tattersalls Armidale, Ovolo Hotel South Yarra, Bathers Pavilion Restaurant at Balmoral,  Matinee cafe in Marrickville and Redbird Restaurant in inner city Redfern.

Luchetti also points to COVID for the growing numbers of homeowners looking to replicate the moody, layered looks of restaurants, bars and cafes as the opportunities to go out diminished and everyone focused on their residential spaces. 

“You want that sense of escape and, for a lot of people, that was where the residential boom to make your home a sanctuary came from,” she says. “People started looking for bigger places and getting that work/life balance, entertaining at home became big again.”

Designed by Luchetti Krelle, The Ovolo at South Yarra is a deep dive into colour, pattern and carefully crafted lighting

Private spaces within a wider residential setting became a priority with everyone at home together for longer periods of time. And with travel on hold, demand increased for hotel-like experiences at home.

“There’s two schools of thought with hotel design,” Luchetti says. “One of them is that you want it to be more like a home and the other is that it should be completely like nothing you have at home.

“People are looking for that calm, clutter free environment that you can’t achieve at home.” 



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At the World Plogging Championship, contestants have lugged in tires, TVs and at least one Neapolitan coffee maker

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GENOA, Italy—Renato Zanelli crossed the finish line with a rusty iron hanging from his neck while pulling 140 pounds of trash on an improvised sled fashioned from a slab of plastic waste.

Zanelli, a retired IT specialist, flashed a tired smile, but he suspected his garbage haul wouldn’t be enough to defend his title as world champion of plogging—a sport that combines running with trash collecting.

A rival had just finished the race with a chair around his neck and dragging three tires, a television and four sacks of trash. Another crossed the line with muscles bulging, towing a large refrigerator. But the strongest challenger was Manuel Jesus Ortega Garcia, a Spanish plumber who arrived at the finish pulling a fridge, a dishwasher, a propane gas tank, a fire extinguisher and a host of other odds and ends.

“The competition is intense this year,” said Zanelli. Now 71, he used his fitness and knack for finding trash to compete against athletes half his age. “I’m here to help the environment, but I also want to win.”

Italy, a land of beauty, is also a land of uncollected trash. The country struggles with chronic littering, inefficient garbage collection in many cities, and illegal dumping in the countryside of everything from washing machines to construction waste. Rome has become an emblem of Italy’s inability to fix its trash problem.

So it was fitting that at the recent World Plogging Championship more than 70 athletes from 16 countries tested their talents in this northern Italian city. During the six hours of the race, contestants collect points by racking up miles and vertical distance, and by carrying as much trash across the finish line as they can. Trash gets scored based on its weight and environmental impact. Batteries and electronic equipment earn the most points.

A mobile app ensures runners stay within the race’s permitted area, approximately 12 square miles. Athletes have to pass through checkpoints in the rugged, hilly park. They are issued gloves and four plastic bags to fill with garbage, and are also allowed to carry up to three bulky finds, such as tires or TVs.

Genoa, a gritty industrial port city in the country’s mountainous northwest, has a trash problem that gets worse the further one gets away from its relatively clean historic core. The park that hosted the plogging championship has long been plagued by garbage big and small.

“It’s ironic to have the World Plogging Championship in a country that’s not always as clean as it could be. But maybe it will help bring awareness and things will improve,” said Francesco Carcioffo, chief executive of Acea Pinerolese Industriale, an energy and recycling company that’s been involved in sponsoring and organizing the race since its first edition in 2021. All three world championships so far have been held in Italy.

Events that combine running and trash-collecting go back to at least 2010. The sport gained traction about seven years ago when a Swede, Erik Ahlström, coined the name plogging, a mashup of plocka upp, Swedish for “pick up,” and jogging.

“If you don’t have a catchy name you might as well not exist,” said Roberto Cavallo, an Italian environmental consultant and longtime plogger, who is on the world championship organizing committee together with Ahlström.

Saturday’s event brought together a mix of wiry trail runners and environmental activists, some of whom looked less like elite athletes.

“We like plogging because it makes us feel a little less guilty about the way things are going with the environment,” said Elena Canuto, 29, as she warmed up before the start. She came in first in the women’s ranking two years ago. “This year I’m taking it a bit easier because I’m three months pregnant.”

Around two-thirds of the contestants were Italians. The rest came from other European countries, as well as Japan, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Algeria, Ghana and Senegal.

“I hope to win so people in Senegal get enthusiastic about plogging,” said Issa Ba, a 30-year-old Senegalese-born factory worker who has lived in Italy for eight years.

“Three, two, one, go,” Cavallo shouted over a loudspeaker, and the athletes sprinted off in different directions. Some stopped 20 yards from the starting line to collect their first trash. Others took off to be the first to exploit richer pickings on wooded hilltops, where batteries and home appliances lay waiting.

As the hours went by, the athletes crisscrossed trails and roads, their bags became heavier. They tagged their bulky items and left them at roadsides for later collection. Contestants gathered at refreshment points, discussing what they had found as they fueled up on cookies and juice. Some contestants had brought their own reusable cups.

With 30 minutes left in the race, athletes were gathering so much trash that the organisers decided to tweak the rules: in addition to their four plastic bags, contestants could carry six bulky objects over the finish line rather than three.

“I know it’s like changing the rules halfway through a game of Monopoly, but I know I can rely on your comprehension,” Cavallo announced over the PA as the athletes braced for their final push to the finish line.

The rule change meant some contestants could almost double the weight of their trash, but others smelled a rat.

“That’s fantastic that people found so much stuff, but it’s not really fair to change the rules at the last minute,” said Paul Waye, a Dutch plogging evangelist who had passed up on some bulky trash because of the three-item rule.

Senegal will have to wait at least a year to have a plogging champion. Two hours after the end of Saturday’s race, Ba still hadn’t arrived at the finish line.

“My phone ran out of battery and I got lost,” Ba said later at the awards ceremony. “I’ll be back next year, but with a better phone.”

The race went better for Canuto. She used an abandoned shopping cart to wheel in her loot. It included a baby stroller, which the mother-to-be took as a good omen. Her total haul weighed a relatively modest 100 pounds, but was heavy on electronic equipment, which was enough for her to score her second triumph.

“I don’t know if I’ll be back next year to defend my title. The baby will be six or seven months old,” she said.

In the men’s ranking, Ortega, the Spanish plumber, brought in 310 pounds of waste, racked up more than 16 miles and climbed 7,300 feet to run away with the title.

Zanelli, the defending champion, didn’t make it onto the podium. He said he would take solace from the nearly new Neapolitan coffee maker he found during the first championship two years ago. “I’ll always have my victory and the coffee maker, which I polished and now display in my home,” he said.

Contestants collected more than 6,600 pounds of trash. The haul included fridges, bikes, dozens of tires, baby seats, mattresses, lead pipes, stoves, chairs, TVs, 1980s-era boomboxes with cassettes still inside, motorcycle helmets, electric fans, traffic cones, air rifles, a toilet and a soccer goal.

“This park hasn’t been this clean since the 15 century,” said Genoa’s ambassador for sport, Roberto Giordano.


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