The hospitality design trend making everyone feel at home
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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.” 



This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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The surprising passions paying off for investors

The Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index reveals investments of passion are paying strong dividends, in some areas at least

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Apr 9, 2024 4 min

Art was the investment of passion that gained the most in value in 2023, according to Knight Frank’s Luxury Investment Index (KFLII). This is the second consecutive year that art has risen the most among the 10 popular investments tracked by the index, up 11 percent in 2023 and 29 percent in 2022. Art was followed by 8 percent growth in jewellery, 5 percent growth in watches, 4 percent growth in coins and 2 percent growth in coloured diamonds last year.

The weakest performers were rare whisky bottles, which lost nine percent of their value, classic cars down six percent and designer handbags down four percent. Luxury collectables are typically held by ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) who have a net worth of US$30 million or more. Knight Frank research shows 20 percent of UHNWI investment asset portfolios are allocated to collectables.

In 2023, the KFLII fell for only the second time, with prices down 1 percent on average.

Despite record-breaking individual sales in 2023, a surge in financial market returns contributed to a shift in allocations impacting on luxury asset value,” the report said. “… our assessment reveals a need for an ever more discerning approach from investors, with significant volatility by sub-market.

Sebastian Duthy of AMR said the 2023 art auction year began with notable sales including a record price for a Bronzino piece. But confidence waned as the year went on.

“It was telling that in May, Sotheby’s inserted one of its top Old Master lots – a Rubens’ portrait – into a 20th Century Modern evening sale. But by then, it was clear that the confidence among sellers, set by the previous year’s record-busting figures, was ebbing away. In the same month, modern and contemporary works from the collection of the late financier Gerald Fineberg sold well below pre-auction estimates.”

The value of ultra contemporary or red-chip’ art contracted the most in 2023.

“Works by a growing group of artists born after 1980 have been heavily promoted by mega galleries and auction houses in recent years. With freshly painted works in excess of £100,000 almost doubling in 2022, it was little surprise that this sector was one of the biggest casualties last year. There is a risk there are now simply too many fresh paint artists with none really standing out.”

In the jewellery market, Mr Duthy noted that demand was strongest for coloured gemstones of exceptional quality, iconic signed period jewels, single-owner collections, and items with historic provenance in 2023. In the watches market, Mr Duthy said collectors chased the most iconic and rare timepieces.

A Rolex John Player Special broke the model record when it sold for £2 million at Sotheby’s in May, double the price for a similar example sold at Phillips in 2021,” he said.

Although whisky was the worst-performing collectable in 2023, it has delivered the highest return on investment among the 10 items tracked by the index over the past decade, up 280 percent. Andy Simpson of Simpson Reserved, said 2023 was a challenging year but the best of the best bottles gained 20 percent in value. In my opinion some bottles that lost significant value in 2023 will return through the next two years as they are simply so scarce and, right now at least, so undervalued, Mr Simpson said.

Whisky was the worst performing collectable in 2023 but it had highest return on investment over a 10-year period. Image: Shutterstock

Classic car expert Dietrich Hatlapa said the 6 percent fall in collectable vehicle values in 2023 followed a 22 percent surge in 2022. The strong performance of other investment classes such as equities may have dampened collectors’ appetites it’s a very small market so it only takes a minor change in portfolio allocations to have an effect, and there has also probably been a degree of profit taking. However, we have seen some marques like BMW (up 9 percent in value) and Lamborghini (up 18 percent), which appeal to a younger breed of collector, buck the trend in 2023.”

Mr Duthy said a dip in the share price of the top luxury handbag brands last Autumn appeared to spook investors. Last autumn it was possible to pick up an Hermès white Niloticus Himalaya Birkin in good condition for under £50,000. The recent slide reflects a general correction at the upper end that’s been underway for some time rather than changing attitudes to the harvesting of exotic skins.

According to Knight Frank’s Attitudes Survey, the top five investments of passion among Australian UHNWIs are classic cars, art and wine. Fine wine values gained just 1 percent in 2023 as the market continued its correction, said Nick Martin of Wine Owners. “It’s been a hell of a long run, so I’m not that surprised. Some wines from very small producers that had enjoyed the most exuberant growth have seen the biggest drops. It had got a bit silly, £50 bottles had shot up to £200 or £300.”

Favourite investments of passion: Australia vs Global

1. Classic cars (61 percent of Australian UHNWIs vs 38 percent of global UHNWIs)
2. Art (58 percent vs 48 percent)
3. Wine (48 percent vs 35 percent)
4. Watches (42 percent vs 42 percent)
5. Jewellery (18 percent vs 28 percent)

Best returns among investments of passion (10 years)

1. Whisky 280 percent
2. Wine 146 percent
3. Watches 138 percent
4. Art 105 percent
5. Cars 82 percent

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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