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Top ten Australian interior trends


Leading interior designer Paul Kelly shares his insight into emerging fit-out trends to look for in venues. 


Black by Ezard at The Star

1. There is an emerging trend that is gravitating towards a European/Scandinavian look with industrial influences. We are moving away from the grungy/eclectic look of exposed walls and re-cycled materials. It is now about a minimal, clean and slightly industrial look.

2. The use of real materials and texture is very strong in hospitality interiors right now and will continue to stay strong. It’s about using materials that people know and can relate to. So concrete, stone, and chunky timbers are in. eg. We used a lot of these materials at the Northbourne Bar & Grill in Canberra, and created a textural feel to the space that people will be able to familiarise themselves with.

3. The current trend of having a strong theme behind a venue will continue to be popular. Whether it’s a lounge concept, a cuisine, a particular era (anywhere from 1880’s style to 1930’s style is still very strong) or other concept, heavy theming will continue. There is no consistent trend across all bars and restaurants, it’s about having your own unique concept to make you stand out from the crowd and give the venue a distinctive atmosphere.


Dining room banquettes at The Bourbon

4. Fireplaces are an emerging trend. Every one of our recent venues has a fireplace in it. This is because we are moving towards dynamic interiors, which bring natural references from the outdoors, inside. So fireplaces and even planting inside is a part of this trend. The fireplaces we have included in The Oaks hotel imbue the room with warmth and give it a homely, comfortable feel like a lounge room at home. 


Mad Cow at Ivy

5. Hotspots are a new trend in lighting. This refers to having specific, localised lighting (i.e. floor based lamps), which creates darker areas and lighter areas within a space. This gives a venue great contrast in the space and also relates to flexibility in a venue as it provides intimate areas and casual areas. The current trend of filament globe interiors may continue for another 9-12 months and then it will become more about indirect lighting.

6. Showcase kitchens are also going to be a big trend. Consumers like the visible kitchen where they can see the Chefs working and their food being prepared, it really adds to the dining experience and gives life to the room. Some restaurants have started to utilise this, but we are definitely going to be seeing more of it in the future. 


Sokyo at The Star

7. Use of colour in interiors is changing, and colour is going to make a massive comeback. So far, venues have been utilising colour in furniture and accessories but the emerging trend is whole interiors become coloured and having neutral furniture. Colour tones from the 30s and 40s will be coming through, such as greys, burgundy, green, blues, and creams.  Eg. The Bourbon utilised teal colours in the furniture, which is an example of the previous trend. Whereas The Ivanhoe in Manly is about punchy navy blue and orange tones throughout.

8. There will continue to be a connection to heritage concepts and historical references in design. Art deco is popular, such as metal glazing and the grid pattern). The use of sharp edged interiors (eg. square mirrors and ceilings, and hard sharp lines) will continue. Also balustrading is classical and ceiling treatment such as cornicing is very strong. This is good for venues that have multiple markets as it makes the older market more comfortable but doesn’t alienate the younger crowd. eg. The Oaks was designed with historical references, and was heavily influenced by art deco styling.


The Ivanhoe in Manly

9. There is an emerging trend of integrating multiple materials to layer the space, and the materials we are using are all natural. People used to use around 12 materials in a venue and now we’re using 30 or 40. This layering of materials creates an original space, which reflects the innovation in food these days. eg. At Black by Ezard we used a lot of different materials, layer upon layer, to create a style that reflected the food and defined different spaces in the venue.

10. The main trend in hospitality design currently is designing for the middle market. There has been a recent drop off in catering to the high-end market and it’s now about making customers feel comfortable in an accessible space that can be used for a plethora of different occasions. This means interiors are becoming more casual, spaces are being designed for multiple uses and it is the customer that chooses how they use the space i.e. they might be dining, drinking, in a big group, or on an intimate date etc. eg. Mad Cow has been transformed from being a dedicated steakhouse that people went to for that dining experience, to Palings, where people can go to dine or just drink, and is great for dates or big groups.

About Paul Kelly 

Paul Kelly is an accomplished designer who has spent the last 15 years working within the industry. After studying for five years and obtaining both a Bachelor and Graduate Diploma in Landscape Architecture, Paul moved into retail design, where he became renowned for creating ‘cool’ concepts such as in-store live DJs.

Paul and his team are responsible for some of Sydney’s most recognisable venues in recent years, including Sokyo, Black by Ezard, Ivanhoe Manly, The Oaks and The Bourbon. His other multi-award winning ventures include The White Hart, Macquarie Hotel, Globe Hotel, Tongue & Groove in Canberra and Cargo Bar in Hobart.