Thexton Smith opens Gippsland Studio

Thexton Smith is excited to announce we are broadening our reach into regional Victoria with a new satellite architecture and interiors studio in Sale, Gippsland. This central spot is the perfect location for the growing regional centres of Sale, Traralgon and Bairnsdale, and will allow us to service the entire Gippsland region.

The new Sale Studio will be closely supported by and connected to the Melbourne Studio in Collingwood. Our vision for the Sale Studio is to grow into a multi-disciplinary studio catering to the unique needs of our Gippsland clients, while providing a core of healthcare, residential and commercial architectural services.

Thexton Smith will be the only architecture firm with a significant presence east of Traralgon that has commercial capability for projects in the $20-100m range. Thexton Smith is also on the Construction Supplier Register up to $50m, enabling us to work on Victorian Government projects.

Our expansion means we can deliver the high-quality architectural services our clients love, to even more of our beautiful state.

If you’d like to know more about the architecture and design services we offer in the Gippsland area, get in touch on [email protected]

Sale House - Thexton Smith Gippsland

Mt Eliza Medial Centre

During last year’s Covid-19 lockdown Thexton Smith completed a small medical centre/mental health consulting suite conversion in Mornington. We’re happy to share a few pictures of the lovely space – light, bright, warm and welcoming!

How Healthcare Can Provide Immunity in a Downturn

As the economy spins due to Covid-19, there’s one sector that remains future-proof.

The health sector makes up more than 10 per cent of Australia’s GDP and is bolstered by government funding, meaning strong market support and stability through economic ups and downs.

Household spending shows health and wellbeing to be a growing priority for Australians.


View full article published on The Urban Developer

What are the growth opportunities in aged care?

The proportion of the Australian population aged 65 and is expected to grow even more rapidly between now and 2028,
 as more baby boomers reach the age of 65. Their accommodation requirements mean serious opportunities for architectural practices looking to work in this sector.

This article originally appeared in AR160 – available online and digitally through Zinio.

View full article published in the Australian Design Review

The basics of good Hospitality Design

A successful restaurant or café lives or dies by its food offering, value and service, not by its aesthetic alone. A new hashtag-worthy design may attract the Instagram crowd in the short term, but for longevity it is the regular clientele who keep going back for the food that make a successful business.

Clever and very often simple design can enhance the business proposition. So much is common sense it is surprising how many restaurants and cafes get it so wrong.



  • Kerb appeal – the restaurant needs to look great from the street, making you want to go in – if it is a quiet night an empty cavernous space has no appeal. Alternatively a discreet, mysterious entry can build anticipation and the initial sensory experience.
  • Arrival and being greeted is the start of the experience, so this should be very obvious and placed so you are not crowding someone’s table.
  • The overall layout should be easily understood, so you can find your way to the toilets without getting lost. No one wants to dine next to a toilet door so these should be tucked away yet easily accessible.



  • Romantic dinners versus office parties can be tricky. Ideally the space can accommodate intimate groups – think booth seating – as well as larger parties, with tables that can be pushed together and even banquette seating that can accommodate varying numbers.
  • Ideally a separate private dining room can cater for special occasions and to maximise flexibility the room can be opened up at other times for general dining. The ability to cater for a variety of functions is the lifeblood of many restaurants so avoiding too much built-in seating or furniture maximises floor space and flexibility.



  • These days many people turn to their phones to pass the time until their meals arrive. People-watching can also be entertaining, but a restaurant can provide its own theatre and action via a lively kitchen with food being plated for the pass, and this can also give an appreciation for the effort that goes into the preparation. (As long as the kitchen looks great and the view is not of someone washing greasy dishes.) This can be extended by bar-type seating directly onto the kitchen so there can be contact between the chefs and the diner.
  • The bar and drinks preparation, especially cocktails, can also provide a theatrical element as well as a strong visual, and, like with the kitchen, dining at the bar is a great concept for modern casual dining.
  • Fixed elements can also enhance the theatre – a dramatic wine wall, bar bottle display, artworks and a view.



  • So important to the dining experience is good mood lighting. I dined in a very salubrious Hong Kong restaurant so dimly lit that the waiters handed out torches to read the menu. Getting the balance between well-lit tables and a warm ambience is key. Too brightly lit will be uncomfortable for everyone.



  • Like lighting, noise and acoustic treatment is paramount. The move in recent years towards all hard surfaces and very limited upholstered elements has created a lot of very noisy cafes and restaurants. No one wants to dine in library hush but equally you want to be able to hear the waiter clearly and hold a discreet conversation. There are myriad options to help minimise this – ceiling panels, upholstered walls, soft furnishings, carpet where appropriate, acoustic light fittings, window treatment and subtle background music.



  • The semi-industrial meets Scandinavian palette of brickwork, black steel, concrete floors and blonde timber that started in the modern coffee shop has largely had its day. New trends in interior design are moving towards a more decorative, plush and eclectic look. Richer colour palettes and greater comfort in furniture and upholstery with a more classic look. Pretty much anything goes, but above all the décor should complement the food on offer and should extend to staff dress and inventory.


  • In these times of COVID-19 and social distancing the hospitality world is going to take time to find a new normal. As restaurants and bars gradually reopen, packed dining areas will be a thing of the past and the expansion of external dining will be the initial push. This has its own challenges – limiting exposure to wind and rain, excessive cold or heat, and limiting time for birds to take over the tables! Furniture will need to be robust and easy to clean quickly, and the emphasis will be on great table service.
  • Modern radiant heating panels are great on cooler days below an awning, and there is nothing better than eating or drinking outside on a fine evening.

Considering the above elements will go a long way to ensure any hospitality venue – be it a restaurant, bar or café – will be a memorable experience for patrons, and a place they return to again and again. Although, of course, choosing a chef and menu will also be critical – I’ll leave that part to the culinary experts.

Adrian Downes is Director of Interiors at Thexton Smith Architecture and Interiors. With 30 plus years of experience designing incredible hospitality, hotel and commercial spaces, Adrian has a wealth of expertise to share with his clients.

Thinking about a restaurant remodel or starting a new venture? Give the team at Thexton Smith a call or email for a free, no obligation chat about your ideas, and let’s see if we can help you get started. We’re approachable, knowledgeable and passionate about what we do.

The basics of good Hotel Design

Hotels have been evolving over the past few years. No longer are they monoliths of identical rooms with a glittery reception area and a vast overpriced restaurant; they must now appeal to a broader, more savvy demographic in terms of the overall offering and flexibility.

Large hotels will always exist, but most hotel groups are diversifying their portfolio into sub-brands, each with their own identity, appealing to a slightly different market. This is an attempt to compete with some of the smaller boutique brands who are redefining the hotel space.

Customer service and staffing is probably the most important element in any successful hotel. In the COVID-normal era direct contact may be minimised and even greater emphasis placed on wellness and other personal sensory engagement, as now more than ever travellers seek to unwind and relax.


Not just a place to check in or wait for a taxi, the lobby now serves as a workplace for both guests and visitors, and a living area for residents who don’t just want to sit in their rooms. A blended retail experience such as a florist might soften the entry experience and add colour and life.

Ideal offerings:

  • Fast, free Wi-Fi and the ability to charge phones etc. throughout.
  • Ease of check in – self check in, flexible check in/out times, smartphones to replace keycards.
  • A variety of intimate and private seating areas, lounge areas, a fireplace to add to the ambience. A place to socialise, close to the bar and a ‘grab and go’ style offering.
  • Eclectic, luxurious but comfortable.
  • Separate private rooms for business meetings.


Flexible dining options are key to cater for a wider variety of needs.

  • Business travellers or those in a hurry, waiting or just passing through would be catered to by a ‘grab and go’ concept – a café type offer near the entry with great coffee, pastries and packaged items for a breakfast or lunch on the run.
  • ‘Old School Buffet’ – the restaurant that becomes a breakfast buffet may still have a place, particularly with leisure or weekend travellers, but should be functional at all times rather than taking up valuable real estate.
  • The theatre of food – a simple grille bistro offering with visible kitchen activity adds to the life of the dining area.
  • Destination restaurant – fine dining options have often failed within a hotel context but a great restaurant accessed by its own entrance can appeal to all rather than just the hotel guests.
  • The Hotel bar – somewhere to unwind, order a snack in a relaxed atmosphere and be a destination in its own right. Boutique hotels may even offer an honour system with a limited range of wines, bottled items and simple finger snacks.



The first thing most travellers do on entering their hotel room? Check out the view!

Some of my favourite hotels have rooms that are small, but so well designed and fitted out that they are elevated far above a larger run-of-the-mill hotel room. Luxury and quality aren’t just about space, but things that delight the senses, such as a spacious shower with great water pressure and variable heads, a divinely comfortable bed and premium quality bedding.

Of course it’s not possible for every room to have a stunning view – someone will nearly always be looking at the plant deck or carpark. These rooms should have extra attention paid to their layout and interior, so that they remain memorable for all the right reasons.

Mini bars are generally overpriced and disappointing. Free bottled water (filtered and bottled in house ideally) and sustainable products are part of the new Hotel philosophy. Personally I like being able to make a cup of tea in the room so a kettle, cups and a designated space are important.

  • Technology is great – fast Wi-Fi, being able to easily stream devices through a high-quality TV, and easy access to GPOs for charging etc., but you don’t want to have to read a manual to switch off the lights. Basic functionality should be obvious and simple. In one hotel I thought the previous guest had left their phone behind, not having been told this was the device to operate the lighting and room systems.
  • Similarly air conditioning/heating controls should be easy to operate and the units themselves as quiet as possible. The ability to open a window is even better.
  • Built-in joinery – how often do built-in drawers get used? How often do most travellers fully unpack? A decent space to leave an opened suitcase, some open shelves to tuck shoes and space to hang items is often all that is required, rather than a massive closed-off robe. A cleverly designed cupboard for an ironing board and iron, additional bedding and sundries makes sense.
  • The en-suite – again, size isn’t everything – more important are bathroom fittings that are super clean, high quality and work well. A bath should feel spa-like and luxurious. Ideally the shower should have a drench rain head and a hand shower (which also makes cleaning easier). The layout should allow for towels being within easy reach and there should be good space on or nearby the basin to lay out personal toiletries and make up etc. Really important is having balanced and good lighting to the vanity mirror for makeup and shaving. Open plan versus enclosed bathrooms is something of a personal preference. Toilets should always be closed off. Room-type configuration should be considered – guests sharing a twin room may want more privacy than couples.


  • New trends in interior design are moving towards a more decorative, plush and eclectic look. Richer colour palettes but with an emphasis on natural materials and greater comfort in key furniture pieces. Finishes and fittings need to be robust, easily cleaned and maintained. The less to clean the better for staff and room turn-around times. The standard reproduction artwork over the bedhead has hopefully had its day.
  • With modern ways of working via laptops the built-in desk may be somewhat redundant, but can still be handy for in-room dining in a more casual way.
  • Lighting is a key design factor – good reading lights, and nightlight options for the en-suite without switching on everything else makes sense. Lighting scene-setting technology has greatly improved and programmed scenes are great – if simple to operate.
  • Full blackout blinds or curtains are a definite requirement and must be easy to access and operate if there is no provision for motorisation.


While hotel guest needs differ depending on the traveller and whether they’re there for ‘business or pleasure’, the basics of good hotel design remain the same. No matter the project’s budget, every aspect of hotel design should be considered carefully, from the lobby, to the hallways and even the light switches, to ensure guests feel so completely taken care of that they can’t wait to come back.

Adrian Downes is Director of Interiors at Thexton Smith Architecture and Interiors. With 30 plus years of experience working with luxury hotel brands including Crown, Far East Consortium, Langham, Accor and Star Group, Adrian has a wealth of expertise to share with his clients.

Thinking about a hotel remodel or starting a new venture? Give the team at Thexton Smith a call or email for a no obligation chat about your ideas, and let’s see if we can help you get started. We’re approachable, knowledgeable and passionate about what we do.