Designing the Future of Hospitality

Melbourne Design Week 2020

In light of the ever-evolving COVID-19 outbreak and following advice from the Victorian Government and health officials, NGV has closed to the public as a precautionary measure until 13 April. In turn, all programming including Melbourne Design Week has therefore been cancelled. 

It’s with sadness that we announce our Designing the Future of Hospitality event will not take place this Thursday 19 March. This event is something JRF and our panelists are very passionate about and we will be rescheduling this event for later this year.



Join Holly Cunneen, journalist and editor of Habitus Magazine, as she brings together a panel of leading hospitality figureheads to discuss the impact design has on the hospitality industry. Hear from award-winning designers, Ryan Russell and Byron George of Russell & George, Co-owner and Executive Chef of celebrated restaurants Tonka and Coda, Adam D’Sylva, Ronnen Goren of branding agency, Studio Ongarato and Georgia Danos of James Richardson Furniture as we delve into what makes a new-age restaurant.

This event is part of Melbourne Design Week 2020, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV – Presented by James Richardson Furniture.

Date: TBC
Time: TBC
Location: Space & Time
18-24 Baillie Street
North Melbourne, VIC 3051

Purchase tickets here. 


Holly Cunneen, Journalist and Editor of Habitus Living.

Holly Cunneen is the editor of Habitus and has spent her time in the media writing about architecture, design and our local industry. With a firm view that “design has a shared responsibility to the individual as much as it does the wider community,” her personal and professional trajectory sees her chart the interests, accomplishments, and emerging patterns of behaviour within the architecture and design community


Ronnen Goren, Co-Founder and Director of Studio Ongarato.

As a Director and founding partner of Studio Ongarato, Ronnen brings more than 20 years’ experience in communications and strategy to his work leading strategic development. With a Bachelor Degree in Architecture, Ronnen has a unique ability to unlock insights and a deeper understanding when melding brand, communications and the built environment. His wide-ranging skillset helps define Studio Ongarato’s considered and holistic approach to creatively solving client challenges. Ronnen has a personal passion for the food and beverage world, having come from a family of hospitality veterans. His vast experience and knowledge of the industry, both in Australia and Asia, has seen him lead strategy for clients such as Jackalope Hotels, Lane Crawford, Melbourne’s GPO, QT Hotels and W Shanghai.

Adam D’Sylva , Co-owner and Executive Chef of  Tonka and Coda.

Adam D’Sylva has established an enviable reputation as one of Australia’s most prominent chefs. Co-owner and Executive Chef of award-winning restaurants Tonka and Coda, Adam’s Indian-Italian heritage has given him a foundation in contrasting cuisines. With this and his formal training, he has become one of the best and more innovative chefs in Melbourne. In 2008, Adam won The Age Good Food Guide’s Young Chef of the Year and as part of his award travelled to New York to work with Thomas Keller at Per Se. Adam was also twice awarded Lexus Young Chef of the Year award for Victoria. Coda and Tonka were both awarded, and have maintained, One Chef’s Hat in The Age Good Food Guide since opening.

Georgia Danos , Creative & Brand Director of James Richardson Furniture (JRF).

Georgia Danos, the third generation leader of James Richardson Furniture, recently re-joined the business to embrace her family’s legacy and step into a newly created, key creative and executive role. Bringing integrity and partnerships which JRF was built upon into prime focus, Georgia is dedicated to the centricity of people and service as fundamental brand tenants. With an architecture degree and a successful career in fashion retail, Georgia has an inveterate passion for design, furniture and emerging Australian designers.

Ryan Russell and Byron George, Founders of Russell & George.

Ryan Russell , AIA MDIA Director, M Arch, B Des St

Ryan’s experience as a designer has crossed the fields of architecture and interior design, industrial design, theatre and exhibition design. He has worked on projects as small as the design of a door handle up to the size of skyscrapers and universities, across five continents.

In 2007, he won the National Interior Design Award for Emerging Practice, and in 2010 he merged his business with Byron George, creating Russell & George.

He is most well known for his retail and hospitality interior designs, with notable works for Aésop, Ishizuka, Medibank and also for himself with the creation of the transformational, “Space & Time,” a design that questions the fundamental use of a space throughout the course of a 24hr period and through its lifetime.

Described as a strategist, futurist and entrepreneur in the industry, he now ventures into the fields of information technology, augmented and virtual reality and software development.

Ryan’s key strengths lie in the rapid assessment and development of innovative design solutions, and a sound understanding of the essential interface between design and commercial viability. He is a registered architect, Member of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and the Design Institute of Australia.

Byron George , AIA Director, B Arch (Hons), BPD

Byron’s experience spans from small object design to large scale architecture across several continents, ranging from multi-billion dollar housing developments to extensive heritage projects. This work has been as small-scale as packaging design, to the large-scale redesign of a multi-story city-centre hotel.

In 2008, he won the National Interior Design Award for Emerging Practice, and in 2010 he merged his business with Ryan Russell, creating Russell & George.

Byron has designed local and international atmospheres for the likes of Melbourne Central, Medibank, Suria KLCC and more recently, Burwood Brickworks.

To complement this extensive body of work and to amplify his interest in human-centric environments and their analysis, he worked with co-founder Ryan Russell, creating the multi-award winning “Space & Time”, a workplace that houses the Russell & George Studio and blurs the line between spatial use within our inner cities.

With a philosophy encompassing a mix of curiosity, energy, and a fundamental belief in the ability of good design to change a person’s day for the better, Byron provides a wholly unique approach to architecture and design.

Byron is a registered architect and Member of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects.

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