2012 Melbourne Design Awards

Key Dates

Photo Credit : Shannon McGrath

Project Overview

maze restaurant is located on level one of the Metropol hotel. maze is Metropol hotel’s only restaurant and seats 300 patrons.

The restaurant evokes the sophistication of Ramsay’s brand . maze offers a welcoming place to eat for the very first hotel guest at breakfast through to appealing to diners looking for a special restaurant experience. Bates Smart have successfully created a boutique, personal experience in the setting of a large hotel restaurant.

maze occupies the sculptural architectural podium form perched outside the main tower of Metropol hotel. This inside / outside quality has been celebrated in the interior.

Project Commissioner

Crown Limited

Project Creator

Bates Smart


Jeffery Copolov
Kendra Pinkus
Claudia Fleuter
Grant Filipoff
Tammy Yu

Project Brief

Our task was to make the restaurant feel engaging and inviting for solo diners, as well as comfortable for larger groups. Through considered planning and manipulation of spacial volumes Bates Smart has created a masterful sequence of rooms and experiences which achieves this goal. maze eschews the generic anonymous aesthetic of a traditional hotel dining room. At every turn there is highly crafted joinery, custom designed light fittings and carefully selected objet supporting the boutique aesthetic of maze.

The a la carte restaurant is defined by its glassy, soaring volume and the banquette seating that encloses this space. Two dramatic basket-like pavilions are fashioned from hand woven wicker to create both a Private Dining room seating 12 and a unique Sommelier Experience enclosure. The coffee/pastry station with its communal high table and adjacent long bar evokes European sophistication. The adjacent Cocktail Bar is an intimate box like folly with shuttered panels to enable guests to open up to view the lobby below or close down for privacy.

The dining areas were fully developed before Gordon Ramsay came on the scene, Ramsay made a couple of changes to our design, including several enclosed dining spaces, which are now framed by woven screens. These modifications were seamlessly incorporated into the programme of our design.

Project Innovation / Need

In keeping with the boutique aesthetic of the Metropol, we facilitated collaboration between suppliers and ourselves to achieve an exceptional standard of highly crafted fit out. Local artisans were employed to create much of the detail of maze interior especially the basket weave screens. The plaited material provides discrete transparency as well as textural forms that give sculptural definition to the greater restaurant space. Unique and memorable signature elements were created in collaboration with textile designers and artists.

Bates Smart worked with New York / Miami based textile designers NIBA to create a boldly patterned, vibrant and contemporary carpet. This flower bed like floor covering provides a strong accent colour to an otherwise neutral palette of taupe’s and charcoal’s tones. Artists David Band and Anita Bell were commissioned to create a wall relief sculpture modeled and created from found birch trees. This contemporary installation evokes an imagery of an ivy clad wall and travels a full 60 metres, further reinforcing the outside / inside landscape qualities.

Design Challenge

Creating intimacy in a vast space was the key challenge. Rather than one rectangular space, maze restaurant, ‘snakes’ along the side of the black glass hotel tower. Inspired by the maze concept we crafted, maze’s interior as a wandering journey of intrigue and discovery. Like an evocative landscape, a variety of dining experiences are revealed and unfolded to the visitor. Our aim was to create an earthy, crafted feel as if a single design had touched the whole space but each area has its own ambience. We created an active and captivating sequence of spaces that are constantly morphing from one episode to another, offering patrons a diversity of experiences within the one venue.

Designing enduring interiors which meet the expectations of high end hospitality presents a challenge to source high quality, robust finishes. Materials and furnishings were rigorously tested to meet commercial standards while imparting a domestic quality of appearance and touch. The materiality of Maze Grill is an example of this finely balanced meeting of commercial pragmatism and a distinctly Metropol aesthetic. Maze Grill celebrates a vibrant combination of raw steel, rough cut slate and rustic thickly glazed tiles in a deep emerald, creating a bold and robust back drop to the dynamic workings of the active kitchen.


Sustainability was addressed in the rigorous selection of all appliance and fittings in the restaurant. We ensured all appliances and products specified were selected for energy efficient performance and water usage. All timbers were sourced from sustainably managed forests. The longevity of the project was paramount to the brief both in terms aesthetic and maintenance considerations. The brief was to create a prestige environment to be maintained and operated with a long cycle of occupancy over its lifespan.

This award recognises building interiors, with consideration given to space creation and planning, furnishings, finishes and aesthetic presentation. Consideration given to space allocation, traffic flow, building services, lighting, fixtures, flooring, colours, furnishings and surface finishes.
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