At a gala event of over 550 of Australia’s leading architects, designers and industry professionals, the 2019 Australian Interior Design Awards celebrated the best of the best designs throughout the country.

Here’s what we learned from the night:

1. Australian designers are more fearless than ever

The jury noted the incredible standard of this year’s winners were highlighted by an “intellectual rigour and stylistic confidence” — a combination that led to pushing boundaries, experimentation, and risk taking.

As a result, we’re left with innovative projects that work to reinvent the way space is understood and used.

An excellent example is the winner of the Premier Award for Australian Interior Design and Retail Design categories, Usfin, a futuristic take on a hair salon, designed by George Livissianis.

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Usfin — Photography by Tom Ferguson

The jury celebrated this genuinely clever, daring and memorable concept:

“In reinventing the standard hair salon typology, the designer has given considerable thought to the customer experience, which is to be commended.”

Similarly, Workplace Design award winners, BVN, took huge risks in purposefully deviating from a traditional workstation model design for their own Sydney Studio.

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BVN Sydney Studio — Photography by Brett Boardman

By truly understanding how the space is actually used, they found it didn’t fit this straightforward design approach. They took the risk, and boy, did it pay off.

In another iteration of bold decision making, the Hospitality Design winners — United Places (Botanic Gardens, South Yarra) by Carr — designed their hotel rooms a little differently:

“It's here the jury was most impressed by the designers' planning, which positions the shower as the central element, creating a circulation path around it and making each space appear larger than what it actually is.”
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United Places (Botanic Gardens, South Yarra) — Photography by Sharyn Cairns

2. Client and designer collaboration is key

Designers that have a deep understanding of not only what the client wants, but of the client itself, are able to produce designs that exceed far beyond expectations. This was heavily commended throughout the winning projects.

It was clear to the jury that BVN had a profound understanding of their client when designing Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School, which took out the Award for Interior Design Impact:

“It demonstrates an approach to genuine collaboration and experimentation and is an exemplar of what can be achieved when a client and design team work together. This relationship has been ongoing over multiple stages of design processes, resulting in a uniquely strong understanding of the impact of the design on students, staff and the broader school network.”
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Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School — Photography by John Gollings

The importance of client and designer collaboration translated across to the residential award categories as well, with the winners of Residential Design (Oak House by Kennedy Nolan) and Residential Decoration (Under The Tree by Arent & Pyke) clearly displaying specific detailing for each client, making each space purposeful, thoughtful and expressive.

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Oak House — Photography by Derek Swalwell

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Under The Tree — Photography by Anson Smart

3. Clear narratives are crucial

Projects that provide users with clear journeys were a focus for the jury in multiple and varied categories.

The Waltzing Matilda Centre by Cox Architecture (Public Design and Best of State Commercial Design — QLD award winners) told a distinct story, particularly via the use of thoughtful materials that built on the Centre’s rural location-focused narrative.

The jury thought this was particularly impressive given the Centre’s dynamic nature and various programmatic requirements:

“Everything from the planning through to the minutest of details has been carefully considered and this project is a true example of a public building that fully embraces the narrative it has to tell.”
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Waltzing Matilda Centre — Photography by Christopher Frederick Jones

Pierce Widera, winner of the Emerging Interior Design Practice, also displayed a clear sense of narrative, but this time, throughout a series of various projects as well as within the projects themselves:

“There's a definite diversity to Pierce Widera's portfolio, but at the same time its work exhibits a clarity of thought and expression that's consistent across all projects.”
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Sister of Soul — Photography by Derek Swalwell

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Shinbashi — Photography by Jana Langhorst

4. Flexible and dynamic designs still on the rise

The ability to have flexible designs is still so important to end users, with various projects commended on their clever use of dynamic design principles.

By understanding that their end users needed various ways to work depending on their different tasks, specifically with collaboration in mind, BVN created a space that works for their Sydney staff. The jury commented:

“Everything is transparent and this means the creative process is exposed and on show, encouraging collaboration and experimentation.”
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BVN Sydney Studio — Photography by Brett Boardman

Again, Usfin by George Livissianis, is based on an innovative implementation of flexibility via mobile hair station pods. The flexibility they allow not only makes for a more free flowing and organic space, but a space that can easily be used for events and workshops.

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Usfin — Photography by Tom Ferguson

5. Connected designs round out the entire design experience

Ensuring spaces feel and are connected to their winder surroundings was evident across the winner’s circle at the 2019 AIDAs.

Winners of the Award for Sustainability Advancement, Arup Melbourne by HASSEL partnered with Arup, was commended for a design that connects users to the environment via clever uses of natural materials:

“The architects' holistic approach to sustainability uses wellness as a driver of the outcome and as such the design is embedded with principles of biophilia, healthy living and community.”
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Arup Melbourne — Photography by Earl Carter

This was similarly seen in the residential categories with Under The Tree by Arent & Pyke having clear connections to the project’s garden via lush colours and textures, and natural light.

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Under The Tree — Photography by Anson Smart

Some projects just did it all

Among the huge amount of brilliant projects, there was a clear focus on holistic designs. The jury awarded projects that took risks, tell stories, connect to their surroundings and truly serve their users.

We’re so honored to be a sponsor of such a brilliantly run awards series full of such inspirational projects and design teams.

Congratulations to all the shortlisted projects — all exceptional and worthy of this recognition.

As sponsors of the 2019 AIDA Public Design Award, we took a look at the future of tomorrow. Download our report ‘The Future of Public Design’ to learn more.