Best of est 2020 | Top 10 International Designers

  • WORDS Sophie Lewis & Lidia Boniwell
  • est living greg faulkner big barn 01 750x540

    The Best of est 2020 series recognises 10 leading architects and designers spanning continent, approach and aesthetic in both Australia and around the globe. Criteria selection is based on design, editorial engagement, insights and analytics. In this feature, we share our top international designers. 

    Belgian architect Mathieu Luyens reflects on 2020 as a year that made it painfully clear how fundamental the quality of home and our surroundings are. To celebrate design’s importance in our lives, we’re recognising 10 international designers – emerging and established – for their contribution to the global design community in 2020. 

    To reflect on the year that was, we asked them what design now means to them in 2021. And in the spirit of Californian architect Ryan Leidner, we hope this new year brings a “re-imagining of how and where we live and inspire design to address a whole new realm of questions.”

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    Jerry Pellerin and Kevin Caprini

    Kevin Caprini and Jerry Pellerin

    French architects Kevin Caprini and Jerry Pellerin are the names behind our most-liked Instagram post to date. Forming their Cannes-based studio nearly 12 years ago, they’ve gone on to design a portfolio of homes rooted in authenticity and sustainability, prioritising locally-sourced materials. “Timelessness and material life cycles are key concerns in our approach,” Jerry Pellerin says. “The soul must be able to land on warm, ‘imperfect’ materials.”

    “How our personal space makes us feel and how we see ourselves utilising these spaces and their relation to nature has become increasingly important. We are excited by the changes going on around the definition of ‘luxury’ – towards authenticity away from ostentatiousness.”


    – Jerry Pellerin

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    Annabell Kutucu

    Annabell Kutucu

    Berlin-based designer Annabell Kutucu is no stranger to the Mediterranean hospitality scene, responsible for some of the most coveted destinations on the Greek Islands. Annabell’s work pays respect to rural Mediterranean design, favouring a consistent palette of rattan, linen and jute. In collaboration with architects, craftsmen and artists, the designer aims to create spaces with ‘soul’ and in harmony with nature, best seen in her Tulum Treehouse. Closer to home, she recently designed a Brutalist creative hub in Berlin.

    “Natural materials, artisanship and handcraft are important elements; the symbiosis of new and old and the beauty in imperfection are what helps to develop places that feel real, human and simply good.”


    – Annabell Kutucu

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    Photography by Ana Santl

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    Dimitris and Konstantinos Karampatakis

    Dimitris and Konstantinos Karampatakis

    Brothers Dimitris and Konstantinos Karampatakis founded their Athens-based studio in 2004, known for their traditionalist approach to residential and hospitality design. Their work pays homage to Greek architecture and Mediterranean craftsmanship – captured in their latest projects Villa Mandra on the island of Mykonos and Navarino Bay Hotel in the Peloponnese. While they lead an innovative architectural front, they design for island life to tread lightly on the earth.

    “We think that in 2021 there will be an important switch in priorities and people will now travel when they really want to and this will give a unique opportunity to design: designing places for people who want to be there.”


    – Dimitris Karampatakis

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    Greg Faulkner

    “Our practice is currently focused on single family houses. The formal attributes that we consider requirements for every project are now critically important to the health and well-being of our clients.”


    – Greg Faulkner

    Greg Faulkner

    Californian architect Greg Faulkner found his passion for architecture after a career in the aircraft design industry. Establishing his practice in 1998, Faulkner Architects have seen a global appreciation for their projects that seamlessly integrate with their environment, “intended to be intensifications of the qualities that exist.” Looking to 2021, Greg and his team are concerning themselves with designing prefabricated housing on a sustainable footprint.

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    Photography by Joe Fletcher

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    Photography by Joe Fletcher

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    Photography by Joe Fletcher

    “Looking ahead to 2021, I think that we’re all hoping for a re-birth in a way, to find ways and spaces to share time with the people that matter most in our lives. I think this is going to lead to a lot of re-imagining of how and where we live and inspire design to address a whole new realm of questions.”


    – Ryan Leidner

    Ryan Leidner

    In 2020 Ryan Leidner and his San Francisco-based practice shared their Twin Gables project. A home designed by Joseph Eichler who defined ‘Californian Modern’ for many years, they’ve too updated the definition with their respectful redesign. Committed to craft and detail, Ryan sees design as an act of optimism. “I think that we’re all experiencing the world through new eyes, and my hope is that this will inspire design to meet the new moment,” he says.

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    Ryan Leidner

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    Photography by Joe Fletcher

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    Photography by Joe Fletcher

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    Photography by Joe Fletcher

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    Adam Jordan

    Adam Jordan

    Architect Adam Jordan and his multi-disciplinary firm specialise in striking minimalist residential and commercial projects in New York. In their recently captured Shagwong Residence, the architect sensitively responds to the waterfront context, while connecting with the traditional vernacular through local materiality and craftsmanship. The dark home was a new experience for the office and as Adam says, he was “surprised at how well the dark home elevated the beauty of the surrounding landscape.”

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    Photography by Eric Petschek

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    Mathieu Luyens and Julie van De Keere

    “This year has made it painfully clear how important a quality home and its surroundings are.”


    – Mathieu Luyens

    Mathieu Luyens and Julie van De Keere

    Belgian-based architects Mathieu Luyens and Julie van De Keere describe natural stone as a material at the heart of their country’s revered design aesthetic. Known for their contemporary take on traditional Belgian architecture, Mathieu and Julie’s work centres around warm minimalism and natural materials – best seen in their home and studio in East Flanders.

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    Photography by Annick Vernimmen

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    Elizabeth Roberts

    “I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated my job as much as I do now – the alchemy that results from working with and for people is truly satisfying. I feel more privileged than ever to mentor talented designers and create lasting and successful designs for our clients.”


    – Elizabeth Roberts

    Elizabeth Roberts

    Establishing her firm in 1998, architect Elizabeth Roberts is known for sensitively reincarnating historic New York brownstones and townhouses. The architect has mastered the art of merging old and new through timeless forms and finishes, seeing international praise for her collaboration on the home of design and lifestyle creative Athena Calderone (Eyeswoon).

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    Photography by Dustin Aksland

    “People have learnt to appreciate their living environment, apartments and offices more in 2020. The value of natural light, long- term comfort and airflow will become even more dominant this year in design.”


    – Pitsou Kedem

    Pitsou Kedem

    Tel Aviv architect Pitsou Kedem revives traditional Israeli architecture through a Mid-Century lens. Attributing his design principles to the modernist movement, Pitsou Kedem pursues simple rectangular forms and a minimalist aesthetic. The architect’s Old Jaffa House 4, defined by its age-old stone arches, pays respect to the ancient architecture found in the Old City of Jaffa.

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    Photography by Amit Geron

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    Photography by Amit Geron

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    Nathalie Deboel

    Nathalie Deboel

    Belgian designer Nathalie Deboel’s design philosophy centres around creating comforting homes ‘that fit like a good jacket’ – where you feel nourished, protected and balanced. Nathalie hones her country’s revered design aesthetic by focusing on natural light, texture and materials. In her studio’s recently completed countryside project, Oostkerke House, she creates a warm ‘wabi-sabi’ atmosphere by expressing the imperfection of natural materials.

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    Photography by Cafeine

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    Photography by Cafeine

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    Photography by Cafeine

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