The esteemed 10 2023 | Australian Designers

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    Discover the Australian names to know in 2023.

    The esteemed 10 recognises influential voices in the Australian architecture and design community in 2023. Criterion based on approach, current achievements and completed and anticipated projects.

    This piece originally appeared in est Magazine Issue #47.

    Proudly supported by Rogerseller

    Decus Interiors

    Principal Alexandra Donohoe Church

    Sydney, Australia

    Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

    Milan. It’s a bit of a cliche but the Milanese and Italians are so damn fearless with their approach to design. Piero Portaluppi epitomised the ability to dance across aesthetic boundaries effortlessly, as did Osvaldo Borsani, Gio Ponti et al.

    The one thing people always ask me is:

    People always ask, ‘is it hard to design for yourself?’ (I’m currently designing my own home). The answer is a resounding yes!

    Three words that most appropriately sum up my our approach to design are:

    Intuitive, meandering, humorous.

    What key influence can we anticipate seeing in projects you are yet to release?

    In 2022 we’ve looked locally more than ever before. We’re working more and more with newly discovered makers and craftspeople – Tim Noone, Tanika Jellis, V.Brokkr, Laker Studio and Volker Haug, to name a few.

    What is the one piece of advice you would share with a young designer?

    Design is not singularly about aesthetics. It encompasses all the senses, irrespective of what typology of design you practice; how things feel from a tactile, a sensory and a psychological perspective.

    When you walk into a room, what is the first thing you always notice about a space?

    I notice the small things before I’m aware of the big picture – how the details fit together, the junctions meet and how well they have endured the test of time. Once I have zoomed in, then I can zoom out.

    What does designing for a better world mean to you in 2023?

    Tread lightly, buy less, consume quality, keep things succinct. Reinvent and reimagine what you have or give old things new life – it yields a far more interesting conversational approach.

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    Monsieur G by Decus Interiors | Photography by Dave Wheeler

    Tribe Studio Architects

    Principal Hannah Tribe

    Sydney, Australia

    Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

    There is a particular Sydney red gum I love to visit. It does a lot of architectural things, like filter light, provide shelter, and manage unbelievable cantilevers. It provides habitat, it lives happily with friends and other species, it has an almost parsimonious material logic, but it is also wildly expressive.

    The one thing people always ask me is:

    Is Tribe really your name?

    Three words that most appropriately sum up our approach to design are:

    Generous, collaborative, playful.

    What is a key influence that we can anticipate seeing in projects you are yet to release?

    The projects we’re finishing now look different but are united by strong conceptual and sustainability underpinnings. We are doing some great heritage projects, where we channel yesteryear’s design ideologies, and we’re using new technologies to drill into the ethos and challenges of our own time.

    What is the one piece of advice you would share with a young designer?

    When you like a project, interrogate its drawings. We are saturated with the look of things, but the drawings will reveal the more interesting and enduring. Why?

    When you walk into a room, what is the first thing you always notice about a space?

    The acoustics. Nothing is better than a well-designed restaurant, where you can hear the laughter of your friends, but the conversations of strangers are a gentle, atmospheric hum.

    What does designing for a better world mean to you in 2023?

    We are working with optimism and invention to take on some massive challenges in 2023. We’re applying the lessons of our bespoke work in our new kit homes, which tackle building waste, embodied carbon, and dismantling, while also taking aim at construction cost and time on site.

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    Hannah Tribe

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    House in Queens Park by Tribe Studio | Photography by Katherine Lu

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    Mosman House II by Tribe Studio | Photography by Javier Saiz

    Powell & Glenn

    Director Ed Glenn

    Melbourne, Australia

    Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

    Most of the design that I appreciate is in the little things that you observe in your day-to-day life. I love seeing clever, thoughtful design solutions that you can see as quite a complicated problem but has these modest and elegant solutions.

    The one thing people always ask me is:

    When did you know you wanted to become an architect? The answer is pretty late. Not at school and not even really at university. It wasn’t until I started working with Allan Powell that I truly became addicted to the design and delivery of buildings.

    Three words that most appropriately sum up my our approach to design are:

    Clarity, landscape, theatre.

    Elizabeth Bishop, the poet, once said, “The three qualities I admire in the poetry I like best are: accuracy, spontaneity, mystery.”

    I like that a lot.

    What key influence can we anticipate seeing in projects you are yet to release?

    We’re exploring the contrast between highly resolved engineered forms and handmade forms. We’re trying to sharpen the crisp and resolved elements while finding new ways to use texture, craftsmanship and found objects. We’re looking to express the character of things that are part of the earth or garden.

    What is the one piece of advice you would share with a young designer?

    Be an enthusiastic and hard-working person who does what they say they will do and make sure that when you say something is done, it is done. When your team sees you as a reliable person you are more likely to be asked to be at the design

    table — and that’s where you want to be.

    When you walk into a room, what is the first thing you always notice about a space?

    The light. Where is it? How is it used? What are the intended and unintended effects?

    What does designing for a better world mean to you in 2023?

    I think we need to design things that last longer. Things that look better in 30 years than they do when they are completed. We need to make the outcome of design more uplifting and the process of procuring it more fulfilling. We need to find new and smarter ways to reduce the impact of our built environment on the natural world.

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    Ed Glenn

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    Como Ave by Powell & Glenn | Photography by Sharyn Cairns

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    Como Ave by Powell & Glenn | Photography by Sharyn Cairns

    Chenchow Little

    Directors Stephanie Little and Tony Chenchow

    Sydney, Australia

    Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

    We have travelled to a lot of remote locations to seek out exceptional design, such as Murcia in Spain for Rafael Moneo. We believe it is important to experience buildings in real life. Our travel itineraries are organised around our favourite buildings rather than typical tourist destinations.

    The one thing people always ask me is:

    Which of your buildings is your favourite?

    Three words that most appropriately sum up our approach to design are:

    Clarity, specificity and freshness.

    What is a key influence that we can anticipate seeing in projects you are yet to release?

    We aren’t really influenced by a specific designer or place. Instead, we have always responded to the qualities of the sites we are working on and the particularities of our client’s brief. This results in buildings that are very site-specific, unique, and unexpected.

    What is the one piece of advice you would share with a young designer?

    Don’t rush. You need to be tenacious and resilient in this industry. Developing your ideas and a body of work takes time.

    When you walk into a room, what is the first thing you always notice about a space?

    The natural light and proportions of the space. If the light and proportions work, you don’t need to worry about expensive finishes or fittings.

    What does designing for a better world mean to you in 2023?

    Our office became carbon neutral this year, so we will be looking at how we can further improve the impact of our built work on the environment.

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    Stephanie Little

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    Tony Chenchow

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    Redwood House by Chenchow Little | Photography by Peter Bennetts

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    Glebe House by Chenchow Little | Photography by Peter Bennetts

    Brahman Perera

    Designer

    Melbourne, Australia

    Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

    It’s important to always be inspired by your fellow peers and designers. Design is also holistic – there are very few parts of our lives that aren’t affected by it, it can be in a beautiful piece of clothing, or in a dish a chef prepares for you – a piece of music even.

    The one thing people always ask me is:

    What is your style? The important thing for me is to move away from one defining motif or obvious ‘look’ and strive to achieve a timeless, functional and truthful expression of that project and client.

    Three words that most appropriately sum up our approach to design are:

    Colour, beauty, consideration.

    What is the one piece of advice you would share with a young designer?

    It would probably be to always care and nurture your relationships in this industry.

    What is a key influence that we can anticipate seeing in projects you are yet to release?

    A group of various significant 20th-century artists like Richard Serra, Donald Judd, and Eva Hesse that inform and inspire some of my upcoming projects. Sculptural and spatial artists are the cornerstone to materiality and form; there’s so much to be influenced and informed by.

    When you walk into a room, what is the first thing you always notice about a space?

    Jean Baudrillard once wrote that the interior designer was an ‘engineer of atmosphere’, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s not necessarily a specific detail I may notice in a space, but rather the space as a living, breathing entity.

    What does designing for a better world mean to you in 2023?

    It means investing time and care in working with your client to create a space that will stand the test of time. I think it’s important to be honest to yourself as a designer and keep a broad perspective in mind regarding trends and styling.

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    West Block by Brahman Perera | Photography by Lillie Thompson

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    West Block by Brahman Perera | Photography by Lillie Thompson

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    Brahman Perera

    Handelsmann & Khaw

    Directors Gillian Khaw and Tania Handelsmann

    Sydney, Australia

    Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

    Ironically, places that aren’t designed by a professional eye, with their original character intact.

    The one thing people always ask me is:

    What colours are in? And the answer is we don’t know/we would rather not know!

    Three words that most appropriately sum up our approach to design are:

    Subtle, driven by atmosphere and character.

    What is a key influence that we can anticipate seeing in projects you are yet to release?

    We are currently feeling the 80s and 90s, it’s fun to distil design from these decades which are seemingly so unstylish

    What is the one piece of advice you would share with a young designer?

    Make sure your style comes through in what you do for clients. It’s easy to give clients what they want, but pushing back on their preconceptions is harder.

    When you walk into a room, what is the first thing you always notice about a space?

    Evidence of how the owner actually uses the room, their personal effects. Without these, it’s a showroom isn’t it?

    What does designing for a better world mean to you in 2023?

    We think a better design world is a slower one; not trend-driven. Investment buying for the next decades, not the next trend cycle.

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    Tania Handelsmann & Gillian Khaw

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    Paddo Pool Terrace by Luigi Rosselli Architects and Handelsmann & Khaw | Photography by Prue Ruscoe

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    Paddo Pool Terrace by Luigi Rosselli Architects and Handelsmann & Khaw | Photography by Prue Ruscoe

    Allied Office

    Founders Telly Theodore & Andrew Macdonald

    Sydney, Australia

    Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

    Our books would be a strong contender for our “go to” in appreciating the arc of design. We are working on our own house in the Blue Mountains, and from the outset agreed we would dedicate a space to a library.

    The one thing people always ask me is:

    Did you always want to be an architect?

    Three words that most appropriately sum up my our approach to design are:

    Considered, rigorous, people-focused.

    What key influence can we anticipate seeing in projects you are yet to release?

    Our clients’ aspirations mostly influence our design decisions. Projects in the pipeline include residential work of various scope, as well as commercial projects that include the new build headquarters for landscapers Dangar Barin Smith and Robert Plumb Build, with Akin Atelier undertaking the interiors.

    What is the one piece of advice you would share with a young designer?

    Research, Research, Research.

    When you walk into a room, what is the first thing you always notice about a space?

    The balance of light, material and the harmony, or clash of proportion.

    What does designing for a better world mean to you in 2023?

    Doing more with less, in the pursuit of joy.

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    Blackwattle by Allied Office | Photography by Clinton Weaver

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    Telly Theodore & Andrew Macdonald

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    Blackwattle by Allied Office | Photography by Clinton Weaver

    March Studio

    Founders Rodney Eggleston & Anne-Laure Cavigneaux

    Melbourne, Australia

    Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

    Travelling is our greatest source of inspiration. We enjoy seeing how different cultures and countries approach the same creative challenges, sometimes with totally different approaches.

    The one thing people always ask me is:

    What type of architecture do you do?

    Three words that most appropriately sum up our approach to design are:

    Honesty, materials, context.

    What is the one piece of advice you would share with a young designer?

    To keep your eyes and mind open; to look at how everyday objects and common infrastructure is made. Keep learning because it never actually stops.

    What is a key influence that we can anticipate seeing in projects you are yet to release?

    We have been working a lot with rammed concrete and rammed earth recently. We are always searching for materials that have a low embodied energy, and these materials also have a very good thermal mass which enables the building to stay cooler longer which is particularly important as Australia begins to heat up. We have two major buildings currently in planning that will use these building techniques.

    We’re very excited to be reinvesting more time and energy in our furniture company ‘Rigmarole.’ It always felt a little bit before it’s time, but now we see a real market for locally made products, using honest materials, such as raw aluminium, electroplated steel and sustainably sourced timber.

    When you walk into a room, what is the first thing you always notice about a space?

    We tend to feel space before we see it. After that initial feeling, we tend to take a moment to observe how the space is used, how it has been lit and what materials have been used. It’s all about understanding the details and a clear architectural design intent.

    What does designing for a better world mean to you in 2023?

    Waste consciousness and eco-socio-sustainability are front and centre of our mind when we work on projects and take on new clients. We need to promote our uniqueness on a worldwide stage through design, rather than following global trends and fashion.

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    Rodney Eggleston & Anne-Laure Cavigneaux

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    Spring Street by March Studio | Photography by Dan Preston

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    Spring Street by March Studio | Photography by Dan Preston

    Richards and Spence

    Founders Adrian Spence and Ingrid Richards

    Brisbane, Australia

    Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

    We travel as often as we can. Of particular interest are cities or towns where there is a concentration of work by a single architectural practice – think Plecnik in Ljubljana.

    The one thing people always ask me is:

    Why do we use arches? The arch provides transparency at low level, which is good for retail but compositionally retains the integrity of a wall.

    Three words that most appropriately sum up our approach to design are:

    As much as necessary, as little as possible.

    What is a key influence that we can anticipate seeing in projects you are yet to release?

    Time and cost pressures on site have shifted our focus to precast and prefabricated elements.

    We are constantly recalibrating our design and detailing to suit current construction demands.

    What is the one piece of advice you would share with a young designer?

    Don’t be single-minded. Try to see constraints as opportunities – be open to reconsidering everything at any time.

    When you walk into a room, what is the first thing you always notice about a space?

    The lighting

    What does designing for a better world mean to you in 2023?

    Building a long-term ambition.

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    La Scala by Richards and Spence | Photography by David Chatfield and Yaseera Moosa

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    La Scala by Richards and Spence | Photography by David Chatfield and Yaseera Moosa

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    Adrian Spence and Ingrid Richards

    Hecker Guthrie

    Directors Paul Hecker, Hamish Guthrie, Kymberley Gim and Stacey Van Harn

    Melbourne, Australia

    Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

    Travel is such a key driver for finding inspiration in design. It’s important to experience things outside of the office environment and debate the merit of ideas. Design is now also so close at hand through social media, blogs, and articles.

    The one thing people always ask me is:

    Is your job really fun?! Whilst we are very passionate about our vocation, people often don’t realise that there is a lot of rigour and process, alongside passion, that goes into creating good design, on demand.

    Three words that most appropriately sum up our approach to design are:

    The HG Studio revolves around three founding principles – A.C.E. Authenticity, Considered, Enthusiasm.

    What is a key influence that we can anticipate seeing in projects you are yet to release?

    We strive not to focus on fashion or trends within the industry but instead be guided by influences unique to each project. We want to create bespoke design solutions inspired by the client’s brief, the project’s location, the architecture and history, infusing every project with elements of craft, and engaging with local makers to deliver a design narrative.

    What is the one piece of advice you would share with a young designer?

    Know who you are and seek to be informed. Spend your time researching contemporary and historical design, to make a connection with something that speaks to you. Have a strong sense of your own design direction.

    When you walk into a room, what is the first thing you always notice about a space?

    It is always the feeling a space evokes and the memory that lingers. It’s this that we feel first, before we interrogate the nitty gritty – table edge details; how is it held together; is it real timber?

    What does designing for a better world mean to you in 2023?

    We design for longevity. By understanding the impact that building and construction can have on the environment, we ensure the spaces we create can last a lifetime and beyond. There is no greater feeling than running into a past client and hearing how much they still love the space Hecker Guthrie created for them, years or decades earlier.

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    Paul Hecker, Hamish Guthrie, Kymberley Gim and Stacey Van Harn

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    The Hyatt Centric by Hecker Guthrie | Photography by Shannon McGrath

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    The Hyatt Centric by Hecker Guthrie | Photography by Shannon McGrath

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