The Australian Interior Design Excellence Awards – 2011 winners

The Australian Interior Design Excellence Awards – 2011 winners

The 2011 Interior Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) showcased the best of Australian design.

The Interior Design Excellence Awards, first held in 2003, are presented annually in recognition of the best in Australian design from across the country, showcasing the most innovative and inspiring projects to be produced by the Australian design profession. The prestigious IDEA Awards program is recognised by the design community as the country’s pre-eminent design awards program.

IDEA promotes and rewards recent work in interior design and product design across 14 different categories, as well as recognising emerging young talent and designers whose work demonstrates exemplary sustainable objectives. The awards attracted a record-breaking number of entries in 2011, with more than 400 projects submitted earlier in the year – with judges once again impressed at the quantity, diversity and ambition of many of the entries

The Gala Party which took place this evening at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts (ACCA) in Melbourne’s Southbank– is the culmination of the annual Interior Design Excellence Awards program, and this year returned to Melbourne, following two successful years at The Ivy in Sydney.

The winning and highly commended projects revealed from the shortlisted pool of over 200 projects are presented below

Overall WinnerIan Moore Architects / Strelein Warehouse

A late 19th century warehouse with two street frontages has been converted into a two-level residence. Internally, a 1.7 metre height difference between the two streets creates the tall volume of the living space. The kitchen occupies the half level above, screened by a steel plate with built-in black leather bench seat. A 10mm steel plate structure flows through the house, separating the garage and stair. Existing structural elements are painted white, with new additions in black. Joinery is finished in black anodised aluminium.

Gold Medal recipient Jane Faulkner

Of all of the IDEA categories, the gold medal is perhaps the most prestigious – designed to recognise the lasting contribution made by an Australian designer to the local design industry. This year’s individuals, selected by the 2011 jury, are nominated in recognition of the outstanding achievements of some of this country’s most distinguished design leaders.

Janne Faulkner established Nexus Designs in 1967. Her wide sphere of influence has informed the Australian penchant for relaxed residential interiors,conveying a distinctive, timeless aesthetic. She has mentored and nurtured a whole generation of design professionals, and her long-standing associations with colleagues Harley Anstee and Sonia Simpfendorfer have yielded substantial achievements that continue to inspire.

Shortlisted entries were assessed by a jury panel that included Sue Carr, Jeff Copolov, Sam Spurr, Toby Horrocks, Hannah Tribe, Sioux Clark and Domingo Robledo

Dedece congratulates all entries in this year’s IDEA awards.

Category winners and highly commended projects follow here ….

(with special thanks to Chris Hardy – dedece’s roving reporter at the awards ) ………… the IDEA 2011- Category winners are …………………..


Single Residential

Encompassing a much larger spectrum of Australian architecture and interior design practices, the single residential category is one of the biggest this year. Here, we showcase not only the stunning work of some veteran designers but also that of some interesting young practices that are gaining momentum in the quantity and calibre of their portfolio. As always, the residential realm of design often responds to a very specific brief, with the client’s personality often playing a crucial role in the success, or failure, of the project.

Winner – Ian Moore Architects / Strelein Warehouse

A late 19th century warehouse with two street frontages has been converted into a two-level residence. Internally, a 1.7 metre height difference between the two streets creates the tall volume of the living space. The kitchen occupies the half level above, screened by a steel plate with built-in black leather bench seat. A 10mm steel plate structure flows through the house, separating the garage and stair. Existing structural elements are painted white, with new additions in black. Joinery is finished in black anodised aluminium.

Mention – Noxon Giffen / Manning Road House

The house is a contemporary home for a young family, with two interconnecting interior volumes connected by a 23-metre linear skylight. Open, communal and intimate spaces are created within the sculptural volumes. Light scoops capture northern light in the bedrooms, while skylights and screens animate the living areas. ‘Crevices’ between the volumes bring landscape, light and ventilation into the heart of the dwelling. A raw, elemental palette is imbued with softness through the play of light and space.

Mention – Andrew Maynard / Mash House

This house celebrates the plain, outdoor space of the backyard. A new living and kitchen space, joined to the original, dark Victorian house by a glass corridor, has direct access to light via a central courtyard and garden. The space affords great flexibility, with a living space that is transformed into a deck with doors fully open. The kitchen, while prominent, is strategically modest. Bathrooms feature a pattern of blood red tiles, providing another unexpected focal point.


Multi Residential

There is little doubt that each year, Australia’s main metropolitan centres are becoming more and more comfortable with density. Within the context of a modern urban lifestyle, people are increasingly willing to trade space for convenience. Then again, in the instance of the projects seen here, the limitations of space are not always so limiting. Aiming for comfort, functionality and more enabling qualities, these are designs that champion the denser spatial experience of living in the city.

Winner – Neometro / Harper Lane

Open-plan spaces, lofted ceilings, an articulate use of colour and the use of natural textures and finishes create a series of contemporary apartments in this mixed-use development. Living spaces are given a northern exposure, overlooking communal gardens. Natural cross-ventilation and external sunblinds regulate temperature, while a rainwater retention system keeps the garden green and inviting.

Mention – Smart Design Studio / Central Park West

Inspired by the curves and glossy finishes of high-end sports cars and motor yachts, these interiors introduce high-speed luxury to multi-unit developments. The interiors are planned around a central, multi-function pod which houses the kitchen, laundry, bathroom, storage and services. Full-gloss polyurethane paneling, timber veneers, rounded joinery and chrome trims reflect the automotive and nautical influences.

Mention – Anthony Gill Architects / Potts Point Apartment

An existing 38sqm apartment in a Harry Seidler building in Sydney has been inexpensively adapted to suit a growing family. The aim was to provide a large living space, good storage and separate sleeping area for a young child. All unoriginal joinery was removed, except for the bathroom. A 7 metre-long joinery item provides storage for everything, including the main bed. The resulting space is a rich, layered backdrop for everyday living.


Major Commercial over 1,000sqm

The major commercial category is often dominated by the bigger design practices – a result, perhaps, of their seasoned design prowess and resulting ability to deliver clever solutions within the often-constraining spaces of today’s corporate environment. This year, BVN Architecture weighs in with three solid projects, but the competition is stiff – with practices such as Geyer, HASSELL, Woods Bagot and Bates Smart all making the cut.

Winner Bligh Voller Nield / BVN Studio

A 1970s office floor is reworked in a daring interior that uses only the bones of the high-rise concrete building. The cladding on the supporting columns is removed, significantly reducing their bulk and exposing the texture as ‘found’ detail. Ceiling grids and tiles are removed to reveal services, with new cable trays inserted like a racetrack around the ceiling. Industrial elements include galvanised hollow scaffolding columns. Extraneous finishes are removed to expose the raw, robust structure of a functional studio.

Mention – Bligh Voller Nield / AECOM Brisbane

Large voids are cut through the existing building to create a unifying space across the five levels of the tenancy. An interconnecting stair creates a dynamic common space, and provides a sense of connectivity and transparency. Meeting spaces, consolidated support facilities, social gathering and creative spaces as well as open-plan work areas offer choices for ways to work and communicate. 100 percent post-consumer recycled Australian Blackbutt timber features heavily in the fitout.


Commercial under 1000sqm

This category is often where smaller practices begin to make their presence felt in the realm of commercial office design for the first time, yet can also play host to the innovation of more established players. Maximising the most out of each budget, designers aim to create the best workspace solution within a tighter square-metre count – and, often, tighter budgets, delivering smart solutions for the smaller business.

Winner – Wilson Architects / Wilson Architects Studio

This project saw Wilson Architects expand from the existing office into the adjacent 1860s worker’s cottage, separated from the original office by an 1800mm gap. This often-neglected interstitial space has been transformed with an inserted piece that envelops the façade of both buildings and provides a new entrance space. Inside, the burned timber frame refers to the practice fire in 1981, while the original brick chimney of the cottage remains as an isolated sentinel.

Mention – Georgia Nowak / Edwards Street Studio

The garage of a 1960s home has been converted into a DJ studio, providing a workspace and a meeting area. The studio’s lower level takes on a social, playful character, while the workspace above is more serious, with steel and timber providing a raw base palette for the colour of the vinyls and CDs. A lasercut 6mm steel plate with concealed fixings forms the shelves, which emerge and recede in a wave-like form, transforming the collection into an artwork.

Mention – Snell Architects / Insight Advertising Agency

The fitout for this 400sqm office features unconventional, high-impact and low-cost solutions suited to a conservative budget. Recycled black plastic underground water tanks provide a beautiful divider, creating a boardroom and screening storage and printing areas from the main office space. A white rope pulley system based on marine mooring techniques introduces hanging plants to the fitout, while a transparent yellow object provides a quiet meeting space.



If there’s one thing Australian designers have mastered, it is hospitality design. The experience of dining, enjoying a coffee, having a cocktail or all-out celebration is  something we’ve come to appreciate and respect from a design point of view. Though the success of a restaurant and café cannot rest on design alone, the design quality of the spatial experience and atmosphere in these hospitality venues are exceptionally high.

Winner – Anthony Gill Architects – Berta Restaurant & Bar

Occupying the ground floor of a redeveloped warehouse, this space revolves around a central open kitchen defined by a working wall of suspended shelves. Providing storage for food and wine, the wall reveals the essential activity of a working kitchen and serves as a blurred boundary between public and private spaces. A marble service block floats in front. Subtle changes in level and materials define the bar and dining areas, with windows framing a neglected part of the city.

Mention – Six Degrees ArchitectsNewmarket Hotel

The design keeps alive the ‘social’, ‘local’ ideas of the traditional hotel, with a series of spaces that are communal and intimate, formal and informal. The old building fabric is retained to provide an understanding of past histories. Second hand brick sits alongside travertine, while timber and brass inlay accompanies steel trowel slab to give robust materials a delicate edge. A long strip of wallpaper is an exact replica of an older version, discovered in the demolition stage.



This important category, in which architecture itself can often count for everything, features shortlisted projects with an array of top-class design from the larger, more established practices to the still emerging design firms, all working within the parameters of a challenging, yet potentially very rewarding, brief. Very particular in their purpose, the functionality of each project is paramount.

Winner – Kerstin Thompson Architects / MUMA – Monash University of Art

Occupying the ground floor of a 1960s building, MUMA works economically and strategically within the building’s radial geometry to achieve flexible, neutral curatorial space. A linear circulation spine absorbs the most difficult aspects of the existing structure, establishing a series of parallel walls which flank the spine to form rectilinear, column-free galleries. The spine functions as the armature behind the scenes, exposing the structure and services of the gallery. The galleries are neutral and spacious by contrast.

Mention –  Spowers + NMBW Studio/ RMIT Building 88 (levels 5 & 6)

One and a half floors of a bland 1980s office building with a deep floor plate have been transformed into a lively and inspirational university design studio. The outcome respects the limitations of a commercial lease within a tertiary education context. Independent project spaces for group work feature timber frames and plywood cladding. Lockable flexible workspaces can be easily subdivided with large sliding whiteboard panels and glazed swing doors. Interstitial breakout areas provide additional, informal spaces.

Mention – McBride Charles Ryan / PEGS Junior Boys School: Years 5 & 6 Building

A mix of former houses makes up the buildings of this school campus. This new building exploits the ambiguity of the school’s built forms, with an internal architecture that relates to the bold external form. The design of the classrooms explores space, form, colour, materiality, passage and transition. Representing childhood imagination, the interior features rich, earthy colours on the ground floor and an ethereal first floor, with the cloudlike silhouette of the exterior form defying expectations.



Shopping, We want the allure, but not the pretentious attitude. We wish to be invited, but not too bothered. We like being impressed but not intimidated. We seek comfort, but can’t find a chair to sit on. Want, want, want – it’s a demanding brief to say the least. The fun thing about retail is that eye candy rules, and this year’s shortlist is no exception.

Winner – Facet Studio / Sneakerology

This design is for two brands that celebrate street culture with an academic approach. The fitout explores the extremities of minimum unit/maximum impact through the repetition of standardised units. In Sneakerology, an entire wall is lined with sneakers collected in boxes – fashion displayed as a museum artifact. For Streetology, 2,550 T-shirts are stored in standardised plastic tubes within dispensers. When one is sold, the tube disappears from the dispenser in a visual interpretation of stock quantity and, by extension, fashion trends.

Mention – Russell & George / Crumpler Doncaster

Designed to be considered as a woven object, the traditional shopfront is transformed into a playful, kinetic element. Inside, custom sculptural display systems offer a flexible retail space. The store is essentially created from the materials of the bags it sells: webbing used in shoulder straps is used for the shopfront and suspended display systems, powder coated steel from rigid frames form displays and hangrails, while rubber used in internal linings creates a resilient surface for displays.

Mention – Universal Design Studio / Corporate Culture showroom

A sculptural, three-level staircase forms the centrepiece of the architectural interventions to the Corporate Culture showroom. The design delivers fluid, intuitive circulation through the building, with strong cross-level sight lines. Intermediate platforms create seven merchandising levels, breaking up the transition between floors. The first painted steel tray is filled with concrete to form a podium. The second and third steel trays are suspended from the first and second floors. Each is tied together with a finely crafted slender oak handrail.


Sustainable Project

There is only one criterion by which submissions to the sustainable project category are assessed, which you might think would make the process simple. When the criterion in question, however, is sustainable performance, it is anything but. There are many ways by which the design of an interior can positively affect its impact on the environment – from sophisticated technological solutions through to adaptive re-use, and consequently the projects here represent a diverse range of approaches. All of them, however, seem to promise that Australia’s designers have a considerable amount to offer our communities in the push towards a more sustainable way of life.

Winner – Wolveridge Architects / The Hill Plains House

Awarded a 6 star green star rating, the house incorporates passive design principles including good solar orientation to maximise winter solar gain and avoid exposure to high summer sun. All timber waste from construction has been retained for use in the wood-fired boiler. The house is completely off the grid. Rainwater is collected and filtered onsite, and a multi-zone hot water tank is shared with solar hot water and woodfired hydronic heating. Interior materials including brickwork and timber are all recycled

Mention – Breathe Architecture/ River Studios

The existing warehouse shell is exploited, with a design intervention made from salvaged materials designed for flexibility. Cyclone wire fencing and timber framing are detailed with donated, found and salvaged items including doors, windows, metal cladding, plywood sheets, corrugated iron and textiles. Constructed with a hands-on collaborative approach, the design was produced by Breathe Architecture working with students and artists. Individuals control ventilation, natural light and acoustics using studio partitions.


Event Design

Focusing on ‘the best in show’, the event category packs a good punch this year, with interesting exhibition design and temporary pop-ups that still compromise little in functionality and good looks. With notable designs by 6 Hats, Edwards Moore, Foolscap Studio, Toby Horrocks and Kristian Aus, the competition here this year is extremely stiff.

Winner – Edwards Moore / Arnsdorf Concept Store

The cave-like structure is loosely inspired by Superman’s Fortress of Solitude and fashion brand Arnsdorf’s Opticks collection. The space is intended to be evocative of crystalline forms and rocky landscapes, aided by the reinterpretation of the humble ladies’ stocking – stretched and wrapped en masse to envelope the room in earthen hues. The sculptural sub-terrain provides the setting for the Opticks collection, with soft hues and nude tones to complement the colours of the range.

Mention – Toby Horrocks and Kristian Aus / Flatform 322

Designed for State of Design’s Look.Stop.Shop exhibition, this space is both architecture and object. Pop-up book meets retail display in this cardboard fitout, installed within an existing retail space. The design transitions from 2D to 3D, with flat panels folding out to form shelving, a table, lampshades and a seat. The design is delightfully light, embracing the obsolescence of temporary installations: the fitout is 100 percent recyclable.


Designer of the Year

Six firms have been shortlisted for this year’s prestigious designer of the year (judges award). Encompassing large, established firms along with younger practices, all six entrants have been shortlisted for their proficient design capabilities across several categories within this year’s awards. A second award will also be presented within this category: the People’s Choice Award will be decided by public vote closer to awards night.

Winner – Edwards Moore

The work of this Melbourne studio, established by Ben Edwards and Juliet Moore in 2009, explores ideas of craft, materiality and the art of architecture. Exploring strong design themes using often simple materials, the studio’s recent work includes the Fringe Furniture exhibition space, Arnsdorf pop-up store, Modern Craft exhibition design and the bespoke, small-budget fitout for PR agency Keep Left.


Peoples ChoiceMatt Woods Design

Matt Woods began his practice in 2010 to oversee the conclusion of his first solo project, Bloodwood. The practice has completed three hospitality fitouts, with several residential and hospitality projects under construction. Woods’ main focus is to produce playful, unique functional and cutting edge designs that have a positive impact on social sustainability and the ecology of the planet. He is currently undertaking a masters degree in sustainable architecture and design.


Emerging Designer

The emerging designer award seeks to profile fresh design talent across all of the IDEA categories, rewarding the blossoming careers of designers who have established their practices within the last five years.

Winner – Anthony Gill Architects

Anthony Gill Architects, established in 2007, is a firm of four working in Sydney on hospitality, retail and residential projects. Working with the idea that design is not the end point but the beginning, the spaces allow the user to occupy the space comfortably and make it their own. Proportion and balance are essential in spaces that are modest and, hopefully, timeless. Material choice is not just about surface, but also about context and providing a foundation for the day-to-day.

1 Comment

  1. Carla - November 28, 2011

    I am shocked that these are winners! I think they are terribly simple and forgettable. Sorry!

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