All posts by Merena Nguyen

Indre by Nikolai Kotlarczyk

Rakumba with Nikolai Kotlarczyk

The design of Indre takes inspiration from the suspended catenary streetlights and cobbled stone streets of designer Nikolai Kotlarczyk’s home city, Copenhagen, Indre’s form departs from the purely pared-back and minimal and draws on nostalgia and decoration for its aesthetic

The collection delivers beauty through its delicately rendered double-wall glass capsules that cradles the floating internal lights. Through the expertise of experienced glass craftspeople, each glass capsule employs complex forming methods that had not previously been attempted in production volumes and at such a scale in mouth blown technical glass. Individual capsules are connected by the lines of an interlinking rod system anchored with stone or timber detailing. Indre’s extensive modularity allows the series to adapt to infinite scenarios – singular pendants and table lamps, linear compositions for reception, dining or bar settings, and grand multi-tiered chandeliers for large voids.

Sustainable design strategies are also incorporated at a fundamental level; with cutting edge LEDs for a 20+ year lifespan, energy-efficiency and lighting with minimal glare and replaceable parts without total disassembly. Materials will not degrade over time, can be dismantled simply and recycled effectively and the ultra-compact packed form helps to reduce embodied shipping energy and increase freight efficiency. The modularity enables resultant forms to be reconfigured easily to adapt to new spaces instead of being discarded.

Indre is a contemporary lighting collection encapsulating nostalgia, decoration and elegance.


Photography: Nicole Reed, Rakumba

Paige Kodesh


From the entrant’s submission:

How do we have fun in a pandemic? Can we still enjoy social events together, while. separated? Isoland is an adaptable and global solution that seeks to answer these questions amid the collective experience of isolation during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Rather than forgoing social activities, Isoland proposes a series of ‘attractions’ that celebrate the banality of life we may take for granted. The result is a theme park consisting of six common spaces for social gathering which have been compromised during global lockdown measures. Blending satire with functionality, Isoland re-imagines the familiarities and nostalgia of life before lockdown.

With Coronavirus taking force as a global experience, Isoland can become a real-world project, seeking to re-imagine, re-invent and re-interpret public space in a matter that targets necessary human interaction with social distancing forefront. Buildings mimic traditional uses, however they have been redesigned using wit and diligent measures to accommodate 1.5 metre distancing at all times. These buildings can be easily constructed and utilised all over the world in a manner which mimics the banality of assembling products from IKEA. For example, the pool’s design replicates the typical Olympic pool, only here, each lane is separated and amenities are designed as individual units involving a shower, toilet, and a single lift to a diving platform.

Isoland poses basic human questions which analyse the value of social interaction and the effect of isolation, particularly during a pandemic. The solutions are left to global leaders, who can ‘purchase’ Isoland and reproduce it due to its IKEA-like assembly instructions.

The project features investigations on the new normal of collective gatherings and proposes innovative modes of sharing experiences or social interactions through architecture and folly.


Matthew Walton

University of Queensland

From the entrant’s submission:

An adaptive reuse of Toowong Village Carpark in Brisbane, Australia, as a social condenser in a ‘fictional’ future that has caused cities to become decentralised due to a series of future pandemics. Due to skyrocketing fuel prices, public transport and cycleways become the main method for travel. Abandoned carparks are used to connect cycleways, provide community facilities, sporting facilities, and public spaces. Dubbed the, ‘Subtropical Boulevard’, the site acts as a connection point over the invisible and visible walls created by Coronation Drive. The existing fabric and character are still apparent in these once underutilised spaces.

Through a series of interventions, a site which becomes quite desolate in the future due to decentralisation will be activated for public use. The context around the project’s conception, within the heart of lockdown mid-2020, provides a highly relevant approach to an increasingly decentralised future for major cities. What if car use is reduced by 90 per cent due to working from home and increasingly walkable micro-communities? How can architecture assist in adapting deserted carparks to be used in a new way that best serves the community? This project aims to answer these questions.

This project aims to stretch across scales and beyond architectural expression, to provide a tangible impact for the community. Beyond buildings; the project suggests community facilities that assist with metal and physical challenges, along with urban agriculture, to meet immediate needs for food in a global environment where transporting produce becomes inhibiting. Beyond the macro scale of the city, the project also aims to resolve highly technical details as a small scale. This results in humane spaces which are both inhabitable and architecturally engaging.



Samuel Moloney

The University of Auckland
New Zealand

From the entrant’s submission:

If Architects accept that physical architecture can carry meaning beyond its objective existence, we also must accept that the act of construction invests these intangible meanings into the built environment. If architecture is to suggest anything beyond its own reality, it must do so using its construction as a point of departure.

This statement, underpinning what could be described as Tectonic architecture, has long been a sensibility that supremely concerns architects. One movement overtly interested in materiality and constructional practices was Brutalism. The Brutalist movement sought an ethical outcome via the utilisation of raw materials, clear exhibition of structure and legibility of plan – an aim that resonates strongly with the social ethos of post war building programs. However, despite all the good intentions of Brutalism, its utilitarian meanings are now universally misconstrued. The unfortunate link between Brutalism and the word ‘Brutal’ dictates the impact these buildings now have on our cities.

This project looks towards one such example of a misconstrued Antipodean Brutalist icon – the Student Union (SU) Building at the University of Auckland. My project is a series of interventions in and around the SU building that, in developing a new space for students, simultaneously looks to rediscover and reimbue the positive theoretical underpinnings of a Brutalist Student Union Typology back into the University Campus.

My reasons for doing so are simple. In a time of increasing isolation and disenchantment among students, there is a renewed need for a sense of place and unity within the student body.

Nicola May Myatt

University of Queensland

From the entrant’s submission:

The Transect Pavilions are ultimately about people, and the ways in which people engage with the built and natural environment. The project is located in Singapore, and was developed as part of an intensive design studio based in Singapore in February 2020. The heart of the scheme is to activate, educate, and revegetate the suburb of Marine Parade by making small urban interventions that provide flexible, adaptable spaces for the local community. The design proposes three pavilion typologies and locations: two pavilions which are embedded in suburban and coastal fabrics, and one water-based typology, housing endangered mangrove species.

The pavilions aim to be the centre of a Venn diagram, the place where ecological consideration and community prioritisation meet. It is estimated that Singapore has increased in land area by 25 per cent due to the rapid reclaiming of land. Land reclamation processes frequently disregard both environmental and urban ramifications, disrupting existing coastal habitats and communities. Two of the pavilions proposed sit on Singapore coast lines: one the current coastline, and one a historic coastline. The water pavilions tease the idea of reclaiming water rather than land. Together, the pavilions relink the historic coast and the current coast through a pedestrian spine.

Through interrogating the use and underuse of local public space, small innovative design interventions can increase the activation of valued community precincts – such as Marine Parade’s East Coast Park. The design proposes tessellating pontoons, housing mangrove trees. This infrastructure reintroduces endangered mangrove species to Singapore’s ever-changing shoreline, while responding to local use of coastal spaces for fishing, kayaking, and swimming.




Lachlan Wiles


From the entrant’s submission:

The project is a re-adaption of an existing industrial precinct located in Altona North, Melbourne. It consists of a masterplan and centres around five case-study interventions within the plan itself: an unmanned aerial systems factory, an apiary and integrated performative and regenerative landscape; a nursery with flexible and lettable workspaces; an innovation hub with commercial and research/learning activities; and an autonomous logistics mega-centre.

Dualistic ideologies that posit human culture as separate from nature have dominated western thinking for hundreds of years. Our cities and the way we inhabit the world are a direct and physical manifestation of these beliefs. By challenging traditional ideals, this project envisions effective non-idyllic integration between human culture, nature and technology through the exploration of built and unbuilt ecologies.

The project treats the site as a proxy or test case aimed at addressing topical challenges relating to climate change and urban sustainability while tackling issues such as food production, water and waste management, sustainable energies and locally-based manufacturing. It speculates on how we might see ourselves living within a broader system of things through an entanglement that seeks to create a symbiotic ecosystem between culture, nature, and technology.

Through careful investigation and treatment, the sites endemic grasslands and related natural and urban ecosystems, waterways and industrial buildings have been repaired and regenerated. By transforming and re-adapting existing volumes and open spaces on the site, new inclusive and beneficial relationships have been created, allowing for a denser and more interconnected ecosystem. Through the project’s methodologies, boundaries have blurred and distinctions have vanished, allowing for the creation of a place where we can shift current understandings of our place in the world to one that encompasses a wider territory.

Samantha Romana

Monash University

From the entrant’s submission:

Asbestos has become a carcinogen entangled within the construction industry, in the home, in governance, economies, and in memory, at the hand of human progression. This project, titled ‘On the Edge of Ruin’, questions: how might architecture help to redeem the destructiveness of asbestos production to generate a restorative future in the act of forgetting, and making space for other species to flourish? In the undoing of a material lingering in the past and present, the project presents a chance for future repair to exist by encouraging an ecological equilibrium and return back to natural ecosystems over time through architectural intervention on the edge of the brownfield site of Wittenoom in Western Australia.

The project interrogated multiple issues stemming from the central problem of environmental deterioration, and humanity’s need to consume at the fate of other species. The project attempts to demonstrate how architecture can help to safeguard a multispecies existence in the future and widens the capacity for architects to help cultivate conditions of on-going-ness as a human obligation. The rationale for this project’s name ‘On the Edge of Ruin’ is twofold, referencing the broader and refined scales the project is positioned within. Firstly, it is suggestive of the planet’s future at the hand of human civilisation. It also references the proposition of interim human occupation on the edge of a once heavily contaminated site. It questions: how might humanity behave as custodians of restorative-ness, rather than perpetrators of destruction? As we teeter between the destroyed and repair, how could systems of resurgence be considered as a necessity for all planetary beings? How can this process of making and un-making of place be made more efficient?



Ashlee Murphy

Deakin University

From the entrant’s submission:

Every nine days, a woman is murdered by a man she once trusted. This figure is shocking, and yet Australia’s ignorance toward domestic violence continues. As a result, victims often hide these broken aspects of their lives and present a faultless exterior. From the Broken, is a rural refuge which aims to shift this narrative. The architecture takes inspiration from ‘Kintsugi’, a Japanese art form which aggrandises the repair of a broken object through re-bonding with gold. The project expresses how something broken does not infer destruction, but healing and renewal.

Children living in our current Domestic Violence (DV) facilities don’t understand why good people are being put in cages, while perpetrators remain free. Locking people away for protection simultaneously inhibits their ability to regain control of their lives and establish relationships with others. This project returns power to survivors by balancing the private and communal. The architecture is a series of broken pieces, allowing each individual to have a secure space. These havens are connected through a weaving deck, a metaphor for the gold, creating shared open spaces. It is this encouragement for interaction and respect for vulnerability that is a new approach to DV facilities.

The design ambition was to allow occupants to feel part of a community and help one another recover from their experience. The architectural sensibility created through breaking the accommodations apart and reconnecting them is akin to establishing a neighbourhood street. Through separation, this negative space has become positive, it is where light, nature and people converge. As the accommodations open onto this deck, there is always a tangible yet safe opportunity to engage with the refuge community.


Jingyuan Wang


From the entrant’s submission:

China’s aggressive development has swallowed up tens of thousands of historic sites. This demolition has made Shenzhen – where a city has not only replaced individual towns but a complete spatial history – a city without history. Working with the remaining heritage buildings of Shenzhen is not purely the restoration of the physical. By ‘mending an old man’ in Chinese medicinal practices has been used as a metaphor for repairing, rebuilding and bringing meaning to the heritage site of Guanlan Old Town. These old buildings have been redefined by using Chinese cultural references, such as traditional landscape paintings, movies, opera and fiction to bring new meaning to these structures. These interventions create a cinematographic journey through the old town and are mild enough for the old buildings to be rich with expression, it can be summed up as: Repair is a kind of poetry. This is the story of mending.

This project proposes an alternative strategy for heritage sites in China, by seeing architecture’s role in revealing history and culture. The proposal exceeds the two common modes of conservation in China, namely restoration to the original state or minimal intervention.

The proposal of this project exceeds the two common modes of conservation in China, namely restoration to the original state or minimal intervention. The project gives value to the gaps, overgrown ruins and dilapidated façades as found conditions worthy of preserving. Careful interventions and additions curate a journey through, over and between old buildings. A concealed world is constructed to understand cultural meaning and metaphor; from ancient Chinese medicine, classical theatre and arts to contemporary Chinese cinema. A layered cinematic experience is created by day and an immersive and other worldly stage set by night.

Muhammad Izzat Ramli

The University of Auckland
New Zealand

From the entrant’s submission:

It has been generally accepted in architectural history that Pacific architecture has its origin in Southeast Asia (SEA) architecture; however, the connection between the two regions has seemed to deteriorate after Western imperialism. The proposed speculative project aims to reconstruct the Pacific’s consanguinity with that of Southeast Asia by speculatively reimagining Indonesia’s capital city’s relocation plan- from Java to Borneo. The narrative of this project displays the continuum of visionary thinking of Oceanic philosophy and sophisticated engineering of indigenous Oceanic tectonic which are explored to solve the ‘contemporary problems’ like the sea level rise, deforestation and indigenous community gentrification.

This project was inspired by the rich and long history of Oceania, taken from the ancestral stories that always injected a beautiful dream to those who listened and sought it. Some stories preach about the legendary heroes that evoke a sense of innovation and creation. Some warn about the potential threats if we did not protect nature, and some teach about our identity, uplifting our rootedness and identity. As designers, we are responsible for outlining this into practicality. Undeniably, a few things will be rationalised and simplified, but as long as the core values could be retained, it will make our current world a bit more like our dream.

This thesis aspires to embrace the sense of empowerment in architecture and there are three building typologies investigated in this project; meeting house, living house and storehouse, which were inspired by the shared typology found in SEA and Pacific. The project will try to reimagine the relevance of Oceanic indigenous solutions in our contemporary world.


Rosemary Li

The University of Auckland
New Zealand

From the entrant’s submission:

Inspired by the traditional Chinese bracket system; the Dou gong(斗拱), the thesis explores to revive this artistry through the means of modern fabrication. By following the process of research, design, build and application of an architectural installation the project critically questions: ‘how can we employ the advancement of modern technology to revive a long-lost ancient building technique of the traditional Chinese joinery system, and create a monumental piece in commemoration of the COVID-19 global pandemic?’ In response, two different scaled architectural installations are designed to commemorate this historic event: the realisation of the ‘Hashtag Wish Tree’ for the annual Auckland Art Week and Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens Exhibition and the ‘Sentimental Piece’ proposal as one of the top finalists for the 2020 Brick Bay Competition.

As one of New Zealand’s first research projects that encapsulates the theme of COVID-19, the installation takes a new perspective on a global crisis and translates it into an architectural language where world/nationwide data and curves are extracted and intertwined throughout the design as an inimitable symbolic experience.

Dou Gong is vastly used across historic Chinese architecture. The beauty of this ancient artform lies within the craftsmanship that demands high precision for each joint to interlock in harmony together. Without a single nail or drop of glue, the dense, complex brackets form a robust and aesthetically pleasing structural system for the overhanging roofs. The installation reinterprets this technique to a lightweight spaceframe design that reveals the potential of a versatile self-supporting structure. The notion of the installation marks this historic event, bridging the traditional and the modern; the east and the west; architecture and sculpture poetically together as one entity.

Liam Oxlade


From the entrant’s submission:

The primary outcome of this thesis project is a 15-minute short film that is folded out of a question of ‘what life do these projects have beyond an examination?’ The film addresses the legitimacy of public buildings across three discrete outcomes: the Dandenong Mechanics’ Institute hall, Dandenong Company Broadcasting (DCB) media park/data centre, and a Dandenong Post suburban distribution centre – each conceived as belonging to the past, present and future respectively. Dandenong was an important regional city, before it was swallowed up by Melbourne’s sprawl. The film here imagines that it retains this autonomy.

The project breaks new ground in challenging the accepted domains of architectural representation and, by extension, the domain of the architect. In eschewing the orthodoxy of traditional drawing convention, the adoption of film (and the moving image) seeks to engage the myriad possibilities and opportunities offered to a thesis project completed entirely under lockdown and thus presented exclusively over the internet. These multiple viewpoints suggest an exciting and democratic tool for communicating with (and about) architecture. The ambition being that this would influence the outcome, engaging a built form closely attuned to human perception and understanding.

The design is a collection of public buildings, presented in montage as a counterfactual history of Dandenong. These multiple viewpoints convey an idea of how human beings might augment their relationship to the built and natural landscape. Rivers, forests, and beaches are required to perform as commercial entities and recreational hubs. This expectation assumes primacy over its status as ecosystem, or in Australia – Country, as sacred landscape. If we could reassert these assumptions on those conditions of the built landscape that equitably contain aspects of the natural – we might be better placed to reduce our strain on those things that are separate to us.

James McNicol


From the entrant’s submission:

The project facilitates the relationship of interdependence between crabs and rice that rises out of huge disparities in food production between the two Koreas. The project proposes multiple sites that farm crabs and rice situated both sides of the Imjin River. The idea of reciprocity can then be explored as the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) condition allows for an architectural intervention that suspends the friend and enemy distinction by relying on the neutrality of the water body as a critical resource in order to maintain the operation of the farms on both the North and South. While the channelling, distribution and mixing of water must be specific for the operation of the farm there was an opportunity to break from an engineered functionalism to insert the idea of swimming as double program

The idea of reciprocity is a unique conception to explore within the DMZ with the architectural intervention attempting to suspend the friend and enemy distinction that the demarcation creates. The site of water, rather than being the site of war dramatized by the DMZ is complicated by the idea of sharing in order to maintain operations

To facilitate a joint farming process that redirects the downstream migration of the crabs into adjacent rice paddies. Creating a precedent in sustainable and co-dependent farming culture to combat starvation in the North and overproduction in the South. In populating both sides of the river divide with a similar horticultural intervention that depends upon the neutrality of the brackish waters it sets up connections between two sets of farmers who depend upon negotiating this resource within the contested DMZ zone

Xi Chen

Atelier XI

After working in Copenhagen and New York for many years, Xi Chen returned to his homeland, China, and established his practice Atelier XI. The work of the practice focuses on public and cultural projects at various scales, and there is attention paid to the needs of diverse groups and scales.

The studio aspires to create spaces that bring unique poetry and profoundness to contemporary urban and rural environments and Chen believes that each space, grand or tiny, is a clue to the vastness of our world, and a testimony to the glory of everyday life. “By planting these quiet and resilient spaces one at a time, we envision architecture to branch out and blossom with life and narratives” he explained.

Chen’s hope for the future is that the practice will not become a copy and paste of a personal signature. He aims to create spaces that belong to their environment with unique elements and ideas extracted from their surroundings. This is his original intention for the practice that is maintained to this day.

Currently the studio is involved with many small and medium-scale public and cultural projects. In the future, there are hopes to explore new project types, especially some general and productive projects such as the most basic residential, office or urban space. Chen, through Atelier XI, hopes to create unique experiences and small miracles in ordinary places.

Chen has a hope and vision for the future and says, “Due to economic prosperity and good population mobility, a large number of new projects emerge every year. I hope architects in the Indo-Pacific region can create a unique pattern of architecture and urbanism that responds to the cultural vitality and climate condition of the region.”


Photography: Xi Chen, Zhang Chao, Atelier XI

Ara Salomone & Alessandra French

State of Kin

Both Ara Salomone and Alessandra French were immersed in the design industry from an early age through family businesses (construction and architecture respectively) and with that came an understanding of design and the built form.

State of Kin’s conception was an organic one as there was a long friendship before working together. Respecting each other’s work the pair were excited by the opportunity to learn from one another and grow together. Collaboration within the studio has always been important and the work produced by State of Kin would not be what it is without the contribution of everyone in the team.

State of Kin embraces bold colours, expressive forms and unexpected materials – the projects are not only an expression of both women’s personalities but also that of their clients. Each project is treated as a unique collaboration, working closely with the client to ensure exciting and progressive outcomes.

As a studio, State of Kin actively advocates for the advancement of women within the industry. Entering what is a predominantly male dominated industry at an early age, the design team started out as four young women who have grown, challenged and supported each other as the studio developed.

The story of State of Kin is unique, as through the family dynamic, construction has been integrated within the business. The team consists of Ara’s husband Donny (Site Manager) and father-in-law Gino (Builder), Alessandra’s brother Massimo (Project Manager) and her father Steve (QS). The studio works extremely closely with the construction team, and there are highly collaborative relationships between designer and builder that is integral in the successful realisation of all projects.

Moving forward, the women would love to further diversify the work that they do, exploring different scales and typologies that would allow them to further express and challenge their design ethos.

Ara and Alessandra are inspired by the flourishing design community in Perth and want to contribute to the broader dialogue around architecture and design within the city, whether that is continuing to open their studio and projects to the public for events or collaborating with local artists and other likeminded design professionals.


Photography: Sophie Pearce, Jack Lovel

Olivia Lee

Olivia Lee

Olivia Lee was a hyperactive, highly sensitive child with an overactive imagination, however, this also meant she was quite self-directed and always found things to do from a very young age. Her parents said that the only thing that kept Olivia still, was if she became engrossed in her many self-initiated ‘projects’. This included collecting insects, conducting science experiments, making Rube Goldberg machines, raiding her father’s tool shed, designing elaborate video game levels on paper, taking toys apart and making Christmas presents for her family.

Today, Olivia reflects that “I am still that child, just in a bigger neighbourhood with new friends to play with”.  

Olivia has design in her blood and when she came into the profession of industrial design, she felt that she was home again. “All my disparate interests of wanting to be an inventor, philosopher, artist, storyteller, architect and explorer suddenly made sense under the wonderful umbrella of design” Oliva says.

As such, establishing her own studio just seemed a natural and inevitable decision. It has not been an easy path founding the studio and taking the initial leap of faith was the most challenging step. But, for every challenge and setback there is gratification as Olivia can write the rules of her own design practice and create the opportunities that manifest in her work.

As a designer, Olivia’s emergence was radical for the time in Singapore, as there were very few female design-auteurs globally. However, she stayed true to her design interests and strengths, rather than try to accommodate the market. By incorporating the poetry, lightness, messiness and wonder of design in to her work, Olivia slowly found her audience, that continues today.

As a studio, Olivia loves the challenges of rethinking hotels and hospitality concepts in the new paradigm of a post-pandemic world and there are untapped opportunities within Singapore, to develop new domestic experiences where locals can spend time meaningfully and be engaged. As a designer, Olivia continues to bring a sense of wonder and beauty to unexpected places and is always looking for new opportunities to “expect the unexpected in the years ahead”.



Photography: Lavendar Chang, Jovian Lim, Dieu Tan, Olivia Lee

Ben Robertson

Tecture Architecture and Interior Design

Tecture was established as a result of a new found confidence. After working at several high-end practices in Melbourne, Ben Robertson began to notice a void in the architectural landscape and wanted to challenge the narrative of what ‘high-end’ means. This entailed an exploration of ways of designing homes with strong detailing, a more economical approach of materiality, architectural purity and minimalism all in an environment where the idea of clients employing an architect was not a prohibitive cost.

The ambition of Ben and Tecture is restrained. The practice is a team of four and the intent is to maintain this size to ensure that Ben can remain ‘on the tools’ on a daily basis. This also encourages a stronger team-based environment, but equally allows Ben to not just be a manager.

The approach at Tecture is progressive as there is a non-existent hierarchy, a tight-knit team, and internally, lines are blurred on project management and design.

Ben approaches each design with a structured program for each client to encourage a timely and rigorous outcome. This allows Tecture to manage the quantity of projects on the books, higher than firms of similar staff levels. There is also encouragement for economic and practical design decisions for clients that explore stronger design narratives as a result.

With a strong interior design background, the team encourage design solutions that create equilibrium between interiors and exteriors with neither being more important than the other.

As time progresses and the practice attains more presence within the industry, beyond the five years Tecture has existed, the processes and business structure should remain constant but with continued refinement. Over time, greater challenges, larger budgets and more detailed briefs are being presented to the practice and so too the opportunities to create more unique designs and expand its experimental approach


Photography: Damien Kook, Shannon McGrath, Peter Clarke


Penelope Forlano

Forlano Design

Penelope Forlano is a woman of many parts. Her interests span, anthropology, design anthropology, design for custodianship, advanced manufacturing technology combined with hand-craft, multidisciplinary problem solving, material testing and experimentation, emotion and design, public space, community engagement and time-based engagement with the built form. It is from these perspectives that Penelope has carved out a career in designing and making.

There have been myriad accolades and countless milestones in Penelope’s career and her craft has no boundaries with design that encompasses installations, exhibitions, art, furniture, and teaching.

In 2018 her thesis entitled ‘Making Custodians; A Design Anthropology approach to designing emotionally enduring built environment artefacts’ explores emotional and psychological consumption practices, a subject that is close to her heart.

Experimental, self-initiated projects have been instrumental to her practice. Endless Quilt became a cornerstone project which spearheaded her PhD research into the person-object relationship by utilising reclaimed waste materials to create an object of significant, intergenerational meaning: while The Lux table earned an Australian Design Award and established a collaboration that continues today.

Receiving the award enabled Penelope to experiment with new advanced technologies and materials, and to expand her practice that would not have eventuated with solely client-driven projects and she commented that, “Being a sole practitioner and collaborating with various professionals enables me to be nimble, experimental and risk-taking.”

In 2018, Penelope was Artist in Residence at the Parliament of Western Australia creating Shield of Voices (that was subsequently acquired). In 2015 An artwork at Perth Airport International terminal, From the Skies, was designed with Aboriginal Elder Doolann Leisha Eatts and she received the Humanities Research of the Year Award, Curtin University in 2011, among many other milestones.

In her work there are collaborations with the community and in particular, the First Nations People in local communities and Penelope says, “I’d like to see greater collaboration with the First Nations People to remind us of our connection to land, history and identity. Design can also communicate to people the value of ethical design on a number of levels, with a focus on a ‘benevolent beauty’ that is possible through a deep connection to local makers and community and spaces where we are reminded about our cultural history, connectedness and future aspirations. It may be highly ambitious and idealistic, but worth pursuing.”



Photography: David Broadway, Douglas Mark Black, Rob Frith, Bo Fong

Jean-Michel Gathy


Educated in Belgium, Jean-Michel Gathy founded DENNISTON in Malaysia in 1983. The practice is a niche architectural and design company, and one of the world’s leading hospitality design firms. DENNISTON has a fine pedigree and has designed some of the most renowned luxury hotels, interiors and landscapes in the world.

Today, DENNISTON is actively working on 40 hotel projects and developments, including master planning a project of 100 square kilometres north of California’s Napa Valley, Amaala Island in Saudi Arabia, Aman New York, Aman Miami, Cheval Blanc Seychelles, Oberoi Mumbai, One and Only Dubai, and Janu Tokyo, among many others. And if there is a signature style for DENNISTON, it is East meets West, infusing the diverse elements subtly into a contrasting setting.

There has been a long-term collaboration with the Aman brand of resorts and hotels that began in 1989. With the success of a single project in Indonesia came a string of other commissions that collectively shaped the portfolio now attached to DENNISTON. Jean-Michel commented, ”Whether a resort is on a deliciously remote island or a hotel in the middle of a bustling city, I am a firm believer in interpreting the brand’s DNA accurately, in context. As a designer, you must be adaptive in nature and sensitive to change.”

Jean-Michel understands the nature of designing a hotel. He emphasises that, “When you design a hotel, you are conceptualising a business for someone to run. The hotel has to work functionally so it has to makes sense from a physical design standpoint” and, “I think the fundamental role of architects and designers is first to serve a client as we are ultimately in a service industry and regardless of geolocation, whether in Miami or Tibet for example, clients want their product to be financially successful.”

Over the decades that Jean-Michel has been designing outstanding projects, the practice creates not only the destination but the traveller’s perception. An example of this is the Chedi Muscat that gained an international following among travellers in the 2000s and today, still remains the benchmark for a quiet luxury destination.

In talking about his work and that of the practice Jean-Michel explains, “We have developed an unprecedented history in design of continuously remaining ahead of ever-changing aesthetics and consumer expectations” and to prove this the commissions are ever on-going.


Photography: Denniston, Cheval Blanc, LVMH / DENNISTON, Four Seasons

Andre Fu

Andre Fu Studio
Hong Kong

Andre Fu was born in Hong Kong and educated in the United Kingdom, reading Architecture at the University of Cambridge. Andre founded his eponymous studio in 2001 with the first major project, the design of the world-renowned Upper House hotel in Hong Kong. Since then, his work has mainly been in the world of luxury hospitality but Andre’s strong interest in culture and art has enabled him to undertake other projects in these areas.

Studying and travelling between continents over the past thirty years reflects Andre’s sensibility of reinterpreting traditional notions of national identities, drawing as naturally on European principles of beauty as on Oriental qualities, traditions and modernity, in a new hybrid.

Andre’s projects are diverse and has collaborated with Louis Vuitton on the Objets Nomades furniture collection and there has also been a long collaboration with gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin, creating contemporary art galleries in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai. He has designed the interiors for several major hotels and restaurants around the world including Villa La Coste in Provence, The Berkeley London, The St Regis Hong Kong and the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok and last year saw the opening of The Mitsui Kyoto.

2020 saw the publication of a new hardback monograph titled ‘Crossing Cultures with Design’ and Andre explained, “There has been a greater bridging of cultures, narrowing the gap between east and west and this movement is reflected in my book.”

His studio has grown through work on projects over a spectrum of locations – from Monaco to London to Beijing – creating works that are unique, with a specific narrative, reflecting their location yet with a universal quality.

Andre enjoys working on projects across different scales, moving from one realm to the next and he says, “I believe my work has contributed significantly to a better global understanding and appreciation of Asian design.”

In the future, Andre wants to continue to create experiences that bridge different cultures and that respond to the evolving notion of hospitality, to explore new horizons of designs: from product collaboration, to the realms of performance arts spaces / public parks and even landscaping. He will also progress his work with Andre Fu Living, pursuing the artful notion of lifestyle from within. Andre Fu’s vision is defined by a seamless alignment of cultural and design sensibilities, modern luxury, art and craftsmanship.


Photography: Andre Fu Studio, Courtesy of Louis Vuitton, Courtesy of Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto Luxury Collection and Spa, Courtesy Waldorf Astoria Bangkok

Sôl Bar & Restaurant

Genesin Studio with Walter Brooke

Sôl Bar & Restaurant was designed as a textural space referencing local South Australian hills and gorges and with a natural tonal palette.

Informed by natural material, the design incorporates the use of locally quarried green granite and Mintaro slate and these are featured throughout the venue as uniquely South Australian materials in different bar areas.

The Balmoral green granite helps create a singular restaurant atmosphere with the stone wrapping up the bar, walls and ceiling. The Mintaro slate tops the insitu-formed custom-made concrete bars – the imperfections curated with the final acid wash and sealant.

A collection of soft and curved furniture was created to fit the material palette of American white oak, soft grey and tobacco leather, soft velvets and upholsteries. Custom furniture and banquettes are rounded to follow the line of the walls and some banquettes feature bolsters while others employ stacked travertine slabs to form a half bullnose edge detail. American oak fluted ceilings aid the acoustics and carefully placed recessed lighting helps hide unsightly services. The interior features commissioned works of art from myriad South Australian artists.

As materials have been sourced locally, the process adds to the sustainability initiatives in place that include, a five per cent waste commercial kitchen, sourcing of food locally, minimising food waste and recycling processes.


Furniture: Aura Objects, DeDeCe, Aptos Cruz, Mobilia, HUB Furniture, Fred international, Grazia and Co, Cult, custom furniture and joinery. Lighting: District. Finishes: Dulux Paint, Surface 2, Artoz Rugs, Forbo, Supawood, custom furniture and joinery. Fittings & Fixtures: VOLA.


Photography: Jonathan VDK

Nature Discovery Park

LAAB Architects with PLandscape & Speirs Major
Hong Kong

Located at the heart of Hong Kong, Nature Discovery Park is a rooftop nature conservatory in a newly redeveloped retail destination, the K11 MUSEA. The spatial design brings people together through advocating the co-existence of humans, nature, and the urban environment.

The nature exploration journey begins with an archive that showcases rare butterfly species, leading to an aquarium that hosts the water and tropic marine species of the Victoria Harbour across the site if there were no pollution.

Inside the greenhouse, a hydroponic nursery brings organically grown vegetables on the table, while the farm offers urban farming opportunities for city dwellers, promoting values such as rooftop farming.

As Hong Kong is home to a multitude of butterfly species, the nature discovery journey ends at a butterfly garden that grows plants to attract insects. The glasshouse features large sliding glass doors that open its interior to the outdoor farm and to save energy, an IGU glass facade was used to reduce heat gain. The sliding doors are always opened to draw in sunlight and to enhance natural ventilation and the roof is slightly pitched forward so that the architecture catches the prevailing wind from the harbour.

The reflection of the farm on the glasshouse against the surrounding skyscrapers produces a visual reminder of the co-existence of nature and urbanism.

The architecture of the glasshouse was designed with a humble form to evoke a sense of simplicity and respect for nature, with an open, transparent door that maximises the visual connectivity with the outdoor farm and the Victoria Harbour.


Furniture: Ton. Lighting: custom (LAAB Architects). Finishes: Challpac, Mirage. Fittings & Fixtures: Bain d’Or.


Photography: Otto Ng of LAAB Architects

The Next Hotel, Melbourne

Woods Bagot

Situated in Melbourne CBD’s East End, the Next Hotel is the chain’s latest flagship project. Part of the city’s new 80 Collins complex, the boutique destination provides a destination for travellers to stay, work and connect with local experiences.

Close to Chinatown, and within Melbourne’s ‘Paris End’ designer fashion district, the location inspired the interior where bespoke ceramic lights, Chinese-inspired custom rugs and richly coloured joinery elements complement brightly contrasting colour palettes and rich textural fabrics.

The 255-room hotel, spread over 20 floors, features multiple food and beverage offerings and a co-working style club for solo and collaborative work.

The ground floor consists of a concierge with a seven-seat café where guests are directed to the hotel reception and lobby above. Jade green marble and opulent gold inform the colour palette while the lounge design features artworks, eclectic furniture and custom rugs.

This level also contains the Club Lounge with a co-working space as well as self-serve food and beverage offering. The level 2 Club employs steel framing and wired glass to create the ambience of a maker’s workshop and blue glazed tiles and white stone with highly figured black marks reference the colours and patterning of cracked antique china.

The third floor provides a dedicated hospitality space which includes a unique destination bar experience alongside a formal dining space.

The hotel was designed to a 5 Star (Australian Leadership) equivalent level of performance in line with Green Star framework and interiors include the use of low VOC products, CoC certified timbers and finishes to assist with acoustic and visual comfort. Locally manufactured furniture, fixtures and art were specified where possible to support local craftspeople and reduce carbon miles.


Furniture: Stylecraft, Schiavello, Living Edge, Mark Tuckey, Jardan, Restoration, Custom Hotel. Lighting: Artemdide, Spence & Lyda, Living Edge, Cult, Gravity Floor Lamp by Gubi from Cult. Finishes: Halcyon Lake, Whitecliffe Imports, Designer Rugs, Godfrey Hirst, Artedomus, George Fethers, Elton Group, Alternative Surfaces, Colour Choice, Porter’s Paints, Dulux. Fittings & Fixtures: Parisi, Vertilux, Kvadrat Maharam, DAAC, Zepel Fabrics.


Photography: Sharyn Cairns



Esteban Restaurant & Bar

H&E Architects

Authentically Mexican, Esteban Restaurant & Bar epitomises the city escape. Situated in a narrow inner-city lane within an existing heritage building, the design has been considered as a bespoke piece of joinery, to fit within, and respect the conventions of the site.

Taking distinct cues from the underground bars of Mexico City, Esteban Restaurant & Bar fuses bespoke detailing with a grungy undertone. Positioned within the basement of an iconic heritage building the space is raw with a limited palette of finishes and material detailing that includes the existing timber beams and sandstone walls. Complementing the existing brickwork, the raw materials of the building become a part of the integration.

The main bar acts as the anchor for the space and features a natural granite bar top finished with carved timber nosing and aged brass detailing. There is a bespoke three-metre-long charcoal barbecue in the restaurant kitchen as well as an innovative and complex filtration system to help ensure the authenticity of the charcoal grill was not compromised. Feature lighting throughout gives prominence to the architectural detailing and provides warmth.

The configuration of raw material, customer touch points and visual cues at Esteban Restaurant & Bar ensures the patron is always touched by elements of theatre. The design and hospitality work together and create a venue that is all encompassing.


Furniture: Contempo & Co, Ercol Capena. Lighting: Contempo & Co. Finishes: Euro Marble, Elite Bathware, Pelle Leathers, Dulux,artwork (Nanami Cowdroy). Fittings & Fixtures: Studio Henry.


Photography: Steven Woodburn

Four Pillars Laboratory – Eileens Bar


Eileen’s Bar with its adjoining Gin Laboratory references the botanical elements of Four Pillars, a gin company, through hand-crafted timber elements and also acknowledges the star ingredient of the beverage, the juniper berry through colour.

Through materiality the bar is transformed into a contemporary destination without losing its industrial connection to the building. Bright blue predominates and there is tartan and spotted juniper berry blue fabric, timber joinery and bespoke furniture.

The 11-metre-long ‘V’ shaped bar with blunted corners in Pandamo-finished micro-cement is coloured the hue of the house bottle, ‘Four Pillars Navy Strength’ and spans half of the floorspace. The bar counter is a generous width and recessed integrated stainless-steel internals provide a coimfortable place to eat and drink. There are retractable stained oak louvered screens that allow flexibility to open up the space when required and custom tables with collapsible legs are easy to move at a moment’s notice.

The entire ceiling of the heritage freestanding brick landmark has been stripped of tract lighting and the timber joists and original copper inlays between beams restored.

At Four Pillars there is a tradition to name various headquarters after the mothers of company owners and senior employees and in Sydney, the still bears the name of co-founder Matt Jones’ mother Eileen.

Defining a new era in hospitality design, Eileens Bar designed with timber, concrete, steel and cork, reveals a sparsely elegant space that unfolds into an experience of grown-up sophistication and resilient chic.


Furniture: Nau, Kvadrat/Raf Simons, Cult Design, Design Nation. Lighting: custom YSG, Maiden, VBO, Modular lighting. Finishes: Rematerialised, Kvadrat/Raf Simons, Jonathan West, Concreative, Behind Bars, Portugal Cork, Up Rising Cement, Macqyver Models. Fittings & Fixtures: Vola, Spark and Burnish, Moda, Clipsal.


Photography: Anson Smart



Heyington Gardens


Heyington Gardens is a sensitive restoration of an entry vestibule within an iconic 1960s modernist apartment block. The project investigates how a design approach based on historical research, together with innovative craft and fabrication techniques and shared conversations, can transport building occupants from their contemporary life into layers of history.

Originally designed by prolific architect Ernest Fooks in 1963, Heyington Gardens is a boutique modernist apartment block which, after an unsympathetic nineties reworking of the foyer, was in need of refurbishment. Fooks’ interior design approach that merged regional materials and detailing with exotic references from his global expeditions, became the inspiration for the project.

The feature glass mosaic mural of bright green and melon was inspired by the architect’s love of the subtropical Guinea Turaco bird. The mural’s profuse plumage echoes the building’s surrounding finishes and lush gardens. Other clues from the archive informed new terrazzo floors, the restored timber front entry door, and copper entry signage. The design features artisan crafted light fixtures and an anodised aluminium entryway bench with a subtle laser-cut pattern: a reinterpretation of the mural’s geometry. New wall-hung copper glass mirrors are located to multiply sightlines and greenery and opens up the L-shaped space. The lift was refurbished in hammered steel and copper coloured mirrored glass; creating an otherworldly portal into the foyer beyond.

Heyington Gardens invests in its past and its future to create a shared space of delight for the next generations. What makes this project unique are the contemporary elements that celebrate an original icon with new moments of brightness and joy.


Lighting: custom made by Studiobird, Webb Welding. Finishes: Signorino, Haymes.


Photography: Christine Francis

There in the middleness

Nathan Yong Design

There in the middleness, probes the ideas of how, as a progressive society, there is a need to re-evaluate the effects of our modernisation in a post-pandemic world.

Set as a monolith within the greenery of The Padang, in Singapore, and distanced from the city’s modern skyline, the installation draws the viewer to its peaceful inner sanctum. The aim of the installation is to lift the spirits of the viewer and reimagine new possibilities for the future.

The geometric form of the installation the circle symbolises hope and healing and people were encouraged to sit in the circle to rest and contemplate.

The installation is made of 124 cast concrete blocks that measure one metre by 0.35 centimetres by 0.45 centimetres and each piece weighs 125 kilograms. LED lights have been installed below to enhance the night-time experience, and the blocks have been arranged in a 40-metre diameter ring. The public was invited to contribute meaningful words to be included on the surface of the pieces.

The weight and size of the installation symbolises the holding onto the historical ground of The Padang field – as it is the only green space in the civic district.

At night, the sculptural bench is lit with running lights at intervals of one minute and has also been programmed to run in opposite directions between the inner and outer ring of light. This symbolises the conflict of humankind.

The installation was dismantled after featuring in the Light to Night Festival and pieces procured by various agencies in Singapore such as the Asian Civilisation Museum, National Design Centre, The Promontory at Marina Bay, The National Gallery and Lasalle School of the Arts, to ensure the that There in the middleness continues to live another life.

Atomic Beer Project


The Atomic Beer Project has transformed a derelict mid-century corner brick warehouse with storefront, in Sydney’s inner-city Redfern, into a new and engaging hospitality destination true to its location aesthetic and with a Pan-Asian flair. This is the first microbrewery and taproom on the east coast of Australia for the client, West Australian craft beer specialists, Gage Roads Brewing Co.

Three imperatives were essential to the design. Firstly, to create a state-of-the-art microbrewery accommodating fermentation vessels that can be seen from every aspect and are instantly connected to the taps. To also provide cool room storage plus an open kitchen and share dining environment and lastly, to encapsulate Redfern’s tough street history with the retro tech of Tron in the design aesthetic.

The space comprises two levels – kitchen and main dining area with bathrooms above. The interior boasts exposed brickwork, layered paint, roller door shutters with chains and graffiti elements. Textured window borders and assorted new internal walls were covered with obsidian paint that transitions to a polished epoxy paint sheen and covers the banquettes’, stacked brickwork and defines datum lines. Key furnishings and fixtures include chrome tubular stainless steel. There are tubular cushions bound by belt straps, reminiscent of Thai backrests, as well as upturned milk crates and hawker stools, padded for comfort.

Complying with acoustic and insulation requirements, Koolthern K18 insulated plasterboard has been installed with the foil-backed insulation facing outwards, to replicate the existing roof blanket while the existing timber purlins and steel trusses have been retained.

The colour palette is bold with the raised red Thai diner complementing the bar, a glistening green Pyrolave slab, while illuminated, translucent yellow plastic strips dangle from above.


Furniture: Steelotto, custom designed furniture by YSG, Kvadrat, Rematerialised, Design Nation, Laminex. Lighting: custom lights designed by YSG, Macgyver Models, DMF International, Sphera, Steelotto, Lunatiques, CCSS, Castorina & Co. Finishes: Upright Cement Renders, Promena Projects,  Artedomus, Total Concrete Services, Creative Finish Sydney, Cre8, MTWO Carpentry, Ironbark Flooring. Fittings & Fixtures: Door Furniture Direct, Caroma, Hay, Design Stuff.


Photography: Anson Smart

Fish Lane Town Square

Richards & Spence with RPS Landscape Architects

Fish Lane Town Square is the culmination of an urban renewal strategy along Fish Lane within South Brisbane. The project includes a public park with landscaping and two new buildings.

A clear framework was designed to transform 38 private carparks into a 2,500 square metre subtropical public space with more than 3,000 plants and hundreds of trees, while embracing the overhead rail line.

A variety of public art pieces have been curated to activate the Town Square space, that also encourages users to dwell and learn more about the history of the area.

South Brisbane has long needed a Town Square precinct for residents and pedestrians to enjoy. By curating retailers for the project, Fish Lane Town Square is able to attract visitors and continue to grow and attract patronage from all across the city, As a testament to this the average pedestrian visitation of Fish Lane has grown from 400 people per day to 10,000 people over the seven-year period since inception, and Town Square has significantly added to the pedestrian count.

Fish Lane Town Square is a unique design that reflects the heritage of its suburb. There is public activation with dining and meeting places and the project has created an identity for South Brisbane residents where they can gather and enjoy what the suburb has to offer.


Photography: Peter Sexty, Scott Burrows



BYRDI is an elemental bar experience, showcasing contemporary cocktails and food grounded in Australian heritage. The design creates an atmospheric, immersive venue on an irregularly shaped mall tenancy and the space was required to evolve for different operational needs throughout its round-the-clock service, from breakfast to late night drinks. 

Offering a diverse selection of seating options throughout the bar, BYRDI also features a street-fronting experimental laboratory called the Aviary. Featuring terracotta-toned custom tiles made in Victoria, this six-seat room enables mixologists to explore and demonstrate more experimental techniques direct to diners, all showcased to those passing on La Trobe Street.

There is a deliberate entry progression to set the tone and introduce BYRDI as a world beyond the city. Two anodised aluminium and timber portals stand either side of an oversized pivoting door lined in recycled felt. They establish a sense of anticipation and arrival as patrons pass through this repeated threshold.

The main island bar is a sculptural timber form which anchors the space, and is accentuated by dramatic feature lighting. This focuses the eye on the service of food and drink at the stainless steel and granite bench below.

Inside there is a moody palette of rusty ochre and wine tones that is complemented by tactile surfaces. A sustainable outcome was achieved for the project through carefully selected local materials with floors in bluestone and coir (made from responsibly sourced coconut husk); bars and joinery in Australian timber and leather, and tiles and walls lined in cork. Furniture is from local designers Ross Didier and DesignByThem.

The views in, and the bold entry, draw customers to the moody and intimate space and BYRDI’s central bar is a platform becomes a place to showcase the ceremony of cocktail making.


Furniture: Feelgood Designs, DesignByThem, Cult, Ross Didier. Lighting: TW, Ambience Lighting, Euroluce, Ross Gardam, Light Project. Finishes: Dulux, Portugal Cork, Aus Tanners, De Fazio, Granite Works, Natural Floor Covering, Sapphire Aluminium, Architectural Bricks & Pavers, Woven Image.


Photography: Haydn Cattach, Jana Langhorst