TDF Design Awards

These Emerging Designers Are The Next Big Things!

Here at The Design Files, we’re very partial to a new kid on the block. So we are VERY EXCITED today to introduce the finalists for the Emerging Designer award in The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020! 

Our Emerging Designer category seeks to award one designer, architect, independent creative or studio, working in any creative discipline, who has launched their own professional practice within the last three years.

From an innovative ceramicist to groundbreaking interior designers and emerging architects, this diverse shortlist of eight finalists represents some seriously impressive newcomers across Australia’s design industry. Judges Sophie Gannon and Simone LeAmon have their work cut out for them!

Today we take a closer look at these enormously talented bright young things, supported by Phoenix Tapware.

Lucy Feagins

The Bourke st Apartment by Fowler and Ward. Photo – Tom Blachford.

Thornbury Townhouses by Fowler and Ward. Photo – Tom Blachford.

Fowler and Ward

Proud alumni of Clare Cousins Architects, Jessie Fowler and Tara Ward formed their own architecture practice, Fowler and Ward, in 2018. Besides a clear shared style, the pair’s common interest in socially-driven design outcomes drives the impressive young firm, which already has nine complete projects to its name. Particularly invested in sensitive renovations and small-space innovation, the pair strive to make a compassionate impact on the urban character surrounding them.

The studio has a passion for designing residential spaces that give back to Melbourne, the city they love, from creating homes in small spaces to multi-residential developments that increase density without overwhelming neighbourhood character.

James Howe, Furniture Designer. Photo – Peter Ryle.

James Howe

Following a career in journalism, James Howe came to furniture design with almost no prior knowledge of or experience in the industry in 2018. His interest blossomed after stumbling across the work of Danish designer Børge Mogensen, and completing furniture design training in JamFactory’s Associate Training Program. Today, James makes a small product range under his eponymous brand as well as creating one-off exhibition pieces, the most recent of which was displayed as part of Melbourne Design Week in March.

His minimalist, handmade pieces draw on nature, cityscapes and functional objects to achieve their tactile yet refined forms. James is also shortlisted in the Furniture Design category.

Read our fully story here.

CJH Studio, Interior Architect & Product Designer. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

CJH Studio

Led by director Cassie James-Herrick, CJH Studio is a two-person practice undertaking predominantly high-end residential interior architecture and design, as well as small retail, commercial and styling work. The studio is noted for its creative approach to spatial arrangement which produces warm yet minimal environments that celebrate natural materials and soft forms. From beautiful, calming apartment renovations to custom furniture pieces, the young studio brings years of experience to its holistic design response.

CJH Studio also curates a collection of handles, hooks, hardware and bespoke small wares under the brand Linear Standard. CJH Studio is also shortlisted in the Interior Design category.

Stamford Park by Brahman Perera, Interior Designer. Photo – Lillie Thompson.

Brahman Perera

After honing his interior design skills at some of Melbourne’s most reputable studios including Chelsea Hing, Fiona Lynch and Hecker Guthrie, Brahman Perera formally established his own practice in early 2019. With a particular interest in transforming hospitality spaces, Brahman’s decadent renovation of the historic Stamford Park Homestead has put his name as a solo designer firmly on the map!

Eschewing trends, Brahman crafts rich interiors that are driven by contemplation, theory and romance.

Read our profile on Brahman here.

Peaches Bar and Rooftop by Pierce Widera, Interior Designer & Architect. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Pierce Widera

After meeting at Melbourne architecture firm Chris Connell Design, interior designer Amy Pierce and architect Nat Widera came together to form Pierce Widera in 2017. This upcoming interior design and architecture practice already has an impressive folio of hospitality venue design in Melbourne, creating distinctly resolved and highly impactful projects.

Rather than stamping a distinct decorative character on each space, the emerging studio responds to each brief as a blank slate. Their portfolio presents a diverse body of unique spaces, each enveloped in a thoughtful and bold identity.

Limestone sculpture and lamps, by Lucas Wearne aka Neighbourhood Studio. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Neighbourhood Studio

Lucas Wearne launched Neighbourhood Studio from the leafy backyard of his Thornbury home in early 2020. With a background in design and landscape architecture, it’s hard to believe he only had 6 months of experience in handcrafting before launching his debut collection of striking sculptural objects. The one-man-show produces limited collections of one-off lamps and vessels, made predominantly from Australian natural limestone.

Experimenting with new forms, shapes and designs, Lucas is constantly reinventing his style. From curvaceous Picasso-inspired vases, contemporary columns with precise hand-carved detail and mushroom-topped lamps, each new series of objects references a different period of art and architecture. His distinct silhouettes combine form and functionality in a refreshing and delicate way.

Read our full story here.

Cassie Hansen Ceramicist. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Cassie Hansen

As the editor of design magazine Artichoke for almost a decade, Cassie Hansen has recently come to her own creative practice in the form of ceramics. Working from her home studio in Kyneton in regional Victoria, Cassie uses mostly red mid-fire clay and white raku clay to create her distinctive silhouettes.

Largely influenced by the shapes and forms found in architecture, furniture and interiors, Cassie creates functional vessels that are at once contemporary and timeless.

Read our full story here.

Kennon, Architects and Interior Designers. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The Scandizzo house by Kennon. Photo – Derek Swalwell.


A young studio helmed by architect Pete Kennon, Kennon works on projects of various scale and function, from single residential buildings to commercial projects, striving to create value socially, environmentally and economically.

In contrast to the might of commercial property development, Kennon’s ethos is centred around making valuable, purposeful additions to urban landscapes. Their work is an exploration of how our built environment can elicit an emotive response.

Read our story on Kennon’s most recent project here.


The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020 Emerging Designer award is presented by Phoenix Tapware.

Inspired by innovation and passionate about design, Phoenix Tapware is a market leading pioneer in Australia and New Zealand’s bathroom and kitchen industry. With a range of internationally award-winning tapware, accessories and shower products, Phoenix proudly celebrates a ground-breaking reputation for design, quality and customer service.

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