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ANNOUNCING The Winners Of The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021!

TDF Design Awards

Lucy Feagins
Friday 22nd October 2021

Just when we were gearing up to host out third annual The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards ceremony in person… well, you know what happened next! Luckily, after last year’s online awards ceremony, we knew we could still celebrate our amazing Australian design industry in style. And that’s exactly what we did last night, on the final night of Melbourne’s FINAL lockdown!

For this year’s livestream, we turned it up a notch with the help of some very special guest appearances. We were so lucky to have our divine friend Clare Bowditch host this year’s event (as well as contribute a beautiful essay on creativity to our newspaper, which you can read here), and a huge special thanks must go to Troye Sivan, Melissa Leong, Reko Rennie, Jacqui Felgate, Jenny Kee AO, Paul Bangay OAM and Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton (!) for introducing our Awards categories and bringing a little star power to the evening!

The TDF team would like to say an ENORMOUS thank you to everyone involved in making this program happen. From the 500+ entries, 25 judges and 129 finalists across ten categories, once again we were so thrilled to see the quality and diversity of entries from across the country. We are so proud of the breadth that our Awards programs shows, and truly believe that the winners represent some of the best creative work that is being made in Australia right now. After two years of lockdowns, delays and hardships, the talent, innovation and ideas celebrated across this awards program makes us hopeful for the future.

We couldn’t have done this without the support our incredible sponsors: COLORBOND® steel (Residential Architecture), Miele (Interior Design), Eco Outdoor (Landscape Design),  Phoenix Tapware (Emerging Designer), Country Road (Sustainable Design or Initiative), Thames & Hudson (Collaboration), and Jardan (Furniture Design). And, of course, our presenting partner, Laminex. The talented Amanda Dziedzic made our one-of-a-kind glass trophies again – it is so wonderful to be able to reward each of the winners with these unique design pieces!

SO – without further ado. The winners are…

Residential Architecture winner: Mt Coot-Tha House by Nielsen Jenkins.Photo – Tom Ross.

Residential Architecture Winner – Nielsen Jenkins, Mt Coot-Tha House

Mt Coot-Tha House by Nielsen Jenkins is a gentle, brutalist masterpiece completed for a family member of one of the architects, on an empty bushland block next to their shared childhood home in Brisbane.

Designed as a wedge that has lodged itself into the mountainside, the house wraps around a luscious green central courtyard, and provides both connection to and protection from the elements.

A winding driveway snakes up to the front of the house, where the main living room is perched atop a two-car garage. The frontage of these two rooms is the only part that faces the ‘street’.

As the site inclines, the rooms unfurl themselves. Climbing up the internal staircase beside the garage visitors are deposited into the living room, which takes full advantage of views over the bushy terrain at the front of the property. This floor is where all the activity of the main house happens.

At every point, the design for the Mt Coot-Tha House takes the connection to landscape into account. The project explores ideas of connection and refuge within a site characterised by its slope and extreme bushfire exposure.

Judges comment: ‘The robust exterior of this highly accomplished house belies the generosity, complexity, and comfort of the rooms within. Mt Coot-Tha House is an intricate architectural response to a complex and challenging site.’ – Aaron Peters.

The Residential Architecture category is presented by COLORBOND® steel

Interior Design winner: Dream Weaver by YSG Studio. Photo – Prue Ruscoe

Interior Design Winner – YSG Studio, Dream Weaver

Dream Weaver by YSG Studio is a Rushcutters Bay penthouse renovation that feels revelatory and futuristic, with an upbeat dose of Pedro Almodóvar’s cinematic eccentricity.

Project inspirations range from contemporary Spanish tapas bars and their liberal use of tiling; surrealism; and rich colour gradations evoking a material take on the northern lights.

To counterbalance the sobriety of its enveloping box-like frame shrouded in glass, a Pantone party of inviting soft landings and evocative stone surfaces represent a galactic material palette, with bold and oversized seating plus deep piled custom rugs strategically demarcating zones in the open living area.

Paramount to the outcome was a sense of emotional release. Colour, touch are the triggers, with tactile hard and soft surfaces at every turn, from a woven Missoni sphere light to the defined edges of undulating wall tiles.

Judges comment: ‘The combination of historical references, collaborations with designers and makers are celebrated. This home is a joyous kaleidoscope of considered interior design.’ – Sue Carr

The Interior Design category is presented by Miele

Landscape Design winner: The Victoria Emergency Services Memorial designed by Rush Wright Associates. Photo – John Gollings

Landscape Design Winner – Rush Wright Associates, Victorian Emergency Services Memorial

The Victoria Emergency Services Memorial designed by Rush Wright Associates in Treasury Gardens is a place of sanctuary and reflection to reflect on the service and sacrifice of loved ones.

For this reason, the design has evolved to become a ‘garden memorial’. This strategy differs from other memorials in Melbourne’s parklands, which are largely sculptures and objects placed into the larger parkland scene.

The design integrates the six emergency service organisations into one landscape setting and draws on historical references to transform the experience of a meandering walk at the edge of the lake into an evocative memorial response.

Judges comment: ‘A beautiful memorial which focuses on the interactive rather than a solitary monument. It’s a reflective, emotive environment that is respectful and enjoyable.’ – Myles Baldwin

The Landscape Design category is presented by Eco Outdoor.

Furniture Design winner: Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen, Ngumu Janka Warnti Collection. Photo –Romello Pereira.

Furniture Design Winner – Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen, Ngumu Janka Warnti Collection

The Walmajarri phrase ‘Ngumu Jangka Warnti’ meaning ‘whole lot from rubbish’, is the title of this furniture collaboration between Nyikina man and saddler, Johnny Nargoodah, and furniture/object designer, Trent Jansen.

Johnny and Trent salvaged a selection of discarded aluminium mesh and used this found metal as the starting point for experimentation. The duo designed these pieces as they made them, starting with a mesh substrate cut vaguely in the shape of a chair, and together beat the material with hammers, concrete blocks and tree stumps until it took on a form that they both liked. This beaten geometry was then softened by laminating New Zealand saddle leather to skin the mesh, masking its geometry and softening its idiosyncratic undulations.

This project was designed to be an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture and the outcomes were developed using methods that facilitate the most symmetrical collaboration possible. Johnny and Trent created their designs remotely, developing a collaborative ‘sketch exchange’ system to ferry prototype designs between Johnny’s home in Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia, and Trent’s on the south-east coast of NSW.

Judges comment: ‘A truly exciting and important vernacular body of work that is simultaneously innovative and steeped in historical tradition. Visually sophisticated works that define our time and place, embodying bridged cultural values so optimistic and necessary.’ – Khai Liew

The Furniture Design category is presented by Jardan

Sustainable Design or Initiative winner: Great Wrap, The Only Australian-Made Compostable Cling Wrap. Photo – Cubed Studios

Sustainable Design or Initiative Winner – Great Wrap, The Only Australian-Made Compostable Cling Wrap

Recognising the waste created by conventional cling wrap, an architect and a natural winemaker teamed up to create Great Wrap. This certified home-compostable cling wrap performs exactly like conventional cling wrap, except it breaks down into carbon and water in less than 180 days when composted.

Great Wrap is made from potato waste and a mix of other compostable biopolymers, and manufactured for home and industrial use at a solar powered factory on the Mornington Peninsula. It is currently the only Australian-made compostable cling wrap. All packaging is made from recycled paper, and is also recyclable.

The company has commercialised a price competitive solution to the plastic problem that allows homes and businesses to continue functioning as they do currently.

Judges comment: ‘A scalable solution that lets everyday people make everyday change. Innovative thinking that’s thoughtfully made in Australia.’ –Nik Robinson of Good Citizens. 

The Sustainable Design category is presented by Country Road

Handcrafted winner: Alicia Marrday of Marrawuddi Arts & Culture, Baladjdji (Backpack) Left: Photo – Marrawuddi Arts & Culture. Right: Photo – Nina Fitzgerald for North.

Handcrafted Winner – Alicia Marrday of Marrawuddi Arts & Culture, Baladjdji (Backpack)

Artist Alicia Marrday independently created this woven Baladjdji (backpack bag) with the support of Marrawuddi Arts & Culture, a community Arts Centre in the heart of Kakadu National Park.

Alicia’s craft first began under the guidance of her aunty, who taught her how to weave. Over the last year her unique and innovative skills have transformed and Alicia created her first Baladjdji, which came to fruition as three smaller pieces that saw her accepted into the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.

Alicia has now expanded her idea to create this larger, brighter piece. Combining both ancient and traditional methods, it demonstrates phenomenal weaving mastery. Using the pockets and shape of her kids backpacks as a reference, Alicia weaves the design of her Baladjdji ‘from [her] own mind’.

All materials used to create the Baladjdji are natural and collected on country. Alicia describes going fishing with her kids and collecting Kunngobarn (pandanus) to weave, and the Kala (natural dye colour) is found in her partner’s homeland.

Alicia’s Baladjdji is a wonderful example of ancient skills and materials used by First Nations people for many thousands of years applied to contemporary outcomes.

Judges comment: ‘I have never seen a backpack so beautiful! Amazing naturally dyed colour pallete, woven with pandanus intricately creating a unique form.’ – Elisa Carmichael.

Textile Design winner: Nobody Denim + GEORGE, Woven Bag. Photo – Jesse O’Brien

Textile Design Winner – Nobody Denim and GEORGE, Woven Bag

The objective of this textile project was to reduce Nobody Denim’s footprint and reimagine commercial textile waste.

Cut offs otherwise destined for landfill were gathered from the denim label’s cutting room floor, and rerouted into the hands of weaver and designer, Georgina Whigham for her label, GEORGE. Prioritising a slow approach to manufacture and design, each bag is meticulously handmade by Georgina using her traditional four shaft floor loom.

Completely left to chance, the colour palette of each piece is determined by whatever denim fabrication has recently been cut at the Thornbury based factory. From scraps to luxury artisanal bag, the process takes Georgina Whigham several hours to complete via the laborious process of cutting, layering, weaving, sewing and screen printing. The final result is one of textual, Wabi-sabi brilliance, intended to be used for years to come.

Judges comment: ‘Traditional rag weaving techniques being used for everyday products gives these items a modern edge while the individuality in colour and shape of each piece make enhance the experience of buying hand made.’ – Sophie Matson.

Lighting Design winner: Alex Earl, Solt Collection. Photo – Alex Earl.

Lighting Design Winner – Alex Earl, Solt Collection

Alex Earl’s collection of sculptural lighting pieces encompasses both wall sconce and pendant features. Each rough and textured shade creates soft ambient lighting, and is unique due to the unpredictability of the glass moulding process.

Pieces in this collection are the result of months spent experimenting the possibilities of casting glass, combined with precision machined brass. The design uses cast glass in an unusual way not often seen in lighting, in that, rather than attempt to control all aspects of the material, the glass has been allowed to respond naturally to the process.

Among key works is the Solt Pendant, which utilises recycled glass from glass blowing workshops. This glass would normally be considered a waste product, as it is no longer ‘pure.’

Alex Earl devised repeatable moulds to ensure minimal waste in the process of creating this collection, and all electricity used is derived from renewable energy providers. Pieces are entirely designed and produced in the studio’s Melbourne workshop.

Judges comment: Alex Earl’s “Solt” collection offers a simple, strong visual appeal, paired with on-trend materiality.’ – Christopher Boots

Collaboration winner: Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen, Ngumu Janka Warnti Collection. Photo –Romello Pereira.

Collaboration Winner – Trent Jansen Studio + Johnny Nargoodah, Ngumu Janka Warnti Collection

The Walmajarri phrase ‘Ngumu Jangka Warnti’ meaning ‘whole lot from rubbish’, is the title of this furniture collaboration between Nyikina man and saddler, Johnny Nargoodah, and furniture/object designer, Trent Jansen.

Johnny and Trent salvaged a selection of discarded aluminium mesh and used this found metal as the starting point for experimentation. The duo designed these pieces as they made them, starting with a mesh substrate cut vaguely in the shape of a chair, and together beat the material with hammers, concrete blocks and tree stumps until it took on a form that they both liked. This beaten geometry was then softened by laminating New Zealand saddle leather to skin the mesh, masking its geometry and softening its idiosyncratic undulations.

Judge’s comment: ‘This collection embodies collaborative design. The coming together of two distinct world views to create something entirely new, evoking memories and stories through highly skilled craftsmanship.’ – Jirra Lulla Harvey.

The collaboration category is presented by Thames & Hudson.

Emerging Designer winner: Nicole Lawrence. Photo – Nicholas Wilkins.

Emerging Designer Winner – Nicole Lawrence

Working with a manufacturing-led design approach, Nicole Lawrence is a furniture, metal fabrication and lighting studio based in Melbourne.

Nicole manufactures her own in-house collections of furniture and lighting, as well as providing design and production services to other local brands and studios. Her approach to design is technique-driven, with curiosity and learning driving her motivation to design. Functionality before form is a key principle in all works delivered.

Judge’s comment: ‘Carefully considered, sculptural and durable pieces. Unconstrained by typical design precepts. Nicole’s body of work is diverse and bold.’ – Adriana Hanna.

The Emerging Designer category is presented by  Phoenix Tapware

To see the full list of Winners, Commendations and judges comments, read our 2021 newspaper online HERE

Read our 2021 newspaper online HERE

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.