The esteemed 10 recognises a cross-section of visionary Australian architects and designers in 2022.

Spanning perspective, aesthetic and intent, the esteemed 10 comprises influential voices in the Australian design community selected by the est living editorial team. Criterion is based on approach, current achievements, completed and anticipated projects, insights and analytics.

This piece originally appeared in est Magazine Issue #43.

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Adam Kane Architects

Adam Kane | Director

Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

Digital media, newsletters and social media are limitless and ever-changing resources these days for finding designs of a specific region, typology or aesthetic.

The one thing people always ask me is…

“Would you do this (design) in your own house?” (Absolutely, if not, I’d take it up a notch!)

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

Purpose, refined, balanced.

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

Western European design.

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

Follow your passion, don’t settle and never stop absorbing as much as possible.

Your 2022 capsule collection: what products and materials do you have your eye on?

A continued evolution, refinement and sculpture of our designs (macro and micro), with an increased harmony of materials, creating beauty and calm.

When you walk into a space, what’s the first thing you always notice?

The ceiling – reason unknown!

What does sustainable design mean to you in 2022?

Timeless design that doesn’t follow quick trends.

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Alexander & Co

Jeremy Bull & Tess Glasson | Principal & Marketing Director

Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

We are surrounded by so much creative noise, both good and bad.
I think the challenge is not that one needs to go anywhere, but instead needs to be able to separate the moments of brilliance from what could just be moments of passing trend, or worse, commodified creative waste from the many messages and experiences being delivered fresh daily.

The one thing people always ask me is…

“Where does the ‘Alexander’ come from?” And after that if I’m an architect or an interior designer, I tell them at this stage I am not sure either but will happily settle for anything.

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

Old and new.

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

We are still singing from the same song sheet. Timeless, handmade and spirited design. Perhaps with a little more ecological sensibility, I hope. The work being produced by our team is just beautiful, classic thinking.

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

You are your greatest asset. If you won’t invest in yourself; incredible hard work, passion, love, then why would anyone else? Be your greatest design and don’t leave this up to chance or someone else’s rule. There is no ‘system’ holding you back or even pushing you forward, just you.

Your 2022 capsule collection: what products and materials do you have your eye on?

Recycled brick, reclaimed ironbark, carbon-neutral concrete, broken stone and pewter. Garnish with a little burnt orange wool.

When you walk into a space, what’s the first thing you always notice?

The feeling it gives me.

What does sustainable design mean to you in 2022?

Carbon neutrality and waste reduction, end of life reusability and renewable power. Use less, make more with fewer resources. Care for your people, care for yourself, respect the spirit of all the beauty and beautiful minds that have done amazing things before we arrived.

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Spotted Gum House by Alexander & Co | Photography by Anson Smart

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Jeremy Bull and Tess Glasson

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Spotted Gum House by Alexander & Co | Photography by Anson Smart

Akin Atelier

Kelvin Ho | Founder

Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

Spain holds some true design treasures such as Can Lis (Jorn Utzon) and Neuendorf House (Claudio Silverstein & John Pawson) in Mallorca. The work of Bofill, Corbero and of course Gaudi, reflect endless originality and inspiration.

The one thing people always ask me is…

“Do you play basketball?”

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

Singular, empathetic, casual.

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

Positivity. I want our projects to embrace and cultivate inclusivity, playfulness, and thoughtfulness.

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

The importance of having strong hand-drawing skills in our industry. It’s an invaluable communication tool.

Your 2022 capsule collection: what products and materials do you have your eye on?

I’m always interested in mundane, typically overlooked materials and then presenting them in new ways. For 2022 we will be working on some exciting Bio-Resin projects.

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

I love to experience the energy of a room, working out what makes it feel special. It could be a busy restaurant or a quiet corner of a private residential space, but it’s the balance of positive and negative space – and often a sense of the incomplete, that allows you to form your own narrative.

What does sustainable design mean to you in 2022?

Construction is inherently unsustainable. As designers, we need to make informed decisions on how and who we collaborate with to build a community that prioritises and values the making of responsible choices.

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Gunnamata House by Akin Atelier | Photography by Anson Smart

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Gunnamata House by Akin Atelier | Photography by Anson Smart

Architects EAT

Albert Mo & Eid Goh | Co-directors

Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

A while ago I created the hashtag #ohshitseries on Instagram (now taken over by some band and foodies). I used it when I came across those ‘shiver down the spine architecture’ moments when I was travelling. Exceptional design is everywhere, for me the question is not where, but rather when. I find myself only being able to appreciate things when I’m in my most relaxed state – when I’m happy.

The one thing people always ask me is…

“What’s your favourite project or dream commission?” My answer always is the next one. I’m an eternal optimist and I always think that it will be my best project yet, there are so much more that I want to do and I can’t wait.

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

Functional, experiential, detailed.

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

Belgian, Japanese, South American, German, Indian, Queenslander. This is really hard to answer, the list is nearly the whole world. The fact is every project that we work on is totally different, what remains constant is our obsession with tactility, craftsmanship and the feeling of a space.

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

Do more research on everything. It’s amazing when you treat a project as if it’s your own, you care about it so much more, so don’t just rely on what you already know.

Your 2022 capsule collection: what products and materials do you have your eye on?

Low carbon concrete, carbon-neutral bricks, and the colour beige.

When you walk into a space, what’s the first thing you always notice?

Light and smell. It’s strange to describe it, but for the start let’s imagine a very still room, with filtering light through sheer curtains and floating particles.

Then let’s pull the curtains back, let the full light pour in, and open the window and let the air move the particles. In varying degrees, that’s how I always notice space and the people that use that space…

What is sustainable design to you in 2022?

Collaboration. A building project in the simplest term comes down to three parties – architect, builder and client. We’ve learnt that one party alone is not going to succeed without the commitments of the other two. I think therefore it is our responsibility to educate and impress our clients and builders on the importance of thinking sustainably, and to have them on board. Sustainable design is systemic, it’s about human context as much as the know-how and the politics that we’ve all been concentrating on in the past decade.

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Albert Mo and Eid Goh

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Studio Goss

David Goss | Director

Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

Without being able to travel in the last two years I’ve realised how important it is to get out of your everyday surroundings and experience that rush of inspiration. I also tend to seek out films to appreciate design.

The one thing people always ask me is…

“How do you find your clients?”

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

Calm, clarity, balance.

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

I can definitely see colour creeping into our work a lot more. We often like to build quiet, neutral spaces with a focus on texture but there are a few projects coming up that are a lot more colourful.

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

Take your time and enjoy the process. We’re so lucky to be part of an industry where we can constantly explore new things and meet new people.

Your 2022 capsule collection: what products and materials do you have your eye on?

Firstly, the Pill lights from Draga & Aurel. They’re so, so fun! Secondly, the Pigreco chair by Tobia Scarpa reissued by Tacchini. Sculptural, elegant, classic. Thirdly, we’re really loving the custom colour program from Armadillo.

We’re into a terrazzo mix from Marble Bu?ro called Grotto terrazzo that really reminds me of days spent at the beach looking at beautiful pebbles in rockpools.

We’re exploring the use of cork at the moment and I’m excited to see how this neutral, tactile and sustainable material can add a layer of warmth to several of our commercial projects.

When you walk into a space, what’s the first thing you always notice?

Definitely the lighting. But subconsciously it’s the door handle you’ve just touched to enter the room that really sets the scene.

What does sustainable design mean to you in 2022?

To me, it’s about a sense of timelessness and striving to create spaces that will last. When we’re sourcing materials we look for products that have longevity but we also research how and where they are produced. We’ve also realised that sustainable design can also mean approaching projects with a sense of restraint and deciding not to re-design everything but instead making some considered, appropriate interventions to bring new life to a space.

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David Goss

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Huntingtower Rd, Armadale by Studio Goss | Photography by Willem Dirk Du-Toit

esoteriko

Anna Trefely | Director

Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

With travel restricted and a new baby, I’m maxing out my screen time instead.

The one thing people always ask me is…

“What is an interior architect?”

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

Sensory, clean, warm.

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

Narrative and site are always the key influences in our projects. We are so strongly influenced by the context and either the existing or the new ‘story’ of the inhabitants. We tease this out to become a space that has a quiet message (the esoteric meaning).

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

Try and be fluid with ideas. They do not define you. Don’t overthink it – just go on the journey, the best is yet to come.

Your 2022 capsule collection: what products and materials do you have your eye on?

Axolotl textured glass, raw fibreglass furniture that has such a handmade tactile and natural finish from Imperfetto and high performance and sustainable timbers, like Accoya. We’re also focusing on anything ceramic and our designing our own collection of light fittings.

When you walk into a space, what’s the first thing you always notice?

The quality of the light and what it smells like. Scent is often overlooked but such an important aspect.

What does sustainable design mean to you in 2022?

It means avoiding trends and focusing on lasting quality and comfort. Being conscious by understanding how things are made, the processes and the ethical and environmental impact. Question everything, don’t remain nai?ve on how things come into existence. Consider minimising waste at every opportunity and play to the strengths of the site. Weave it into your culture both in the studio and with the client as part of the design process.

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Anna Trefely

Kerstin Thompson

Kerstin Thompson | Director

Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

Cities like Milan where it permeates all aspects of one’s day to day experience from their civically-minded buildings, handsome interiors, metro carriages, graphics of ads to the feel of a glass or cup. But ordinary places and situations too can trigger an appreciation about what is exceptional design, that makes for ease and pleasure of use.

The one thing people always ask me is…

“What’s your favourite building?” or “Who’s your favourite architect?”

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

Embrace, enrich, endure.

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

COVID-19. It placed renewed attention on the quality of one’s home, especially its amenity. The basics: fresh air, natural light, a view, access to a garden or outdoor room. Our housing work, like Balfe Park Lane will continue to embed these necessities in the bones of a design.

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

Distil. A lot of design is over-design and the result of time unnecessarily spent solving additional problems, from the original one, that the designer has introduced. In my experience to distil takes time.

Your 2022 capsule collection: what products and materials do you have your eye on?

Things I have enjoyed over a sustained period is a true test of what I’d choose for a 2022 capsule. Arabia’s Ruska dining set from childhood, still admired for its colours and refined rusticity and the Cestita Alubat portable lamp.

When you walk into a space, what’s the first thing you always notice?

Light. Always the light. Especially if it’s too cold or too bright. The most ordinary, most miserable of rooms can be made intimate and homely with the right quality of light.

What does sustainable design mean to you in 2022?

Re-use as the first option. If a new building can’t demonstrate that it will ultimately reduce our impact on the environment or enable a community and its connection to place to flourish then work intelligently with what already exists.

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Kerstin Thompson

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East Street by Kerstin Thompson Architects | Photography by Tom Ferguson

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East Street by Kerstin Thompson Architects | Photography by Tom Ferguson

Rob Kennon

Rob Kennon | Director

Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

Last Easter we went camping on the northeast coast of Victoria, where estuaries meet the ocean hugged by beautiful layers of native vegetation. I reminded myself of a thought I often have, that nature is the pinnacle of design.

The one thing people always ask me is…

“How did you achieve that rendered brickwork on your East-West house?”

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

It must belong.

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

There is no one key influence in our work, many exist. For me, the challenge is how can we best bring all the influences together into architecture with a consistent idea.

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

I remember Oscar Niemeyer was once asked a similar question and he responded along the lines of “travel the world and you will be a good architect”. I couldn’t agree more. Go for it, be enthusiastic, get out there, talk to people, understand people and your designs will respond.

Your 2022 capsule collection: what products and materials do you have your eye on?

We like to focus on what is appropriate for the circumstances and are always mindful of using products and materials that will last a long time.

When you walk into a space, what’s the first thing you always notice?

Space is obviously a three-dimensional experience influenced by factors such as light, volume, scale, and sound, so it is impossible for me to say what I would notice first, although I do know you can deliberately influence that first impression. For example, Jørn Utzon in his holiday home Can Lis in Mallorca, placed a tiled wall with a slender moon crest framed view at the entrance, showing only the blue of the ocean. This set the entire mood for the house.

What does sustainable design mean to you in 2022?

We aim to be thinking and designing for the lifecycle of a building, which means considering the building’s current operational performance, as well as its energy consumption and maintenance over its entire lifespan.

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Rob Kennon

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Tamsin Johnson

Tamsin Johnson | Founder

Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

Travelling. Exceptional design is everywhere, but for me, I’m at my most appreciative when taken out of my everyday environment. My eyes are a bit more open. Locally, I love going to the Sydney Opera House; it’s a magnificent spectacle of imagination. I find it inspiring walking through the botanical gardens and coming across the building; it’s so aloof.

The one thing people always ask me is…

“Where do you find inspiration?”

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

Comfort, freshness, violation.

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

We’re working on a retail concept drawing inspiration from the late 80s, early 90s Northern Italian aesthetic but with a fresh coastal edge giving it a light-hearted touch.

A personal project in Paddington is due to launch early next year. I’ve worked on a blank canvas with multiple purposes to showcase our furniture and decorative art collection in a gallery-like space. I love the Northern Italian liberal approach to design. You can see the long-cultivated formality and elegance, but there is a dynamic and awkward quality that seems to add a little disruption and strange energy to it. I love this irony.

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

Go and get practical experience with a designer you respect and admire. The second piece of advice: travel, of course.

Your 2022 capsule collection: what products and materials do you have your eye on?

I’m working on many different projects, but some of my go-to materials are Venetian plaster, marble, stainless steel, antique bronze, and well-patinated wood, silks and linens.

When you walk into a space, what’s the first thing you always notice?

The light…

What does sustainable design mean to you in 2022?

To save the planet from the sins of the past (and the present), we need to be considerate in all parts of our life. So I look at the materials I’m using and try and be as sustainable as possible. I’m lucky in my design to use a lot of antique and reclaimed finishes and fixtures. It’s central to the feeling of my design, and it demonstrates how beautiful design ought to be valued.

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Tamsin Johnson

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Smart Design Studio

William Smart | Principal

Where do you go to appreciate exceptional design?

More than anything, I’m inspired by art and sculpture. So, I go to art galleries to appreciate exceptional work. I also love to experience great architecture, so I plan my holidays around visiting buildings that I have read about or studied.

The one thing people always ask me is…

“Is the final building is the same as what you imagined at the start?”

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

Integrity, resolution, spatial.

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

In many ways, our new projects are developing key ideas and concepts that we have been exploring over the past 10 years, especially the fascination with structural geometry. For example, one of our projects is developing a Ghossein Vaulted roof to bring light into the centre of a column-free photographers’ studio.

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

Don’t stop by just giving people what they’ve asked for. Your role is to educate your clients and give them more.

Your 2022 capsule collection: what products and materials do you have your eye on?

I think that we’ve developed a fascination with materials, like brick and concrete – I’d like us to develop our knowledge here to become experts. Concurrently, we are exploring structural wood systems and rammed earth. This exploration is driven by a desire to produce buildings with very low embodied energy.

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

In a great room, I’m drawn to the light, volume and harmony of the space.

What does sustainable design mean to you in 2022?

Primarily, very low energy and water consumption, and minimising the embodied energy in the construction.

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William Smart

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