2017 IDEA Awards
Feature Article
Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Words James Lyall Smith

The 15th annual IDEA Awards presented by Inside magazine and Niche Media prove that Australia leads the way in Interior and product design.

Over the past 15 years the Interior Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) has established itself as Australia’s largest and most successful independent design awards program. Initially launched in 2003 by Inside magazine, the program celebrates the gold standard in Australian interior and product design across eleven fiercely competitive categories and five prestigious additional awards.

This year the IDEA awards ceremony took place within the confines of a sold out gala event at Melbourne’s heritage listed Meat Market. The 2017 competition was the largest and most ferociously competitive to date with the chief organiser, Niche Media, receiving a record 533 high quality entries. This eventually lead to the independent panel of jurors creating a shortlist of over 250 projects.

Pictured below: Jackalope Hotel by Carr Design Group | Photographer Sharyn Cairns

The big winner from the evening was the Melbourne based design group Carr. Carr was crowned the overall winner for its critically acclaimed work on the 46-room boutique Jackalope Hotel located on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. Located on the crest of a gently sloping hill overlooking the sculptural landscape of vines and nestled within a matrix of century old native planting, Carr created a design of stunning beauty, clad in dark zinc with charred timber and black metal detailing. Ultimately the project provides a bold and modern interpretation of the local architectural language of agricultural buildings and barn like structures.

Pictured below: Jackalope Hotel by Carr Design Group | Photographer Sharyn Cairns

However, the evening wasn’t solely dominated by Carr. Sydney based design studio SJB walked away with the prestigious designer of the year award. The award was justified recognition for SJB after they were shortlisted for six separate projects, rounding out a hugely successful year for the firm which saw them win first prize at the INSIDE World Festival of Interiors. The other big winner was Sydney design studio Hassel’s Rob Blackhouse. Rob was awarded the Gold Medal award for design excellence after a hugely successful year for him and his studio.

Overall the 2017 event was a critical and commercial success with the managing director of Niche Media, Paul Lidgerwood reiterating the ideas upon which the IDEA program was founded. “When we established the IDEA program back in 2003, nothing at that time recognised excellence in interior design and architecture. We wanted to change that,” Lidgerwood went on to state, “Over the last 15 years, we’ve been amazed by both the quality of the thousands of submissions we’ve received, and the way in which the design community has embraced the awards. This year we’ve seen more entries than ever before, and tickets for the awards dinner sold out more than a month before the event.”

Pictured below left: Toorak Residence by SJB | Photographer Lucas Allen

Pictured below right: Hassell Design Image | Photographer Hassell Studio

A full list of winners and highly commended projects is listed below:

Overall Winner: Jackalope Hotel- Carr

Designer of the Year: SJB

Gold Medal: Rob Backhouse – HASSELL

Emerging Designer: Biasol

Editors’ Medal: Amber Road

 Pictured below: Clerkenwell Grind by Biasol | Photographer Paul Winch Furness


Winner –Wynyard Walk – Woods Bagot

Highly Commended – Hill Plains cottage – Wolveridge Architects

Highly Commended – Jackalope Hotel – Carr


Winner – Jackalope Hotel – Carr

Highly Commended – 12-Micron – SJB

Highly Commended – Little Bang Espresso – ZWEI Interiors Architecture

Residential Single

Winner – Brick house – Andrew Burges Architects

Highly Commended – A Private Park – SJB

Highly Commended – Freshwater apartment – John Wardle Architects

Residential Multi

Winner – 107 Cambridge – Elenberg Fraser

Highly Commended – Cirqua apartments – BKK Architects

Highly Commended – Toorak residences – Carr

Residential Decoration

Winner – Pyrmont apartment – Arent&Pyke

Highly Commended – A private residence – SJB

Highly Commended – Clovelly house – Madeleine Blanchfield Architects

Pictured below left: Wynyard Walk by Woods Bagot | Photographer Trevor Main 

Pictured below right: Pyrmont Apartment by Arent & Pyke | Photographer Tom Ferguson

Workplace Over 1000sqm

Winner – Maddocks – Bates Smart

Highly Commended – Ashurst – HASSELL

Highly Commended – Financial Services – Futurespace

Workplace Under 1000sqm

Winner – Woods Bagot Perth studio – Woods Bagot

Highly Commended – Greg Natale HQ – Greg Natale Design

Highly Commended – Gwynne Street studio – Biasol

Public Space

Winner – Wynyard Walk – Woods Bagot

Highly Commended – Chifley – SJB

Highly Commended – Crown Towers Perth – Bates Smart


Winner – Murdoch University Peel Campus activation – CODA Studio

Highly Commended – University of Sydney Business School – Carr

Highly Commended – University of Queensland, Forgan Smith – BVN

Pictured below: Maddocks by Bates Smart | Photographer Peter Clarke


Winner – Viktoria + Woods – Fiona Lynch

Highly Commended – Farage flagship store – Greg Natale Design

Highly Commended – Handpicked Wines cellar door – DesignOffice

Object – Furniture & Lighting (Professional)

Winner – Settlers chair – Jon Goulder

Highly Commended – Baker extension table – DesignByThem

Highly Commended – Brightgreen surface-mounted wall light collection – Brightgreen

Object – Furniture & Lighting (Rising)

Winner – Igneous wall light – Ash Allen and James Walsh

Highly Commended – Red Block chair – Red Block

Highly Commended – Glacier range – Geoffrey Cameron Marshall


Winner – 12,000 Francs – Emma Maxwell Design

Highly Commended – Clerkenwell Grind – Biasol

Highly Commended – The Pool: Architecture, Culture and Identity in Australia – Aileen Sage Architects with Michelle Tabet


Winner – Watchmaker – Folk Architects

Highly Commended – Admonter stand – Carole Whiting

Highly Commended – Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives – studioplusthree

Pictured below left: Settlers Chair by Jon Goulder | Photographer Grant Hancock 

Pictured below right: Igneous Wall Light by Ash Allen and James Walsh | Photographer Reuban Gates

Published 25 November, 2017
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