Designers Australia 2021 Awards winners announced

The Design Institute of Australia (DIA) – Australia’s peak national design body, released the inaugural recipients for its Designers Australia 2021 Awards. The final winners out of a shortlist of 74 across the country, reflect the designers’ ability to make a strong contribution to a better world and include three national winners, a President’s Award and 31 awards of Merit. The awards, a first for the industry, identify Australia’s preeminent designers and studios, calling attention to the individual/s and their distinguished design processes as much as the outcome.

Bates Smart for Gandel Wing, Cabrini was awarded the ‘PLACE’ category winner, while DesignByThem for DL Range by Gibson Karlo and Dion Lee received the winning ‘USE’ award. Monash University Department of Design XYX Lab for HyperSext City won ‘INTERACT’, and product designer, artist and mentor Edward Linacre received the President’s Award.

DIA’s Designers Australia 2021 Awards are the culmination of months of evaluation, development and revisions. They are different in their categories and criteria to most of the design awards currently offered in Australia.  The three ground-breaking cross-disciplinary design categories would have previously been categorised by traditional design disciplines such as industrial, interior, graphic, digital, product, environmental, textile, fashion, and many more.

DIA President Gavin Campbell FDIA said: “Since 1948, the Design Institute of Australia has been committed to nurturing and empowering designers. It is pleasing to see the culmination of these awards, responses in design shifts while also creating a platform for our collective future. The winning recipients and awards of Merit have all in their way embraced ethical, diverse and sustainable processes through collaborative and professional practice. Their projects are a testament to their values and entrepreneurship. It’s our responsibility to identify and support them as design leaders and to demonstrate the value of design to the broader community.”

Awards jurors, and internationally-renowned Dutch trend forecasters and design educators Lidewij Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano also commented: “The Cabrini Malvern Hospital extension by Mark Healy the studio director of Bates Smart truly encapsulates our times; from the importance the medical sector plays in our lives to designing social spaces with well-being in mind. The new Gandel Wing’s natural finishes, rounded edges and neutral palette illustrate the power of buildings that can heal us. Considered lighting and attention to detail therefore become critical to care. The comforting interiors have been so thoughtfully reimagined that we thought it was a sustainable hotel concept — now that’s somewhere one should check-in! It’s time that hospital and hospitality go hand in hand.”

Tuba Kocaturk, awards juror, and professor of integral design said: “The DL Range by DesignByThem presents a timeless process of experimentation with form and materials which brings together functional and purposeful production techniques from fashion and industrial design, translated into an innovative marriage of comfort and inspirational design. The Monash University’s design, the HyperSext City, presents a series of interaction platforms where the design transcends being merely a product, but rather becomes a research and a communication platform, which informs, raise awareness and continually involves its users/audience in the evolution of the displayed content. Both projects are a testament to the changing role and position of design, moving from the traditional concept of a tangible product through to orchestration of new interactions and experiences.”

PLACE winner – Bates Smart for Gandel Wing, Cabrini identified for their exemplary approach to design by focusing on wellness and human-centred healthcare. Gandel Wing was praised as a place in partnership with nature and technology, encouraging healing rather than simply treating disease. The architects were honoured for responding to the hospital’s evolving needs by comforting the lives of many.

USE winner – DesignByThem for DL Range by Gibson Karlo collaborates between founders and industrial designers Sarah Gibson and Nicholas Karlovasitis and Australian fashion designer Dion Lee. The key objective of this project was to promote cross-disciplinary design by creating a unique body of work merging fashion and industrial design principles.

INTERACT winner – Monash University Department of Design for HyperSext City use design as an intersecting mediator, educational and collaborative tool giving voice to community members. The University’s XYL Lab was commended for its investigative exhibition encouraging and empowering people to comprehend and imagine complex issues together.

President’s Award – Multidisciplinary designer, artist, student mentor and former DIA Graduate of the Year recipient Edward Linacre applauded for his contribution to the profession, and commitment to diversity and equality across cultures, gender and race. He is a partner at Copper Design, which resides within Mycelium Studios, a co-working hub and place where designers coexist and learn from each other.   

Industry-leading jurors include Alessandra BaldereschilSusanna BilardoLisa CahillGavin CampbellLidewij Edelkoort, Philip FimmanoMarcus FairsJohn GertsakisDr Rafael GomezPeta HeffernanFenella KerneboneTuba KocaturkDr Scott MaysonNicole MonksLorenzo Palmeri, and Quan Payne.  

The winning recipients, and the awards of Merit, are listed below. A link to the Designer’s Australia 2021 Awards ceremony can be found here.


PLACE category winner, representing the spaces we live, work, and play:  

Bates Smart for Gandel Wing, Cabrini   


PLACE Awards of Merit: 

Billard Leece Partnership and Diller Scofidio + Renfro for Susan Wakil Health Building 

Comunitl for Davidson

Cox Architecture for Parmelia Hilton Hotel 

Cox Architecture for Sydney Coliseum Theatre, West HQ 

Cox Architecture and Neeson Murcutt + Neille for Australian Museum Project Discover 

Danielle Brustman for Brighton Street Early Learning 

DesignInc Adelaide for DesignInc Adelaide Studio  

Elenberg Fraser for Market Lane 

Latitude for SBB 

Mata Design Studio for Applecross Residence 

Mycelium Studios for Mycelium Studios 

Naomi Milgrom Foundation and Glenn Murcutt for MPavilion 2019 

Phillips/Pilkington Architects for Gunditj Mirring Keeping Place 

Russell & George for Sarah & Sebastian 

Skeehan Studio for Canberra Glassworks Shop 

studio-gram for The Guardsman 

Walter Brooke & Associates and Genesin Studio for iTL  

Walter Brooke & Associates and Hecker Guthrie for EOS  

Woods Bagot for Central Park Tower Refurbishment  

Zwei Interiors Architecture for body of work 


USE category winner describing things we use: 

DesignByThem for DL Range by Gibson Karlo and Dion Lee 


USE Awards of Merit 

Cobalt Design for KeepCup Thermal Cup & Press Fit Lid 

DesignByThem for August Lounges by Gibson Karlo 

Hare + Klein for Bridge Table 

JamFactory for Solute Pendant Light  

JDT Design for LEGO 3D printed Spinner 

Naomi Milgrom Foundation and BoardGrove Architects for MPavilion 2020 Stool Dolly  

Skeehan Studio for NAVE Collection 

Yellow Goat Design for H2O 


INTERACT category winner depicting what or who we interact with: 

Monash University XYX Lab for HyperSext City


INTERACT Awards of Merit:

Black Squid Design for A-Lure Gin 

Ian Wong for 100 Objects & I-CONIC 

United Studio for Markr


President’s Award: 

Edward Linacre for contribution to the profession 

The awards sponsors are Dulux Acratex and Woods Solutions.   


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