Three Australian projects have secured wins at the annual Restaurant and Bar Design Awards, which were held in London last week.

The worldwide competition is in its sixth year and is an amalgam of the totally independent UK and International Restaurant & Bar Design Awards. The Australian entrants were up against fierce competition with 860 submissions from over 60 countries, which were judged by 26 of the most influential personalities in design, hospitality and lifestyle.

Repurposed projects, a focus on re-used materials, timber usage and creating an experience were common drivers for design concepts.

Melbourne’s reputation for its coffee culture was showcased in the UK and International Category. Industry Beans, a roastery, restaurant and brew bar in Fitzroy by Figureground Architecture took top spot, while the nearby Howler bar in Brunswick by Splinter Society Architecture was also recognised.

Winner: Industry Beans Fitzroy utilises plywood pallets for a semi-industrial look

Winner: Industry Beans Fitzroy utilises plywood pallets for a semi-industrial look

“I love the scale of the project,” Livia Peraldo Matton, judge and editor in chief of Elle Décor Italia said of Industry Beans.

Figureground converted a 200 square metre warehouse into a venue that includes a cafe, dining area, commercial kitchen, outdoor seating, administration and commercial facilities, including cupping and coffee bean storage areas.

“The main challenge for us was how to transform a vast industrial shell into an inviting and comfortable space on a limited budget,” Figureground said. “Located on a backstreet in a semi-industrial neighbourhood it was also important that there was a streets cape presence that could attract the attention of passing clientele.”

The firm achieved this by “stacking” staff and administration areas above the kitchen and counter creating a “building within a building.” While the space appears industrial, the application of pallets of plywood, communal timber furniture and sustainable materials bring warmth to the space. The double height dining wall is also said to reflect the ambiance of entering an intimate lane way space.

The internal facade and front polycarbonate facade feature pivoting and plopping panels to “create a playful habitation” while working to ventilate the space. The breaks in the facade also help drench Industry Beans with natural light.

Howler found its home in a former wool store. The space moves beyond the practicality of bars and cocktails to offer additional concept space to host creative performances and events.

Winner: Howler's Urban Garden Oasis in Brunswick, Melbourne

Winner: Howler’s Urban Garden Oasis in Brunswick, Melbourne


Splinter Society’s primary challenge was in filling the 1,000 square metre empty shell on Howler’s modest budget. The award-winning project took an “urban oasis” approach to the space, injecting greenery and encouraging natural light. Similar to Industry Beans, the firm also leaned on Melbourne’s “hidden” feel of laneways and doorways to deliver a creative environment suitable for customers, artists and staff.

“Lighting design uses shadows and colour to fill voids, and give accents,” the architects said. “A palate of simple, often recycled, low cost materials and basic construction techniques was used to give a hand crafter feeling of texture, tactility and warmth.”

The bar features abstract sculptured steel trees which ascend from floor to ceiling to help fuel a “garden atmosphere” and create a “fully immersive 3D environment.”

South Australia’s Penfold Magill Estate Restaurant by Pascale Gomes-McNabb (PGM) Design, a beautiful space showcasing the quality of Adelaide’s colourful wine region, was also recognised in the International Category.

PGM was directed to pay tribute to the iconic Australian brand, its place and its history while “re-purposing and reusing as much of the existing fit-out as possible to fit in with the budget and also to be as sustainable as possible and not be wasteful.”

The firm also moved beyond its interior design expertise to offer design consultations to the uniform, tableware and graphics of the estate.

“Very artful arrangement of solitaire pieces with a blend of rich materials and colour accents, this provides the space with a sense of elegance and chic,” said Niko Saurma, judge and vice president design of Swarovski. “Wall decoration lightens up the scene.”

Working to create a wine and fine dining experience, “the design creates a range of spatial experiences for the diner; pre-dinner drinks in the red bar, where you view and sleet rare vintages from the purpose designed Heritage cabinet; in the restaurant clientele watch sommeliers decanting the wines at bespoke wine stations; mirrors and diaphanous materials open and soften the space. The cellar below is another space to experience the wine.”

Winner: Penfold's Magill Estate Restaurant Exudes Fine Wine Ambience

Winner: Penfold’s Magill Estate Restaurant Exudes Fine Wine Ambience


While Australia impressed, the two overall winners of the competition were FEI in China by Aoyama Nomura Design (A.N.D). FEI is a luxurious space of shimmering glass and clever light design and was described by Simon Farr, judge and deputy chairman of Bibendum as  “Magic! Often attempted, rarely achieved.”

Overall Bar Winner: FEI in China by A.N.D

Overall Bar Winner: FEI in China by A.N.D


Les Haras in France by Jouin Manku won in the restaurant category, with its striking spiral wrapped timber staircase and original timber room structure.

“Beautiful, consistent execution with sumptuous details,” Michael Tiedy, judge and SVP, global brand & innovation of Starwood Hotels & Resorts said.

For the full list of winners and project details visit the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards Winners Mag here.