The Eat Drink Design Awards 2020 shortlist is here, highlighting show-stopping interior design from Australia’s bars, restaurants, retail spaces, installations and more.

Endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects and the Design Institute of Australia, the annual awards celebrate the very best of hospitality venue design, from hole-in-the-wall cafes to large-scale restaurants. Landing a spot on the shortlist is no small feat – and means your foodie spot is easily one of the most visually stunning places in Australia to sip on some vino or a cup of coffee.

Artichoke editor and Eat Drink Design Awards juror Cassie Hansen says the competition was fierce.

“It was an epic 10-hour Zoom session with the jurors,” she tells Broadsheet. “And we found a really great, diverse shortlist.”

Of the shortlisted entries, there was a strong trend toward nostalgia, incorporating heritage elements and nodding to bygone architectural styles. Like Adelaide’s The Guardsman, a restored dining hall inside Adelaide Railway Station. “It’s got that really old school look and feel, but at the same time it’s also modern in a way and looks forward. So it hits that right balance,” says Hansen.

While the last few years have seen venue designers focus on formal elements and bold colour, the move toward nostalgia is more about emotional resonance – how you feel in a space. “It’s almost like an emotional memory, not an aesthetic memory,” Hansen says of the experience. “You know how you felt when you went there that night, but you might forget a place that looks like every other place.”

While restaurants leant on the past, the cafe scene has had a love affair with Italian design. Terrazzo, tiles and pastels dominated – but there were a few venues that opted to do things differently.

Cafe Lafayette was one that stood out in my mind. It was in the CBD, and it almost looked like a nightclub – it was very anti-cafe,” says Hansen. “It’s got mirrored reflections and is sort of holographic. So that breaks the mould as well in its own way.”

Another standout was Mr Frankie in Frankston, which uses block colour to pack a powerful aesthetic punch. “I think block colour is something operators get a bit scared of, because they think they might have to redo it in a few years when those colours are out,” says Cassie. “[But] if you make a statement that’s really bold, a colour can live on for an indefinite amount of time. You don’t need to be redoing it every four years or whatever just to refresh it.”

There’s also, obviously, the Covid-19 elephant in the room. How does design move forward in this new era of social distancing? The 2020 shortlist designs were created prior to the pandemic, but Hansen feels next year’s entries will reflect the need for flexibility.

“I think there will be a lot of flexible furniture that you can space apart or bring together depending on what restrictions come and go,” she says.

“We have [Movida chef-owner] Frank Camorra on the jury, and he was saying he’s not sure if banquette seating will be around in the future because that’s very fixed furniture, and it’s also very close and intimate.”

Her hope is that under these new conditions we won’t create sterilised, rigid spaces, and that designers can still produce comfortable, inviting interiors without compromising on safety.

“I think that’s going to be a big challenge for designers in the next year or two, depending how things work out.”

Check out the full Eat Drink Design Awards shortlist below, and the winners will be announced on November 18.

Best Bar Design
Eileen’s Bar, Four Pillars Laboratory – YSG Studio (Surry Hills, NSW)
Fat Yak Bar – Noxon Giffen (Mascot, NSW)
The Esplanade Hotel – Techne Architecture and Interior Design (St Kilda, VIC)
The Battery House, Dee Why RSL Club – Altis Architecture (Dee Why, NSW)
Poodle Bar & Bistro – Bergman & Co (Fitzroy, VIC)
Lord Lygon – Lukas Partners Interior Architecture & Design (Carlton, VIC)
Leigh Street Wine Room – Studio -Gram (Adelaide, SA)
The Malt Shovel Taphouse – Ignite Architects (Birtinya, QLD)
Cloakroom Bar – BPM Atelier (Southbank, VIC)
Tetto Rooftop Bar – The Retail Designers (Everton Park, QLD)
Furaibo – Hubble Design (Perth, WA)
The Guardsman – Studio -Gram (Adelaide, SA)
Jukes at Crown Melbourne – Casa Forte Interiors (Melbourne, VIC)
Byrdi – Design Office (Melbourne, VIC)
Amstel Club – Clever Colour & Design with Five One Group (Cranbourne, VIC)

Best Restaurant Design
Alaia’s – Pony Design Co (Neutral Bay, NSW)
Niubi – T-A Square (Melbourne, VIC)
The Albert Park Hotel – Six Degrees Architects (Albert Park, VIC)
Rengaya – Giant Design Consultants (North Sydney, NSW)
Superhiro – T-A Square (Melbourne, VIC)
Osteria Tedesca – Cox Architecture (Red Hill, VIC)
Lillian – CTRL Space (Auckland CBD, NZ)
Poly – Anthony Gill Architects (Surry Hills, NSW)
Bathers’ Pavilion – Luchetti Krelle (Mosman, NSW)
Paper Crane – CTRL Space (Cairns City, QLD)
Martha’s Table – Melissa Collison (Mornington Peninsula, VIC)
The Beach House – Studio -Gram (Jindalee, WA)
Shutters – AZB Creative and Schiavello Construction (Coogee, NSW)
Mya Tiger – Techne Architecture and Interior Design (St Kilda, VIC)
Fino Vino – Studio -Gram (Adelaide, SA)
Firebird – Ewert Leaf (Windsor, VIC)
Nagambie Brewery & Distillery – Six Degrees Architects (Nagambie, VIC)
Ichiro Izakaya Bar – Studio Grayscale (Burwood East, VIC)
SK Steak & Oyster – Richards and Spence (Fortitude Valley, QLD)
Frederic – SJB Interiors (Cremorne, VIC)
Poodle Bar & Bistro – Bergman and Co (Fitzroy, VIC)
Omnia Bistro – Architects EAT (South Yarra, VIC)
Chocolate Buddha – Maddison Architects (Melbourne, VIC)
Lagoon Dining – Olaver Architecture (Carlton, VIC)
Glorietta – Alexander and Co (North Sydney, NSW)
Madre – RADS with Voice Design (Adelaide, SA)
New York Grill – CTRL Space (Auckland CBD, NZ)

Best Cafe Design
Cafe McKenzie – Brewer Architects (Randwick, NSW)
Will & Co
Only Specialty Coffee– Ma_JR (Brisbane, QLD)
Nine Yards – Golden (South Melbourne, VIC)
City Hill Coffee – Greater Group (Canberra, ACT)
Laurent – Golden (Kew, VIC)
There Cafe – Ewert Leaf (Footscray, VIC)
Meet Fresh – Wall Architects (Glen Waverley, VIC)
Carter Lovett – Megan Hounslow (Elsternwick, VIC)
Cafe Lafayette – Hassell (Melbourne, VIC)
Dopa by Devon – Tom Mark Henry (Haymarket, NSW)
The Beach House – Studio Esteta (Geelong, VIC)
Part Time Lover – Sans-Arc Studio (Adelaide, SA)
Mr Frankie – Harrison Interiors (Frankston South, VIC)
The Garden Room – Maytree Studios (Brisbane City, QLD)
Bond Store – Proto-Tipo (Southback, VIC)
Billie Buoy – Biasol Studio (Essendon, VIC)
Levi – Levi (Murrumbeena, VIC)
Sensory Lab Cafe – Studio 11:11 (Sydney, NSW)
Axil Coffee, Melbourne Central – ST Style (Melbourne, VIC)