Looks may not be the number-one factor when deciding which hospitality venues to visit – but whether subliminally or more dramatically, they play a big role in our drinking and dining experiences. The annual Eat Drink Design Awards celebrate those shaping the look and feel of Australasia’s hospitality venues, and offer an insight into the factors influencing the broader industry. The awards’ 2023 shortlist has just been announced, and while the throughline of the 2022 shortlist was comfort, judges say this year’s venues have demonstrated plenty of diversity, with no real dominating themes.

“There was a massive range of projects, and it felt very much like we are on the cusp of change,” judge Di Ritter, who is an associate at Hassell, tells Broadsheet. “No one particular design direction stood out.”

The awards honour excellence and innovation in the categories of restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels and retail spaces, as well as “identity design”, which recognises the design of an overall visual identity or collateral such as logos, coasters and packaging. Each year a longstanding venue is also entered into the hall of fame; last year, Melbourne classic Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar became the latest inductee, joining past entrants such as Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, Cafe Di Stasio and Bills Darlinghurst. This year’s hall-of-famer will be announced at the same time as the award winners.

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While no singular theme stuck out, judges did praise the adventurous craftsmanship found in many venues, as well as a commitment to tactility and sustainability, and the return of timeless designs.

“As designers we have a massive responsibility to design for permanence,” says Ritter. “We’re seeing venues come and go with very short life spans. One day they are on top, the next they’re gone. Looking to the future, the one-off Instagrammable moment to tick [off] the bucket list has changed how we design – but this only lasts so long. Enduring design experiences that stand the test of time will prevail (hopefully).”

Fellow judge Kelvin Ho, founder and principal architect at Akin Atelier, agrees.

“For me, it’s about authenticity and creating timeless venues that don’t overpower the most important reason we go to bars and restaurants: the food, booze and social connections,” he tells Broadsheet. “Often I find venues that are too over-designed don’t actually feel hospitable.”

This year also saw a good balance between venues in the major hospitality cities of Melbourne and Sydney, and those in smaller capitals and regional towns.

“The anonymous [judging] process meant we didn’t think regional versus city,” says Ho. “But there were some regional projects pushing the boundaries, which was great to see.”

This year’s jury also includes food journalist Emma Breheny; Bentley Restaurant Group chef-owner Brent Savage; and Amy Woodroffe, acting editor of architecture and design magazine Artichoke.

The full shortlist is below; it comprises projects completed between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2023. Winners will be announced on November 29.

Best restaurant design
Such and Such – Mymymy Architecture, Canberra
Beau & Dough – Smart Design Studio, Sydney
Gildas – Atoma Design, Sydney
Hurricane’s Grill and Bar – Luchetti Krelle, Sydney
Kiln – Fiona Lynch Interior Design, Sydney
Light Years Asian Diner – Studio Plenty, Byron Bay, NSW
Lulu’s at The Lodge – Studio Barbara, Jamberoo, NSW
Oborozuki – Giant Design Consultants, Sydney
Rafi – Luchetti Krelle, Sydney
Redbird – Luchetti Krelle, Sydney
Rekodo Restaurant and Vinyl Bar – H&E Architects, Sydney
The Charles Grand Brasserie & Bar – Cox Architecture in collaboration with H&E Architects, Sydney
Babylon Brisbane – Hogg & Lamb, Brisbane
Komeyui Brisbane – Baenziger Coles, Brisbane
The Wolf – Melissa Collison Design, Brisbane
Fugazzi Private Dining Room and Bar – Studio Gram, Adelaide
Hnly – Genesin Studio, Adelaide
Luma Bar & Restaurant – Hachem, Adelaide
Sth – Adrian Condina, Adelaide
The Light Room – Georgie Shepherd Interior Design, Adelaide
Figlia – Ewert Leaf, Melbourne
Five Vineyard – Ewert Leaf, Melbourne
Grazia – Richard Hall & Son, Melbourne
Yugen – Architects Eat, Melbourne
Vin Populi – Rezen Studio, Perth
Bossi – Ctrl Space, Auckland

Best cafe design
Intra Lnsd – McShane Studio, Canberra
Glory Days Bondi – Cox Architecture, Sydney
Home Croissanterie – Guru Projects, Sydney
S’wich – Studio Shand, Sydney
The Commons Surry Hills Cafe – Design Office, Sydney
Convoy – Studio Esteta, Melbourne
Laurent Bakery, Ivanhoe – Golden, Melbourne
Manta Ray Coffee Roasters – We are Humble, Melbourne
Nimbo – Elvin Tan Design, Melbourne
St Ali & The Queen – Fiona Lynch Interior Design, Melbourne
Ula Cafe – Suil, Melbourne

Best bar design
Bar Heather – Miles / Thorp Architects, Byron Bay, NSW
Bar Morris – Tom Mark Henry, Sydney
L’uva – Guru Projects, Sydney
The Treasury at Intercontinental Hotel Sydney – Woods Bagot, Sydney
Tiva – Cox Architecture in collaboration with H & E Architects, Sydney
Butler – Hogg & Lamb, Brisbane
Jubilee Hotel – Blight Rayner Architecture, Brisbane
Dolly – Genesin Studio, Adelaide
Bassendean Hotel – Woods Bagot, Perth

Best hotel design
Capella Sydney – Bar Studio, Sydney
Hotel Morris – Tom Mark Henry, Sydney
The Playford Hotel – Hachem, Adelaide
Lancemore Milawa – The Stella Collective, Milawa, Victoria

Best retail design
Gabriel Coffee – Guru Projects, Sydney
Super Egg – Genesin Studio, Adelaide
Delatite Cellar Door – Lucy Clemenger Architects, Mansfield, Victoria
Grana – Ewert Leaf, Melbourne
Kōri Ice Cream – Architects Eat, Melbourne
Kudo – Kitayama K Architects, Melbourne
Letao – K Holland Architectural Interiors, Melbourne
Pidapipo Laboratorio – Dion Hall, Melbourne

Best identity design
El Primo Sanchez – The Bar Brand People, Sydney
Mittagong Hotel – Inklab, Mittagong, NSW
Kin Seafood – Studio Band, Adelaide
Our Boy Roy – The Colour Club, Adelaide
Kōri Ice Cream – Principle Design, Melbourne
Music Room – The Company You Keep, Melbourne
Pidapipo Laboratorio – Studio Ongarato, Melbourne