The best of Australia’s new hospitality design was celebrated this evening, with the announcement of the 2023 Eat Drink Design Awards winners. The awards honour beautiful, innovative and exciting design in hospitality, and the role design plays in customers’ overall dining and drinking experiences. This year, Sydney venues were on a roll, with four of the seven winners found in the Harbour City.

Sky-high restaurant Kiln, in Sydney’s Ace Hotel, and the Nomad team’s sleek wine bar and manoush eatery Beau & Dough, were jointly awarded Best Restaurant Design. Fiona Lynch’s work for Kiln was praised by judges for embracing topical conversations surrounding sustainability, collaboration and community, incorporating the Australian landscape in its colour palette, and “capturing a moment in time for Australian interior design”. On the other hand, Smart Design Studio’s design for Beau & Dough was applauded for its timelessness and attention to detail, as well as for successfully uniting the two disparate spaces that make up the one venue.

Further east at Bondi beach, Studio Shand’s design for sandwich eatery S’Wich took out the Best Cafe Design award. It got the nod from judges for its ability to transition from day to night, its tactility, its strong brand identity and its fusion of “urban chic” and Bondi’s laid-back culture. Also in Sydney, the new Capella Hotel was awarded Best Hotel Design. Bar Studio’s restoration of the Edwardian former government building was commended for honouring the building’s past and original charm, while looking to the future, using solid, timeless materials.

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Over in suburban Adelaide, wine bar Dolly, designed by Genesin Studio, was given the Best Bar Design Award. It earned the award thanks to its modular approach, with a striking concrete bar centrepiece and different dining zones, as well as its dynamic combination of local materials, lighting and artworks.

Two Melbourne dessert spots also hit the sweet spot for judges. Japanese dessert shop Letao, by K Holland Architectural Interiors, was awarded Best Retail Design for its flagship Australian store on Swanston Street. Judges said the design helps showcase the desserts as “precious jewels”, bolstered by strategic lighting, a monotone palette and effective harnessing of a compact space. Not far away, in Hawthorn, Principle Design’s work on Kori Ice Cream was awarded Best Identity Design. The eye-catching red store was praised for its holistic approach when it came to merging branding and interior design. It was also commended for avoiding ice-creamery stereotypes, leaning more “street … than sweet” and for embracing a sense of fun.

Back in Sydney, classic French restaurant Bistro Moncur joined the Eat Drink Design Awards Hall of Fame. It was designed in 1993 by Alec Tzannes, with an aim to be both comfortable and sophisticated, while also taking into consideration the efficiency required to serve hundreds of people each day. The room has hardly been changed in its 30-year history, a testament to its timeless and dynamic design.

This year’s jury was made up of food journalist Emma Breheny, Kelvin Ho (director, Akin Atelier), Di Ritter (associate, Hassell), Brent Savage (chef and owner, The Bentley Restaurant Group) and Amy Woodroffe (acting editor, Artichoke).

“The very high level of design execution and attention to detail deserves extra praise this year, given the social and economic climate these works have occurred within,” the jury wrote in a statement. “The judges applauded those designs that took risks and tried something innovative; yet at the same time, they praised designs that spoke softly and will likely retain relevance for decades in an industry with a proclivity for impermanence.”

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