“When I was at school I would get off the bus and wander the back streets of my neighbourhood,” says designer Adele Winteridge. “From outside the houses I’d dream about what was going on inside and how these spaces could be designed. I remember being very interested in the letterboxes as a signifier for the rest of the building.”

Winteridge is the founder and director of Foolscap Studio, an interior architecture and design practice with offices in Melbourne and Sydney. Working in collaboration with Foolscap architect Jason Nogoy, Winteridge is one of four finalists in the 2016 Mercedes-Benz Design Award by Broadsheet. This year the brief called for entries that enhanced the outdoor dining experience. The winner will work with renowned outdoor furniture designer Tait to develop their design from the prototype stage through to production. The finished product will then be added to the Tait range and offered for sale nationwide.

Winteridge was shortlisted for the Lawn Chair, a reinterpretation of the classic mid-century outdoor furniture piece.

“With a cool retro feel that echoes modern design, the Lawn Chair is an awesome reinvention for outdoor furniture,” says Susan Tait, who with husband Gordon is founder and company director of Tait, and a co-judge of this year’s awards. “Its detail is really unique and appealing. A lot of thought and consideration went into this proposal, and it’s fantastic to see how it could also be applied in indoor contexts.”

We spoke to Winteridge about design and the rewards of running her own studio.

Broadsheet: How did you get involved in design?

Adele Winteridge: I studied the history and theory of landscape and architecture at University of Western Australia. I was fascinated with ancient Egypt, Versailles and Stonehenge and the impact the thinking [in that time] had on the buildings and spaces of today. I knew then I would be involved in architecture, interiors and design for a long time.

BS: How has your business grown and changed since it began in 2009?

AW: Every year is a new journey and it is a constant learning curve. We have steadily grown and the projects we take on now are larger and more complex. We have also started our own branding arm, which enables us to look at projects holistically. We are growing but always want to remain small enough to stay super creative and maintain quality with everything we do.

BS: What does good design mean to you?

AW: It’s furniture and objects you want to keep forever. Good design doesn’t get between a person and an activity, but rather enables the activity to happen.

BS: Where do you work and what does your workspace look like?

AW: We work in Hardware Lane in the city of Melbourne. The space is on the third level of a standalone building that is over a decade old. It’s a light, airy and creative space to work. We have a studio space in Sydney as well, but I’m located in Melbourne.

BS: Why did the traditional lawn chair need an update?

AW: Over the years, the lawn chair has succumbed to mass production and the materiality and design detailing has suffered. It means the chair is not all that comfortable or reliable. It’s been devalued. We felt we could work on the design to make it more contemporary, to make it more comfortable and fun.

BS: Explain your design for the lawn chair.

AW: The Lawn Chair is a take on the original lawn chair. It’s a fun, foldable chair that can be used indoors or outdoors. We’ve manipulated the ergonomics and materials of the original chair for a contemporary take on a dining chair.

It’s also foldable, and can stack together, which is perfect for extra guests, or extra seats within a hospitality environment. It’s designed with an emphasis on everyday use rather than occasional use. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Outdoor furniture has the ability to celebrate Australian conviviality.

BS: How did you find collaborating with your colleague Jason Nogoy on this project?

AW: Collaborating with Jason is always a pleasure, he is really creative and his background in furniture and fine art helped us work through solutions for [the chair’s] junction details. The hardware and folding mechanisms are very important in this chair.

BS: How does the lawn chair improve the outdoor dining experience? What makes it particularly suitable for the outdoors?

AW: The chair has been designed with comfort in mind, from the webbing to the more robust frame. The ergonomics of the chair are designed for dining. The compactness and foldability of the chair mean that you can dine anywhere – picnic, patio or beach. The materials are long-lasting and will withstand the harsh Australian weather.

Outdoor furniture in Australia, including the Tait range, is usually bold and fun and the options of colour combinations for the Lawn Chair are pretty much limitless – this means that it will suit any outdoor environment.

BS: What would it mean to you to win the award?

AW: We would like to start designing a range beyond our own projects. Winning the award would give us the ability to create experiences for a wider audience beyond the creative confines of a specific project.

[We’d love] to work with Tait, we have huge respect for what they create for Australian design. We often specify their furniture and it would be an invaluable opportunity to share design processes with them.

Usually we create spaces for furniture. This would be a great opportunity to create furniture for spaces.

Meet our other finalists Joshua Flowers, Marcus Piper and Nancy Ji. The winner of the Mercedes-Benz Design Award presented by Broadsheet will be announced at a ceremony in Melbourne on Thursday December 1.

Update: The Lily Tray Table is now available to purchase from Tait showrooms and online

This article presented in partnership with the Mercedes-Benz Design Award by Broadsheet.