The Australian Interior Design Awards were announced at a gala dinner at Melbourne’s Sofitel on Collins on Friday May 15, drawing an impressive cohort of design talent from across the country.

Taking out the hospitality category this year was interior architect George Livissianis’ design for Cho Cho San. The Sydney restaurant’s minimalist white and gold palette reflects the menu’s Japanese influence in its elegant simplicity.

“Cho Cho San interprets the mood and feeling of a Japanese izakaya without using obvious thematic references,” say the jury notes. “Exercising incredible restraint, the designer avoided interior theatrics in favour of a simple, well-crafted and honest approach.”

“The quality of light is really beautiful,” says jury panelist Sarah-Jane Pyke of Arent&Pyke. “Cho Cho San achieves a zen-like quality – every element is just right.”

Livissianis was inspired by contemporary Japanese architecture, the simplicity of Japanese design and the intricate detailing that it typically entails.

“Applying a simple palette of concrete, birch ply and white painted walls, we wanted to create something Japanese, but in a very subtle way,” he says.

A long and disconnected site, the design response had to be site-specific. In Cho Cho San, a solid concrete bar ties a series of smaller, disjointed rooms together. Reminiscent of traditional Japanese screens, the backlit ceiling generates soft, filtered light that acts as a reference point throughout the space.

“There was a wonderfully broad mix of design aesthetics this year. No two submissions looked the same, resulting in unique design responses and a variety of spaces with individual style,” says Sarah-Jane Pyke.

Commendations in the same category included Hecker Guthrie for Polperro Winery; studio‐gram x mash for Parwana Kutchi Deli; and Inarc Architects for Huntingdale Golf Club.

“Each year, the awards highlight the innovative thinking that has shaped recent Australian interior design practice,” says event manager Jacinta Reedy. Importantly, they also hint at the direction that will shape the next generation of Australian design projects.