A Guide to Australia’s Best Design Experiences


Sometimes, you just want to feel inspired. And what better way to do that than by appreciating some of the best-designed spaces in Australia, or taking part in festivals and events helmed by our most creative minds? Whether you want to appreciate great architecture and interior design while you eat dinner, get your hands on pieces by up-and-coming artists or immerse yourself in an art exhibition, these are some of the best design-focused experiences across the country.

Explore the State Buildings in Perth

The contrast between the red-brick exterior and thoroughly modern interiors of these refurbished 20th-century buildings makes a wander through these interwoven businesses a must for any design fiend passing through Perth. Reopened in 2015 after 20 years of disuse and an extensive refurbishment, inside the walls you’ll now find the upmarket COMO The Treasury hotel, a collection of restaurants and bars as well as a mix of complementary retail offerings including a chocolatier and florist.

Order a cocktail at Adelaide’s Pink Moon Saloon

The seasonal cocktail list and collection of Australian-only tap beer might be the reason you stay for hours at this hole-in-the-wall but it’s surely this drinking den’s façade that first draws you in. The narrow wooden building (only 3.66 metres wide, to be exact) calls to mind Stuart Little’s home, so dwarfed between two apartment blocks is its pitched roof. The clever use of this former alleyway – both inside the cabin-esque building and the outdoor beer garden – proves that bigger isn’t always better.

Indulge in dessert in extravagant surroundings at 12 Micron

As much care was taken in the details of the dining room as there was in crafting the intricate dishes that form 12 Micron’s dessert degustation. The interiors have the unenviable task of drawing diners’ attention from the pretty patter of Sydney Harbour outside the restaurant’s enormous windows but the subtle Australiana vibe is more than up to the task. Spotted gum is grouped with native flowers in colourful bursts through the space akin to what you find on Sydney’s streets. (Image credit: Anna Kucera)

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Enjoy a feast at Workshop Bros Glen Waverley in Melbourne

The Asian influence imbued in the dishes at the Glen Waverley outpost – 20 kilometres from the CBD – of this Melbourne restaurant extends from the plate to the carefully designed interiors. As you tuck into a pork belly mi goreng, a quick glance around the room will instantly remind you of Chinese restaurants from your youth, thanks to contemporary spin on common tropes: the rich magenta touches and circle motifs reminiscent of big banquet tables and, of course, lazy Susans.

Pick up unique homewares at Melbourne’s Big Design Market

If you’ve got a savvy eye, you might be able to take home the next big thing for a song at this annual Melbourne market. For three days at the end of November, 230 independent designers, who work across ceramics, textiles, fashion, jewellery and much more, converge on the Royal Exhibition Building to present their creations to appreciative crowds. (Pictured: ceramics by Bridget Bodenham)

Learn a crafty new skill at Work-Shop

After you’ve immersed yourself in such beautiful design, we’d hazard a guess that your fingers are twitching to let your own creative streak run free. But if you’re not sure where to start, begin by enrolling in one of the scores of courses offered around Australia through Work-Shop, a collective of skilled artists keen to pass on their knowledge in all manner of creative outlets from watercolours to indigo dyeing.

Marvel at the D’Arenberg Cube

Whether you love or hate it, you can’t deny it’s intriguing. The D’Arenberg Cube is home to possibly the most fascinating wine-tasting experience in Australia thanks to its “wine fog” room but we daresay you’ll spend more time appreciating the construction of this five-level McLaren Vale Rubik’s cube as you will a good shiraz. Once you’ve admired the way the light hits the puzzling glass exterior – which nabbed a Good Design Award earlier this year – make your way inside to the art gallery, where pieces from owner Chester Osborn’s private collection line the walls.

Peruse the latest exhibits at the Australian Design Centre

Where better to appreciate good design than in a space dedicated purely to its promotion? The Australian Design Centre, in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Darlinghurst, holds regular events, exhibitions and workshops that showcase some of the innovative design work being created across the country. Until 25 July, the space is showing almost 50 pieces of the very best new furniture, lighting and object designs as part of its WORKSHOPPED18 show – a must for anyone who appreciates how good design influences our homes.

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