Best of DENFAIR 2019

The DENFAIR Awards returned in the show’s fifth year to celebrate the design industry’s finest, acknowledging the talent and dedication of our inspiring exhibitor community.

This year’s awards were presented on the first evening of the show at the purpose-built Speaker Space. Designed exclusively for the show by Arthur Koutoulas of Joyce Foam Products, with flooring by Polyflor, the modular elements opened up to accommodate the DENFAIR Awards audience. Winners took home trophies designed and produced by Tait, champions of local design and manufacture.

Our esteemed judging panel, including designer Chris Connell, architect Rob Mills and Design Anthology editor, Suzy Annetta, sought exceptional products and concepts on the show floor which suggested a new way forward for design. Read on to discover who took home an award, including Suzy and Rob’s notes on each of the winners and highly commended entries.



Highly Commended

Jaron Dickson – Grenache Wine System

Easily stackable, Jaron’s practical storage solution displayed a distinct purity of form.

Suzy: “I was looking for things that were perhaps a bit different, something that I hadn’t seen before, obviously good quality workmanship, but understated. I think this piece speaks to that.”

Rob: “We gave Jaron’s work a high commendation for its simplicity. It was a really resolved piece.”


Makiko Ryujin – Shinki Burning Vessels

Suzy: “For me, it really stood out from everything else that was there. I’ve spent a bit of time in Japan, so the burning of the wood, this particular technique, was something that was familiar to me. It’s actually a way of preserving the timber. I liked how modern and simple but also a little bit tribal and primitive they felt – they’re objects that I think would sit beautifully in a number of different environments.”

As a Front | Centre award winner, Makiko will receive a free stand at DENFAIR 2020, as well as valuable workshop time at Fab9’s enviably equipped makerspace facilities. Additionally, the design industry recognition continues beyond the ceremony, with promotion through DENFAIR’s channels and coverage by the exhibition’s longstanding media partner, Green Magazine. 



Highly Commended

Ashley & Co

Rob: “Their presentation was strong, and that’s so important. You can have a great product, but if you don’t present it to the world succinctly and with confidence, then no one will recognise you. So I think that’s why we supported this stand.”


Coco Flip

Suzy: “I was particularly interested to see what people could do with a small space. In some ways it can be easier but it can also be more challenging. I think what I liked about this was that it felt very architectural. It had a very strong presence to it.”



Highly Commended

Robert Gordon

Suzy: “They had delineated this area that was quite temporary, without necessarily laying down flooring or taping off a square. And I thought these guys did this in a really interesting way, and that it was beautifully presented.”


The Raconteur

Suzy: “I liked how that had created a sense with something that wasn’t necessarily solid or architectural. And that it had a bit of a mysterious element to it, that you could kind of see through, but you didn’t really know what it was. There was something light and ethereal and romantic about it all. And it really suited the product that they had on display.”



Highly Commended

The Wood Room

Rob: “They’re strong in the way they present themselves to the world. They’ve gone to the trouble of employing one of Australia’s great designers, Jonathan Richards, whose work I love, and the ceiling is quite beautiful. They’re ambitious, these guys.”


OAK Redefined – by Adam Markowitz, Marcus Piper and Evostyle for American Hardwood Export Council

Suzy: “It’s a space that I just wanted to keep walking around, and as you do that, you notice all of these little details. It’s deceptively simple. On first glance, it doesn’t look like a lot until you really start looking at it and studying it… A lot of really interesting little details. And I liked the way they had created a sense of space that filtered the outside and created a little space within.”

Rob: “It’s beautifully executed, it’s pure, it has all the hallmarks of the Barcelona Pavilion, where you have a lineal design. Not framed and capturing the space, it allows you to come and go in and around it. The detailing is exceptional. It really reminds us all of how wonderful wood is as a material to use. And finally, this is what i search for – raw materials that allow design to exist without too much adornment.”



Highly Commended

LUXXBOX – Linea Acoustic Pendant Light

Suzy: “I’m based in Hong Kong, and the acoustics in most workplaces and restaurants is appalling, so this is a light fixture that also has acoustic properties, which I found interesting and a little bit different.”


NAU – Chameleon Table

Rob: “Chris Connell was the other judge with Suzy and I, and he took us to this and kind of demanded we vote for it! And we understood why. He’s maybe more qualified to judge it than either of us, because he’s a product designer, and he saw in this a product that can be manufactured economically. But most importantly, the final result was beautiful to look at.”



Highly Commended

Flinkspace – Moving Stool

Suzy: “It’s something that is a really beautiful solution for something that is an everyday thing – moving around seats for meetings, casual conversations, and for it to be so light and so attractive.”


Zaha Hadid Design – Cell Candle Holder

Suzy: “It’s a very elegant piece, quite clever – I really like that it’s modular, you can buy individual pieces of this system and continue to add to that and grow the collection over time. And it also means that if you just want one small piece, you can do that quite affordably. I love the fact that it’s in two different metal finishes. It almost feels to me like a Jetsons-like future city, which says a lot about the architecture of Zaha Hadid.”



Highly Commended

Robert Gordon – Kiln 515

Rob: “It’s made of terracotta, I think – with a glaze over the top, which means it’s light. And I think traditionally most sanitaryware is made of terracotta, but none in this finish, and shape. And organic feel, which I really appreciate.”


Made By Pen – Sway Lamp by Nick Rennie

Suzy: “It’s the simplicity of the design, and it’s quite lighthearted, I suppose, it’s not a serious product, and it’s not another chair! It’s so nice to see something outside of that category.”