Emerging Designer

The Design Files is passionate about uncovering and nurturing the next generation of Australian designers and creatives.

This category seeks to award one designer, architect, independent creative or studio, working in any creative discipline, who has launched their own professional practice within the last three years.

Applications will be assessed on the designer’s or studio’s career achievements to date, with specific focus on two recent projects as nominated by the applicant.


One winner in the Emerging Designer category will be awarded a $2000 cash prize. Up to two commendations will also be awarded.

Applications have been shortlisted by The Design Files team. Shortlisted entries will be assessed by two expert judges, on the following criteria :

Ability to respond to a client brief 

Originality – a style or aesthetic we haven’t seen before.

Visual Appeal – beauty, boldness, aesthetic appeal.

Mastery – how well does this designer or creative demonstrate mastery in their field?

Sustainability – how well does this designer demonstrate a responsibility for positive environmental outcomes, with specific consideration of the environmental impact, waste and energy consumption of their project/s?

Visionary thinking – does this designer push boundaries, or achieve something bigger than the intended commercial outcomes of their projects?

Bonus points will be awarded to designers who demonstrate a commitment to pro bono or community focussed outcomes.

The Emerging Designer category is presented by Phoenix Tapware
Fowler and Ward, Architects

Proud alumni of Clare Cousins Architects, Jessie Fowler and Tara Ward formed their own architecture practice, Fowler and Ward, in 2018. Besides a clear shared style, the pair’s common interest in socially-driven design outcomes drives the impressive young firm, which already has nine complete projects to its name. Particularly invested in sensitive renovations and small-space innovation, the pair strive to make a compassionate impact on the urban character surrounding them.

Sophie Gannon

Sophie Gannon is the founder and director of Sophie Gannon Gallery, founded in 2007. Since 2016, Sophie has been commissioning and showing original Australian design pieces, alongside Australian art, presenting an annual showcase of bespoke furniture and object design called ‘Designwork’. Sophie also sits on the board of the Robin Boyd Foundation.

Simone LeAmon

Simone LeAmon has established a career as one of Australia’s foremost design professionals. Elevating the importance of design and creativity, and the work of the creative communities we live in, she has been working internationally for more than two decades as an artist, industrial designer, design curator, writer, industry consultant and university lecturer. Simone was appointed the inaugural Hugh Williamson Curator of Contemporary Design and Architecture at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2015.

CJH Studio, Interior Architect & Product Designer

Led by director Cassie James-Herrick, CJH Studio is a two person practice undertaking predominantly high-end residential interior architecture and design, as well as small retail, commercial and styling work. The studio produces warm yet minimal environments that celebrate natural materials and soft forms. CJH Studio also curates a collection of handles, hooks, hardware and bespoke small wares under the brand Linear Standard.

Emerging Designer
Kennon, Architects and Interior Designers

A young studio helmed by architect Pete Kennon, Kennon works on projects of various scale and function that strive to create value socially, environmentally and economically. Their work is an exploration of how our built environment can elicit an emotive response. 

Emerging Designer
Fowler and Ward, Architects

Jessie Fowler and Tara Ward formed their own architecture practice, Fowler and Ward, in 2018. The studio has a passion for designing residential spaces that give back to the city they love, from creating homes in small spaces to multi-residential developments that increase density without overwhelming neighbourhood character. 

Emerging Designer
Neighbourhood Studio, Sculptor 

With a background in design and landscape architecture, Lucas Wearne launched his collection of sculptural objects in early 2020. Limited one-off collections of lamps and vessels are made predominantly from Australian natural limestone, combining functional items with sculptural objects. Lucas hand carves each piece from his studio in Thornbury. 

Emerging Designer
Brahman Perera, Interior Designer 

Honing his interior design skills at some of Melbourne’s most reputable studios including Chelsea Hing, Fiona Lynch and Hecker Guthrie, Brahman Perera formally established his own practice in early 2019. Eschewing trends and themes, the award winning designer crafts interiors that are driven by contemplation, theory and romance.  

Emerging Designer
Pierce Widera, Interior Designer & Architect

After meeting at Melbourne architecture firm, interior designer Amy Pierce and architect Nat Widera came together to form Pierce Widera in 2017. This upcoming interior design and architecture practice already has an impressive folio of hospitality venue design in Melbourne, creating distinctly resolved and highly impactful projects.

Emerging Designer
James Howe, Furniture Designer

Following a career in journalism, James Howe came to furniture design with almost no prior knowledge of or experience in the industry in 2018. His interest blossomed after stumbling across the work of Danish designer Børge Mogensen, and completing furniture design and making training in JamFactory’s Associate Training Program

Emerging Designer
Cassie Hansen, Ceramicist 

As the editor of design magazine Artichoke for almost a decade, Cassie Hansen has recently come to her own creative practice in the form of ceramics. Largely influenced by the shape and composition found in architecture, furniture and interiors, Cassie creates functional vessels that absorb elements of these references.

Emerging Designer