Type to search

Getting to know IDEA 2023 Workplace Under 1000sqm winner Smart Design Studio

Getting to know IDEA 2023 Workplace Under 1000sqm winner Smart Design Studio


Smart Design Studio’s sculptural and calming vision for Bridge 17 in Sydney received an Interior Design Excellence Award (IDEA) in the Workplace Under 1000sqm category in November.

Nestled inside an existing rooftop addition on a nine-storey Heritage-listed sandstone building in Sydney’s CBD is Bridge 17, a lofty workspace designed by Smart Design Studio.

Bridge 17

According to IDEA jury member Sue Fenton, the spatial arrangement takes full advantage of the unencumbered natural light and views, beautifully complementing the palette of soft natural materials.

“Although boasting unusually shaped spaces for a workplace, the long and slender volumes appear as a series of galleries and establish a new precedent in premium quality work environments,” Fenton says.

Birdge 17
Bridge 17

The project was one of many from the Sydney studio to be shortlisted in IDEA 2023. Australian Design Review (ADR) chats to founder, principal and creative director William Smart about his studio’s unusual workplace win, and clocking over 25 years as a practice.

ADR: What did it mean for you to win your category?

William Smart: We all feel humbled and honoured. I would say that we are better known for our residential work, so it was wonderful to receive recognition in the workplace category. And what an incredible field of shortlisted projects – some of the best in the country, which makes winning even more special for us.

Smart Design Studio
Bridge 17
Tell us about your winning project. What was its inspiration and how did you achieve the outcome that you did?

This project presented an unusual site and opportunity – to build a new rooftop office that wraps around a core of a Heritage building. We sought to maximise the special opportunities of this site (including the volume of that space), creating vaulted workplaces and meeting rooms beneath a sculptural new zinc roof.

Smart Design Studio
Bridge 17
How would you describe 2023?

2023 was our 25th anniversary so we felt a tremendous sense of achievement. It was a year of reflection and forward thinking and planning.

Fortunately, we know where we’re going. We announced a new structure for the company, which was a huge step for the future of Smart Design Studio. We have also completed some projects that we are proud of including Beau, a restaurant in Surry Hills for the Nomad Group, and a store for New York-based Australian fashion designer Dion Lee in Miami.

Smart Design Studio
Bridge 17
What’s next for you? Can you share any upcoming or current projects you’re working on?

We’re committed to making highly sustainable projects that are carbon neutral in construction and operation.

We’re also maximising opportunities to be creative with volume and structure. This will be front of mind for the projects we are currently working on which are quite varied, including various houses, multi-residential developments, a warehouse conversion and a school project.

Then there is the second stage of the redevelopment of the site where our studio is located, and a weekender for me, my partner John and our puppy Digby. We are also in the process of redesigning our website and are turning our heads to a book project – all of which is very exciting.

Smart Design Studio
Bridge 17
How do you plan to wrap up 2023?

It’s been a busy year, so I’m planning to have a break and spend time on our bush regeneration project at the Hawkesbury River. There’s nothing better than feeling tired at the end of the day – after pulling rubbish and weeds out of the bush.

Project photography by Romello Pereira.

Lead photo of Derek Chin, Arash Engineer and William Smart of Smart Design Studio with IDEA jury member Sue Fenton at the IDEA 2023 Gala by Narrative Post.

Get to know IDEA 2023 Institutional winner Nickolas Gurtler Office.


You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *