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Women of Influence – Yasmine Ghoniem

Women of Influence – Yasmine Ghoniem


Continuing our series celebrating Women of Influence in Architecture and Interior Design, Australian Design Review spotlights the jaw-dropping career of arguably 2024’s most in-demand designer – Yasmine Ghoniem of studio YSG. 

Women of Influence - Yasmine Ghoniem presenting at IDEA 2023
Women of Influence – Yasmine Ghoniem presenting at IDEA 2023

Following the launch of design collective Amber Road with her sister Katy Svalbe, a landscape architect, in 2013, YSG Studio burst onto the scene in February 2020, smack bang in the middle of a global pandemic threatening even the most solid of studios.  Yet, far from being daunted by the times, Yasmine Ghoniem surged ahead, racking up successes that would make even the most seasoned veterans sit up and take notice. 

If you’re familiar with Ghoniem, you’d understand she’s a true trailblazer, with a penchant for pushing boundaries in colour, space and texture.  From decking out bars on Shanghai’s waterways to crafting luxury pads for Hollywood’s elite in California and defining a distinct style for A-List Aussies such as Hamish and Zoe Foster-Blake … she’s done it all. 

Alongside all of this, she also has had a side hustle fronting rock bands in Sydney and a leading role in humanitarian missions across Kenya and Vietnam. Ghoniem’s resume reads like a rock ‘n’ roll globe-trotting adventure.

YSG Palm Beach
YSG Palm Beach

As a judge for Australian Design Review’s IDEA 2022, a winner of IDEA 2021 Designer of the Year and IDEA 2023 Best Colour category recipient, along with a slew of highly commended nods, Ghoniem’s star continues to rise. 

Ghoniem says launching YSG was a call to fellow “seekers of the unconventional”, which led to innovation in both residential and hospitality design.

“I can confidently say that now, more than ever, homeowners are craving the cult of personality rather than slavishly following trends. Long may it last!” she says.

Describing the spectrum of typologies, from residential to hospitality to commercial, Ghoneim reflects on how she and the YSG team approach different types of briefs.

“Hospitality is interesting because you’ve really got to switch your marketing head-on,” she explains “In addition to creating an awesome internal vibe that’ll make people want to return again and again, you have to factor in subtle branding elements (tonal, textural, etc.) which also includes the all-important attention to entry points and a building’s façade in general.

“The space has to be highly practical for staff to circumnavigate the setting with ease, including practical kitchen access. The bonus is being able to visit the space and enjoy it post-completion whenever I want.

Four Pillars Eileen YSG Studio
Four Pillars – Bar Eileen YSG Studio

“Workplaces are interesting too as you need to invest in what the offering is, how staff inter-relate and what component of the business relies on face-to-face encounters with clients.”

Ghoniem’s recent winning project for IDEA 2023 Colour was the incredible Black Diamond for YSG Studio.

YSG Black Diamond - Winner IDEA Colour 2023
YSG Black Diamond – Winner IDEA Colour 2023

Talking with Australian Design Review she divulged her unique approach when it comes to residential projects.

“I really like to focus on how a client wants to feel in their new home rather than focusing on a fixed visual image,” Ghoniem says. “There’s a lot more hand-holding as they usually like to get really involved in selections – from stone to new artwork, plus custom furniture designs. What results is a major team effort which is pretty rewarding when you get that ‘hell yessss’ response from them at handover.”

YSG Black Diamond - Winner Colour IDEA 2023
YSG Black Diamond – Winner Colour IDEA 2023

With a recent ABC presenting gig on Grand Designs Transformations and international commissions calling – Yasmine Ghoniem’s trajectory remains anything but boring.  

For the month of March, in recognition of International Women’s Day, Australian Design Review will be shining a spotlight on Women of Influence in Architecture and Interior Design. While we pride ourselves on championing women, those who identify as women, and others from underrepresented groups at all times, we believe it’s necessary to recognise the achievements of individuals who have risen to the top, despite social or industry-related imbalances. As well as bringing you profiles and project features that celebrate the work of game changing, innovative women, we’ll also lean into the very real, yet rarely discussed realities of working in an industry that still holds onto traditional modes of working that aren’t always inclusive or supportive. It’s our privilege this month to bring you profiles and features that celebrate the unique skills and talents that women bring to the Architecture and Interior Design industry. We congratulate each and every female member of the Australian design community for the important contribution they make.


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