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Byron George named a judge for IDEA 2023

Byron George named a judge for IDEA 2023


IDEA Designer of the Year 2022, Byron George (of Russell & George Architects), has been named as a judge for IDEA 2023.

He joins designers and architects Danielle Brutsman, Megan Norgate, Sydney-based interior designer Jade Nottage, and Melbourne-based designer Elvin Tan. We’ll be revealing more judges soon, so stay tuned.

IDEA is now open for entries until 18 June. Enter now!

Byron George is a registered architect and director of Russell & George, an award-winning and experimental design and architecture practice with completed projects on four continents.

Russell & George have been turning heads in the hospitality sector (among other areas) for some time, and are renowned for taking a very considered, nuanced approach that aims to challenge conventional notions of what design is, and how it can make an impact on or celebrate the culture of a society. 

George reflects on the most challenging project to date – the practice’s recent jaw-dropping collaborations with Melbourne restaurateur Chris Lucas.

“The practice has many projects on the go, and there is always something special about each one,” he says. 

“However, I would have to say the most momentous in the last twelve months, especially in terms of scale and vision, was the work at 80 Collins St for restaurateur Chris Lucas (with Society and Yakimono).  He has a ‘fondness for breaking the mold’ and ‘creating innovative experiences.’ That is the best brief designers can be given.”

Russell & George work on every facet from spatial design through to industrial design and lighting design.

Yakimono by Russell & George
Byron George IDEA judge’s work at Yakimono with Russell & George image supplied

“From ‘spaces below’ such as Yakimono to ‘spaces above’ such as Society – they are so different, yet they need to be read as a whole,” he explains.

“You name it, our practice touched on it. I’d like to think this is what distinguishes our work, but also makes it successful for the client and the audience who use the space.”

When reflecting on his own motivations for stepping into architecture as a career, for George, it goes back to boyhood.

“I think, having wanted to be an architect since I was six years of age (though perhaps not having a name for it back then), the idea and experience of using my brain to create something original would still have to be my all-time personal highlight. I get an amazing buzz and surge of energy from using my brain to design.

“My experience spans from the design of small objects to large-scale architecture. I approach every client and project with the same mix of curiosity, energy, and a fundamental belief in the ability of good design to change a person’s day for the better.”

George is passionate about the unique talents of Australian designers and feels there should be more opportunity for the industry to get noticed at an international level.

“Our distance and isolation should not hold us back, especially as I believe we have a sensibility and approach that makes us ‘wantable’. This opens up so many more opportunities for Australian designers.”

“As Australian designers and practices – from fashion and product design through to interior and architecture – gain international recognition, the more the world opens up for Australian design.”

Byron George IDEA judge’s work at Society with Russell & George image supplied

George believes the biggest challenge for the Australian design industry is getting national recognition for the field of design and professional practitioners.

“Educational standards need to be established, [as well as] the importance of what design brings to projects, and lastly but not least, in a global sense, the encroachment of alternatives from the availability of do-it-yourself technology to entities outside the design industry who term themselves designers (lower-case ‘d’).”

Reflecting on his appointment to the panel of judges and the importance of the 2023 IDEA Awards, George says, “Premium awards like IDEA can provide an introduction to a wider audience, recognition of the designer and work of a practice, establishment of design credentials and bonafides, and so much more.

“Where I believe awards play their most important role is with the general public. Awards educate the public about what Design with a capital ‘D’ really is, that standards exist, that peer esteem is valuable when choosing between the ‘real thing’ i.e. design and the work of qualified professionals versus look-alike versions and less sustainable alternatives.”

Looking ahead to IDEA, George hopes that the applicants steer clear of obvious design trends.

“Rather than ‘trend’ which suggests something is ‘in fashion’ for a fleeting time, I would like to see an evolved approach. Design for what it is meant to be, a consideration for human-grounded detail rather than an overtly stylised approach, inherent goodness and sustainability with a strong sense of independence,” he explains.

“Truly, it’s the approach I will be looking for – the resolution of difficult problems, the experience and interconnectedness of a space or building for the people who live, work, and play in these respective environments, be that the resolved nature of the design and importantly the uplift that spiritual value brings.”

“Read that as: the care factor, engagement, or transformative experience that one gets from being in these environments,” he explains.

IDEA 2023 will be judged by a panel of industry experts. We’ll be announcing more judges soon.

Don’t miss out, enter today, head to the IDEA website and submit your entries.


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