The breadth and maturity of Ritz&Ghougassian's portfolio impressed the jury, especially as the Melbourne-based practice was only established in late 2015. Co-directors Gilad Ritz and Jean-Paul Ghougassian's refined, architecturally rigorous work is notable for its strong adherence to a set of shared design values and its avoidance of anything faddish or trendy, making them very deserving award recipients.
There's consistency and originality across each project, regardless of typology, and each displays genuine innovation and sophistication. This is especially evident in two of the practice's most recent projects, the highly polished Highbury Grove residence and Fitzroy's stylish Bentwood cafe. Ritz&Ghougassian's commitment to build upon the architects' combined experience working at Hassell, Room 11 and Woods Bagot makes it a name to watch. The practice is already prodigious in delivering over fifteen projects and, as one jury member commented, what makes this young practice particularly refreshing in an age of social media is that its co-directors are "designing by principles not Pinterest."
Pierce Widera is an upcoming design practice in Melbourne. The studio was established in 2017, the founding partners and directors are Amy Pierce (aged 30) and Nat Widera (aged 37). Both Nat and Amy share a wealth of architecture and design experience across a variety of scales and sectors, including hospitality, commercial and residential. In their first year, Pierce Widera has already completed six projects in the commercial sector.