2016 Melbourne Design Awards

spaces, objects, visual, graphic, digital & experience design, design champion, best studio & best start-up, plus over 40 specialist categories

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage, growing demand for design

SBS Upfront Presentation - Melbourne [DRAFT]

Photo Credit : AZBcreative



Project Overview

SBS asked us to design a space and event to celebrate 30 years of the multicultural network, while launching their new lineup of programming to media and VIP guests.

At the same time, we needed to create a sensory and interactive experience to build anticipation for the new SBS food network.

We chose Maia in Docklands for the venue; an area central to Melbourne’s history, to emphasise the heritage of the network.

We designed a number of custom elements to create impact within the space and communicate both the history of the network and its commitment to diverse programming.

Project Commissioner


Project Creator



Alex Zabotto-Bentley
Jenni Munster
Kimberley Stewart
Nathan Sullivan

Project Brief

We had designed a larger event for the Sydney launch, for Melbourne we needed to scale down the size of the venue without losing impact.

Guests were greeted on the pier for drinks and international canapés as they took in the dramatic skyline.

Custom made 5x3m banners recalling SBS’s iconic moments dominated the main space, and became a talking point as people reminisced.

A giant globe was suspended over the dining area and illuminated to illustrate the network’s global outlook and coloured lighting added warmth and drama to the space, keyed to the visual presentations.

Food was to be a major element, and we needed to make sure we grabbed attention with the kind of wow factor guests would be talking about long after the event. For the dramatic dishes, we took inspiration from Heston Blumenthal, one of the most innovative and popular chefs on the SBS roster.

Project Need

For the Melbourne launch, we designed a slightly smaller event for 160, using many of the elements from the Sydney launch, tailored to a different space.

As we had created a dramatic dessert for the Sydney event which had already been covered by the press, it was important to maintain the element of surprise, so we devised a different dessert, full of drama and cloaked in dry ice.

From securing a suitable venue with a sense of history, to managing the flow of people throughout the space and creating visual elements to contribute to the story, to maintaining a level of excitement amongst such a large group, we worked with a fantastic team, from crafts people and technicians to chefs and staff, to ensure a seamless experience. Our aim was to inform, surprise and delight this group of media types who had “seen it all before”.

User Experience

The whole experience was designed to take the guests on a journey through the dynamic history of SBS and also bring them right into the live network launch. Through visual presentations and props, they could recall key moments of the broadcaster’s history.

It was also important to create a human scale, so that people weren’t lost in a sea of faces, but felt directly connected with the network. We created more intimate spaces with furniture, lighting and visual cues to bring people together and encourage interaction.

From food stations to dramatic dishes that were shared family style, we aimed to get the guests moving around and meeting new people.

We also used audio elements, from the music and presentation to the use of a kitchen egg timer to build a sense of anticipation.

The food itself was a key player, and we brought theatre and fantasy in to play, to take the experience well beyond expectations.


Working with a heritage building, we were very conscious of non-intrusive ways to transform the space.

Recycled timber and vintage elements were used for furnishings, and many of the props and decor were brought in from our own archives.

Even the table settings, using potted succulents and unbleached linens were designed to reduce waste.

The custom elements including banners, signage and props were designed to be disassembled and moved from Sydney, on to the Melbourne event.

This award celebrates creative and innovative design for a business event. Consideration given to originality, creativity; theming;  audience connection and engagement and how the event created a seamless experience for the visitor and helped to reinforce the program's core message
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