2018 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

GroupGSA + Artillery Melbourne Office [DRAFT]

Image Credit : Nicole England


Project Overview

The GroupGSA + Artillery office design reflects ideals of a barrier-free attitude to problem solving and a desire to be connected to nature.

Natural light fills this former 1930’s Red Cross concert hall, with aspects onto Exhibition Street and fresh air from operable art-deco windows. At the heart of the design is the large layout benches that provide areas of standing collaboration, brainstorming and an opportunity to present materials in a fluid way at client and team meetings.

Our office is designed to be highly flexible, every space has a dual purpose. From client meetings to ad-hoc collaboration or educational sessions, our spaces are easily transformed.
A centrally located meeting room pod with a planted roof of pothos vines can be adapted from a standard meeting space into ‘theatre’ style for presentations and educational sessions. The room includes a calming and reflective mural by painter Bianca Loiacono. Open collaboration occurs near the main windows which frame Plane trees. Mobile whiteboards move around to create meeting spaces as needed by the team.

The focal point of the design studio is the original concert hall stage converted into a formal meeting and presentation space. The stage is adorned with a beautiful hand-made velvet curtain that can be drawn close to create an ad-hoc yoga studio and includes a full height mural painted by respected Australian artist Greg Ades.

Making, wellness, responsibility, sustainability and creativity are all ingredients of our studio.


GroupGSA + Artillery


Sonja Duric
Suzi Wedd
Alex Macdonald
Nick Leong
Nani Puspasari - Artist
Bianca Ioiacono Artist
Greg Ades Artist

Project Brief

The brief was to develop a new, unique and dynamic workplace solution for GroupGSA + Artillery, focused on supporting a barrier-free attitude with design solutions responding to the desire to encourage, health, happiness, creatively and connectivity at work.

The GroupGSA + Artillery culture celebrates the freedom to think differently and promote problem solving. The new office design reflects these ideas and the innate need to be connected to nature. To achieve this, the design references researcher Kursty Groves, who explains ‘the spectrum between a creative and curated space is a fine balance’. The GroupGSA + Artillery design sits somewhere between the two. The studio is imperfect, mimicking both creative and human processes.

Another key briefing element was to foster a designer-maker approach, with Nick Leong (a skilled furniture designer and maker in his own right) hand making most of the furniture and built zone. Nick is also a crucial member of the GroupGSA + Artillery day-to-day design team.

Further to this, creating wellness, sustainability and creativity were all key briefing ingredients for the design solution. The connection of the interior spaces to the local streetscape, extensive use of climbing plants, abundance of natural light, material selections and flexibility in spatial confirmations are all elements of the design realising the objectives from the design brief.

Project Innovation/Need

Innovation in this project is achieved through the repurposing of an art deco theatre and ballroom space into a light, open and creative design office, reflecting the brand and culture of GroupGSA + Artillery. Rather than ‘fighting against’ the design elements of the original space, the design team sympathetically blended new and contemporary elements into the fitout.

The clever use of commissioned artwork by local artists Nani Puspasari, Bianca Loiacono and Greg Ades also added to the unique design solution in blending design elements with artistic and creative elements. Another innovation borne from this approach has been the unique reuse of the original stage area as a large flexible meeting space, incorporating a four metre high painted scene of mangroves by Greg Ades, full height lush drapes and technology to support the use of the space for large meetings, presentations and workshops. All this is achieved in a way that adds a real sense of excitement and drama to the space.

Design Challenge

A significant design challenge for this project was how best to provide a design solution to transform a voluminous concert hall into a living, breathing workplace, whilst being respectful of the fabulous heritage features of the original space. This was achieved through the use of unfixed, move-able elements and built form within the space rather than forms attempting to interject with the space. The resulting design achieves a great sense of calm on a human scale while respectfully maintaining the grand scale as an ode to the original intent of the space.

Other key design challenges included delivery of the construction works in a short time frame (to meet leasing drivers) and to a very tight construction budget. This was achieved through direct engagement of the building trades, having the majority of the construction undertaken by one of the GroupGSA + Artillery design team (Nick Leong, also a talented furniture maker) and maximising reuse of elements from the previous GroupGSA + Artillery office.


Sustainability in this project was achieved through a considered approach to maintaining the existing building and design elements of the interior spaces in the heritage building. Rather than replacing new for old, several design and furniture elements have been re-purposed and designed from the previous GroupGSA + Artillery fit-out for integration into the new space.

An emphasis on natural light, natural materials, extensive use of plants and biophilic references draw from and directly relate to the organisation’s dedication to wellness and environmentally responsible design. Biophilic design is at the core of the design.

The idea of designer as maker’ was also a major driver for the design and construction works. The design showcases the skills of the GroupGSA + Artillery design team with respective team members not only involved in the creative process but also the construction. A great majority of the built works were undertaken by Nick Leong from the GroupGSA + Artillery office. This was of great benefit for both maintaining design quality and also economic sustainability.

This award celebrates innovative and creative building interiors, with consideration given to space creation and planning, furnishings, finishes, aesthetic presentation and functionality. Consideration also given to space allocation, traffic flow, building services, lighting, fixtures, flooring, colours, furnishings and surface finishes.
More Details