2017 Sydney 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




When one of Sydney's largest leagues club wants to become a dining destination, two revolutions must happen simultaneously. One in the kitchen, and one in customers minds. We took on the latter.

The Garden is a celebration of the simple things in life and the people we share them with. Underpinned by Wests Asfhield's reputation as a community hub, The Garden is a brand that shatters the limits of club dining and aligns traditional Australian hospitality with food trends currently shaping the world.

A farm-to-fork restaurant in Sydney's Inner West, a lush garden inside a leagues club and venue that morphs from cafe to restaurant to bar, The Garden's brand identity plays with all these contradictions under one concept: The joy of the unexpected.

Project Commissioner

Wests Ashfield Leagues Club

Project Creator



Pablo Ostolaza - Strategy Director
Gareth Procter - Creative Director
Helen Shrewsbury - Designer
Charlie Whitehouse - Designer

Project Brief

Wests Ashfield Leagues is not only home of the Tigers and the Magpies, but also one of Sydney's most popular leagues clubs in number of members and community outreach. The missing piece was food: why is it that eating at a leagues club means settling for a subpar experience?

CEO Simon Cook knew the nature of these venues is changing and so are expectations from members. Younger, more demanding customers are an opportunity to expand the appeal of the club to residents who may not even be members. The bait: A delicious food offer that rivals some of the best local restaurants.

With only some floorplans and a few sketches available when Sonnet first got involved in early 2016, the scope of the project included everything, from naming to concept, from photography to menus, website and promotion. The very definition of a blank page. Yet for us it all began with the CEO's vision: A place like no other.

Project Innovation/Need

The very concept of a good, farm-to-table restaurant at a leagues club seems a contradiction itself. The brand identity for The Garden takes this and other unusual elements of the business to draw a direct path (one that customers are encouraged to walk) between the food we eat the the people who grow it. Visually, the contradiction is evident in the illustration style but then, as visitors experience a myriad of touch points, more subtle opportunities arise to share the story of farmers all across NSW.

The Garden's tagline 'Good food from good places' carefully balances what's unique about the place (sourcing) with its intended positioning (a place to come together). The brand itself is the story of a place that's new but not intimidating, surprising at first but immediately accessible. Somewhere we can all kick back and relax.

Flexibility was a major requirement for the brand, and one that required balancing what customers are familiar with, with more innovative concepts that raise the bar for The Garden. After all, this is a venue open from 6am to 2am on weekends, where people grab coffee in the morning, meet for a light lunch with the kids go on dates.

Finally, broadening the appeal of the venue had in families with kids its harshest critics. With the kids' area as main draw, a careful choice of copy, imagery and promotional messages have successfully attracted a new clientele to The Garden.

Design Challenge

There is not greater brand challenge than changing people hearts and minds. With The Garden, the key point was turning awareness into curiosity to encourage that first trial. Once given a chance, the venue, the flavours and the experience would do the rest. The simplicity of the launch campaign (REAL GOOD) put the focus on the food and the customer benefit.

There was also a conscious decision to underplay the location of the venue, hence creating interest before any potential reservation towards 'leagues club dining'.

Timing also proved to be a challenge to the design process throughout. We began work with little more than a floor plan and a couple of sketches, and both brand and business moved forward as more elements were decided on (head chef, menu, decoration, etc). This left the Sonnet team more team to define the brand with the client, ensuring the brand foundation was strong enough to withstand any last-minute changes.

Finally, the scope of the project and the number of stakeholders stretched Sonnet's own capabilities and made us the studio we are today. We worked with senior management at Wests Ashfield Leagues (including the board), architects, interior designers, PR, media planning and, of course, farmers. Our team even visited some of these farms to learn about the people and the places where the whole cycle begins.

User Experience

If one is to judge the merits of a restaurant by the number of people they have to turn away for lack of tables, The Garden is an astounding success. The online reservation system is a hit and some of the items more prominently featured in the communication strategy (pizzas, roasts, salads) are among the most popular.

With new visitors has come a rise in memberships, as The Garden becomes an introduction to the broader world of Wests Ashfield Leagues (the teams, the sports club, the community outreach initiatives). Today, as it's often the case, food is playing a pivotal role is bring communities together around a table. Good food from good places.

This award celebrates creative and innovative solution design for the successful delivery and provision of services. Consideration given to system integration, user experience, product design
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