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

Photo Credit : Tom Blachford

Project Overview

Siren Design was approached by Lonely Planet to design their new Melbourne home within the iconic site The Malt Store, Carlton. The heritage listed building has been embraced as a reminder of Melbourne while the occupants travel along a journey through immersive feature destination zones. An adventure unfolds as thresholds are navigated, crossing from workstations in New York to casual meetings in the green spaces of Borneo to give one example. Evoking a sense of wonder and discovery was important to the client’s brand, as was the authenticity found in the traces of each cultures that have been represented. Close attention to detail and a bespoke approach to the design has created moments of delight in the unexpected, making the space a stimulating place to work or visit.

Project Commissioner

Lonely Planet Australia

Project Creator

Siren Design Group Pty Ltd


Design Team: Siren Design - Nathalia Suizu, Nicole Pollak, Tess Carpenter, Ellie McFee, Rachel Wilson
Builder: Capabuild
Project Manager: Client Based Solutions
Services Engineer: Aston Consulting

Project Brief

The intent behind the design was to create an office space that would promote connection, foster culture, inspire and reflect the core business values of the company. Lonely Planet’s motto “the thrill of discovery can be found almost everywhere” was employed as a conceptual starting point for the development of the space, which manifests the notion of ‘travel and adventure’ within the built environment. Conceived as a journey which begins at the ‘arrivals/departures’ lobby lounges, the space unfolds to reveal various feature destinations zones, spanning from the bright lights of the Big Apple, to the overgrown tropical jungles of Borneo, to the icy landscapes of Iceland and the traditional architecture of Edo period Japan.
The Malt Store offered a beautiful backdrop to our vision. The heritage listed site which is split over two levels is divided into a working floor, in which all workstations and offices are located with meeting and breakout facilities on the floor above. The layout is open plan which fosters maximum connectivity, permeability, efficiency and equitability amongst staff.

Project Innovation/Need

The design approach of feature destination zones within the Lonely Planet Melbourne Office strives to be bespoke in its delivery and detailing, in order to promote an experience which is evocative, inspirational and amusing for staff and visitors alike. The attention paid to each cultural reference throughout the building evokes a sense of discovery and wonder while encouraging visitors to relive past travel experiences. This level of detail is particularly evident in the Japanese boardrooms where elements of Edo period architecture can be found in the custom tatami mat graphics on the floor to the sliding partitions that conceal a whiteboard and one that opens to reveal a passageway.
Whilst being transported to these immersive worlds you are frequently reminded of Melbourne. The Melbourne laneway-inspired café showcases the Lonely Planet history alongside recognisable Australian landmarks in a street-art style mural. The location of the building in the city of Melbourne is never forgotten with views of the city and the surrounding architecture captured from open workstation areas around the perimeter of the space.

Design Challenge

The challenge of designing an immersive and heavily themed yet practical space became apartment throughout the design process. This was overcome through carefully selecting materials and methods that are high impact yet cost effective.


A combination of reclaimed and recycled furniture from Lonely Planet’s previous office was adapted to the new office fitout. Items such as table bases and lounges were given new life when partnered with new, sustainable finishes. All the products and materials used in the project were chosen for their sustainability. Workstation areas were positioned around the perimeter of the space to capitalise on the natural light entering the building, minimising the need for artificial light sources.

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.
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