Best of the Best Designers Speak® - Video - ​Annabel Smart

The Best Design Awards are a major feature of the local design calendar and some of last year's winners have toured the country to offer first-hand insights into their projects. 

The 2021 series was recorded on video. Here is one from the series of twenty recorded.

Emerging Designer
Annabel Smart
Studio 11:11

Annabel’s dad, an engineer, used to share an office with the late architect Sir Michael Fowler. After school Annabel would sometimes watch him at the drafting table drawing away and she used to think he had the coolest job and that his process - imagining and putting ideas on paper - made complete sense to someone that age.

Although a self-confessed “not-very-devoted architecture student”, she went on to secure a role at Hecker Guthrie in Melbourne where she met her now business partner Marijne Vogel. The pair shared a similar enthusiasm for design and vintage shopping which went on to inform their friendship and eventual business collaboration.

Annabel went on to describe their early collaboration - a leather tote bag in which to carry their tools of the trade - and what they learned about manufacturing and streamlining processes as well as about working together.

​Annabel Smart, Studio11:11

In 2017 they decided to - naively, according to her - quit their day jobs and build their own business which combined interiors, leather bags and reselling vintage lights.

A ‘pity project’ for a family friend took the pair to renovate a kitchen, a process she describes as being intense and satisfying and which they took on with utmost attention to detail - to the point of nearly driving the cabinet maker crazy. 

In a quest to gain more clients, the pair went on to write what Annabel calls rude emails telling business owners that they needed a new interior and that they were most likely “the cheapest option”. To her surprise, the email caught the attention of Melbourne hospitality personality Salvatore Malatesta who commissioned them to design a cafe in Sydney. 

Her presentation moved on to showcase an award winning project for a local yoga studio and to express her ongoing motivation: a mixture of fear of not accomplishing what she set out to do, and, perhaps emulating Sir Michael Fowler, the belief that translating ideas into a 3D form is: “the coolest job ever”.

Thanks Designworks for the pre-drinks venue

Supported by

DINZ Interviews

When the opportunity arises, DINZ interviews leading designers from here and overseas. These interviews seek to dig beneath the surface to address the common and uncommon challenges, problems and opportunities the design community faces.