Introducing the INDE.Awards Prodigies for 2021

They are young and talented and leading the pack! The INDE.Awards Prodigy stands out from the crowd and makes a unique contribution to the world of architecture and design.

Introducing the INDE.Awards Prodigies for 2021

Each year the Indesign Media Asia Pacific editorial team gather to discuss the rising stars of the architecture and design world from around the Indo-Pacific region. It’s a time when we can compare notes and chat about the studios and practices that have made an impression, the projects that have caught our eye and the people that are making a name for themselves throughout our community. To select just four prodigies is a challenge, when so much talent abounds in every country in our region, and so with much fan-fare, we are delighted to present this year’s INDE.Awards Prodigies.


Ben Robertson


Studio: Tecture Architecture

Location: Melbourne, Australia

ben robertson

A little about Ben….

After graduating from Deakin University in 2006, Director Ben Robertson has had experience working at some of Melbourne’s most reputable design firms. A keen eye on the built environment, and the use of measured proportion and geometry drive Ben’s design aesthetic, with succinct rationale to every detail. More importantly, Ben believes that great design should be cost efficient, functionally considered and contextually sympathetic.

We asked Ben to tell us his thoughts about the future of his practice.

“ With time, bigger challenges, budgets and briefs are being presented to us, and I can foresee that with our philosophies in tow, our design path will be creating more unique designs where we can be expand our experimental approach. I also hope that environmental and sustainable pragmatism can continue to shift to the forefront of our clients requirements when designing their homes. We are currently in a lane that we enjoy within the realm of design, and continuing our current philosophies and adhering to them will ensure we continue to deliver unique outcomes that will continue to inspire both us and our clients and peers.”


Olivia Lee


Studio: Olivia Lee

Location: Singapore

olivia lee

Olivia Lee is principal design for OLIVIA LEE, a multidisciplinary tudio grounded by an industrial design approach. Olivia graduated from Central Saint Martins BA (Hons) Product Design and she combines her experiences in London and her Singaporean roots to establish a culturally nuanced design practice in the heart of South East Asia.

The practice pivots from product to spatial design, research insights to ideation with the goal of creating unique experiences. The studio focuses on uncovering new rituals and behaviours, navigating the tension between tradition and the future, and bringing brands into unexplored territories through design and narrative.

We talked with Olivia about the nature of her practice. Did she feel it was a progression of her design prowess?

“I do not know if I would consider my approach progressive, but my mere emergence was probably quite radical for its time when I first established my practice in Singapore. As it is, there are very few female design-auteurs globally. In Singapore, when I was still having to explain that

industrial design was not the profession of ‘designing factories’, I trusted my gut and started my eponymous studio anyway.”


Chen Xi

Principal Architect

Studio: Atelier XI

Location: Shenzhen, China

chen xi

CHEN Xi is a member of the American Institute of Architects and a Registered Architect in New York State. He received his Master of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a B. Arch. From Tsinghua University (Beijing). He has worked at the Bjarke Ingels Group(BIG) in Copenhagen and Steven Holl Architects-New York. In 2017, CHEN returned to China and is currently teaching at the School of Architecture in Shenzhen University. He founded his practice ATELIER XI in New York and is currently based in Shenzhen, China.

Delving into the not-so-distant past, we asked Chen how the establishment of his studio came about.

“After working in Copenhagen and New York for many years, I returned to my homeland China and established my practice Atelier XI. With our work focusing on public and cultural projects at various scales, we are attentive to the needs of diverse groups and scales. The studio aspires to create spaces that bring unique poetry and profoundness to contemporary urban and rural environments.”


Alessandra French and Ara Salomone

Co-founders and directors

Studio: State of Kin

Location: Perth, Australia

Alessandra French and Ara Salomone

State of Kin is a Perth-based multi-disciplinary design studio specialising in the foundation of spaces across residential, hospitality, retail, wellness and commercial sectors. The practice is perpetually immersed in the realm of design and the collective purpose is the creation of inimitable architecture and interiors.

State of Kin offers a holistic service encompassing architecture, interiors, project management and construction, State of Kin is a tight knit team with evolving, dynamic ideas.

Passionate about delivering expressive, contemporary spaces each with a unique identity, the practice focuses on the experience of users within spaces created – to reflect a distinctive, characteristic outcome.

We asked Alessandra and Ara to explain their design approach.

“We’ve always tried to challenge the status quo through our work. We embrace bold colours, expressive forms and unexpected materials – our projects are not only an expression of our personalities but also that of our clients. Each project is treated as a unique collaboration in which we work closely with the client to ensure exciting and progressive outcomes.”


As the sponsor of The Prodigy category, Milliken-Ontera understands the importance of assisting young architects and designers as they make their way forward in the design world. As a design leader and manufacturer in commercial flooring itself, the company sets an example through its innovative products and exemplary processes ever mindful of sustainability and best practice. With a 30-year history throughout the Australian and New Zealand markets, Milliken-Ontera provides expertise in design, manufacturing and supply that helps create unique interior spaces in the commercial, education, health and aged care, hospitality and retail sectors.

By supporting design for the future, Milliken-Ontera, as The Prodigy sponsor, leads the way in lighting the path and helping the next generation of architects and designers achieve their potential.




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