The home of architecture and design in Asia-Pacific

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!

Masters of the art of storytelling in design

IndesignLive gets the inside story on the award winning Span Design Studio. Excelling at weaving storytelling into their design, Span creates highly personalised hospitality and retail environments receiving local and international recognition.

Masters of the art of storytelling in design

Storytelling is at the heart of every successful brand as it helps audiences engage and connect with that brand. As more and more brands use storytelling to establish and assert their presence and identity, hospitality and retail designers become a conduit to expressing that story through a memorable experience and environment.

Span Design Studio has mastered the art of storytelling in design and is being duly recognised for it. Span Design’s Wagaya project took out the overall regional category winner for best Australia & South Pacific Restaurant at the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards in London in October 2019. This follows hot on the heels of a multitude of accolades, including Silver awards for Eyes Optical and Noodle Time in the DRIVENxDESIGN Sydney Design Awards 2019, and the Dulux Colour Award 2018 for Commercial Interior: Public & Hospitality for Wagaya.

“We see ourselves as a bridge between a client’s vision and reality – a messenger and storyteller that ensure the design of a highly personalised environment,” says JoannaFang, co-director of Span Design Studio.

Joanna Fang and Elton Chen established Span Design Studio in 2014, finding synergy in their creative directions and motivations. They are now a collaborative, non-hierarchical team of eight.

“We enjoy being a small team. It allows for an intimate environment without any need for production lines and endorses everyone to be seen and heard during each design stage,” Joanna says. “If you are talented and have good design solutions and ideas, we give you the perfect platform to exhibit such talent.”

Span Design enjoys working with clients who are willing to step outside the box and be innovative with their projects. “We are drawn to projects with a unique story to tell and we love being the conduit to design a space that expresses each unique brand story,” Joanna describes.

For each project the design team develops a narrative based on the client’s point of difference, motivations, history and vision, and translates this narrative into a wholistic environment using materials, colours, forms and imagery that reflect and communicate the brand. “Our aim is for each viewer to sense the deeper story without any words being spoken and to create an emotional connection that ensures an authentic and memorable experience,” Joanna explains.

For the latest Noodle Time franchise, Span Design developed a concept based on the precision of cooking and use of fresh ingredients. Graphics and colours are dynamic and energetic to distinguish the brand and capture attention. “Our design communicates a futuristic noodle laboratory where the traditional, authentic aromas of the past meet with the present day to experiment and create new innovative flavours,” says Joanna.

Span Design Studio looked to images of traditional Asian market street food stalls for Tina’s Noodle House, blending them with modern design elements to create a recognisable and memorable dining environment and experience. “By using timber, tile, draped fabric and textured mural artwork, it’s hard not to reminisce of traditional Asian market scenes,” Joanna says. Timber elements also evoke authentic Asian craftsmanship and statement furniture pieces are incorporated to encourage photos for social media.

The design of Eyes Optical in Newcastle is more subdued but still driven by a strong story. The client wanted to introduce the laid-back lifestyle of Sydney’s Northern Beaches into Newcastle, aligning with the notion that sunglasses are a quintessential accessory for coastal life.

“Eyes Optical steps outside the generic optical retail store design with boutique materials, a stylish colour scheme representative and warm inviting lighting,” Joanna describes.

While Span Design Studio transforms its clients’ visions into reality through storytelling in design, it is also developing its own brand story and receiving local and international recognition, as Joanna reflects: “We are so proud of where we have come from and the trajectory in which we are travelling. Establishing the studio only five years ago and winning a myriad of design awards couldn’t bring us more joy and pride.”

Photography courtesy of Span Design Studio.

We think you might also like this story on Bethan Gray and how she combines tradition with modernity. Get regular design inspiration and join our weekly newsletter.

INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed