18 July 2020

Léo Terrando

From slinging coffees to designing world class hospitality venues, SJB director Léo Terrando takes us through his colourful career in design.

In the four years that Léo has been a director at the prestigious studio, he has overseen a full portfolio of projects across diverse sectors, both locally and abroad.

Léo is a French trained interior designer, who thrives on projects that create new and exciting challenges.

“I only see my work as collaborative. I don’t want to create on my own - it’s boring!”

It’s a lucky thing that, by his own admission, Léo Terrando is no good at making coffee. Something made clear during his first working holiday in Australia, when a cafe coworker suggested he instead continue the design career he’d begun in France.“I didn’t know how to speak English at that time, but I created a portfolio and found a map of Melbourne that pointed out all the best of the best, renowned design firms in town,” says Léo. “I just walked in the city one day, knocked on all their doors and asked for a job.”


In the end, SJB gave him not only an interview but an opportunity that led to a wildly diverse career in the architecture and design industry. In the four years that Léo has been a director at the prestigious studio, he has overseen a full portfolio of projects across diverse sectors, both locally and abroad.

“Whatever the project is, as long as the client is fun to work with and the communication stays open at every phase, that’s the most important.” says Léo. “We have lots of discussions with them throughout the whole process. Then we’ll form a big idea in answer to their brief and, that’s when the team comes together.”


This collective approach is key to the SJB ethos, ensuring that each project is informed by the client and the studio’s diligently cultivated knowledge along with creative vision.

Fittingly, their Melbourne headquarters was designed by Léo himself, showcasing the firm’s expertise in bespoke commercial environments which exude relaxed sophistication.

Leo thrives from diversity, so it’s no surpirse to find he’s inspired by other people and old mafia films from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. He also surfs everyday – an activity becoming increasingly common for architects and designers.

“Waking up every day with the sunrise and water is just so unique and precious. I feel so fortunate to have these in my life.” Léo adds that this fun daily activity gives him the energy to tackle each day focused and ready to collaborate.


“I only see my work as collaborative. I don’t want to create on my own - it’s boring! I like sharing ideas and putting things together with graphic designers, documenters, people on site, interior designers, all of these really amazing talents.

As a Design Leader, Léo is renowned for his talent within the field of hospitality and residential design, taking references from cinema, culture, art and architectural movements. Léo’s ability to create a multi-faceted design rich with history and nuance, that is also wholly contemporary, has set him apart.

Léo is a French trained interior designer, who thrives on projects that create new and exciting challenges. “I don’t like being restrained, so I really enjoy it when a client pushes me to do something different,” he says.

I’ve got one life. I don’t want to waste it with bad things and bad energy - we just try to have fun.”

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay up to date with news and announcements