Lymesmith is an award-winning design practice creating unique colour concepts and artworks for the built environment

Lymesmith acknowledges and pays respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as the first inhabitants and traditional custodians of Australia, and whose cultural connection to country offers daily inspiration to how we live, work and learn. 

With a deep understanding of how colour, space and form interact, Lymesmith works with architects, designers and private clients to realise the colour potential within their projects. From innovative material palettes, to painted installations for large-scale public infrastructure, Lymesmith’s work can be enjoyed in parks, universities, restaurants, homes, city laneways, on public transport, at the pool and even in the public toilets at Australia’s most iconic beach.  

Lymesmith employs colour to enhance connection to place; to amplify or camouflage built form; to signify cultural and historical connections; to reinforce way-finding strategies; to create new identities and regenerate places in transition.

This specialisation and approach to colour in the built environment has resulted in ongoing relationships with Sydney’s leading architecture and design firms, and to multiple awards.

The name Lymesmith was coined to describe one who works with lime, and whose practice makes essential connections across the disciplines of architecture, painting and urban design. Lime is a ubiquitous substance. It is a key ingredient in mortar, cement, plaster and paint, forming an essential link between built form and ‘decoration’. Oyster and mussels shell middens created by Aboriginal people around Sydney harbour were 'mined' and burnt to create shell lime for the construction of the first European buildings in Australia. For this reason, the Sydney rock oyster has been adopted for Lymesmith’s logo. 

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Public clients + collaborators

City of Sydney / City of Parramatta / City of Canterbury Bankstown / Byron Shire Council / Sam Crawford Architects / Neeson Murcutt Architects / Durbach Block Jaggers / Plus Minus Design / Aspect Studio Sydney / Simpson Wilson Architects / Amber Road / The University of Technology Sydney  / The University of NSW / AMP Capital / Creative Road /


Sonia van de Haar :: lymesmith founder + creative director

"I came to architecture through painting, and after studying fresco painting in India. During my early years as a graduate architect I became aware of a lack of colour knowledge in the discipline of Architecture. In my design practice, Lymesmith, I work to develop meaning and resonance between site and structure, and people and their environments through my understanding of colour as a material in the built environment. This approach applies at both the scale of the city, and at the scale of the private house.

Each Lymesmith project has developed in response to its particular conditions and context. I have no absolute manifesto with regards to architectural polychromy. I aim to understand the architecture and the site, and with a painters eye, bring them into a harmony that exceeds the sum of parts."

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Sonia van de Haar is a colour design specialist who has worked as an artist, architect and consultant in Australia and the UK. She founded Lymesmith in 2011 as a bespoke colour studio working across the built environment. She speaks and teaches on architectural colour design. Sonia was born in Wollongong and studied painting at the Canberra Institute of the Arts, ANU and architecture at the University of NSW. She studied fresco painting at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India.