Robeson – Minimal Excellence
In only ten years Architect Simone Robeson has carved a successful career as an architect after spending time overseas and working for several local firms.
Now solo her practice specialises in contemporary design and interiors for both the residential and commercial fit-out markets.
I followed the progression and build of an extremely tight and problematic project on Vincent Street, Highgate that impressed me. Upon seeing the final result I spoke to Simone for a chat about the project and her design ideology.
How would you best describe your design aesthetic?
Very modern. But not cold, as modern architecture can often be described.
The contrast of minimal, industrial finishes with lush interior finishes always appeals.
In reference to houses here, the design should be uncomplicated yet feel very luxurious in that it is tailored to the exact needs and lifestyle of the owner.
The internal spaces need to be functional in that no space is wasted. I try to allocate the space to areas where the user hangs-out the most, such as the kitchen and living areas, and make these spaces feel great, and keep the other parts tight and clever. That could probably be best described as quality over quantity!
Tell us about your Vincent Street design. Did you have a design in mind or was your inspiration based on the unusual block dimension?
The blocks triangular shape and site restrictions had a significant influence on the external form. The site was 180sqm and also had a significant sewer easement along one edge. The design challenges for me were to maximise the floor area, ensure the layout worked really effectively, and to balance the desire to be engaged with the street, with a need for privacy.
I didn’t have a design in mind, but I did have a very clear view on how the house was to function to suit our specific needs. The design features externally were all driven by the above, fused with a slight industrial aesthetic which really appealed to me.
In your opinion what are the key characteristics that uniquely define an ‘Australian’ designed home?
There are key aspects that I believe should characterise every well designed home regardless of country; the house should be engaged with its surroundings and it should capitalise on whatever positive aspects the site affords – such as views or breezes. In the case of Australian homes, we often have the luxury of some pretty amazing views. An inner city house in Melbourne would have quite different characteristics to an ocean front house in Cottesloe, but they should be unique in that the design makes the owner know exactly where they are, and caters to the lifestyle that living in that area entails.
Where do you source your creative inspiration from?
Big cities – London and New York in particular! The energy and creative design solutions that cities with that many people bring about is very inspiring. At all scales, from door handles up to skyscrapers, there seems to be endless architectural photo opportunities.
What have been some of your favourite architectural projects either locally or globally or both in recent years?
Locally, I’m liking the way The Alex hotel by space agency that has just finished in Northbridge. Tobias Partners do some amazing houses over east, and the fit-outs Travis Walton has done in Melbourne, particularly the bar “Pretty Please”, are fantastic.
Internationally, one of my favourite architects is David Adjaye. His “Dirty House” in London early on in his career was so very cool. He does some moody and dramatic modern work which I always seem to come back to for inspiration. John Pawson and David Chipperfield are right up there as well.