Interview: Pipkorn & Kilpatrick Interior Architecture | Yellowtrace

 

I feel enormously proud to introduce you to the work of two amazing women – Anna and Jane, the principals of Melbourne-based interior architecture and design practice . I’ve had the great pleasure of knowing Jane for a number of years, at first as a work colleague and now as a dear friend, so it feels extra special to celebrate what she has achieved in the four years of partnership with the equally heaven-lady Anna.

Having honed their skills at design-forward studios in Melbourne and Sydney, Anna and Jane combine years of industry experience which has given them the platform to create natural, functional and relaxed interiors. ‘s design approach is aimed at achieving clean, innovative, time-resistant design through consideration for detail, sustainability and their client’s lifestyle. Their focus is making interiors places of inspiration and beauty, enhancing experiences and everyday life across residential, multi-residential, corporate, hospitality and retail design projects.

At the risk of gushing and sounding like an overly proud friend (it’s always exciting when you know someone IRL so that you can back your enthusiasm with real data, rather than just going on a gut-instinct), these girls are the major real deal. The authenticity that Anna and Jane display in their work is literally evident in everything they do – from the way they talk, think and dress themselves, to their easy-going manner and perpetual smiles. They are simply a joy to be around, and it comes as no surprise their practice has evolved organically and authentically. I think you will agree there is something incredibly captivating about ‘s work – their interiors feel layered, effortless, comforting, familiar and lovingly put together. They are the sort of spaces that make us want to slow down and appreciate the little things, and enjoy the life less complicated.

So without further ado – please welcome Anna and Jane to this corner of the internet. Go on, find out for yourself why it is that I love them so.

 

Fitzroy North by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Gemmola | Yellowtrace

Fitzroy North by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Gemmola | Yellowtrace
Fitzroy North house. Photo © Martina Gemmola.

 

+ Hello Jane & Anna, welcome to Yellowtrace and thank you for taking the time to e-chat. Could you please give us a quick introduction on yourselves? When did you first decide you wanted to become interior designers? And when did you decide it was time to start your business?

We both stumbled upon Interior Design after trying our hand at various creative platforms including millinery, floristry, set design, costume design, the list goes on… These experiences helped pave the way (adding to our story while at the time feeling like a bit of a fail) and interior design just seemed to fit. Our childhoods also played a big part in our creativity – we both grew up on farms surrounded by music, art, craft and the space and freedom to make our own fun.

Farm life also instilled a very strong work ethic from a young age. Our surprisingly parallel paths (working in large architectural firms and smaller boutique design offices) together with a similar outlook and design aesthetic meant starting our own interior design partnership in 2012 seemed like the natural thing to do. We like to have fun and work collaboratively and we both thrive working in an environment void of any ego. We were lucky our first project was a Houseboat on Lake Eildon, which came about through Jane’s neighbour who watched Jane and her husband transform their Fitzroy home. The client loved the result and we got the job. To be given the opportunity to design such a unique project with the newfound freedom of being in complete control, and a brief to break away from preconceived ‘houseboat’ design was really exciting. It was a test on many levels (literally sink or swim!) and we loved it.

 

Houseboat by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Christine Francis | Yellowtrace

Houseboat by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Christine Francis | Yellowtrace
Houseboat on Lake Eildon. Photo © Christine Francis.

 

+ What is your main priority when starting projects? Is there something that is fundamental to your practice – your philosophy and your process?

We try to rid ourselves of prior notions and ideas and really stop to think about what the client is asking for. Sometimes clients are unsure, so we aim to tease things out and offer solutions and add further ideas to their prior thinking. But we never push ideas that don’t sit well, as we want our designs to engage and inspire, not to intimidate or overwhelm. Gaining a client’s trust is paramount as the more they open up to us, the greater our understanding of how they live and what is important to them. This gives the project its direction and defines its uniqueness.

We sketch, draw, play with finishes, shapes and textures, expressing our ideas/ thoughts through strong imagery and tactile materials. The main thing is to get ourselves and the client excited about the project and its possibilities.

 

Houseboat by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Christine Francis | Yellowtrace

Houseboat by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Christine Francis | Yellowtrace
Houseboat on Lake Eildon. Photo © Christine Francis.

 

+ How is your studio structured? i.e. How many of you work in the studio, what types of skills do you have in-house, is there anything you are outsourcing, and how many projects do you handle at any one time?

We are three. Almost all of our work is managed in-house, both of us running the projects which can range from initial floorplan concepts through to styling a completed project for a photography shoot. We use each other as a sounding board and to challenge ideas – Anna often focusing on the detail, and Jane on the overall picture. Then there is Jane’s sister Catie who has a great eye for design and detail with a publishing and editing background. Catie is our all-rounder, managing the marketing, accounts and picking up the pieces!

The number of projects at any one time can vary greatly depending on demand (we find it hard to say no to a new opportunity!) with anywhere from 4–8 projects all of differing scales. Due to the nature of our work and life’s demands, we’ve found we are far more productive working flexible hours on our laptops from home or the many cafe options in the area.

 

Ozone St by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Christine Francis | Yellowtrace

Ozone St by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Christine Francis | Yellowtrace

Ozone St by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Christine Francis | Yellowtrace
Ozone Street home. Photo © Christine Francis.

 

+ How do you organise and manage the competing demands of modern business and life? Do you have any tip or tricks you could share with us that help you in your day to day (i.e. software, online tools, shortcuts, task management, cheat sheets, advisors, anything!)

We are very collaborative and variety is the key. If one of us is at a loose end, the other will manage to steer things back on track. We make a point of meeting and working closely with the client and trades from word go, and find it’s often far more productive resolving problems on site or via a quick phone call rather than battling over long emails. It’s fair to say we’re not all over technology, however dropbox and google sheets have assisted our mobile office, and Catie has brought us into the modern age with accounting software.

 

River St by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Christine Francis | Yellowtrace
River Street home. Photo © Christine Francis.

 

+ What do you feel is the most challenging part of being an interior designer today? And if you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

Helping potential clients new to the building/renovating process understand and trust the role of an interior designer and what we can offer individually or in collaboration with an architect/draftsperson/building designer. Not only is there a grey area surrounding the interior designer’s role when working with an architect, but also the distinction between Interior Designer versus Interior Stylist and Interior Decorator. The interior design profession, it seems, is quickly evolving and becoming more defined and recognised as a worthwhile investment rather than a luxury expense. We try to fly with the notion that ‘good design should be accessible’ by being realistic and sustainable with any budget put to us (within reason!). At the end of the day building is expensive, and for the client often a rare and life-changing experience. We understand this and an important part of our role is to minimise stress and confusion.

If there were one thing we could change, it would be to make it commonplace for interiors to be considered hand-in-hand with architecture from the outset. If all the anticipating and planning takes place collaboratively from word go then the end result is more likely to be a holistic design that both reflects and encourages us to get the most out of everyday life.

 

May St by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Christine Francis | Yellowtrace
May St home. Photo © Christine Francis.

 

What are some of your methods to staying motivated, focused and expressive? And your top 3 main sources of inspiration and references you are drawn to regularly – i.e. books, magazines, websites/ blogs etc?

We still love to get lost in a good coffee table book and magazines (Elle Decor Italia, AD Spain, Elle Decoration UK, Frame, Vogue Living, Habitus, Belle, Green Magazine.. to name a few!), however so much of our inspiration now comes from blogs – Yellowtrace!, , – and many (many!) hours spent trawling , , etc. With all this inspiration, our challenge is to create spaces that offer an overall experience rather than a disjointed interior full of the latest, greatest designer pieces. We want our interiors to feel natural and relaxed and to retain their character and age gracefully over time.

 

Oxford Larder by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Martina Gemmola | Yellowtrace

Oxford Larder by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Martina Gemmola | Yellowtrace
Oxford Larder in Collingwood. Photo © Martina Gemmola.

 

+ Who or what are some of your influences? What other designers, peers and creatives in general do you admire?

There is no end to influences – local and international, the well established and the emerging. Locally (Fitzroy) we’re very lucky to be surrounded by ever changing cafes, bars, restaurants, galleries, music, fashion, etc. It’s a very small community and there is always something going on. There are also so many fabulous local designers and architects, the next generation and those we have worked with in the past who are now embarking on their own individual paths. The competition is tough! But it’s inspiring and it keeps us on our toes… A visit to Heide (II) art gallery, the art, the architecture, the story really instills a drive to get creative!

Internationally, Ilse Crawford, Vincent Van Duysen, John Pawson, Nendo have always been huge sources of inspiration, but again the internet has provided access to so many smaller up and coming creatives worldwide. Regular travel, even if not to the latest designer destination – there’s always something to gain from new surroundings.

 

Fitzroy North by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Martina Gemmola | Yellowtrace

Fitzroy North by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Martina Gemmola | Yellowtrace

Fitzroy North by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Martina Gemmola | Yellowtrace
Fitzroy North house. Photo © Martina Gemmola.

 

+ What advice would you give to emerging interior designers who want to follow your path? What was one of your biggest lessons learned since starting your practices?

Working in a number of design firms (both large and small) shows how differently things can be done. This has certainly helped us in setting up our business, learning both what to do and not do. There are very different stresses in running your own business – workload can be unpredictable and there’s no shortage of accounting and admin! The upside is that it’s flexible and we call the shots.

Biggest lesson would be to not try to hide from mistakes, learn from them and try (try!) not to repeat. And again, listen to the client and don’t try to force ideas that don’t sit well with them no matter how ingenious they seem to you. Instead, think of a clever compromise and be surprised by how pleased you feel with the outcome.

 

Fitzroy North by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Martina Gemmola | Yellowtrace

Fitzroy North by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Photo © Martina Gemmola | Yellowtrace
Fitzroy North house. Photo © Martina Gemmola.

 

+ What would be your dream creative project or a collaboration?

This is a tough one! We loved the houseboat, so perhaps a bigger boat? Something along the lines of a cruise ship – a modern day love boat! Another remote outback Australian project would be fabulous. A while ago we were involved in designing a dining pavilion in the Kimberley. Our vision was for the space to include a large-scale conceptual art installation by a local indigenous artist – sadly this didn’t eventuate… it would have been wonderful to see it happen. But we love residential and there’s nothing more satisfying than creating a space that resonates with its owners and makes them feel happy and connected – the personal element is very satisfying. And to collaborate with various architects of different skill sets who share the same vision and understanding – we have so much to learn from each other.

 

Kimberley Project by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick | Yellowtrace
Kimberley Project.

 

+ What’s next – can you share with us your vision, some of your goals (and some of your current projects)?

We have some great residential projects in progress with clients looking for a different aesthetic and to challenge the predictable. A new restaurant project is also well underway, which focuses heavily on the historical nature of the building it will occupy and the area’s local community. We are forever eager to see what opportunity presents itself next, always unpredictable and for the most part exciting.

Our focus is to keep challenging our ideas, pushing the limits and to respect and continue to play our part offering good design whatever the scale or form.

 

Euca Cafe by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick | Yellowtrace

Euca Cafe by Pipkorn & Kilpatrick | Yellowtrace
Euca Cafe sketches.

 

LET’S GET REAL!

+ What’s the best mistake you have ever made?

Anna: Entering the world of interior design. Couldn’t have imagined the journey involved (and still evolving!) and the passion I have for it.
Jane: Buying a barely liveable shoebox in Fitzroy having done very little research. Some of our family thought we’d completely lost our minds but its given us many great years and Pipkorn & Kilpatrick’s first project!

+ What rules do you live by?

Anna: Minimal rules! Not good with the word ‘rules’. If there is to be one rule in our work it would be to see problems as opportunities. There’s always a solution. And to remember we are not saving lives – enjoy it.
Jane: To try and have a good balance between work and family.

+ Your most treasured belonging?

Anna: (Apart from my laptop) ‘s ‘Girl on the beach’ artwork. It’s me and where I’d like to be at any opportunity.
Jane: Our leather director chairs. I love the chairs, but also how my husband Will lugged two of them and two leather butterfly chair hides in his backpack through Sri Lanka for three weeks without a complaint.

+ What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

Anna: Annoyingly clean, can’t relax, function, cook or create unless the space around me has been tidied and cleaned.
Jane: Annoyingly I don’t share the same cleaning enthusiasm! When I was 11, I competed in the long jump and the 100m sprint at Pan Pacific Games – I’m sure this would be a surprise to those who know me…

+ It’s not very cool, but I really like…

Anna: Harry Belafonte.
Jane: Gardening.

 

Pipkorn & Kilpatrick Portrait. Photo © Martina Gemmola | Yellowtrace
Jane Kilpatrick & Anna Pipkorn. See? Gorgeous. Photo © Martina Gemmola.

 


[Images courtesy of . Photography by  and  as noted.]

 



About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

11 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Ezabelle

    This is inspirational.
    Congratulations Jane and Anna- your body of work is simply beautiful.
    Ez x

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Penny

    Surely the question everyone wants to know is : where can I get that jumper ?! Gorgeous. And great design work also ;)

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    Kyle Scotland

    Wow, every project is a gem. Such richness and serenity achieved through a simple, natural palette. Impeccable styling, too.

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Jeanine

    Wondering where i could buy the black chair in the ozone house bedroom? Thank you

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    Joanne Dillow

    PLEASE, may i have the information for the white metal sconce pictured in the bathroom with the concrete sink, slate herringbone wall, and exposed copper pipes? Thank you so much, Joanne

    Reply

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