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Design Hunter Q + A: Emma Coulter

Currently juggling a number of projects, from a solo exhibition to creating an installation at Melbourne Indesign, Emma Coulter is one busy woman. While her roots are in Northern Ireland, Emma belongs in Melbourne now, clearly immersed in the art and design world it offers. We talk to Emma about where a background in interior architecture and painting has led her, what she can’t live without, and how a Design Hunter has nothing to do with age or income.

Where you are from/live:

I was born in Northern Ireland, and grew up in Queensland. I relocated to Melbourne seven years ago. Melbourne is the place where I belong now, but Queensland and Ireland will always be home as well.

What you do:

I’m a visual artist, and my practice is concerned with the phenomenological experience of space and spatial relationships, executed through the manipulation of two dimensional and three dimensional surfaces.

How did you get into this practice?

I have a hybrid background in interior architecture and painting; having straddled both fields for quite some time, I had a burning desire to explore the relationship between painting and space.

Your latest project/s:

I have a busy few months ahead of me, with up and coming projects. These include an installation for the galleria space at Melbourne Indesign, a solo exhibition, ‘threshold’ at Five Walls Projects, as well as spatial installations for group exhibitions, ‘parking lot’ at VCA, and the Windsor prize, situated in the Windsor Hotel in the Melbourne CBD.

What excites you about these projects?

Each project is a unique opportunity to respond to the inherent characteristics, and constraints of the site, exploring this connection between painting and the built environment. Through the practice of painting, these spaces will be deconstructed and reassembled; engaging the viewer in an altered experience of space and challenged spatial relationships.

Three people that inspire/excite you:

1) My Dad; intelligent, kind, driven. It’s a bit soppy, but most things I know I learnt from him.
2) Local business woman Melanie Katsalidis, a talented creative herself, she runs pieces of eight gallery, and channels her passion into creating opportunities for others.
3) Artists – everywhere. Too many to mention… you know who you are.




I had a burning desire to explore the relationship

between painting and space.


What is your favourite…

Residential space:

I believe in liveable domestic interiors; well designed to facilitate easy living, low maintenance and natural daylight. I was fortunate enough to spend a night in the Dononvan Hill Z House recently. That was pretty special. I wouldn’t mind living there…

Commercial space: Allens Linklater workplace at 101 Collins in Melbourne that I designed whilst working at BVN Donovan Hill a few years ago. The whole client floor is a gallery space, and it is connected by a vertical gallery and interconnecting stair.

Decorative product: My Muji, ‘city in a bag’ collections; I have New York + Berlin mixed up! The perfect hybrid city!!

Functional product: My Opinel knife a friend bought me recently. Every girl needs a good practical knife.

Handmade good: Drawings from my six year old niece; she’s quite prolific and talented I must say. These gems arrive in the post for me from time to time.

Mass-produced good: My iphone, it’s not very original, but I can’t live without it.

Item in your studio: My painting jeans, saviour to my wardrobe… otherwise I would have paint on everything I own!

Time of day to work/play: So much depends on deadlines; the best thing about being an artist is being able to be flexible with your schedule. There are times when working through the night is required, but there’s no alarm clock in the morning. I can normally sleep in if I want to.

Meal: Home cooked anything. I must be getting old, when I say I’d rather eat a good home cooked meal than eat out! I’m also lucky that my partner is a pretty mean cook…

Restaurant/ Cafe: We are spoilt for choice in Melbourne, but South of Johnston is a favourite for a casual breakfast.

Drink: I love a glass of good red vino.

Bar: The Supper Club is always a favourite. Joe’s Shoe Store, in Northcote is always good too.

Historical figure: Louise Bourgeois has always been an idol, Eva Hesse too.

Vice: Chocolate… daily (always).

Virtue: Honesty… there’s not enough of it.

What does the term ‘Design Hunter’ mean to you?

To me a ‘design hunter’ is someone who considers and takes care and rigour in the construction of their surroundings, regardless of age or income.


Emma’s exhibition ‘Threshold’ will run from September 5-27 at Five Walls in Footscray
Her installation at Melbourne Indesign: The Event can be seen on 22-23 August in Melbourne. Register here or show up on the day
Emma Coulter


See met at   MelbourneIndesign_logo[1]

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