Behind the façade of an office building lies an ecosystem of human needs, personalities and stories. This is the intangible character that infuses everything about a workplace and shapes the experience and the self-perception of those endeavouring within it.
In its design practice, The Studio*Collaborative endeavours to make a positive difference in the work lives and the inner lives of those its creativity touches. This is the passion that drives the tight-knit brains trust, a team where the word “I” is seldom used, according to director Melinda Huuk.
They elevate the whole human in their work, blurring the spatial lines between public and private self, home and office, sociable hospitality and focused concentration. An intrinsic understanding of how space and form shape and influence behaviour and can either elevate or constrain human potential informs their approach. Ergonomics and comfort meet professional aspirations expressed through colour, texture, light and form.
Huuk was drawn to the two-seater Fleur Sofa for its inherent diversity and rich narrative that blends approachability and fluidity with a unique sense of presence. It lends itself to a lead role in the story of a room and also the experience of living in all its emotional dimensions.
“I love the proportions of the generous seat balanced with the finer wing-like arms. Also, I am a sucker for a piece that is user adjustable. I love that it can be extended when comfort is required but tucked back in for aesthetics.”
The beauty of Fleur is also a quality that resonated deeply with her.
“It is very pretty, and I admire the simplicity of it. We can’t help it, as humans we are drawn to beautiful things and balance.”
The ethos of King as a company in foregrounding responsible materials sourcing, responsible manufacture and the sustainability that comes with durable, lasting design and finish also resonates. Huuk says we can rationalise beauty to ourselves but it “needs to be underpinned by purpose and responsibility”.
She makes a clear distinction that this needs to be genuine environmental responsibility. “It is very easy to buy sustainability cred, people can package things up that way. But we delve deeper and look for the proof points, such as the ethos of the company and how they conduct themselves.”
The concept of sustainability is getting “broader and broader”, she says. Clients can be dazzled by the array of low-cost options available, but Huuk says designers have a responsibility to consider where things are sourced from.
“We need to pay for things to be made morally. That is our responsibility as designers. I think people are budget-driven, and it is hard sometimes to sell beauty. More often of late, furniture is the easy target.
“That means as designers we have difficult charter – but we have to keep fighting for it.”
“Pieces of furniture are made richer by the person who creates it,” Huuk says. They also develop emotional patina from the person who owns them and then creates memories.
She loves it when someone comes into a space and there is a piece in there that engages them, rather than being a passive object. The Fleur Sofa, for example, has a “generosity to it. You can’t help but feel the tactile nature, it is a cocooning piece.”
Her delight as a designer comes from the way things come together – the combination of artefacts and space and the sensory dimensions of that experience.
“I’m very down to earth. I crave those layers behind things to make spaces meaningful. It’s not enough just to be beautiful, it has to be immersive, experiential and emotional. I need to have those achievements daily and weekly. If I’m not feeling like I’ve made a difference I find it hard to find purpose in what I am doing.”
The Studio* Collaborative
Styling: Lara Hutton
H&MUA: Wayne Chick
Photography: Tim Robinson
Photography Assistant: Corey Madden
Production: Eve Milburn