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At Work with Alpha60

For Alpha60 brother-sister duo Alex and Georgie Cleary, the direction of their fashion brand, and the design of Alpha60’s retail stores has given them firm grounding for tackling the design of their own home. Alice Blackwood explores Alex and Georgie’s design ethos from a fashion and brand perspective.

“For us a retail shop is more than just a space, it’s an entire experience,” says Alex Cleary of Alpha60. “From the fit-out, to the clothes, the music, to the person who greets you when you walk in.” Here, the Alpha60 ethos is closely aligned with the in-store experience. “The fit-out [really] has to encapsulate the feel of the brand.”

As with their house, set within the former Westgarth Town Hall in Northcote, Melbourne, Alex and Georgie have been heavily involved with the fit-out of their retail stores – from the concept to the design “and even the labouring”.
“The challenge is to … make the design work with the space, but to maintain our style,” says Alex.

The Alpha60 Fitzroy (Melbourne) store was very much a “concrete bunker” when Alex and Georgie first came to it. Rather than fight it, they worked with the “harshness” of the building, giving it a minimal, stark feel with interiors finished in white and raw counters in Besser Blocks. “Added to that – racks and cabinets of angular black steel: minimal and stark,” says Alex.

Their Flinders Lane (Melbourne) boutique is altogether different. Set to the back of St Paul’s Cathedral, it features arched, stained glass windows. “For this we wanted to keep the rich feeling and its association with the cathedral.”

Wooden plinths are used for visual merchandising, and a 5-metre-high wooden cross leans in the front window. “We did however have to pay homage to Jean Luc Godard, and put a giant poster of his head on our back wall.” (A similar poster also hangs in their home, where the huge, sweeping hallway and high ceilings generously frames the large-scale image.) 

Alpha60 recently launched their Winter 2012 collection in a runway show, staged in the alleyway that runs between shop and cathedral. A huge crowd gathered in the cathedral carpark to see new season collection which is inspired by Minimalist artists like Eva Hesse, Donald Judd and Sol le Witt.

You can read the full story on Alex and Georgie’s Northcote home in the current issue of Habitus magazine #15. On sale now.