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Fiona Lynch

Studio Visit

2nd May, 2014
Lucy Feagins
Friday 2nd May 2014

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Designs is progress at Fiona Lynch HQ. Photo - Andy Johnson. Production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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Interior design for Hawthorn East residence. Photo - Gorta Yuuki.

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Interior design for Prix Fixe. Photo - Sharyn Carins.

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Interior design for the Finnon Glen Farmhouse. Photo - Marcel Aucar.

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Fiona and her team hard at work. Photo - Andy Johnson. Production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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Fiona Lynch in her studio. Photo - Andy Johnson. Production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Working as a much respected interior designer in Melbourne for the past 15 years, Fiona Lynch is a name you're more than likely already familiar with. During her impressive career, she has worked for MGT Architects, John Wardle Architects and Bates Smart, before starting her own business in 2005, as co-director at Doherty Lynch. So why wait so long to shine the spotlight on Fiona now you may ask?!  Well, though we have profiled her previous work with Mardi Doherty at Doherty Lynch before, we felt it an opportune time to chat in more detail with Fiona now, as she has recently taken a huge leap of faith, launching her own independent practice, Fiona Lynch, based in Collingwood.  This exciting new chapter marks the perfect opportunity to revisit Fiona's work, and learn about some of her more recent projects.

Though the practice has been in operation for only seven short months, the Fiona Lynch team has already conceptualised, designed and completed a number of exciting residential and hospitality projects. Most notably, they recently worked on Phillippa Sibley and Jason Jones' restaurant Prix Fixe, creating a moody, enchanting interior for the Melbourne's first ticketed restaurant – it's the future of dining, people! Right now, Fiona and her team are working on three residential projects, and after visiting their light-filled open plan studio in Collingwood, I can confirm their energy and productivity levels are infectious!

If Fiona wasn't busy enough with her own interior design practice, she also moonlights as a rug designer on the side. You may remember last year we featured her range of geometric 'Fields' rugs, in collaboration with Irish goat-hair rug manufacturer Tretford. This slightly unexpected side project manifested when Fiona was commissioned to design some rugs for her residential clients. What started as a one-off project soon snowballed into a well received range that Fiona has now followed up with a secondary range called 'Shard', launching this winter.

It was so lovely to have the opportunity to meet and chat to Fiona and her clever team in person.  We're excited to see what they come up with next - they've hinted at a range of lighting and furniture that they're currently developing.... Don't worry, we will demand the scoop on that one!

Tell us a little bit about your background – what path initially led you to interior design, and to eventually launch your own independent interior design late last year?

I spent eight years at RMIT studying Fine Art and then Interior Design degree courses. My first job was as a student intern at Geyer Design for four years. I worked across retail and corporate interiors. Following graduation I moved to Canberra where I worked for MGT architects who designed Parliament house. I worked on a range of projects from the State Library of South Australia, to residential apartment projects in Hong Kong.

After a year we moved back to Melbourne and I was lucky enough to work for John Wardle Architects. I worked on some amazing residential projects. Bates Smart was my last stopping point, working on a large residential project in Beijing, before starting my own business in 2005. In 2006 I became co-director of Doherty Lynch before going on to establish my own practice in 2013. I have always loved residential interiors, however recently my new focus has been food retail projects, including Toscano’s in Kew, and Peter Bouchier’s in Hawksburn. We are currently designing a new butcher shop for Canning’s in Kew, and renovating Peter Gruner’s butcher shop in St Kilda. Our recently completed Prix Fixe restaurant in Alfred Place, Melbourne was a wonderful project working with Philippa Sibley and Jason Jones.

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Interior design for The Grove Road House. Photo - Gorta Yuuki.

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Interior design for Hawthorn East residence. Photo - Gorta Yuuki.
You work on an incredible variety of projects, from residential to retail, hospitality and large scale developments. What have been one or two of your favourite projects in recent years and why?

Peter Bouchier’s butcher shop was a wonderful project. I enjoyed working with Peter and Sue Bouchier. The shop was shortlisted for the Eat Drink Awards and the Idea Awards, which we were thrilled about.

Prix Fixe with Philippa Sibley and Jason Jones was our first project completed in 2014. We loved working on this exciting project to come up with a moody and dramatic interior that is a backdrop for the theatrical inspired menu, created by Philippa. We had a lot of fun with this project, and it’s pretty wonderful to be able to experience a space you have played a key role in.

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Interior design for Prix Fixe. Photo - Sharyn Carins.
How would you describe the style and nature of the work you produce?

We are known for our inventive use of space, materials and custom details. We aim to create authentic, classic and quality designs. Every project is highly personalised and individual. We focus on good planning and creating emotive spaces. We place great importance on the selection of materials making sure we create strong clear design forms and a layered palette.

Your role is to realise other peoples’ dream homes and spaces, but what about your own home? How would you describe your personal aesthetic at home, and how in sync is this with the aesthetic you bring to your clients’ homes?

My own home is a bit mad. We bought a 1920’s house that has a muddled floor plan of rooms that somehow works really well with a family of five. My aesthetic at home is pretty relaxed with lots of art – my kids' art (they are really prolific!) and art I have collected. I love collecting new furniture, objects and rugs. I have just received one of my new 'Shard' rugs for my living area. I am on the hunt for the perfect sofa now that our kids are a bit bigger.

Can you give us a little insight into the inner workings of Fiona Lynch office? Where are you based, how is your office structured, how many people do you employ, are you still very personally involved in every project, and what significant tasks do you outsource?

We are based in Collingwood in Cambridge Street, in an old red brick factory. We are fortunate to have a lovely deck to have meetings and eat lunch. We are a team of six. Five in Melbourne and one designer based in Sydney. Our experience encompassed interior design, architecture, visual art and arts management with staff having worked across high end residential, retail and hospitality. Our varied experiences complement each other. I am very fortunate to have such a passionate and committed team. I am personally involved in the design of every project and all work is completed within our office. We have also recently collaborated with Brooke Holm and Marsha Golemac to take our project photography /styling to another level.

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Team Fiona Lynch in their Collingwood studio. Photo - Andy Johnson. Production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
Last year you also launched your own range of designer rugs, Fields. Could you tell us a little bit about this collection and what prompted you to create it? Will you have a follow up range for this winter?

Fields came about after a discussion I had with the owner of Gibbon Group distributers of the Tretford goat hair product from Ireland. Celia Hammon suggested we design a range of rugs based on a design completed for a private client. The Fields range is inspired by geometric compositions and bold colour. We have some fixed sizing in rectangular, circle and hall runners however we also do custom sizing and colours on request. The rugs start at $1900 for a circular 1600mm diameter rug. The rugs are made locally so lead times are short. We are excited to be releasing a new range of rugs called ‘Shard’ with new colours from Tretford. They are more angular in shape and the colours will be a muted soft palate. We are excited that our rug range will be launching in New Zealand, Europe and the USA. We are also developing new products such as lighting and furniture.

'Jonquil' rug from the Fiona Lynch for Tretford 'Fields' Rug Collection.  Photo - Derek Swalwell.

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Studio details at Fiona Lynch with one of Fiona's 'Fields' rugs featured. Photo - Andy Johnson. Production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Early site visits on the way to work, and then coffee at the office to discuss the day. Design reviews / lively discussions with my team who are all involved in the design making process. Lunch somewhere new or old favorites like Almentari or Minanoie. Emails, client calls and further design reviews. Site visits on the way home or discussions with builders following up on project progress / design issues.

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Materials palette on Fiona's desk. Photo - Andy Johnson. Production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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Fiona at work in her studio. Photo - Andy Johnson. Production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.
Which other Australian designers, artists or creative people are you loving at the moment?

Don Mcqualter in Sydney produces beautiful interiors. His recent Zimmerman store at Emporium is beautiful. Ricky Swallow’s recent Bronzes works are wonderful, he has somehow made bronze look like crumpled cardboard paper mashed together. I am enjoying collaborating with Marsha Golemic and Brooke Holm. They have a fresh gutsy approach to styling and photography.

Can you list for your top resources across any media that you turn to when you’re in a need of a bolt of creative inspiration?

I have a huge collection of books of past architects and favourite artists. Often I will flick through one of these when looking for inspiration. I subscribe to many magazines and particularly love Elle Décor Italia. Blogs are great to flick through each morning and I am always saving Instagram images that are inspiring.

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Interior design for Hawthorn East residence. Photo - Gorta Yuuki.
What would be your dream creative project?

Something that takes me overseas to do research – I love travelling. A hotel, private club or more restaurant projects would be inspiring.

What are you looking forward to?

I have three residential projects nearly completion and I am looking forward to seeing my clients move in. I look forward to working on more hospitality projects and gallery exhibition design.

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Peter Bouchier Butchers, designed by Fiona Lynch Studio. Photo - Derek Swalwell.

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Interior design for Peter Bouchier Butchers. Photo - Derek Swalwell.

MELBOURNE QUESTIONS

Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?

Collingwood at the moment. Love the mix of art, fashion and great food.

What and where was the last great meal you had in Melbourne?

Prix Fixe – Philippa Sibley’s food is truly wonderful.

Your top three shops in Melbourne for great furniture, home accessories or other finishing touches?

Safari Living is wonderful for accessories and Felicity the owner is incredibly supportive of our industry. Cult is a staple go to for furniture. Gertrude Contemporary Artspace is wonderful for discovering new artists like Danika Chappell.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Often waking up at Finnon Glen farm house in Healesville after heading off after work on Friday night.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

Minanoie in Peel Street that has beautiful coffee, ceramic products and art / architecture books and plants by Cecilia Fox!

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Outdoor courtyard at at Fiona Lynch studio. Photo – Andy Johnson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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