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Industrial Design

Sarah Trotter is an all round doer.  First and foremost, she is an interior architect, running her own practice, Hearth Studio. She is also the creative director of Groupwork, a project-based initiative, which aims to solve design problems through the creation of beautiful, functional everyday objects.

Groupwork’s third project ‘Simplify’ is a range of useful multi-purpose products for the bathroom, designed by Sarah and her friends, architect Murray Barker and artist Esther Stewart.

10th November, 2015
Lisa Marie Corso
Tuesday 10th November 2015

We’re big fans of Melbourne interior architect Sarah Trotter. Sarah’s practice, Hearth Studio, is based in Collingwood, and most recently completed the interiors for the impressive Jacky Winter Gardens. Sarah is also one half of cooking duo Trotski & Ash, with her friend Romy Ash. Together, Sarah and Romy contribute recipes to The Guardian that make you want to go out and buy a dozen baby artichokes. Besides these pursuits, Sarah is also at the creative helm of a collaborative coalition called Groupwork.

Working on her first solo project a few years ago, Sarah became frustrated with the limited options for everyday fixtures like door handles, shower caddies, towel racks and toilet paper holders. In a lot of cases, they seemed a bit boring. ‘It felt as if these things hadn’t really been designed rigorously or revisited for some time,’ recalls Sarah. After utilising the standard offerings on a handful of projects, Sarah decided to try her hand at designing  her own range of functional fixtures and fittings, with the help of some clever friends.

The result is Groupwork, a project-based initiative, where Sarah as creative director will come up with a design problem, and then pull in creative collaborators to respond in a functional and beautiful way.

After a few years of development and fine tuning, Groupwork’s third project ‘Simplify’ has just been released. Alongside some assistance from her friends, architect Murray Barker and artist Esther Stewart, Sarah has created a series of simple everyday bathroom products.

The team began working on this project in September 2013, when they answered a submissions call out for an exhibition of Australian design at Milan Design Week. To their delight, their range was accepted. ‘We wanted to create a shower system and bathroom system that could be flexible and easily installed,’ mentions Sarah. A year later, the Simplify range is finally available for sale – an elegantly designed ensemble of products including a toilet holder, towel rack and turned timber storage vessels made from brass with oak fittings. All products are manufactured in Sydney.

The ‘Simplify’ range of bathroom products is available online here.

Groupwork’s bathroom and shower project ‘Simplify’. Designed by Sarah Trotter, Murray Barker and Esther Stewart. Styling – Esther Stewart. Photo – Lauren Bamford.


The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email