I first met interior designer Lauren Li in mid-2016, when we photographed her super cute, super tiny family apartment in Parkdale. At the time, her design studio, Sisällä Interior Design, was growing, and her husband, Phillip, was just about to join the business.
Fast forward 18 months and Lauren is kicking some serious goals! With Phillip at the helm of the ‘business side’ of things, and Lauren freed up to focus on creative direction, Sisällä has flourished – and launched some inspiring new ventures.
Lauren’s biggest project has been ‘Apartment’ – an appointment-only showroom, which includes a living room, dining, kitchen and entry hall to evoke the feeling of home. Here, in a lux, carefully considered space, furnishings, and homewares handpicked by Lauren can be tried out, touched and experienced. The space also serves as a venue for Lauren’s new ‘Studio Sessions’ – informal gatherings designed for skills sharing and learning over a glass of wine.
We are SUPER excited to announce that Lauren will be joining us soon as a monthly interiors columnist! We especially love Lauren’s practical, accessible approach to interior design – regardless of space or budget limitations, Lauren’s observations and ideas are always on point!
Sisällä Interior Design and the ‘Apartment’
409 Chapel Street, South Yarra
(enter via Snowball Lane)
Lauren and her team are holding an open day for ‘The Apartment’ on Saturday 17th March – at other times, it is open by appointment.
Hey Lauren! Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
I founded Sisällä Interior Design in 2010 and the business quickly grew. My husband Phil joined the studio in 2016, taking over the daily business operations. This afforded us the opportunity to explore other ways in expanding our studio, and gave me back much needed time to focus on my design work, as well as other projects.
Beautiful spaces that are full of atmosphere and evoke emotion are still at the core of what we do, but now we have a few things on the go, with our residential interior design projects, Studio Sessions and now the Apartment.
What did you study, and how did that lead you to what you’re doing today?
I studied Interior Design & Decoration at RMIT, which was a fantastic foundation course. I was a real square (still am) and loved all of the classes, especially Soft Furnishings, Colour Theory and History of Architecture.
After gaining experience at a small decorating practice, I decided to return to study the Diploma of Arts, Interior Design with honours at Swinburne. This took me along a more interior architectural path, and I worked for some of the large architectural practices in Melbourne. After a stint in London working on luxury residential projects, I returned with the ambition of starting my own practice. I’m back to where my passion for interiors began, privileged to work on beautiful residential projects with a focus on using gorgeous colour, materials, amazing furniture pieces and soft furnishings.
What’s the concept behind Apartment?
Last year we visited the Milan Furniture Fair and were inspired by ‘The Visit’, which was a Milanese apartment setting, designed by my design crush Studio Pepe. I was in heaven! We loved it so much, so we researched other international precedents and decided we wanted to give it a try in our new studio space on Chapel Street.
Apartment is an extension of our interior design work. We want to share our favourites with everyone, so that these special pieces become their new favourites too. Our selections in the Apartment are available to purchase – they include emerging local designers and artists, as well as iconic international pieces.
We welcome visitors to the Apartment, but also offer consultations where we bring the pieces directly out to homes, and style the space so that the homeowner can literally see how they look in their space. It takes all of the guesswork out of it and is a lot of fun for us, and the client! And, if you can’t experience the Apartment in person, a selection is available online too.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do – the thing that makes you think, ‘Yes! This is what it’s about!’?
It’s not always the pretty pictures that are the most satisfying. It’s when I actually see the spaces lived in, with kid’s school bags on the hooks and shoes in the cubby I designed. Or seeing the pantry fully stocked and organised, or the laundry functioning seamlessly for a busy family, that stuff feels good. I put a lot of thought into how the client lives, so if we can make the spaces look beautiful, as well as make their everyday lives run a little smoother, then I’ve done my job.
What are you excited about this year?
Of course I’m thrilled to be writing for The Design Files having been a huge fan, avid reader and never missing an TDF Open House since forever!
We are really excited to launch Apartment, and meet a bunch of cool people in our Studio Sessions. We’ll be holding art exhibitions and open days at the Apartment – it will be fun!
We also have a number of projects that we completed in 2017 that we can’t wait to share. So, bring on 2018!