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A Studio Tour with Simone Haag and Irina Rybakov of Pépite, at 'Le Space'

Studio Visit

Behind a grungy warehouse facade in a Collingwood backstreet lies a wonderland of creative studios. Like a cave with a network of twisting artistic tunnels, Le Space is a gallery, a community hub for design studios, and place for creative professionals to cross-pollinate ideas.

Stylist Simone Haag and Irina Rybakov of pépite perfectly embody this ethos. We recently visited the pair in their beautiful shared space, to see how this shared workspace plays out IRL. We wouldn’t mind working here every day!

23rd March, 2020

Sarah and Melissa from Simone Haag chat to Irina of pépite.  Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

pépite’s curation of ceramics. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The pépite feature wall sits in perfect harmony with Simone’s pieces! Rug from Cadrys. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Studio treasures. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Simone Haag. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Irina Rybakov from pépite. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘It’s fair to say my clients are distracted by the curated wall of ceramics when they come in for meetings!’ laughs Simone. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Irina’s feature wall is packed to the rafters! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Simone’s design manager, Sarah Shinners, choosing fabric swatches. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Ideas can be brainstormed by the team and pieces laid out for clients and suppliers to peruse! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The light is perfect! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Simone’s furniture spills out into the gallery space when stocks overflow from her own space. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Down the hallway, other creative studios bubble with activity behind closed doors. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 23rd March 2020

‘When you combine the creative minds of Ying Ang and Moda Piera, infuse some Flack Studio and then pepper it with some creative souls – you have a ripper energy!’ – Simone Haag.

Not that long ago, Simone Haag was running her business out of her living room. When working from home and out of cafes finally seemed unsustainable for the growing enterprise, she and her Design Manager, Sarah Shinners, moved to their first dedicated space in the Fred International Melbourne apartment–showroom in Collingwood. ‘The power of being in such a beautiful space surrounded by incredible furniture was remarkable,’ she recalls of the moment her project felt legitimate. But, inevitably, as Simone’s business continued to grow, she needed a new creative space to work with her team, develop concepts and meet her clients.

Enter Le Space, a new, sleekly designed creative hub in Collingwood that is as close to an arts commune as it gets in inner city Melbourne. The brainchild of Michael Chazan of Moda Piera and photographer Ying Ang, the space houses a plethora of Melbourne’s elite design professionals in its cocoon. Interior photographer, Sean Fennessy, art director Jess Lillico, interior architecture studio Pierce Widera, the Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive, and Healy Ryan Architects all sit alongside Simone’s team, as well as Irina Rybakov of Pepite, and Le Space’s two founders are among the creative residents.

Filled with eclectic furniture pieces and a warm, textured materials palette, Simone’s corner of Le Space is immaculate – a perfect representation of her professional style and refined taste. But it’s difficult to make a shared warehouse space seem inviting, and she hasn’t done it alone. With a sparse back wall and not much idea of how to fill it, Simone turned to local ceramics purveyor, Irina Rybakov, to join her.

At the helm of her own small business, pépite, Irina curates an esteemed collection of work by local ceramicists, and works with an array of design professionals. Both business owners had the desire to possess a concept space: somewhere they could display their wares to clients, but with a little more personalisation than a regular shop. ‘I wanted to offer an intimate environment and a more personalised experience,’ Irina explained, and Le Space offers room for creative professionals to work outside the confines of a traditional retail model.

‘A lot of my clients are interiors designers, stylists and architects, so it was important to find a space that had substance and was beautifully designed,’ Irina says. She curates her display based on the client’s preferences and the work they might be after, so she needed somewhere beautiful but subtle, so the individual pieces could shine. Simone and Le Space were that somewhere!

Founder Michael Chazan envisaged Le Space as a place for tenants to investigate the creative overlap of each other’s practices, ‘a multidisciplinary hub for creation, exhibition and research’. Little did he realise how perfectly Irina and Simone would weave their practices together inside this creative utopia!

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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 bea@thedesignfiles.net