Studio Visit

Coco Flip Celebrates 10 Years In The Biz With A New Showroom!

The Australian design industry is a very different place to what it was ten years ago. For one thing, there was no Instagram back then… and for another, The Design Files was still a one-woman show!

Coco Flip was another solo-operated, female-led small business starting out in 2010. Driven by the stratospheric success of her Coco Pendant light (these days we’d probably call it a viral hit), Kate Stokes set out to carve a place for a lighting business, with a focus on local production and manufacturing.

Ten years, two kids and a new showroom in Northcote later, and the Coco Flip offering includes tables, benches and ottomans alongside its extensive range of locally made lighting. Though the focus is still firmly on small-scale, localised production, a lot has changed for Coco Flip in the past decade. We caught up with Kate to chat milestones, growing her business, and new beginnings.

Sasha Gattermayr

Coco Flip’s sun-drenched new showroom in Northcote is filled with Puku ottomans and the Sequence table collections. Photo – Kristoffer Paulsen.

Coco Flip’s new showroom in Northcote. Photo – Kristoffer Paulsen.

Haslett Grounds and Kate Stokes, the husband and wife team behind Coco Flip. Photo – Kristoffer Paulsen.

Photo – Kristoffer Paulsen.

Coco Flip’s showroom in Northcote. Photo – Kristoffer Paulsen.

Local manufacturing of the Coco Flip pendant – the lamp that started it all! Photo – Fran Parker.

Turned timber components for the Coco Flip pendant. Photo – Fran Parker.Photo – Fran Parker.

Making the Puku ottoman. Photo – Fran Parker.

Photo – Fran Parker.

Locally made lampshades for Coco Flip’s stunning ‘Mayu’ lighting range. Photo – Fran Parker.

Photo – Fran Parker.

Lampshades for Coco Flip’s ‘Mayu’ lighting range. Photo – Fran Parker.

Sasha Gattermayr
22nd of July 2020

When an emerging creative bursts onto the scene with a WOW factor product that the market just can’t seem to get enough of… sometimes a hint of worry about what they’ll do next can creep into the publicity. Will the following project ever be as good as that first winning design?

For Kate Stokes of Coco Flip, there was no need to worry. Since the incredible success of her award-winning Coco Pendant light ten years ago (a design that launched her into the commercial design scene both locally and internationally), the only way for Kate to go was up. Coco Flip is now a fully fledged design company offering a range of tables, benches and ottomans alongside its extensive lighting collections. And Kate just goes from strength to strength after each product launch and collaboration!

Unwavering success aside, Kate has held strong to local manufacturing and independent ownership as firm pillars of her business. Alongside her growing family, she has nurtured Coco Flip to the forefront of Australian design. We’ve keenly watched the steady rise of her career (and we’ve also featured not one but TWO of her homes over the years!).

We recently caught up with Kate to chat about her decade in the Australian design biz, and sneak a peek inside Coco Flip’s stunning new Northcote headquarters. You’re welcome!

Hey Kate! Congratulations are in order, 10 years is such a big milestone for Coco Flip! How different is the business now to when it began ten years ago?

Thank you! It really does feel like a huge milestone – over a quarter of my life! We’ve grown really organically over the years so it’s nice to stop and reflect on how far we’ve come. Things certainly look quite different to what they did ten years ago, but our ethos and intent are still same. We’re still proud to be a small family-run business working with talented local manufacturers to create lasting products.

When I started Coco Flip at 27 I had very little idea what it would become or where I would take it. I vividly remember my first visit to our timber turner Charlie Sandford in Preston – I rode my bike and had some rolled up drawings of our Coco Pendant to talk through. Charlie was so encouraging and helpful despite my naivety. Launching our first product felt like a daunting task, as there were so many unknowns – it was a steep learning curve. We now have a much firmer grasp on the industry, the local manufacturing scene and business in general, so the ship runs quite smoothly these days.

We’re still a tiny team of three at Coco Flip HQ and we’re proud to work with an incredible selection of quality retail partners in Australia and beyond. We also now have our own little showroom to display our full collection, which really helps to tell our story.

Tell us a bit about the new showroom you’ve opened in Northcote.

After a long stint based in a shared warehouse in Collingwood, we were given a bit of a nudge late last year as the lease was ending. We’d often dreamed of setting up more of a showroom to display our collections, a space we could welcome people to share our story and hold events.

Serendipitously, our friends at Plyroom were looking to share their beautiful space with a likeminded business, so we jumped at the opportunity. Our brand values align and our products sit together really naturally. The showroom is a sun-filled warehouse on Heidelberg Road in Northcote. The ground level is our warehouse where we package and store products and upstairs is the showroom and office space.

Do you have anything planned this year to celebrate the 10 year anniversary?

We had planned to have a big ten year anniversary celebration in our showroom but alas, 2020 had other ideas.

This year we’ve worked with Jac& on a re-brand to freshen everything up and reassess where we’re headed. That has been a huge joy and has felt like a little gift to ourselves for making it this far.

We have a few projects in the works and other exciting things planned. We’ll be launching some new products such as a pendant light for Australian brand NAU, an anniversary limited edition Coco Pendant to celebrate 10 years, and some more secret projects.

You’re one of our judges in Lighting Design category of this year’s Design Awards. From what you’ve seen of the entries, how has lighting design in Australia changed in the decade since you entered the profession?

It’s such an honour to be one of judges and the quality of the short-listed entries is mind-blowing! It feels like Australia has come an incredibly long way in our lighting game over the ten years I’ve been involved.

Lighting has the unique role of being sculptural and functional – it can really make or break a project, so it’s so important to consider every detail and not only the way it looks off and on, but also the way it makes a space feel and how it performs it’s task.

We are lucky to have an amazingly nurturing and connected design community in Australia and the bar keeps getting lifted in terms of design detail and sophistication. There’s a healthy level of camaraderie, and our local Architects and Interior Designers are really supportive of Australian design, which is so important.

Coco Flip
161A Heidelberg rd

Due to the health crisis, the Coco Flip showroom is currently open by appointment, Monday to Friday. Appointments can be booked through the contact page on their website. They can also arrange virtual appointments over Zoom!

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