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Kerry Phelan on The 'WOW' Factor Couch

Design Eye

Today we launch another new series – Design Eye! In this column, supported by DOMO, Australia’s best interior designers and stylists will share their insights on iconic furniture pieces, exploring classic design themes and brands from across the globe.

We’re kicking off with the inimitable Kerry Phelan – one of Australia’s most celebrated interior designers, and principal at KPDO. Kerry is known for her impeccable taste, which eschews fashion and fleeting trends. Instead, her studio strives for a sense of timelessness and restraint in all their projects.

Today, Kerry gives us the low-down on one of her favourite classic design pieces, the DS-600 sofa from de Sede.

23rd July, 2020

KPDO’s interiors for The Riverside Centre in Brisbane reinstate the original understated grandeur of this Harry Seidler designed building. Featuring the DS-600 couch, the lobby has been  re-imagined as a gallery-like space. Photo – Anson Smart.

Interior Designer Kerry Phelan of KPDO.

KPDO’s interiors for The Riverside Centre in Brisbane, re-imagined as a gallery-like space. Photo – Anson Smart.

 

KPDO’s striking new interior foyer for The Riverside Centre in Brisbane. Photo – Anson Smart.

Lucy Feagins
Thursday 23rd July 2020

‘One of the beautiful things about the DS-600 is that it is powerful from all angles… completely sculptural in form.’ – Kerry Phelan.

The DS-600 couch by de Sede is a pretty unique design piece. This iconic sofa was designed in Switzerland in 1972, and is still manufactured today by the same company. Being modular, its length and shape is variable from project to project – it has even found its place in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest sofa!

Celebrated Melbourne designer Kerry Phelan of KPDO has been a fan of this distinctive design piece for many years, and has placed it in a number of her projects, including The Riverside Centre in Brisbane – an iconic Harry Seidler building, recently updated by KPDO. We figured there was no one better than Kerry to give us the low-down on this timeless design piece.

We’re seeing a re-emergence of the iconic de Sede DS-600 sofa at the moment, both in Australian interiors and globally. What appeals to you about this piece?

We’ve loved this sofa ever since becoming aware of it – perhaps 30 years ago. Australia finally caught up! De Sede has an impeccable design and construction methodology – the quality is amazing. It is a subliminal piece, immediately recognisable, and untouchable (eg. can’t be copied) – it’s magnificently subtle.

You used DS-600 in your Riverside project. Could you tell us a little about that project – what was the brief, what were you hoping to achieve ?

The Riverside Centre in Brisbane is an iconic commercial building designed in the 1980’s by Harry Seidler, Australia’s greatest Modernist architect. Our brief was to reimagine the lobby as a social work-space whilst retaining the purity of Seidler’s original vision.

Commercial lobbies have become more like flight lounges; with space for impromptu meetings, quiet working and coffee on the go – rather than pursuing the ubiquitous flight lounge model, we were inspired by the significant artworks in the original design – we felt the revitalised lobby should feel more like a gallery and that this approach would be more appropriate to Seider’s original vision.

We stripped away nearly 20 years of unsuccessful renovations, reinstating open circulation, true to Seidler’s considered planning.

We reinstated the original circulation pattern, defining the core as the pure and heroic element within the space. The new concierge, coffee lounge and planters were added as monumental sculptural elements, all in a pure geometry. New translucent stone screens provide a soft ambient light quality throughout the space and informal lounges are defined by lush carpet zones, anchoring a collection of distinctive and bespoke seating groups.

The result is a calm and contemplative space, with varied options for engagement. Like a gallery, the space both encourages conversation and rewards privacy.

Your studio is known for its balance of ‘restraint and exuberance’… but it must be challenging when faced with very grand spaces, to keep restraint front of mind, and avoid designing in a way that feels ‘over the top’! How do you maintain that sense of restraint in your projects ?

We choose not to be fashionable.

All our projects are underpinned by rigorous planning methodologies and meticulous detailing from the onset. All our projects are designed with the specific client in mind – each project is unique in itself, perhaps the finishes bring the exuberance and the detailing and planning brings depth.

The DS-600 brings WOW Factor to commercial interiors, but what about in a residential setting? How might you incorporate this piece into a more domestic space, and what other sort of furnishings would you pair it with?

The DS-600 is an iconic piece of furniture, equally weighted to both commercial, residential and corporate interiors. It has a fantastic WOW factor that never seems to date. One of the beautiful things about the DS-600 is that it is powerful from all angles – so it does suit a central location… completely sculptural in form.

The other thing we like about the DS-600 is the chameleon nature of it… it can feel spare and minimal or lush and exuberant (with cushions and vintage rugs thrown over!). Any piece of furniture looks beautiful with the DS-600.

We’ve located it in large Victorian era residential projects, as well as a modern penthouse with a James Bond je ne sais quoi look!

 

For more than 30 years, DOMO has remained Australia’s exclusive stockist of prestigious design brands from Europe, and across the globe.

With showrooms in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, DOMO offers a curated collection of classic, contemporary indoor and outdoor furniture ranges that last a lifetime.

The DS-600 in buttery tan leather brings a sculptural focal point to this Melbourne home designed by Martin Freidrich Architects, Build by Head Homes. Photos by Tess Kelly, Styling by Lauren Li.

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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