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Interview: Kylie Robertson from Design In

When it comes to residential design, it can be difficult to know where to begin. While you may have a liking for contemporary prints or wish to add a splash of your favourite colour into the aesthetic, putting it all together to suit the style and size of the room, as well as your budget, is much harder than it sounds. Whether you are working from a blank slate or wish to purposefully redecorate, small residential projects can benefit from the guidance of an interior designer such as Kylie Robertson from Design In. Designers such as Kylie understand that the space not only needs to look great, but needs to be functional as well. At the end of the day, you want a house which is fully representative of your personality and takes your individual lifestyle into account. A quality designer can communicate all of this effectively through the overall layout of the room, adding and removing elements, altering materials, and layering fabrics and paint colours until the desired look is achieved.

In this revealing interview, Kylie breaks it all down and discusses strategy, inspiration, design challenges and most importantly, why she loves what she does.

What are some elements that you have included in your new brand?

 Design In, the business name itself is a bit of a play on words. Literal in one sense, I am an Interior designer. Playful in another sense, “in” is defined in the Urban Dictionary as; “relating to persons, places, and things that are declared fashionable and acceptable at the time. Synonyms: hip, fab, current, current, cool, rad, new, happening, etc.”

 Design In is uncomplicated and real. The aim is to be clear and easy-going in our branding, as well as our communications, both online and face-to-face.

We usually discuss residential design with Architects. Are there some discernible differences between Interior design strategy?

 This is a tricky question to answer! It would really depend on your architect, the service they offer and the relationship they have with their client.

 Interior Design is about focusing on the big picture and, also all the little details. It’s about getting to know a client, their lifestyle and the space. It’s all about problem-solving and applying knowledge and understanding to ensure every project is both functional and beautiful.

 A lot of the time, I’m appointed long after an architect has finished their job. A client is often in the build stage before they reach out for my help. They realise that while their architect has done a fabulous job in designing a great base building, there are still lots of decisions to make. It can be quite overwhelming when the builder asks for the paint colours, exterior finishes and species of timber flooring. The kitchen consultant needs to know what the bench top and cupboard finishes are going to look like. Is the kitchen layout working? What about the bathroom tiles and fittings? And then… how do we furnish and decorate the house?! I can help take the stress out of getting the details right.

What have been some of your favourite projects?

 It’s difficult to pinpoint favourites. My very first job was with heritage architects Tropman & Tropman, working on transforming some amazing old buildings. Uncovering layers of history within a building is so interesting, real “if-these-walls-could-talk” moments. Good for the imagination!

 Perhaps my favourites have been the most recent projects, since starting Design In, where my clients are my own, and I get to really do what I love, which is to get to know my client and deliver a project they love and that I’m truly proud to be the designer of. Hopefully, one day, my very favourite will be renovating my own dream home (fingers crossed!).

What have been some of your most challenging projects?

 Spending a big chunk of my career specialising in retail design, I’ve been challenged with some interesting and creative design briefs. Some of the most challenging and exciting projects have been working with international clients, where there are cultural and language barriers to cross. For example presenting a design concept in Japan, using interpreters to translate between English and Japanese via headsets, takes a bit of getting used to! Or, understanding that the colour black, in India, represents negativity, anger and death.

 One particular project that comes to mind is designing a McDonald’s restaurant in Saudi Arabia, while I was working at the design firm, Juicy Design. We had to first get our heads around the strong cultural differences – there were separate entries for men and women/families, dining tables within walled-booths where women could unveil to eat their meal, even solid balustrades at the stairs so that when women walked up the stairs, if their robe hitched up, no one could see the skin of their ankles! It was so very different from our known ways in Australia, and very interesting to learn during the design process.

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How does your proposed service work?

 My approach to design is flexible. For every client, I tailor a design package to suit their project and their budget. I am finding there are two main categories that clients seem to fit into;

 Design on a budget – for clients who might only want a little help with their project, they need a hand getting started, making decisions, selecting materials and finishes. This client may need the inspiration to help them imagine the end result, colour consultancy or a shopping wish-list of furniture and decor items for them to go out and purchase in their own time.

 Or, your full-service design package, which can include everything from design advice, planning, colour and materials specification, purchasing, design and quotation of custom furnishings, window coverings and finishing off the space with styling.

What and/or who are some of your design inspirations?

 Inspiration is everywhere. A lot of inspiration for me is the everyday surroundings; keeping my eyes open while out and about. Travel is great both for the soul and inspiration! The creative mind doesn’t really switch off.

 There’s so much to scroll through on social media, making it easy to find design inspiration from all over the world, in the palm of your hand – probably a little too much time is spent browsing Instagram and Pinterest!

 My favourite architect of all time would have to be Frank Lloyd Wright, for designing beautiful structures that were in harmony with their environment. There are also world famous interior designers like Kelly Wearstler of the USA and Australian designer, Sibella Court, both who have such eclectic and creative styles to take inspiration from.

What makes you stand out among other designers?

 “Interior design for real life” is the motto at Design In. I aim to make the design process easy and enjoyable. I know that no two clients are the same, no two personalities, no two houses. I want to get to know you so I can help bring your dream to life.

 “I’m going to make everything around me beautiful – that will be my life.” – Elsie de Wolfe

 If you would like to discuss future residential design projects with Kylie, you can contact her via her website at www.designin.com.au. Based in the Sutherland Shire in Sydney, NSW, Kylie is indeed passionate about design and ensuring that your home is both beautiful and functional. You can also connect with her via her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/DesignInSydney, where she showcases various projects and highlights her journey as a local interior designer in Sydney.