Armadillo

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Editorial Ease with Atelier Lab

With their years of experience in the magazine world, Jack Milenkovic and Luke Bonanno of Atelier Lab bring an editorial eye to the interiors they style. Combined with an appreciation for easy modern living, their spaces are highly nuanced, often layered with eclectic and sculptural objects (as well as an Armadillo rug or two!) We speak to the talented duo about their career paths and go-to sources of inspiration at home and abroad.

Vaucluse Residence: Interior Design by The Unlisted Collective. Photography by Dave Wheeler.

What are your early memories of being drawn to design?

Jack: I was always drawn to cinematic visuals and the atmosphere of the set designs created in movies. I loved the way these sets made me feel and how the characters interacted with the space. I have always wanted to live with beautiful things and create somewhat of a fantasy within spaces.

Luke: I always remember from an early age, there was a natural evolution of my passion for design. I would improvise with my desk, which lent itself perfectly as an easel or drawing board, and I would take my scale ruler to draw iterations of my dream home.

Vaucluse Residence: Interior Design by The Unlisted Collective. Photography by Dave Wheeler.

Tell us a bit about your career paths. Who are some of the people who have inspired and mentored you along the way?

Jack: Coming from publishing, I have been fortunate to interact with some incredible local and international talent which harnesses a respect for anything you do. I also hold onto these relationships closely and keep in contact with my peers to converse.

Luke: I started my work life designing exhibition stands in Asia Pacific for the world’s largest exhibition design and production company. This discipline from the very start of my career helped me to structure and prioritise the basics of form and the principles of design to meet our client briefs. Singapore opened my eyes to Asia’s fast pace and the requirements of global brands, which still inspires me.

Darlinghurst House: Interior Design by Ettie Tom. Photography by Pablo Veiga.

How did Atelier Lab come about, and what is the significance of the name to you?

Luke: An atelier is an artist or designers’ workshop, which provides a tailored service. A lab is where innovation is explored and ideas percolate – so we fused these two concepts together and the fundamentals were clear from the outset.

Having worked in the magazine world, do you bring an editorial approach to your styling?

Luke: Definitely, it is inherent in our DNA but we also bring a principle of easy living to our spaces which is essential for our clients.

Bronte House: Interior Design by Studio George. Photography by Dave Wheeler.

We’re honoured to have some of our rugs featured in your projects. How would you advise our customers in choosing rugs for their homes?

Luke: It needs to anchor the floor within the lifestyle theme being created and create a foundation to build the mood for the environment. A rug creates warmth, depth and tone and is a core piece in our designs.

What is an overlooked element of décor that you think brings an ease to modern living?

Luke: Atmospheric lighting, not a room full of down lights.

New Beach Road House (left): Architecture by Madeleine Blanchfield Architects. Photography by Dave Wheeler. Bondi House (right): Interior Design by Studio George. Photography by Dave Wheeler.

Do you have any tips for someone trying to establish an interior aesthetic that will defy trends?

Jack: Try and have a timeless and elegant approach, but layer with modern art and pieces that give it a point of difference. I thrive at finding new and emerging artists and sourcing special pieces for clients.

Luke: Create a soulful and curated home of items you are drawn to and resonate with – and try not to be tempted to purchase all items from one showroom. Establish a personalised mixture of art, ceramics and objects that enhance a clear, unique identity that is meaningful to you.

Inside Outside House: Interior Design by Studio aem. Photography by Brigid Arnott.
"Establish a clear, unique identity that is meaningful to you."

Can you share any go-to sources for inspiration?

Jack: Nature is my first port of call and I also look towards classic architecture and product design. I like to add a modern twist or quirk, whether that’s through colour, texture or form. I also love talking to people, as I find from these conversations an idea is always born.

Luke: Salone del Mobile in Milan each April – we have been fortunate enough to visit several times. I am naturally very curious about design and seek out hidden treasure troves whenever we travel within NSW, Byron Bay and Melbourne – l pick up anything on the spot that appeals as you always regret not going back for that one piece!!

West Street House: Architecture by Hampton Architecture. Photography by Dave Wheeler.

What are you loving about the Australian design scene right now?

Luke: A return to mixing new and some vintage pieces, and a greater focus on using sustainable materials and greater transparency of their provenance.

Finally, we can’t help but ask – what is your favourite Armadillo rug to have underfoot?

Jack: I don’t think I can go past the Etoile rug in Porcelain for its luxury and tone.

Luke: The Palus rug for the lounge room, for its comfort underfoot.

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