The Journal

Minimally Eclectic with Baldwin & Bagnall

Interior designers Heath Baldwin and Hayden Bagnall approach each site as bespoke, weaving unexpected flourishes into their effortlessly curated aesthetic. Below, we speak to the duo behind Baldwin & Bagnall about their winding career paths and their shared hopes for the future of Australian design.

Photography by Tom Ferguson

What was the first piece of design that really mattered to you?

Heath: It was likely an expensive piece of designer clothing that I coveted for way too long. Although, I remember purchasing my first set of Fler Narvik armchairs at auction and restoring them – this certainly started my intrigue and passion for furniture and design. Oh, and perhaps my obsession with Wallpaper* magazines throughout my 20’s.

Hayden: I suppose a special piece of design was an Aalto Savoy vase I purchased in Europe and carefully returned home with many years ago. I’m a huge fan of Alvar & Aino and their approach to design so it was and still is a sentimental object.

Tell us a bit about your career journey – who or what has inspired you along the way?

Heath: Starting my career on stage as a performer, I was surrounded by beauty, form and design for much of my life. This freedom and creativity, which was developed at a young age, was eventually channelled into a different direction, slowly finding my way through various outlets into interior design.

Hayden: Prior to starting the studio with Heath, I had the opportunity to intern with Ghislaine Viñas in New York. I had always loved her bold and fun work so it was wonderful to experience firsthand. I think the biggest takeaway was her creative approach and positive attitude towards her clients and projects.

Describe the Baldwin & Bagnall aesthetic. Is there a common thread between all the spaces you design?

Our projects overall, we’d consider as minimally eclectic. Not bare enough to be minimal, and not so outrageous to be eclectic – we like floating somewhere in between. The use of colour and texture, interesting fabrics, natural stones and timbers, mixed with a diverse blend of vintage, custom and classic furniture, is a common thread you might notice throughout our work.

Are there any personal values that guide your practice?

Heath: Personally, I think design and my ideas surrounding it are constantly evolving. I find myself becoming more restrained and conscious of how we can best utilise an environment. In a world of excess, I am interested in pushing clients to consider what they actually need to live both comfortably and responsibly.

Hayden: In each project, I like to share part of my own lifelong appreciation and love of design. It incorporates sentiment, old and new classics and making sure the outcome is unique and exciting. But even more importantly, I strongly believe that home should be a reflection of those who live there.

At Armadillo, we are advocates of the slow design movement. What considerations do you think should be front of mind to ensure that a home will endure and evolve over time?

Our studio continually reimagines the contemporary Australian home. We maintain a relaxed, fun and unique approach; committed to retaining elements of the past and treated with a contemporary lens. We seek to focus on longevity and sustainability by selecting quality materials, well-made furniture and crafted fixtures and fittings. As a design practice, we put a lot of effort into designing spaces that withstand the test of time and creating long-term homes for our clients.

Are there any natural materials that you find yourself continually drawn to?

Natural marbles and stones, oaks and other timbers, and wools in our floor coverings, upholstery and window treatments. Although, we’re always on the lookout for new materials.

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?

There are several factors when nominating a rug for a project – overall design intent, household needs, etc. But one really important item to note is size and proportions. Make sure the size and fit works for the room and isn’t too small.

"Our projects are minimally eclectic - not bare enough to be minimal, and not so outrageous to be eclectic."

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

Exploration and taking a little risk! We like to encourage clients to push the boundaries and to embrace the unexpected. We find that it leads us to discover the client’s unique style and point of view and, ultimately, they’re happier in the space they call home.

We strongly believe in buying fewer but better things. What are your reasons for investing in quality, timeless pieces?

It’s pretty simple really – we encourage our clients to support the buy once, own forever philosophy. Focusing on the comfort that quality items bring. It’s especially relevant for those tactile items that you touch and use every day.

We share your passion for designing timeless spaces that will endure. How do you think this slower approach to design can benefit the inhabitants?

Our practice is honing our ability to deliver restrained interiors that aren’t devoid of character, detail or personality while being through a contemporary lens. We create spaces that contribute to the happiness and wellbeing of those who live there – each room being functional, purposeful and genuinely unique to the house and client’s needs.

Do you have any go-to sources for inspiration?

Heath: I’m always looking to both local and international designers and publications, past and present, to see what ideas have/are being explored before and what I can learn from them through reinterpreting. My constant though is the Belgium design aesthetic of pure, humble and intricately considered interiors.

Hayden: I’m pretty nostalgic, so I love to find inspiration by researching and browsing images of vintage or passé interiors. I love public and civic buildings in particular; they showed so much care for the details!

 How do you see the role of design in shaping communities going forward?

When designing an environment that has function, purpose and is uniquely considered for the application, the community and people which it serves will no doubt reap the benefit from the experience. Design allows people to either relate to or question, both being important reflections for a society moving forward.

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

The Malawi rug. We’re in love with the texture and colour palette of this range – and it feels like a well-loved vintage shag rug underfoot!!

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