Armadillo

The Journal

Holistic Design with Melanie Beynon

Melanie Beynon’s namesake Melbourne practice is an exemplar of sustainable design. Whether it is high-profile hospitality and retail fit outs or more intimate residential projects, she and her close-knit team are intent on creating home and work environments that nurture our health and wellbeing. We speak to the award-winning talent about what challenges and inspires her today.

You’ve worked as an interior designer for over 20 years and as an architect for over a decade. What drives you in your work these days?

We are passionate about instilling [a sense of] well-being, sustainability and balance in our projects – leaving our clients with a design that fosters positive change in their working or home lives.

How would you describe your aesthetic? Is there a common thread that runs through all your projects?

We pride ourselves on providing a personalised service that is efficient, responsive and centres around listening to, and integrating, each client’s vision and aspirations. The aesthetic seen in our work is crafted to suit our clients’ values. We challenge and offer variations on key elements to inspired and drive unique responses.

Left: St Kilda House photographed by Sharyn Cairns. Right: St Kilda East House photographed by Tom Blachford.
"A balance between geometry, sound, light, airflow and furnishings help to calm the mind and promote relaxation and restoration."
St Kilda House photographed by Sharyn Cairns.

Give us a little insight into your design process, and how you weave in holistic and environmental considerations along the way.

As we offer integrated interior design and architectural service, we are time-efficient and cohesive. As registered architects, each phase flows on from one another seamlessly. Each project begins with a concept inspired by our clients’ passions, values and vision.  We begin designing spaces that engage the senses, combine form and function and create an intentional relationship between your home or brand and the environment/site. We draw from our experience and relationships with consultants and suppliers for sustainable, healthy, robust and enduring materials and systems.

Willow Urban Retreat photographed by Sharyn Cairns.

Tell us about some of the eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient innovations that you have incorporated into recent projects.

 We regularly reach out and suppliers contact us for new innovations in acoustic treatments for sound resonance within a space or between spaces. Material selection like cork floors, for example, are highly durable, sound-absorbing, and award-winning for sustainability. Purified A/C is standard in hospital design and can then be used in all design.

Is it challenging to steer clients towards sustainable design decisions, or do you find them receptive?

We find it is actually a priority for all clients now.

Toorak House photographed by Dave Kulesza.

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?

We have recently been invited back in homes we worked on 10 years ago, and our clients tell us that they regularly receive comments on their design being classic and current. Surfaces such as floors and bench tops are perhaps the hardest working, and need to be robust and timeless.

We’re fortunate to have worked with you on a few projects. What considerations are front of mind when you are choosing a rug for a space?

We reach for products that tell a story that is engaging and grounded in supporting communities, either locally or beyond.  Rugs are a perfect representation of handmade, crafted luxury. Colour and texture are essential to make a house a home.

Windsor House photographed by Lilli Waters.

We strongly believe in buying fewer but better things. What are your own reasons for investing in quality pieces with real longevity?

Choosing objects that make you quietly happy – either purchased, gifted or received – remind us of special times and people. Fill the soul, representing this symbolism. Often the form or the movement of light across an object is fulfilling – even just cleaning it!

Décor trends seem to come and go so quickly these days. Do you have any tips for someone who is trying to establish a more timeless interior aesthetic?

Choose materials, textures and colours that amplify your life.

Toorak House photographed by Dave Kulesza.
"We use 'healthy' finishes, finely crafted fixtures and furnishings to create a customised space that enhances human health and is also good for the environment."
Toorak House photographed by Dave Kulesza.

What are your go-to sources for inspiration?

I have been using SBS historical movies for inspiration while we have been locked down [in Melbourne].

Finally, what do hope for the future of Australian architecture and design?

Looking at projects on the recent Australian design awards shortlists, the range of outstanding projects is quite remarkable and of great inspiration to the rest of the world. We are all buoying one another along. I hope architects and designers will continue to provide cleaner projects using less waste or fuel and ever-increasingly sustainable.

Follow Melanie Beynon on Instagram.

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