Tracey Wiles, is a partner at Make Architects, which recently established a studio in Sydney.
Wiles has worked with brands such as Harrods in the UK and is now returning to Australia to help establish the new studio.
Architecture and Design spoke to her about working on the recent Opera Residences, why trends don’t have a place in her design and why trusting your instincts as a designer is important.
What was your approach with the Opera Residences?
This is one of the most recognised and coveted pieces of real estate in the world. It was paramount to the project that the quality of the design proposal reflect the importance of the site.
We approach all interiors with the intention of integrating the interior design into the overall architectural concept, allowing one to enhance the other. We worked very closely with Tzannes Architects to ensure the materiality and detailing of the Opera Residences interiors was a shared vision to create a harmonious experience from inside to out.
We selected a very sophisticated materials palette with multiple options allowing residents to curate their homes with individuality and character. The base palette provides a rich backdrop of either timber or travertine, corian or marble, all with the consistency of Flemish copper detailing.
The success of the final design is very much about layering luxury materials with considered attention to detail to make the apartments have the same level of quality and detail that you would find in a one off commissioned home, and worthy of the incredible views they command.
Make is leading the interior design for Tzannes’ Opera Residences
What were some of the key influences on your approach?
Tzannes has designed the apartments enabling sightlines to be channelled through to the stunning harbour views at every opportunity, with full-height glazing maximising the light and generosity of scale. We emphasised the grandeur of the interior spaces, enhancing visual access to the harbour and beyond by curating the resident’s views. Sourcing and selecting the highest quality of materials allowed us to provide layers of visual tactility and luxury.
Many of the details mirror the soft curves used throughout the architecture that reference the sails of the Opera House and the arch of the Harbour Bridge.
Over the past five years, what have been some interior trends that you're happy have died out?
Trends in their very nature are transient, which is suitable when the project has a limited lifespan or will require refreshing, like for example, in retail. Make’s primary focus has been on projects with permanence and longevity, where the interiors are inextricably tied to the fabric of the building in their geometry, materiality and aesthetic. To do this we need to respond to the client, their brand, the site and the historical context. It leaves little space for trends.
It is fantastic designing to a limited life span where one can be more frivolous, adventurous and playful, however, we would not subject residents, clients and users to a trend with an expiry date.
Personally though, I am enjoying all the soft pink velvet furniture and rooms that are populating Pinterest and design magazines!
What has been one of your favourite trends?
Craftmanship. I’ve always been passionate about beautifully crafted products and furniture of the past and love to design and specify modern classics that reflect and reimagine, with quality and considered detail. There has also been a renewed client appreciation for unique and bespoke design. To that end I am incredibly pleased that we are seeing an increased number of artisan tradespeople and that we can have global access to quality materials.
We will often look to incorporate unique products or work with designers to make slight adaptations to their work in order to integrate them into our schemes with continuity of material detail and design. From door handles to furniture, we find it can respond specifically and exclusively to the project’s needs and enhance and elevate the individuality and character of the design. I truly hope this is not a trend and we see a rise in craftspeople moving from art, jewellery and furniture into the built environment.
How would you compare Australia's approach to interior design compared to England's?
Although I trained in Australia, I have spent most of my professional life practicing in the UK and across Europe.
The infancy of Australian history engenders a real pioneering attitude, resulting in an amazing ability for designers to look forward without being tethered to historical references. Conversely, the rich history of the UK can provide brilliant design references. It was amazing to work on several projects for Harrods. With full access to their archives that showed its rich architectural and design history, we were able to source references that ensured a design linage whilst also working with contemporary materiality and detailing.
We learnt, and can continue to learn, great lessons from the past, but we must not lose sight of inventive ingenuity.
During your career, what has been one of the most important lessons you've learnt?
I have three:
1. Really listen to your client, the brief is key to unlocking the solution.
2. Research the project from every possible angle, history, location, end user, materials – give yourself confidence you are making the right decision.
3. Trust your instincts. Good design is born there.
What is your favourite piece of furniture in your home and why?
My daughter has a B&B Italia Mart chair – it was an incredible present from her godmother and one which I covet! It has sensuous curves, exceptional quality materiality, the visual simplicity belies the complex manufacturing process, but it undoubtedly delivers glamourous lounging. I also love my Eames lounger for very similar reasons. I do love a considered curve!