Erin Gannon, principal interior architect at Studio Tate, recently completed Adriano Zumbo’s new Fancy Nance high tea salon.

Gannon has previously worked at Kerry Phelan Design Office, GA Design International and Bates Smart.

Architecture and Design spoke to her about the pink brief for Fancy Nance, creating spaces with personality, and taking risks.

You recently worked on the Adriano Zumbo project Fancy Nance. Are there greater challenges involved in a project when you're working with celebrity clients?

The interior needs to bring to life the values of the brand. We apply this analogy to all of our commercial clients – not just celebrities. In the case of Fancy Nance the brief was to let our imagination go wild, with the only stipulation that the response had to include his signature pink streak. We also felt it was important to celebrate the function of the new venue – a high tea cocktail salon. Adriano was great to work with in that he was very open to exploring new ideas.

What was the main challenge with Fancy Nance?

After the floorplan was locked in, Adriano requested a very large commercial bread oven to be included in the front entry. Not only did this require a re-think to the floorplan, the main challenge was physically getting the oven into its final location, given the tight constraints of the site.


You aim to create human spaces that reflect the distinctive personalities of each brief. How do you achieve this approach?

We like to obtain a thorough understanding of our client’s vision for the space and collect a lot of background information that will inform the design direction and decisions. This ultimately conveys the personality that is unique to each project.

In the instance of Fancy Nance, our design concept followed the story of the fancy flamingo – all spaces worked to a consistent geometry that referenced the distinctive patterns of the flamingo’s body. From overhead shelving to the plush blue velvet banquette seating, the form and colour stimulate the senses. Metallic and reflective cladding to the existing bar front recalls his mother Nancy’s love of shiny things – accents of mirror and brass can be found throughout the space.


Do you believe this is an approach that the rest of the industry is taking?

It is very client and project dependent. Some clients request ideas they have seen in other interiors to be incorporated rather than celebrating and embracing what their brand or interior is about. I believe our industry peers would agree that it is about educating and encouraging clients to brave to support new ideas.

You like to make taking risks seem easy. Can you tell A&D about a risk that you've taken that has paid off?

We are lucky enough to be working on some beautiful residential projects.  In this typology we like to treat a room or area in the home as a ‘jewel,’ whether it be the powder room or a coat cupboard.

Recently we convinced our client to go for a very brightly-coloured blue handmade tile in their powder room, along with a bright blue shelf for the hand wash. This took months of convincing and encouraging our client to embrace an element of surprise into what is a very pared-back, minimal interior. The tiles went in last week and the client is thrilled with the result – they are grateful we encouraged them to take the risk.

Do you think there is enough risk-taking in the industry or do people tend to play it safe?

Risks can be perceived very differently. For our client mentioned above, this could be perceived as a relatively small risk. Others may see painting an entire room in bright blue as more risky.

Project photography by Peter Clarke