Juliette Arent and her business partner Sarah-Jane Pyke have a team of 11 based in their Surry Hills design studio.
As Arent & Pyke they have been designing innovative, emotionally resonant interior architecture and interiors for homes, hotels and creative corporate spaces for the past 13 years.
I met with Juliette to chat about the Arent & Pyke design aesthetic that is now pervasive in the eastern suburbs. We also spoke about selling the stunning two-bedroom art deco North Bondi apartment that she has designed.
Juliette, I’m curious about where your talent for interiors and design comes from. Would you have passed the tidy bedroom test as a teenager?
Absolutely! As a teenager, I was very proud of my personal space. I’ve always had a strong sense that your environment directly impacts your happiness and wellbeing. My love for natural materials atmospheric lighting was prominent from an early age.
So, it was a natural progression for you to pursue design as a career?
Creative pursuits were always encouraged in my family. I embarked upon a design degree at UNSW before deferring and moving into Fine Arts. Following my Fine Arts degree I felt back into interior design and studied at the Design Centre in Enmore. Working in various interior design firms both in Sydney and London inspired me to start my own practice.
Participating in the Rigg Design Prize last year, the highest accolade for contemporary design in Australia, you won the Australian Interior Design Awards and Belle Coco Republic Design Awards for Best Residential Interior. Tell us about your work with Arent & Pyke today?
Arent & Pyke encompasses interior architecture, which involves the planning and designing of lounge rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms and the joinery elements, as well as interior design. We are known for creating emotionally resonant spaces for our clients. As well as supporting their vision, we find and curate furniture and objects that are personalised and meaningful. Emotion also comes from the way that specifically tailored lighting or using texture and materials can make you feel. This also extends to space planning, where we explore the minutiae of our clients lives and their heritage to find what works for them. For example, if we’re designing a home for a young family, we’d explore their afternoon routine. It’s these domestic flurries that are incredibly pertinent to people’s lives, such as finding out mum loves having her children nearby when they’re doing their homework. So, we’d factor that into the design by incorporating a bench seat into the environment.
What design trends are coming through at the moment?
Vintage is very much still dominant and people are fascinated by long-lasting quality pieces. They also like highly crafted pieces that reference different eras but are made now. With colour, there is also a strong trend to be braver with bold experimental tones. For example, we selected mustard, chartreuse and forest green for our Under The Tree project.
Your incredible sense of colour shines through your designs.
Colour has been critical in our business from the start. I believe that the power of colour is underestimated. It doesn’t have to be primary colours. There are so many ways to use it – from using colour in materials like tiles, carpet, curtains and stone or colour in paint and fabrics.
How does your personal style differ from your professional style?
It doesn’t really. Design is always in response to the architecture and the people who inhabit it which informs what the interior must be.
How hard will it be to let go of your North Bondi apartment given it’s been your family home and is so reflective of your personality?
We bought it over six years ago. Naturally, I will be sad to leave, as we’ve had some many beautiful memories with the kids here. We’re really going to miss the amazing big backyard. We’ve loved it. But I’m ready for a new project and a new adventure. Life just keeps moving forward and changing. You’ve got to go with it.
What is your best design tip for anyone looking to style their own home for sale?
You want people to see the space in the best possible light. So, give the space the freedom to breathe. People’s homes are the narrative of their lives. It’s lovely to have your favourite things around you – like a vase or ceramics bought on your travels. But I don’t over furnish my home. Some people wonder where the rest of the furniture is? But that’s my slant. Oh, and don’t forget to clean the windows!