The Australian - Wish Magazine - - CULT - STORY MI­LANDA ROUT POR­TRAIT TOM FER­GU­SON

Life – the rit­u­als, the rou­tine, the ev­ery­day. It may not sound like a par­tic­u­larly in­spir­ing place to start when set­ting out to cre­ate beau­ti­ful spa­ces full of beau­ti­ful things, but that is ex­actly where in­te­rior de­sign duo Juli­ette Arent and Sarah-Jane Pyke be­gin on their award-win­ning res­i­den­tial projects.

“Peo­ple don’t come to us ask­ing for a par­tic­u­lar look but for the ex­pe­ri­ences they want to have there and how the house will func­tion,” Arent tells WISH in the Arent & Pyke of­fices in Syd­ney’s Surry Hills. “We find that we are es­sen­tially de­sign­ing around rou­tines, peo­ple’s daily tasks, and that be­comes the strong­est part of our brief­ing phase.”

It was this de­sire to add life into de­sign that pro­pelled Arent and Pyke to go out on their own a decade ago. It was a time when in­te­ri­ors were very mono­tone and min­i­mal­ist – bare and cold – and this was a trend that did not ap­peal to ei­ther of them. “We both re­ally wanted to in­ject spirit and life into in­te­ri­ors,” says Arent. “When I was go­ing through de­sign school, it was very pared back, ex­tremely min­i­mal­ist, which I could ap­pre­ci­ate aes­thet­i­cally but it didn’t ap­peal to me emo­tion­ally. There was a very par­tic­u­lar look and [our aes­thetic] was a re­ac­tion to that.”

Arent and Pyke also recognised an “en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit” in each other when they met work­ing at a Syd­ney in­te­ri­ors firm. Arent stud­ied de­sign and Pyke stud­ied in­te­rior ar­chi­tec­ture. They soon fig­ured out they liked the same things and en­joyed work­ing to­gether, and they had a con­ver­sa­tion about go­ing out on their own. It also helped that they were in their early 30s and fancy free. They didn’t have fam­i­lies or mort­gages as they do now. “We knew that if it didn’t work, we would just have to cover the rent. It was not as pres­sured. It had a very free feel­ing to it,” re­calls Arent.

Their first ma­jor project was ren­o­vat­ing a ter­race in the beach­side sub­urb of Coogee. The pair had to think about how the spa­ces were go­ing to be used, fur­nish them and dress them ac­cord­ingly. The client was a busy fam­ily with three young boys.

“It is in­ter­est­ing that our first house was a fam­ily home,” Pyke says, given the duo have be­come renowned for cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful fam­ily homes across the coun­try and even the world (they did an apart­ment in New York a few years ago). “This was a fam­ily with a very ac­tive life and it was all about get­ting that to work, cre­at­ing spa­ces for teenagers to grow into. We had to think about how these boys were go­ing to grow up in this house. We still get a Christ­mas card from them ev­ery year. Their boys are six feet tall. It’s re­ally a thrill to get that in the mail.”

The pair be­lieve the key to their suc­cess is spend­ing a lot of time with their clients. They meet nu­mer­ous times be­fore the project has even be­gun, to get a strong sense of the in­di­vid­ual and what they want for their home. “We also look at peo­ple’s art, look at their ob­jects, things that they have col­lected over the years,” Pyke

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