PROFILE: KIRSTEN STANISICH
IN A CAREER SPANNING MORE THAN TWO DECADES, THE DESIGNER HAS FOUND SATISFACTION AND STAYING POWER BY GOING WITH HER GUT.
In a career spanning more than two decades, the designer has found satisfaction by going with her gut
There’s a longevity in what we create,” says Kirsten Stanisich, a director of the Sydney arm of SJB. “It’s important to design things that actually make a difference.” Indeed, the essence of this Australian interior designer and architect’s aesthetic, and that of her design practice, is quiet innovation but also a sense of timelessness. Stanisich’s career began with big-budget hospitality projects, including the Crown Melbourne casino and Sydney’s Establishment hotel and bar. “Establishment will always be that special place for me,” she says of Justin Hemmes’s slick venue in Sydney’s CBD. “It was the early days. We worked hard and went out a lot. It was fun, fresh and exciting.” An architecture graduate from the University of Melbourne, Stanisich joined the Melbourne office of SJB in 1995 after actively pursuing the design practice. A handful of early projects in Sydney meant regular travel between the two capitals. “Eventually I realised it was about staying and setting up the practice here in Sydney; the business grew from there,” says Stanisich. Her innate talent saw her quickly evolve from architect to interior designer before being promoted to associate and then director in 2005. The designer’s career progression parallels an evolution in her style. New work, such as 12-Micron, an expansive 500-capacity restaurant and bar in Sydney’s Barangaroo, is an exercise in restraint and a marked shift from the rich colours seen in her earlier commercial projects. Recently, Stanisich applied SJB’s contemporary yet soft-edged approach to her own home. It is most evident in the kitchen, where the benchtop features paving stones and circular offcuts of contrasting marble add interest to the splashback. “We’re very much about the details, and about having a good idea,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be a big statement.” Stanisich is increasingly enjoying designing private homes. “We’ve been working on a house in Paddington for about four years,” she says. “I’ve realised what you can achieve by having time on those projects.” This lengthier approach has allowed for an impressive number of ideas; as a result, the Australian Interior Design Awards shortlisted the project in both the Residential Design and Residential Decoration categories. In contrast, her own house — another contender for the Residential Design award — was built in eight weeks. Stanisich is no less enthusiastic about her work now than when she graduated. “I’m excited about boutique developments, where we’re working closely with our architects so we can design an interior that’s really cohesive with the building.” These include the multiresidential Hutch & Hutch project in Sydney’s Surry Hills and Nine Young Street, a mixed-use retail, commercial and residential apartment building in the city’s CBD. Even after 21 years, Stanisich still feels she’s growing professionally. “I have much more of a gut approach now than I did five years ago,” she says. “I feel satisfied to do things because it feels right to me.”
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clockwise from top left: Stanisich’s newly completed work on 12-Micron, in Sydney’s Barangaroo district. Stanisich in her own award-shortlisted Redfern terrace. Dining area in a private Sydney residence that’s shortlisted for the Australian Interior Design Awards 2017. A bathroom in the same residence.