One to Watch Studio Martin
By weaving together their complementary talents, sisters Lauren and Amanda Martin merge big-picture thinking with detail-oriented design to create materially rich yet minimalist residential spaces that enrich their clients’ lives.
Minimalism and material richness harmonize in the residential designs of this Melbourne-based practice.
There’s a certain symbiosis in the work of Melbourne-based practice Studio Martin – a seemingly effortless melding of architecture and interiors. This ease is due at least partly, you might surmise, to the fact that the practice’s founders, Lauren and Amanda Martin, are sisters.
“We’ve always been very close; there’s a kind of unspoken synergy that we have,” says Lauren.
While the Martin sisters have complementary specializations – Lauren as an architect, Amanda as an interior designer – their method weaves the two disciplines together from the outset.
“We work together through the whole process,” Lauren continues. “It helps to create a harmony within the project, to balance the big overall gestures with the right level of detail.”
Founded in 2018, the practice has built a reputation for creating thoughtfully resolved residential projects characterized by a deft layering of materials and textures. There is unexpected depth in the spaces they create, a discreet complexity only hinted at by their paredback aesthetic.
Materiality is a recurrent theme in the practice’s output. It is evident in the Glenwood Unit, a comprehensive reworking of a nondescript red-brick home in bayside Melbourne. Despite its compact confines, the unit is open and airy, finished in graduated shades of white, grey and black, a palette inspired by the Hamptons. The minimalist aesthetic is typical of the practice’s work and the sculptural furniture and lighting create an interior that feels bespoke and carefully curated.
“Our projects are often restrained in colour, but detailed in texture. A more colourful project, but less bold. Materiality does play a big role,” Amanda says.
At the heart of their design process is a detailed and iterative approach to spatial planning. “We believe that a plan creates the space, a space creates the experience, and materiality engages the senses,” Amanda explains.
“A lot of our earlier jobs were interior reworks, renovations and little infill projects. That work showed us just how important planning is – to take an existing condition and understand its constraints,” Lauren adds.
Growing up by the bay in Beaumaris, the sisters developed an early appreciation for architecture and design.
It is an area rich in architectural history, home to many typically understated examples of mid-century residential architecture.
“We remember scooting around the streets of Beaumaris and choosing which house would be ours,” Lauren says.
“We take inspiration from everywhere: walking through the city streets, or a reference from film or art – it’s forever changing. The main thing that inspires us is an experience or feeling that puts a smile on our face – and we try to translate that back into our work,” Amanda says.
Experiences abroad shaped both sisters’ perspectives on design. While completing interior architecture at Monash University, Amanda spent six months at the university’s Prato Centre in Italy. “It was a surreal experience, living in a medieval town. You could discover something new in those winding, cobbled streets every day. Prato is known for its textiles and materials. They’re a softer contrast to the medieval town itself,” she says.
Lauren’s studies took her to the KTH School of Architecture in Stockholm. “They have a really distinct sensibility: functional but soft. There’s a warmth in Scandinavian design, even though it’s restrained in colour, materials and form,” she adds.
Before establishing Studio Martin, Lauren and Amanda honed their craft at respected practices including Baldasso Cortese, Hassell and Preston Lane Architects, among others. Those roles cemented for them the value of bringing architecture and interiors together in a single design process.
One recently completed project, the Fitzgibbon Residence in Caulfield North, exemplifies many of the studio’s priorities: clean lines, natural materials and layered textures. “This project was a new build the client purchased off the plan – we had room to move a few things around,” Lauren says. “There’s a nice balance in the interior – the detailing is minimalist, but it’s overlaid with warmth, particularly through the materials.” Abundant joinery displays the client’s prized objects, personalizing the project and elevating it from good design to welcoming home.
“We strive to give the client something they wouldn’t have expected, something that can enrich their lives,” Lauren says. “For us, that’s the most exciting part of our work.” studiomartin.com.au
There is unexpected depth in the spaces they create, a discreet complexity only hinted at by their pared-back aesthetic.