STUDIO MR SMITH
Coco Republic’s fresh take on outdoor style
Design is in the DNA of Anthony Spon-Smith, creative director at Australian furniture company Coco Republic. Sleekly groomed and sipping a coffee at his instore cafe in Sydney’s Alexandria, Spon-Smith effusively describes his lifelong obsession with design and the consequent launch of Coco Republic’s Studio Mr Smith. Named after his father’s original business, Mr Smith Interiors, the studio satisfies Spon-Smith’s long-held wish to expand into product design. He was, after all, born into a family business that specialised in furniture. This might be the last frontier for a company already offering interior design services and a popular design school along with its 16 stores nationwide.
“Studio Mr Smith’s ethos is based on heritage and rebirth,” says Spon-Smith. “It’s a throwback to the family history. The new designs for the debut collection draw from my father’s 40 years in the business, and the 20 years I’ve been involved. It’s important to have provenance in design.”
It’s this experience and enthusiasm — SponSmith studied industrial design “just for fun” after completing an economics degree — combined with a deep understanding of the industry that has led him to focus on luxury outdoor furniture. “Outdoor areas used to be an afterthought,” says Spon-Smith. “But this is changing. People are spending more time outside and we now want our outdoor spaces to look as good as our interiors.” This rising demand for stylish exteriors is one of the biggest changes to everyday living Spon-Smith says he’s witnessed in recent years, which made Studio Mr Smith’s outdoor range a no-brainer. Inspired by Californian modernism and contemporary Italian design, the debut collection is named Riviera L’Americano and comprises more than 200 pieces, including statement stools, concrete planters, dining tables and chairs, and outdoor cushions and rugs. Its low, modular teak lounges are reminiscent, says Spon-Smith, of Californian coastal living. “California and Italy are two of my favourite places and design-wise I wanted to take the best from both these worlds to create a relaxed, comfortable line with contemporary styling,” he says. “It’s all about American comfort with Italian silhouettes and an international flavour.” Spon-Smith intends to follow the debut collection with more interior pieces, starting with a focus on dining. And in the not-toodistant future he wants to see it expand internationally. “I’m open-minded about collaborations, especially with international designers,” he says. “I want to introduce a global influence and interpret it for the Australian lifestyle. I also want to design product that is sold around the world and design for my contemporaries in Europe and America.
“I think we have a great way of living in Australia that’s reflected in our designs,” he continues. “I’d like to bottle that up and sell it overseas… And I’d love to be designing when I retire. For me it’s a long journey. It’s what I really love doing.”
“I want to introduce a global INFLUENCE and interpret it for the Australian LIFESTYLE”