Coco Repub­lic’s fresh take on out­door style

VOGUE Living Australia - - CONTENTS - By Ver­ity Mag­dalino Pho­tographed by An­son Smart co­core­pub­ @co­core­pub­lic

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”

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