e2design lab


The project was the interior design for an open-plan office space in a beautiful old Art Deco building in the heart of Melbourne: Carlow House.

The brief was for the space to have a contemporary, warm, relaxed feel, and to use blonde veneer timber for furniture. The four Directors were open to ideas and agreed that respecting the building’s heritage was the right thing to do, but they wanted it to be subtle, rather than contrived.

Carlow House’s original occupants were small blue-collar businesses, so this drove the particular Art Deco bent we pursued – a humble industrial feel, rather than the glamour and luxury most synonymous with the Art Deco era. The overall colour scheme and use of veneer woods are a small nod of respect to the building’s Art Deco Heritage. The chosen arm chairs’ origin also dates back to the era, designed in 1935.

The practical stools used around the meeting room table, were sourced from a medical supply company and, together with the humble desk lamp, reflect a slightly industrial feel. The meeting table has the company’s logo painted across it in black and scored at the edges to emulate the frequently used wood inlay technique in the Art Deco period, but done with a contemporary twist.

The cushion upholstery on the bench seat once again pays homage to the 1920s. We also sourced an original Art Deco teapot which we’re told “pours beautifully” by the many tea drinkers.

We were also asked to fit out the kitchen with crockery, cutlery, glassware and servingware to be used on both a day-to-day basis and for entertaining. The lack of storage in the kitchen was address with low-cost off-the-shelf flat-pack solutions that the company could assemble themselves, if desired.

Cabinetry by earl.PINTO

Photography by