In conversation with Aki Design

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Step into the world of AKI Design, a family-owned interior architecture and design studio that transforms ordinary spaces into visual and functional works of art.

09 November 2023

Located in the heart of Melbourne, this design team has become synonymous with innovation and creativity. We sat down with Tessa James to explore how AKI is redefining Australia’s architectural landscape, one incredible space at a time.

How does AKI integrate aesthetic and functional elements in its approach to interior architecture for diverse spaces? 

At AKI, we approach interior architecture by first understanding the home’s history, its architectural lineage, and its surrounding landscape—be it city, country, beach, etc. Equally important is comprehending the client’s lifestyle and functional requirements. Whether they have a family, are time poor, or prioritise comfort informs our design. This initial creative direction serves as a guiding framework throughout the project. As we delve into space planning, joinery, and functional design, we continually refer to this initial concept to ensure coherence and alignment all the way to the final design. 

In what ways does AKI’s design approach emphasise sensory and tactile experiences to cater to the unique preferences of clients? 

AKI’s design philosophy is rooted in an intimate understanding of both the client and the home. The process starts during the concept phase, where we ask key questions to grasp how clients envision their home’s atmosphere and how they want to feel in different spaces. By truly understanding their needs and personalities, we can incorporate sensory and tactile experiences that align with their vision. These experiences are crafted through various design elements like curves, colours, timber types, and artwork, creating a unique, bespoke environment. The sensory and tactile aspects are not overt but subtly integrated into the home’s overall design. It could be the mood set by the paint colour, a signature scent, or customised lighting—all these nuanced details bring a home to life. 

How does AKI’s customised furniture, art, and object procurement contribute to enhancing residential experiences?  

Home is where we spend most of our time, make memories, and feel secure. AKI tailors’ furniture, art, and objects to truly reflect a client’s personality and aspirations. Utilising our network of international and local artisans, we handpick each item for its designated space. We offer floor plans and artistic renders to ensure clients understand how their spaces will appear, examining all functional aspects beforehand to guarantee a seamless fit throughout the home. 

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In what manner does AKI Design’s emphasis on the “human experience” reflect in their final design solutions? 

You need to feel comfortable and confident in your home – we want our clients to feel empowered by their space, comfortable, safe, and inspired. A home is a work in progress, it’s a wonderful feeling to add elements of your life into your home – this is where we create memories. We love to give our clients curated, elevated versions of themselves in their home, a talking point and a place that is a true reflection of themselves and their lifestyle.  

Focusing on the human experience allows us to weave a personal and unique narrative throughout, where clients can organically connect with family, friends, or simply feel peace and be their best selves. This is created by having a very thorough and informed brief at the beginning and at touch points throughout the process. Most of our clients are time poor so we value our capabilities of creating a home that they will know and love and be surprised by.  

How do you integrate principles of sustainable design and insights from architectural history to enrich everyday experiences within lived spaces? 

The history of a home or design concept is one of the most exciting parts of our job, serving as a rich foundation for our creative intent, adding layers of unspoken meaning to lived spaces. Sustainability in our designs is multifaceted; we emphasise long-lasting quality and the “less is more” approach. By refurbishing vintage items and championing local artisans who use repurposed materials, we ensure the sustainability of our projects while enriching everyday experiences  

For individuals seeking to engage the expertise of an interior designer, what essential qualities or criteria would you advise them to consider?  

Some clients come to us with mood boards, floor plans, materials, and a good sense of where they want to go with their home. Others simply want a change, a refresh, a new build, or renovation and trust us to guide them throughout the process. The Personal Curator service allows for either scenario; the client can have a handheld journey throughout the process or have more of a hands-on approach. If you have a floor plan, an idea of a budget is a great way to start, however all you really need is to reach out to the designer as the first step and we will organise a briefing to explain our services.  

What is your vision for the future of AKI Design Studio?  

Our vision for AKI Design Studio involves expanding into commercial and retail sectors, while nurturing our current focus, “The Personal Curator” service. We’re also developing AKI Projects, a comprehensive approach to residential development tailored for our clientele. As a family business, we value a supportive, female-led work environment that lets us focus on client needs and individual growth. We’re optimistic about the future of both AKI and The Personal Curator.