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A Micro Studio Sanctuary in St. Kilda with a Heart of a Copper
A Micro Studio Sanctuary in St. Kilda with a Heart of a Copper
Episodes
July 4, 2024

A Micro Studio Sanctuary in St. Kilda with a Heart of a Copper

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall” may as well be the mantra of this 27sqm Melbourne apartment centred around a reflective copper pod filled with storage and other surprises.

Designers Jack Chen and Hidy Wong of Tsai Design crafted a layering of experiences in this 27sqm/291sqft St. Kilda apartment through a clever and compact mirrored copper pod at its core.

Kate Kolberg
Writing:
Tess Kelly
Writing:
Kate Kolberg
Photography:
Photography:
Tess Kelly
Never Too Small Vol 2Never Too Small Vol 2
The After shot of the Floorplan
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27 Square Metres of Pockets, Vibes, and Moods in St. Kilda

“It’s about meandering”. Words you wouldn’t necessarily think to associate with a 27sqm/291sqft apartment, but that’s exactly how Jack Chen of Tsai Design described a design he created with fellow designer Hidy Wong in St. Kilda, Melbourne. The studio redesign – done for a couple who spend extended spells of their time abroad – focused on making it not only functional for their periods in Australia but also dynamic. “It is just one big room, so the tricks we’ve used are to try and break up and create different experiences within the space – a lot of little pockets, vibes, and moods”, Chen told NTS.

A Heart of Copper

The original space, as Wong describes it, was a little tired and “needed a refresh”. The layout was organised so that the dimly lit bathroom was the first thing on view upon entry into the apartment and the rest of the space wasn’t as efficient as it could be. Cue the pod, or what Chen and Wong refer to as the “hero” of their design. Hugging the existing bathroom area and extending to the wall of windows is a large floor-to-ceiling joinery lined with a mirrored copper laminate by Bench Top City . It is the “heart of the apartment”, said Wong, “wrapping around the existing walls to create division and intrigue”. And it is, indeed, intriguing. In addition to providing a visually magnetic contrast to the calm and pale palette surrounding it, the multifunctional joinery unit bears within a whole host of surprises.

The pod begins in the common area, adjacent to the kitchen, which was reoriented by 90 degrees so that it sits directly below the windows. This section of the pod, painted blue on the insides, contains some classic kitchen storage as well as a little niche for their coffee maker. As the joinery slowly starts to wrap inward toward the sleeping area, the insides turn to yellow, marking where the wardrobe begins. To the final side there is a fold-out table (for when the couple may need to work or take meetings separately from home) as well as a rack for displaying magazines or books. The pod journey ends with the shower and vanity room, painted terracotta. 

Layering Experiences through Design

The different colours and diversity of function is all part of the designers’ larger ambition to bring some added experiential texture to the space. “We’re trying to create a layering of experiences”, noted Chen. “There’s the open plan on the outside, while the bathroom is more dynamic, moodier. Breaking up the space, breaking up the experience, extends the journey through the house and gives the impression of a bigger space”. By containing much of the design’s playfulness within this single, streamlined element, the remainder of the apartment offers space to breathe. The openness of the kitchen, living, and dining area in contrast offers a nice complement to the pod. Simple gestures – like a shelf extending from the TV unit into the bedroom or a couch with a flexible back that allows it to be used for dining or lounging – allow this space to evolve with its users as the day goes on, without it being too crowded or difficult to convert. 

Writing:
Tess Kelly
Writing:
Kate Kolberg
Photography:
Photography:
Tess Kelly
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