Daringly different, The Bold Collective has set a whole new standard when it comes to interiors through their pulsating style, colourful personalities and their out-of-the-box designs. Co-Director Ali McShane takes us on a journey through their recent Porter Davis project where the boundaries are pushed, creativity abounds and the result is spectacular.
Words: Natasha Sciré
Photography: Lucas Allen
When entering into the design scene, an artist, designer or maker is set out to focus on a single and prominent goal, and that is to stand out. To truly succumb to the creative industry and ensure longevity as a designer, is to be unique, challenge the norms and push the boundaries, or to put it simply – be different. Of course, it takes a huge application of strength, courage, creativity and a daring personality to be bold and to uphold this sentiment to its fullest and truest meaning, but once a glimpse of work has been captured by an appreciator’s eye, a ‘high demand’ status is imminent.
In Sydney’s suburb of Chippendale stands a boutique interior design firm that represents all of this and more. Known for their contagious energy, vibrant style and quirky personalities, Designers and Co-Directors Ali McShane and Monika Branagan have put together a small team that call themselves The Bold Collective.
Through the charms of serendipity, Ali and Monika met professionally in 2008 while
working for the same company and after sitting next to one another, they soon realised
they shared very similar design philosophies. As the friendship blossomed so did their desire to create ‘unique, innovative and dynamic interiors.’
From here we both found ourselves at a crossroads and started discussing the possibility of breaking away and doing something a little different!” Ali explains.
Three years later, Ali and Monika decided to take a leap of faith and thus, The Bold Collective was born.
“The company has since grown and we have delivered a number of workplace,
workplace strategy, retail, education, and hospitality projects. We are a multidisciplinary studio offering both interior and graphic design services and have quickly carved out a niche for ourselves within the advertising media sectors where we have created a series of dynamic workplaces for cutting edge agencies,” Ali explains.
“We are fortunate to work with a great group of designers all with different strengths
and skills. We are always learning from each other and making sure we make time to enjoy what we’re doing and get inspired,” she adds.
With over fifteen years of experience as a design professional, Ali spends a large
portion of her time working in the workplace sector for diverse organisations. She is
passionate about workplace strategy and enjoys challenging clients to different ways to work. Her aim is to expose the true essence of an organisation through visually appealing workplace settings resulting in a unique and dynamic design outcome tailor made to suit her clients.
Her design partner, Monika possess skills in interior as well as graphic design and
prior to the formation of The Bold Collective specialised in retail projects. Over the last five years Monika has worked across a variety of sectors including education and hospitality, and of course workplace design.
With their talents combined, the dynamic duo have enabled a well-regarded design firm where their distinguished work is driven by an unceasing passion to generate highly creative interiors. Coupled with an approachable and friendly culture, The Bold Collective has seemingly become the design destination for all who seek a fun and funky environment.
“Our studio is design curious and we are constantly sharing ideas from widespread
sources, which helps to inform our work and ensures that our projects are diverse and
fresh. We are keen to provide interiors that go beyond meeting the functional requirements of the brief to inspire, challenge and provoke. We want to be anything but mainstream so we are attracting a strong clientele base that wants to ‘disrupt’ the state of norm,” says Ali.
It was exactly this notion that led The Bold Collective to take charge of their latest
and most exciting Porter Davis project in Melbourne. Working extensively with the
Porter Davis design team, the brief was clear yet unique with the main objective being to create a space that holds 300+ staff in one location at 720 Bourke Street. The aim of
the single destination was to enhance the workplace culture and Porter Davis also
specified that the design reflect their World Of Style design process.
“The aesthetics for the project reference Porter Davis’ World Of Style model, where
clients are invited to participate in a style evaluation to assist in the design of their new
home. The online survey takes clients through a number of images that are categorised in different styles based on destinations, which range from New York to London to Bali to Milan and beyond. At the end of the survey the results are collated and the client’s overall style is revealed,” Ali explains.
“This style can then be translated into different finishes, colours, materials and
textures throughout their new home. A Berlin home for example would have classic
lines, aged timbers or concrete floor, large white walls, industrial undertone, mono
tonal grey palette, factory style lights and gritty feel to textures in fabrics. A Fifth
Avenue New York home might feature dark timbers and black furniture, stone and
luxurious velvet upholstery with chrome and glass highlights throughout.”
Through her understanding of thoughtful workplace design versus long term
effectiveness in the workplace, Ali and The Bold Collective team decided on a range
of settings that would undoubtedly exude personality and work harmoniously in an
activity based workplace. All work settings took into consideration the typical daily
requirements of the lively and productive workplace and the elements were arranged
strategically into a fascinating design structure that encourages staff to explore all the various work settings.
“There are a combination of different heights to work and meet, and all the support
spaces were centralised encouraging staff to move around the 3000 square metre floor
plate. Although we had numerous, aesthetic ‘looks’ it was important that the selection of furniture was practical and fit for purpose. As each work setting was modeled from a
different destination, nothing was ‘typical’. As an example, there were over fifty different styles and types of chairs used across the project. We spent some time trying to benefit from efficiencies of scale and adopted a trestle like leg detail to the workstations that could be translated differently through texture and colour,” says Ali.
“We worked extensively with Baseline who interpreted our concept of the trestle leg for the team tables. They now manufacture this leg as part of their range called the Bold Leg,” she adds.
Upon arrival at the residential home builder’s office, you will immediately be
stepping into the realms of The Big Apple. A lustrous and welcoming reception desk that sits on turned timber legs greets individuals as they take in the typical New York vibe. With a salvaged timber herringbone strut ceiling holding a series of cut crystal lights, the space resembles a fabulous New York apartment with loft-like components in audacious colours.
“One of the most unique aspects of the project was that there were no two similar
colours used throughout the project. Having said this, there needed to be some consistency. We explored the concept of ‘vintage’ or ‘distressed’ and applied this to each of the destinations. The same Interface carpet tile range was used to delineate each zone along with a series of vinyl timber planks laid in different ways to create different aesthetic concepts,” Ali explains.
Just a few steps away and you have been suddenly whisked away to the French
industrial themed kitchen/café with matching fixtures, an open grid ceiling and subway
tiles that adorn the walls. The client facing meeting spaces encompass a Milan and Soho
appearance while the gaming/recreation area is designed to a very fitting Las Vegas style.
“The Medibank building in Docklands is located overlooking the Etihad stadium.This outlook was especially important to the Porter Davis team so we located the breakout/
gaming area to overlook this view to take full advantage of this new location,” Ali says.
The workspaces incorporate a number of locations. These include the beaches of Bali,
Maldives and Portsea, which were deliberately placed in the quieter spaces of the building and filled with large cozy lounges for staff to work independently. This space also consists of a suspended swing, an interesting and eye catching feature.
Another striking room is the London workspace, which displays a wall sized image
of the Union Jack and holds old English furniture, which adds a touch of royalty. There
is also the brightness of the Nautical Hamptons and Classic Hamptons, splashed with blue and white stripes, plenty of rope covered objects and ornamental oars for an added seaside effect. Other popular destinations that inspired the layout of the remaining workspaces include Malibu, Ubud, West Indies, Tokyo, India, Barcelona and Scandinavia. Melbourne also makes the cut. Embracing the characteristics of the inner city, the space showcases local street art and hints of infamous Melbourne icons.
“We designed all the graphics and were experimental with printing on laminates and
designing bespoke screen fabric by printing Melbourne street names onto laminated team table surfaces and Henna style prints over India. We also overlaid graphics on the locker banks to set the scene for the style direction,” explains Ali.
“As a team we all love the Malibu work setting the best. Together with suspended
vintage surfboards, tropical prints, and a blend of turquoise and pinks make this
space magic for us. The Malibu inspired Koskela hoodies are a great addition in such
Like the Porter Davis brief, Ali is noticing that more of The Bold Collective projects
consist of organisations that are turning away from the conventional corporate look and are looking at options that require crossing over the lines to a state of imagination and being challenged. This does mean that the use of colour is often invited, embraced and appreciated, which is something that The Bold Collective are ecstatic about, as Ali explains, “We are certainly not afraid of colour at The Bold Collective. So many corporate workplace environments are very bland and ‘safe’. They don’t need to be! It isn’t a residential home. It needs to be fun, inspiring and dynamic. Colour can have an enormous impact on an interior environment and is an essential part of the overall aesthetic.”
As the admiration for the design of the Porter Davis project continues and the
compliments constantly roll in, it is only further broadening the already famed
reputation of The Bold Collective and their ability to consistently produce stunning
spaces. As 2016 shapes up to be another exciting year for the design firm, they are
prepared to take on new technologies, new techniques, interesting briefs and work with clients who are eager to be at the forefront of a new way of working.
“The sky’s the limit for designers. We have the freedom we didn’t have in the past
to question and disrupt design conventions. I would always challenge designers to be
brave, learn from each project and strive to be different,” Ali says.
With this said, The Bold Collective, as the name suggests are bound to present us
with yet more awe-inspiring and fabulous interior designs in the future. With a bubbly
personality and distinct design eye, there is no missing the portfolio of projects that will
be facilitated by the design force with their strong values reflected in each venture – after all, as Ali perfectly puts it – “as designers, we