As former Editor at Large of Belle Magazine, creator of the design blog The Snap Assembly, and an initiator of the design mecca SPACE Furniture, Anne-Maree Sargeant is a true authority in the design industry.
After studying Interior Design at RMIT University, Anne-Maree moved to London where she worked for a few years as a designer, which soon led her to help establish one of the most iconic showroom networks in Australia.
Through a chance meeting, Anne-Maree started working at ARTES Studio (the precursor to SPACE Furniture) as a furniture consultant to architects and interior designers, and it was here that she had a vision for how a multi-brand showroom could work and how to make it happen. Now, over 20 years on the company is owned by Harvey Norman and has grown to a point beyond belief.
woman with drive caught up with Anne-Maree Sargeant to find out a thing or two about the design industry and this savvy woman with drive.
1. How do you see the level of Australian design compared to that on the world stage?
The original founder of SPACE used to quip to Europeans ‘we’re not born with a Gucci spoon in our mouths’ meaning Australians are not surrounded by a rich heritage of design, manufacturing or world famous for any global design brands. The upside of this an inherent ability to be inventive, not influenced by neighbours, and that has lead to an emerging but strengthening design culture. The supreme quality of the CULT x Adam Goodrum furniture collection, Christopher Boots lighting (who collaborated with Hermès New York to create their holiday windows) and Porcelain Bear ceramics (who achieved incredible accolades during their debut in Milan last year) are but a few of many examples that are achieving international acclaim.
2. What inspires you to take on new roles in the industry or work with different designers?
I thrive on ideas and things that haven’t been done before. If I come up with a concept I think has legs I reach out to the brand or organisation and it goes from there. If it’s a designer or an artist I’m nuts about their work I’ll meet them which is the typical starting point. It’s imperative to enjoy colleagues and collaborators. Invariably something might go sideways and when both sides are working towards a resolution (especially when the situation is 3rd party generated) it’s problem solved and back to the good stuff!
3. How did the transition to magazine journalism come about?
I began as a writer at the now defunct but excellent magazine Interior Design published by Herbert Ypma. He approached me in the late 1990’s. Editor Karen McCartney included on the original team for a (then) new magazine Inside Out that launched in 2000, I contributed as Trends Editor and reviewed Milan and other design fairs for 10 years. Being Editor at Large of Belle Magazine for 5 years coincided with contributing editor gigs with publications in other territories like Surface Asia and Monocle – it’s a lot of work and a labour of love. Writer’s rates have pretty much remained static for 20 years. Last week I wrote an opinion piece for a major publication at the same rate as when I first started.
4. What is your favourite style of design?
My favourite style is original style! The worst style is one that resembles a furniture catalogue or showroom. Cues should come from travel, art, fashion, street finds, mementos, heirlooms – what ever makes you tick!
5. Is there a most-loved piece in your home?
Living on a headland between three beaches my Balinese daybed is the most used and loved piece of furniture.
Design-wise – my Technics 1200 record player, vintage Gio Ponti SuperLeggeria chair scored at auction a few years ago, actually everything Cassina in my house! Also the 1975 designed Vico Magistretti sofa, every snowboard I’ve ever owned, and my art. All the spaces are continually evolving.
Being surrounded by inspiration keeps me fresh. Loved items can come from anywhere – from garage sales to auctions. Everything in my home has a story. Which imparts a feeling of authenticity – something more important than visual style aesthetic!
Image credit: Anne-Maree Sargeant, LKBK.com
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