Interview with Designer Alexandra Donohoe Church

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    Sydney-based interior designer Alexandra Donohoe Church shares insight on her signature aesthetic, her favourite material to work with and why she finds the psychological impact of design so rewarding.

    Alexandra Donohoe Church describes her approach to design as rebellious in spirit, manifested in contrasting interior details and a pervading sense of the unexpected in her work. 

    After garnering experience at some of Sydney’s renowned design studios, she established her own interior design practice, Decus Interiors – which takes its name from the Latin word, meaning dignity, grace and ornamental beauty.  Decus Interiors is now one of the most recognisable names in the Australian design community, with a portfolio of show-stopping homes on both Sydney’s coveted coastline and, more recently in Western Australia.

    Having stepped inside several homes designed by Decus Interiors both on estliving.com and inside est Magazine, it was time we sat down with director Alexandra Donohoe Church to learn more about where it all began. In this chat, Alexandra reflects on the role of design in our lives, what she sees for the future of residential design in Sydney and where she seeks out her favourite artworks and objects.

    Take us back to where your career in interiors began. 

    Alexandra Donohoe Church: Born and raised in Sydney, I’ve always been drawn to creative endeavours. I commenced my studies in Landscape Architecture at the University of NSW; however, after one year, I realised when I kept dozing off in science class that interiors were what really excited me, so I switched to study Interior Architecture. I was fortunate enough to begin my career at some of Sydney’s most sought-after design studios, SJB and Bates Smart, to name a few. When the GFC hit, I was made redundant. However, it was just the push I needed to go out on my own. And eleven years later, I haven’t looked back. 

    How would you describe your aesthetic?

    Alexandra Donohoe Church: We are striving to redefine our design language within the residential interior landscape, a language that acknowledges the importance of residential design and the role it plays in our lives. We are becoming more experimental, expressing our unique way of thinking, and of course, designing. We are detail-driven, layered, yet always refined, and we love experimenting with opposing elements for a sense of polarity. All our projects are instilled with something of a rebellious spirit, and ultimately, it’s about creating interiors that our clients love.  

    “We are detail-driven, layered, yet always refined, and we love experimenting with opposing elements for a sense of polarity. All our projects are instilled with something of a rebellious spirit, and ultimately, it’s about creating interiors that our clients love.”  

     

    – Alexandra Donohoe Church

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    The Ginger Chair by Roberto Lazzeroni for Poltrona Frau in Coastal Home by Decus Interiors.

    What do you find most satisfying about design? 

    Alexandra Donohoe Church: The psychological impact. I love how design directly impacts the way you feel through colour, materiality and texture. 

    How do you ensure a sense of the unexpected in all of your projects? 

    Alexandra Donohoe Church: We love the beauty in layering and pairing juxtaposing textures and materials together. We feel there is something intangible but powerful about injecting a little tension and the unexpected into every design. 

    You’re known for your bold use of colour and texture. What’s one of your favourite materials to work with and why? 

    Alexandra Donohoe Church: I love working with stone – each piece is unique with art like nature. I also enjoy experimenting with metals such as bronze and brass, I love seeing the beauty in how they patina over time

    How does your workspace reflect the Decus Interiors design ethos? 

    Alexandra Donohoe Church: We’re really passionate about taking a considered approach to the selection of furniture and artwork, and the studio allows us to showcase some of our favourite pieces, often rotating them in and out. As previously mentioned, finding a balance when working with opposing elements is another theme in our design language. You’ll note a decorative bathroom and cheeky quote wall juxtaposed with the more minimal,  clean lines of the work floor in the studio. This sense of contradiction is what we love!  

    What do you see for the future of residential design in Sydney? 

    Alexandra Donohoe Church: I feel we (Sydneysiders) are becoming more adventurous. We’re really passionate about expression through design. Therefore we strive to attract an open-minded clientele who take risks and allow us to realise their vision, and ours, through the creation of exceptional homes that they love to spend time in. 

    What do we have to look forward to from Decus Interiors this year? 

    Alexandra Donohoe Church: I’m looking forward to sharing a breathtaking residential project that we have recently shot along the coast of  Western Australia. We are also working on an exciting full scope project where we were engaged to complete the architecture, interiors, and furniture and artwork procurement. As a multi-disciplined studio, this enabled us to design a truly beautiful and holistic vision for our clients. Another project we are working on is an exciting heritage residence in Sydney; it’s architecturally beautiful, but the interior required some much-needed attention. Watch this space!

    Design insider’s guide:

    Favourite local designers and studios? 

    Alexandra Donohoe Church: We have some outstanding talent here in Australia, and I’m a true believer that success should be celebrated and shared. I admire the work of fellow designers Yasmin Saleh Ghoniem from YSG, design studio ACME, Alexandra Ponting from AP Design House, interior designer Phoebe Nichol and Studio Snoop, to name a few. They are all designing beautiful spaces; I appreciate their individuality. 

    Favourite design stores? 

    Alexandra Donohoe Church: There are so many! A few of my favourite design stores are The Invisible Collection, Future Perfect, Ondene and Ralph Pucci.

    Favourite galleries or spaces? 

    Alexandra Donohoe Church: One of my all-time favourite local galleries is Fox Jensen in Alexandria. Also, in Sydney, Utopia Art is a gallery that has been supporting indigenous artists since the ’80s.

    When in New York, a must-see is DIA Beacon, a beautiful gallery within an old cookie factory filled with the most amazing contemporary art.  Another contemporary art gallery that I cannot go past when in LA is The Broad

    Where do you go to look at great design? 

    Alexandra Donohoe Church: When seeking inspiration for an interior, my first stop is our floor-to-ceiling studio library. Our library is filled with a highly curated collection of inspiring design from all around the world. I also find inspiration in media, both print and online. Two platforms that I love to read every week are T Magazine from The New  York Times and Yellowtrace. I find both are extremely considered and a great source of inspiration for interiors, furniture and art. 

    “We’re really passionate about expression through design. Therefore we strive to attract an open-minded clientele who take risks and allow us to realise their vision, and ours, through the creation of exceptional homes that they love to spend time in.”

     

    – Alexandra Donohoe Church

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    Alexandra Donohoe Church on the &Tradition Little Petra Lounge Chair.

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One comment on “Interview with Designer Alexandra Donohoe Church

  1. Love all your designs and I am a designer. Not often after 53 years in the business can I say that

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Alexandra Donohoe's Signature Style