In Conversation | March Studio

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    March Studio’s Rodney Eggleston shares insight on their latest project in the Australian Outback, exploring new materials and how art informs their design practice in this one-on-one interview.

    Melbourne-based architecture and interiors practice March Studio have made a name for themselves in the residential, hospitality and retail space for their avant-garde designs – notably AESOP stores and the acclaimed Jackalope Pavilion. In June this year, we saw first-hand the lesser-known side of March when they unveiled a restored 1970s apartment on Melbourne’s Spring Street. The apartment’s silver-lined ceiling caught our attention and prompted further inquiry with one of the founders, Rodney Eggleston, on their design studio.

    Spring Street marked Rodney’s return to the residential space after a four-year-long hiatus, giving a clue as to what he and his team have in store for the new year. With houses on the go in Sorrento, Middle Park, and Strathmore, 2023 is shaping up to be the year of March Studio.

    What was the catalyst for your career in design? 

    Rodney Eggleston: I was fortunate to be surrounded by creative people from a young age. Mum was a fashion designer, dad was a draughtsman, and I came from an extended line of artists and architects – all very passionate about their craft, inspiring me to join this field.

    You recently won a competition to design the Outback Museum of Australia (OMOA) in Queensland. What is the significance of a project like this in an Australian context, and, more specifically, what does it mean for First Nations people? 

    Rodney Eggleston: In a broader Australian context, we believe the project has the opportunity to represent not only the present day but also be a catalyst for future discourse around the Australian Outback. This will not be a museum that talks about the past but rather a museum that gathers knowledge to help shape the future.

    This is an incredibly important project for First Nations people as it provides a platform for their stories and knowledge to be respected and shared. By connecting with local Elders, we hope to ensure the museum accurately reflects their cultural protocols.

    What were you working on just before you sat down to do this interview? 

    Rodney Eggleston: OMOA! 

    Your Spring Street apartment was the cover star of est Magazine Issue 45. If you could design an inner-city apartment anywhere else, where would it be and why? 

    Rodney Eggleston: The freedom of designing an apartment within a large space, free of columns and with panoramic views, was the most appealing aspect of the Spring Street apartment. In recent years we’ve witnessed developers driving down apartment size and amenities to maximise profit, so for us, it is not so much about which city we would like to design in but which building. Melbourne has some great mid-century apartment buildings crying out for a refit.

    Art and architecture are constantly intersecting. Are there any artists that have had a lasting impact on you and your design approach? 

    Rodney Eggleston: Many! The repetition and depth of Andreas Gursky; the rawness and honesty of William Kentridge; the humour and playfulness of Jacques Tati; and the sharp banality of Sophie Calle – there are so many artists and ideas that inform our thinking.

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    Compound House by March Studio

    What, in your opinion, sets Melbourne’s design apart from the rest of Australia? 

    Rodney Eggleston: I don’t think Melbourne can automatically claim the title of ‘the Australian design capital’ as easily as it has in other years. Melbourne hasn’t had a major public design competition won by a Melbourne office for decades, and we are seeing strong work coming out of most Australian states. The investment in NSW into the mandatory competitive design processes is starting to show some fantastic results, especially in giving younger architects exposure to projects they would otherwise not have had. It would be great if the Victorian government adopted a similar approach to design planning laws that assist in the proliferation of younger design firms rather than protecting the established, old guard.

    How do you intend to challenge the status quo of Australian design moving forward?

    Rodney Eggleston: As the world begins to open up again, and we can travel freely and become more exposed to what the rest of the world is doing, we will continue to embrace sustainability, invest in research and development of materials and systems, and work better at understanding and acknowledging our own cultural identity – something Australia still very much struggles with in our opinion.

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    Studley Park House by March Studio

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    Studley Park House by March Studio

    What exciting projects are you working on at the moment?

    Rodney Eggleston: We are always excited to design residential projects, and we have some really exciting houses currently in construction in Sorrento, Middle Park, and Strathmore. In terms of projects on the drawing board, the Outback Museum of Australia (OMOA) in Charleville, the Lark Distillery in Pontville, Tasmania, and a multi-residential project in Canberra are keeping us very excited and busy. We’re also experimenting with innovative materials like recycled rammed concrete, which we haven’t worked with before.   

    Design Insiders Guide:

    Favourite local designer? Sean Godsell

    Favourite design stores? Acne Studios

    Favourite galleries or spaces? Paleontology Museum and Arts et Metiers in Paris – I pilgrimage there the minute I land in the capital and never give a miss to the Pompidou too.

    Where do you go to look at great design? Back in time and in the archives of cinema as well.

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    Rodney Eggleston and co-founder Anne-Laure Cavigneaux in their North Melbourne studio.

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