Interview with Designer Lucy Bock

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    We chat with Melbourne-based interior designer Lucy Bock on how her childhood has shaped her distinct and holistic approach to residential design.

    Growing up in a household of avid art collectors and keen renovators, naturally, Lucy Bock always had a fascination for design. Working as an event coordinator at a boutique hotel in Melbourne’s St Kilda was the light bulb moment for Lucy, leading her to study interior design. After working with award-winning design practice Hecker Guthrie for a number of years, Lucy branched out on her own as Lucy Bock Design Studio in early 2016.

    Since her studio’s inception, she’s curated a steady portfolio of bespoke, highly-personalised interiors with a strong emphasis on rich colours and geometric forms. Recently, Lucy welcomed est into her own home; a reflection of her meticulous detail and signature jewel-toned material palette throughout. Off the back of this house tour, we caught up with Lucy to delve deeper into her affinity for bold colours and forms and how she takes inspiration from the world around her.

    What sparked your interest in interior design, and why did you decide to pursue it as a career?

    Lucy Bock: Thinking back, I have always loved beautiful spaces and creative interiors. Growing up, I learned first-hand the impact a home can have on its inhabitants. I grew up in coastal Tasmania where our home was surrounded by beautiful bushland and pristine ocean. At secondary school age, my family relocated to a three-story Georgian home from the 1850s on a Launceston hilltop. Both homes were painstakingly renovated by my parents and as a family, we took great pride in these houses.  They provided the essentials of shelter and security, but also, in different ways, were very captivating and inspiring places to live. Each home had a unique and enchanting quality. They had a strong cohesion with their natural environments and a rich historical connection to their places.

    As keen art collectors, my parents would regularly hang exciting new pieces by Tasmanian and mainland artists which added a further dimension of curiosity and engagement with the interiors. I remember getting lost in a Philip Wolfhagen painting of a remote Western Tasmanian landscape. The colours were very evocative and I can recall the smell of the beeswax used in the thick layers of paint.

    These interior spaces weren’t opulent, but they were skillfully crafted with honest natural materials, had strong individual personalities, and served as important focal points of comfort and stability for our family. Years on, the story of my childhood is tightly connected to these houses and artworks.

    After secondary school, I relocated to Melbourne to study while working as an event coordinator at ‘The Prince’; an Allan Powell designed boutique hotel in St Kilda. I was interested in how the beautiful and uniquely designed spaces of the hotel charmed and entertained both guests and staff alike.

    The interiors were very seductive. A double-height volume of space within the entry provided a dramatic hotel arrival experience. A cantilevered and monolithic black stone reception desk was a centrepiece. Delicate fabric floated down a wall with bright pink backlighting juxtaposing the otherwise bold and dark space. The hotel experience was driven by interior design.

    These and other interior spaces I encountered stirred my strong interest in architecture and interior design. After completing a business degree, I realised that I needed a creative outlet in my career. I enrolled in RMIT’s Bachelor of Interior Design and found that I immediately connected with the discipline and the broader design community. After graduating I was fortunate to work with Hecker Guthrie for seven years until I decided the time was right to begin my own studio.

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    The mirrored Slit Table by Hay and Stylecraft Colour Wood Side Table in Elwood Residence by Lucy Bock Design Studio.

    “My designs embrace each project’s unique existing conditions and client objectives. Homes must be comfortable, functional and practical, but they should also be spaces that visually communicate and emotionally connect with their inhabitants.”

     

    – Lucy Bock

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    The Roattino Floor Lamp for ClassiCon and Slit Table by Hay in Elwood Residence by Lucy Bock Design Studio.

    Congratulations on making the AIDA 2020 shortlist for Toorak House. What makes this project unique?

    Lucy Bock: The project relies on materiality and natural light to create a space of integrity and timelessness.  It embodies simple geometric forms and functional spaces, using exquisite materials, quiet and restrained textural palettes, and fine craftsmanship and detailing, to achieve a sense of warmth, comfort, durability and longevity.

    The interior design is contemporary. However, the use of steel-frame windows and doors, and triangular geometries found in the island bench stone detailing, selected joinery handles and back-plates, and custom glass cabinet leadlight design, show a modern interpretation of the home’s original Art Deco aesthetic.

    With functionality at the core, bespoke joinery items have been designed as refined furniture pieces. The stone island bench is monolithic in its form and becomes a sculptural centrepiece to the kitchen.

    Natural light and texture were key to the client’s brief. Floor-to-ceiling steel-framed glass windows and doors maximize the eastern natural light and connection to nature. A skylight positioned in the northern corner floods the living room with natural light, whilst the brick feature wall with impasto painted finish, adds depth and texture as light and shadow move across it throughout the day.

    How would you best describe your work?

     

    Lucy Bock: My work delivers interior spaces through a creative and disciplined process. My designs embrace each project’s unique existing conditions and client objectives. Homes must be comfortable, functional and practical, but they should also be spaces that visually communicate and emotionally connect with their inhabitants.

    Each interior space has its own voice and personality. I strive to create interiors with integrity that are thoughtful and direct, but also convey beauty, creativity and individuality. Above all, I want inhabitants to feel a sense of contentment.

    Each project encompasses a holistic approach to interior design where loose furniture, art and objects are married to the interior architecture. I enjoy designing bespoke furniture pieces that seamlessly link the décor to the interior architecture, and I often employ layers of refinement and small moments of discovery in my spaces. It’s these small, considered and refined layers and details that evoke a sense of intimacy in an interior.

    Could you please talk to why you incorporate bold colours and forms in your residential projects?

    Lucy Bock: I rely on colours and forms to convey different aesthetics and stimulate different responses. Colour and geometry can give a space a sense of excitement and inspiration which I love.  Some projects adopt bold colours and pure geometric forms for a more dramatic and intense statement.  But other interiors call for passive, light and delicate colours and materials to provide a more still and quiet environment.

    My projects will often feature bold uniform shapes in response to simple open architectural interior spaces. Large geometric gestures found in bespoke stone or timber joinery items can create a dramatic experience. These strong features are often paired with something unexpected such as a distinctively detailed wall sconce or jewel-like joinery handles in a beautiful metal finish that are ‘the cherry on top’ of the interior.

    Colour is selected to trigger an emotional response and is individual to each project. A particular colour may be selected in response to a surrounding landscape, artwork or some other point of reference or inspiration.  In some projects, colours are revealed gradually as one explores and interacts with a space and may not be obvious at first. The repetition of colour, whether in large or small doses, can create a sense of cohesion throughout a space. Contrasting colours can provide balance to a space or be used to make a statement.

    In some instances, my designs adopt minimal simplicity, while in others rely on the complexity and a high degree of detail.  This is usually informed by the site context and overall objectives for each space but also depends on the personality of the space and design direction.

    Who or what has had the largest influence on your work?

    Lucy Bock: My work draws on many influences. Creativity is usually sparked at a point of inspiration which can come from architecture, art, objects, fashion and beautiful materials or finishes. It can also come from unexpected places which trigger a thought or emotion. I’m also heavily influenced by the natural environment and beauty in landscapes. My work is influenced day-to-day by engaging with different places and people.

    The training and mentoring I received at Hecker Guthrie early in my career have been a strong influence as well. The skills I developed at this vibrant design studio gave me a strong foundation upon which to develop my own practice and aesthetic.

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    Artwork by Lydia Wegner above the Domus Sideboard by Antonio Citterio for B&B Italia in Lucy Bock’s own home.

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    The dining room of Lucy Bock’s own home features the Gubi Y dining table, Series 7 dining chairs by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen, Atelier Areti Mimosa Pendant and Artwork by Mason Kimber and Sean Bailey.

    What do you find most challenging and most rewarding about residential design?

    Lucy Bock: One of the key challenges is to ensure that the project works at a practical level. A good design should satisfy the client’s needs and aspirations for a space. It should have strong spatial planning ensuring an even flow between interior spaces and connection to natural light and nature. It should also address unique architectural and site conditions through a rigorous process to ensure that a space is designed to its full potential with flexibility and creativity. It needs to respect the clients intended financial commitment and, in most cases, be designed with a budget in mind.  There’s a great responsibility in designing someone’s home and the fundamental challenge is to deliver an experience and finished product that succeeds on a range of measures for the client.

    The most rewarding aspect of residential design comes at the end. Projects begin as a set of goals and abstract ideas for a home, and the design process demands a lot of care, attention, and conviction in an original concept, but eventually manifests as a living, breathing finished space. The satisfaction of achieving an initial aspiration for a project is immense. Bringing successful and creative ideas to life, in partnership with skilled and passionate people, is very rewarding and a lot of fun too.

    What is the most significant project you’ve designed to date and why?

    Lucy Bock: My trusting and committed client at Toorak House enabled me to design something that was highly detailed, bespoke, adventurous and luxurious.

    What do we have to look forward to from Lucy Bock Design Studio in the coming year?

    Lucy Bock: We recently completed a residency in Williamstown. It’s an exploration of pure geometric forms with a restrained materials palette focusing on texture.  It’s a white on white aesthetic balanced with soft pastel greys. The project features simple, light-filled, clear spaces and we can’t wait to have this project photographed.

    We are also currently designing a number of homes in Melbourne, including interesting projects in Clifton Hill and Brighton, that will be completed next year.

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    Kew Residence by Lucy Bock Design Studio

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    Kew Residence by Lucy Bock Design Studio

    Design Insider’s Guide:

    Favourite local designers and studios?

    Lucy Bock: I’ve always been fascinated with lighting design and I love the decorative metal lighting by Anna Charlesworth. Other local designers and makers I admire are Daniel Emma, Studio Henry Wilson, Fred Ganim and New Volumes, to name a few.

    Favourite design stores?

    Lucy Bock: Some of my favourite Melbourne design stores are Criteria Collection, Space Furniture, Hub Furniture, Scanlan and Theodore and Pepite. I also like The Apartment, The Future Perfect and 1stDibs.

    Favourite galleries or spaces?

    Lucy Bock: Arc One Gallery, This Is No Fantasy, Jan Murphy Gallery, Craft Victoria, NGV and MoMA.

    Where do you go to look at great design?

    Lucy Bock: Local and international design publications are essential but there’s nothing like experiencing spaces first hand. I’m always visiting new buildings, fit-outs, galleries and art installations. Travelling to new places and experiencing new cultures is always inspiring and I often base travel itineraries around visiting a particular design destination.

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    Lucy Bock

  • Lucy Bock's Signature Style

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