Vince Alafaci and Caroline Choker are a bona fide power couple. Both creatively talented and blessed with the ability to work with their significant other, they’re the founders of multidisciplinary design firm Acme & Co, where Caroline’s interior design and Vince’s architectural skills have seen them conceptualise some of Sydney’s most recognisable venues, including The Grounds of Alexandria, Fred’s and the Archie Rose distillery.
Step into any of these spaces and you’ll feel the power of the studio’s holistic approach – these are fully-formed concepts, from the overarching personality of the venue down to every tactile detail. After their most recent success with The Grounds of the City, we sat down to learn more about this duo and their studio principles – and of course where they like to go for a bite.
What first drew you both to design and when did you decide to join forces and found Acme & Co?
Caroline and I have similar paths where we were surrounded by construction as infants. Both our fathers were involved in the building industry which influenced our passion for creativity. We first found love and then conceived ACME a year later through a project collaboration.
As an architect and an interior designer, how do you each generally work and how has working collaboratively changed that process?
Prior to ACME we respectively worked in our architecture / interior disciplines. The process has changed as we now offer holistic design solutions though the multi-disciplinary platform. All projects are workshopped within the studio where the focus is on psychology of space, human experience and client vision.
You’re responsible for the design behind some of Sydney’s most iconic hospitality venues – what role does place have in your designs and how to you balance it with the hospitality concept/brand?
Place forms the canvas to all of our projects. Analysis of site, ethos, history, macro and micro demographics are all overlaid within the concept phase to ensure that the brand/project has relevance, longevity and sympathetic / reflective of its context.
Tell us a bit about your most recent project, bringing The Grounds to Sydney’s CBD. How did you expand on the original Grounds concept while introducing it to a city audience?
The Grounds of the City is an all-day destination allowing patrons to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the CBD. It is a place for meeting and socialising, with a sense of community at its heart. It captures the essence of old school hospitality inspired by the original city coffee houses of the 1920s. At its core The Grounds foundations are the same but we see this as a grown up version of the Alexandria venture.
What is something you’ve found clients tend to overlook or miss in the design process, and how do you overcome it?
The reality of how much time and cost it takes to create projects. Communication is imperative in the relationship. We are very transparent and upfront about all facets of the project with our clients, even though they probably don’t want to hear some of the real facts.
Where do you look or who do you each look to for design or creative inspiration?
Creative inspiration is drawn from our travel and life experiences. Each of our projects has a fragment of us at various phases of our lives. We love collaborating with craftspeople and look toward them to facilitate our designs. We get lost in the nostalgia of how objects are sculpted by hand with skill and precision.
Where do you see Acme & Co. evolving in the future?
Constantly experimenting, evolving and creating beautiful places for people.
And now, a couple of Sydney questions;
Where do you live in Sydney and what do you love most about it?
We are quite spoilt and fortunate. We work in Potts Point, live in Elizabeth Bay and play between them both. It’s unique and one of few locations in Sydney that has a real buzz. We love the village atmosphere, sense of community and proximity to the beach. Hard to image living elsewhere.
Favourite places to shop:
Vince: Overseas or online
Weekly local rituals:
Weekdays: wake up, gym, coffee, office, out for dinner, home, sleep…repeat
Weekends: yoga, coffee, Potts Point markets, retail therapy, catching up with family and friends, more coffee, maybe a gallery or movies – and a Sunday afternoon massage ready for the next week.