Interview: Pipkorn & Kilpatrick

  • Regular readers of est will be familiar with interior design duo Anna Skermer (formerly Pipkorn) and Jane Kilpatrick of Pipkorn & Kilpatrick. Known for their laid-back, contemporary and natural approach to design, every space that these designers touch seems to catch our eye. Tallying up years of design experience, Pipkorn & Kilpatrick became a force to be reckoned with when they decided to join their interior design talents and work collaboratively.

    While their projects may vary visually, their approach is always the same: “to achieve a clean, innovative, time-resistant design through consideration for detail, sustainability and our clients lifestyle”.  We were fortunate enough to spend some time with these talented designers, to find out a bit more about how they seek uniqueness in design and where they draw inspiration – including some designer go-to destinations.

    PHOTOGRAPHY Martina Gemmola, Julie Guertin and Tom Blachford

    What made you both want to join the wonderful world of interior design?

    Jane Kilpatrick: While I think we were both always interested in interior design, it wasn’t an obvious career choice for either of us. We both tried a number of other creative pursuits (floristry, set design, costume design etc)  before choosing to study interior design in our mid 20s.

    What does a typical day in the life of Pipkorn & Kilpatrick look like?

    Jane Kilpatrick: At the moment our typical day is not quite so typical. I had a baby a few months ago so my day is certainly more unpredictable than it was. Anna and Cate are very much holding the fort! Prior to this we would typically meet in the morning for a quick update (and coffee), check emails and then it could be anything from going to client/site meetings, supplier meetings, design reviews, documentation, admin etc. As we are a small practice, we are all very much hands on depending on the priorities of the day. Early on we realised that we are so often out at site meetings etc that the typical office model wasn’t really necessary for us. We often work from home or in a cafe depending on the day. Every day is different which is what keeps things interesting and flexible.

    As you are a duo team, what’s your key to harmoniously working together; how do you collaborate and combine your ideas?

    Jane Kilpatrick: We have a very similar design aesthetic and we’ve also had similar working backgrounds (working for the same large architectural practice and smaller boutique design office before starting our own studio in 2012). We have worked together for a long time so our relationship is very natural. We have a good balance and are comfortable in critiquing each other’s work to bring about the best result possible. It’s also a good way of cross-checking our designs and the direction from the beginning which inevitably saves time in the long run.

    Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

    Jane Kilpatrick: Social media (including Yellowtrace and est!) provides a wealth of inspiration on a daily basis. We also live in an area where we are surrounded by good design; cafes, bars, restaurants, galleries, retail spaces that are ever-changing. We are spoilt by the calibre of local architects and designers whose work is displayed in these spaces – you only have to walk through Fitzroy, Collingwood, North Fitzroy and Northcote to see some amazing residential projects.

    Travel is also extremely important, although it doesn’t happen as much as we’d like! Last year we all went to New York and were able to visit many of the furniture and lighting stores we have followed on instagram. Just being apart of the buzz of another city is inspiration.

    Who do you look up to in the industry?  

    Jane and Anna: There is so much amazing talent to aspire to both locally and internationally. Internationally we will often refer to Dimore Studio, Studiopepe, Faye Toogood, Ilse Crawford, Vincent Van Duysen, Norm Architects, John Pawson. These are just a few – see our local picks below!

    Do you find that you have a unique style or do you like each of your project to differ in their aesthetic?

    Jane Kilpatrick: There are always common characteristics to our projects (clean lines, functional, natural materials, longevity) however it’s very important that every project is different to reflect the client’s brief, aesthetic and lifestyle.  At the end of the day the project is for our client – we are the tool to bring it together.

    What is one project you’ve worked on that has really stood out for you?

    Jane Kilpatrick: Without a doubt our very first project – an Eildon Houseboat – is a standout favourite. Being able to transfer our skills to a new platform – a floating house on a smaller scale pushed our thinking and challenged ideas. In saying that, the unique nature and freedom we were given to work on Mitchell Falls Pavilion in far north Kimberley was a lot of fun.

    Do you do many personal projects (yourself, friends and family) or does your scope of work tend to lean more to external clients only?

    Jane Kilpatrick: Initially our projects were personal and through word of mouth. Now social media plays a big part and has led to more external clients. It’s always nice to work on projects that have come through word of mouth or previous clients as there tends to be trust from the beginning. Trust between client and designer is so important and makes the entire process far more enjoyable for all.

    And finally, your quick insider guide:

    Favourite local designers or studios? 

    Anna Skermer: Too many to mention. Kennedy Nolan, Rob Kennon, Clare Cousins, Vokes and Peters, Emma Templeton; the list goes on and on!

    Favourite design stores?

    Anna Skermer: Douglas and Bec’s product design for us is faultless, with its classic flare that seamlessly fits into various design styles. A recent visit to Fred International’s Collingwood studio/showroom was hugely exciting to see. Their product blends beautifully with Angela Harry’s stunning interior.

    We are spoilt locally for mid-century – Angelucci, Grandfather’s Axe, 20th Century Scandinavia, Smith St Bazaar, Modern Times and Radar. Radar director Paul Ternent seems to have an unrivalled passion when it comes to the mid-century genre. The diversity and aesthetic of BDDW in NYC was very refreshing. Seeing product manufactured on site in the heart of NYC through Apparatus was pretty awesome.

    Favourite galleries and spaces?

    Anna Skermer: Heide, NGV, the sea and fresh country air.

    Where do you go to look at great design?

    Anna Skermer: We look from galleries to latest shop fitouts/restaurants, and then back to nature (and Frank Lloyd Wrong to keep check that what we do is important!)

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