Sarah & Sebastian

Russell & George

Design for societal memory and the impact things like a pandemic can have on a city and the world at large can sometimes create unexpected spaces that encapsulate the time and place in which they are created. Sarah & Sebastian is this type of space. It’s not what a jewellery store is supposed to be, instead it is more about the bigger ideas and people it connects to as opposed to the products it sells. It’s progressive interior design in all aspects of its execution. This extends to the procurement process as much as the biophilic design process and outcome.

The store was designed as an urban gesture and artwork, giving back to the streetscape, and the city of Melbourne itself. It is a retail space that is designed to prompt a sense of discovery, and through its use of biophilic design principles, gently reminds the customer of larger issues to do with the fragility of our planet. It eschews trend-based cyclical interior design usually associated with retail fitout, creating in a broader sense a place that is about connecting to humans. The product is displayed and viewed in meticulously detailed joinery elements, with lighting only on the product, and concealed magnetic locks operated by the consultants keeping the product secure, avoiding applied mechanisms that detract from the form the joinery element. It promotes a sense of exploration and creates an atmosphere of wonder in all who visit the project. Everything in this store was designed to enhance the experience.

Retail fitout by its nature is not very sustainable. Through life cycle, embodied energy and an ever increasing speed of churn, it is very difficult for the retail sector to be truly sustainable. Sometimes a lateral approach is required. In this project, rather than just specifying greener materials, the entire procurement and life cycle of this project has been considered; from minimising waste in demolition to what happens to the fitout at the end of its useful life.

Photography by Sean Fennessy.


Furniture: Coco Flip. Lighting: Sphera, Mark Douglass. Finishes: Dulux, Feast & Watson, Alushape Brut (Showtex).