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8 questions, 8 answers with Pascale Gomes-McNabb

Pascale Gomes-McNabb has created some of the most iconic restaurant fit-outs around Melbourne. She is also ambassador to this year’s Melbourne Art Fair. Habitus editor, Aleesha Callahan asks her 8 pertinent questions about design, life and art.

8 questions, 8 answers with Pascale Gomes-McNabb

Pascale Gomes-McNabb, photo by James Morgan.

Aleesha Callahan


February 17th, 2022

Aleesha Callahan: Tell us about your background

Pascale Gomes-McNabb: I have a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from Melbourne University.

I was brought up in an artistic, architectural design imbued environment. My parents are architects, and we lived around the world when I was a child and I continued to move, live and travel as a young adult. Design was a constant.

I was acutely aware of my surrounding environment and culture, shapes, tactility, colours, textures, light play and shadow – there are so many components’ overall spatiality that create mood and experiences – the tangible and the intangible, the seen and the unseen.

Penfolds Magill Estate, photography by Murray Fredericks.

What led you to where you are?

Growing up I was constantly visually stimulated, continuously seeing the new and different and the mundane, enticed by things that were old or new but never encountered before. Design was integral to how I understood and related to the world, it created an order for me.

Monopole, photo by Murray Fredericks.

How do you balance personal and professional life?

Not easily! Design is a way of life – there is no real separation, especially when I am constantly assessing and looking at everything for its inherent design usefulness, application and aesthetic appeal. From cutlery to clothing, bottle caps to light fittings, furniture to fluff, the list goes on and on.

Of course there is a symbiosis with what I see and experience I bring into my work, and I maintain a necessary structure to my work life and also to my personal life.

In my down time away from my studio I go to galleries, exhibitions, movies, book shopping, shops, restaurants, hotels, being immersed in nature, there is always more, more, and more to see and experience and to be excited by!

Cumulus, photo by John Gollings.

What does home mean to you?

Home is a retreat and a place of calm where I can relax and entertain and hide away from the world as necessary, and it is also filled with beautiful, ugly, fabulous fun pieces picked up on travels and around, from high end designer shops to flea markets and vintage shops.

Cirrus, photo by Murray Fredericks.

How does your home reflect your passions, interests and creativity?

Home is a testing ground, of things, objects, furniture, and art to be enticed and excited by, I am constantly rearranging and moving things around to create different visual stimuli and tableaux. I need to be surrounded by beautiful things, old and new, intentionally and unintentionally designed from various cultures, time, history. Objects have their own story and together can create a dynamism, energy and feelings of joy, calm, excitement, interest, a narrative of their own.

At the moment it is a new but vintage LC4 all-black chaise longue designed by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand. A childhood wishlist dream design piece.

Rainbows that come through the house at various times of the day and year – are pure magic and make me smile.

A verdant green courtyard that is an oasis of calm in the house – soothing to the eye and soul. Gardens however large or small, unconventional or not or even a selection of beautiful indoor plants instil a necessary and vital energy in a home.

Stokehouse restaurant, photo by James Morgan.

What’s something you wished you had known before setting out on this career path?

That it can be hard to separate my professional and personal lives. I try I really do – as in it is very hard to not work all the time. Just by looking at something I immediately start to analyse its aesthetic, practical, sustainable, useful, and other inherent qualities.

Designing makes me happy – to be able to create beautiful environments and objects for others to enjoy! I love it!

Castle Cove House, in collaboration with Terrior, photo by Brett Boardman.

What makes culture, art and design important to you?

Each is an independent stimulus that can affect change in small and large scale ways societally and individually. They can enable us to question and challenge our perceptions, hopefully to better society and/or our lives.

Encountering culture/art or design is ideally experiential, creating a new dynamic, fuelling a desire for knowledge and diversity and differences and challenging our perception of life, no less!

Castle Cove House, in collaboration with Terrior, photo by Brett Boardman.

How does art play into your work and your home?

Art is integral in my personal and professional life. It is intrinsically entwined.

High art. Low art. Bringing art in many forms raw to refined, whether it is challenging or not, is important or just simply beautiful. To create a dialogue with pieces in my home environment and others (ie the realm of collaborations with clients) is of paramount importance to my craft, my profession and personally. Working with artists and craftspeople allows another dialogue, dynamic and dimension to design. I recently worked with artist Ash Keating to reimagine an existing restaurant – the space now feels akin to stepping into a painting – Ria in Sydney.

Ria restaurant, photo by Murray Fredericks.

Pascale Gomes-McNabb is an ambassador for Melbourne Art Fair 2022, running until 20 February.

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