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What Does ‘Sensory Space’ Really Mean, And Why Is It Becoming A Valuable Currency In Design Culture?

Melbourne-based design duo, Melissa Chen and Kayoko Kubo of MI.KA Studio lift the veil on this increasingly abstract concept.

  • Kayoko Kubo and Melissa Chen, MI.KA Studio. Photography by Christine Francis.

  • Melissa Chen and Kayoko Kubo in their Melbourne office, MI.KA Studio. Photography by Christine Francis.

  • Kayoko Kubo and Melissa Chen, MI.KA Studio. Photography by Christine Francis.

Since launching the Fitzroy-based MIKA Studios in 2015, interior designer Melissa Chen and architect Kayoko Kubo have built an impressive nationwide portfolio consisting primarily of large-scale hotels, retail and residential projects. Chen and Kubo each ran their own practice – Mill Interiors and Kubo Architecture, respectively – before deciding to collaborate on this venture, which has experiential design as its driving ethos.

For the small team, the focus is on creating calm, sensory spaces that elicit a particular feeling. As Kubo explains, “We want people to respond to beautiful details and the thoughtfulness of the design; to have an emotional response, even if they don’t realise they’re having one.” The co-directors believe the most conducive fit-out for producing such sensory environments is one that’s not overdesigned. As a result, MIKA Studios’ interiors are as refined in aesthetic as they are robust in concept, underscored by a sophisticated minimalism.

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