In just three years, Melbourne practice Studio Esteta has established itself as a presence to watch on the Australian design stage. We go behind the scenes to learn what makes these 2019 INDE.Awards’ The Prodigy nominees tick.
March 8th, 2019
What does it mean for design to be “beautiful”? For Melbourne practice Studio Esteta, beauty runs far more than surface deep, and in order for design to be beautiful it must respond sensitively to the site conditions and brief. “We believe in the many facets of beauty, often raw and unpredictable,” explain practice founders Sarah Cosentino and Felicity Slattery. “It is this that informs our approach to a project alongside the ephemeral and physical qualities and context of a site.”
That Studio Esteta – named for “aesthete”, the Italian term for one finely attuned to, and appreciative of, beauty – should be driven by such clarity of vision will be unsurprising to those familiar with the practice’s carefully considered, finely crafted work. More remarkable is the expansiveness of this vision, which encompasses a collaborative approach, keen understanding of the emotional potential of design, and desire to advance the mainstream public’s understanding of design’s value.
“The output of architecture and design in Australia is so strong, however the broader social value of design is somewhat behind,” say Cosentino and Slattery. “We often find ourselves having to justify the worth of investing in design services – more than we should have to.”
Yet many would argue that since its establishment in 2015, Studio Esteta has done more than simply justify its worth. Working across hospitality, workplace, and residential projects, the practice has fast earned a reputation for sophisticated, inspiring design that expertly navigates the overlap between beauty and function, eschewing trends in favour of complexity and uniqueness.
The formal and conceptual coherence of Studio Esteta’s performance is the result of a years-long friendship between Cosentino and Slattery, who met as co-workers at Clare Cousins Architects and soon developed a strong professional and personal relationship. “Our shared partnership solidifies our strong belief in the value of collaboration, which in turn informs our approach to both our projects and the running of our studio,” the duo says.
The pair emphasises the importance of collaboration and consultation in their design process, which always begins with a thorough interrogation of the client’s qualities and personality, whether a residential client or commercial brand. “We find the early stages of any project highly important,” says Studio Esteta, “[It’s] a critical time to talk with our clients, ask many questions, and – most importantly – to listen.”
The fruits of this collaborative, iterative design process are clearly apparent in Studio Esteta’s portfolio, which celebrates diversity and the bespoke. Recently, the practice took on the ambitious brief of transforming Merrick’s Guest House in the Mornington Peninsula, a rustic Eckersley Garden Architecture-designed timber outhouse, into refined, contemporary accommodation.
To achieve this, they closely studied the site’s natural and historical context and worked to integrate the Guest House with the landscape and primary residence. The resulting project is intensely site-specific, availing of a material palette of timber and glass that honours the original structure and celebrates its surroundings.
This meticulous approach is mirrored in Fonda Bondi, for which the practice drew inspiration from modern Mexican architecture and the strong character of Bondi Beach to translate Fonda’s playful, youthful brand identity into sophisticated design. Resplendent in Luis Barragan-inspired pastel hues terrazzo details, the restaurant is summarised by Studio Esteta as “a refined and unpretentious resolution.”
While the practice celebrates variety and the challenge of the unknown, it is also appreciative of the familiar rhythm enabled by working with a small team. In addition to Cosentino and Slattery, two other staff members round out Studio Esteta, which manages the design, administrative, and marketing aspects of the business with a team-centric approach the founders describe as “extremely busy – but constantly varied, exciting, and inspiring.”
The description is equally apt for the practice itself, whose embrace of the beauty of the unknown and ever-changing is a shining example for their peers of the present and future.
A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers
Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!
Explore the radical new organisation strategy which accommodates for the hybrid future of work.
Australia’s leading producer of solid-engineered oak flooring has recently launched a new suite of innovative resources to support creativity and ambition in the architecture and design community.
In the bid to balance the desire to live amongst nature with the modest footprint of today’s homes, designer Victoria Azadinho Bocconi looks for inspiration in the depths of the Amazon jungle.
Designing for function, form and the experiential, LAAB Architects has achieved a new vision for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in a project that is both sophisticated and progressive.
While Perth’s Studio Roam chooses to stay consciously small in practice, its vision is big, and its joint ventures lead to even larger outcomes.
Whether inspirational or thought-provoking, we bring you the 10 most quotable moments of 2022. They’re all takeaways that resonated with us for their insightfulness, authenticity and mindfulness. Prepare to be inspired.
The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed
Materialised offer a range of performance driven protective products designed to preserve the integrity and aesthetic of interiors in a range of contexts. Materialised’s Hard Knocks wall covering collection embodies perfect balance between aesthetics and performance.
Grimshaw’s unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community becomes a tangible form with The Imponderable Archive, an artwork installation seen upon the practice’s windows in Sydney.
To mark 40 years of design excellence, founder and CEO Nerio Alessandri recently came to Sydney. We spoke to the Italian design icon at a bustling event at Technogym’s Ruschutters Bay showroom.