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Undeterred by the collapse of Australian fashion labels Lisa Ho and Collette Dinnigan, Sydney designer Dion Lee recently opened his first boutique at the Strand Arcade – but not without challenges. Writes Thomas Tran.



February 21st, 2014

With a strong aesthetic and distinct brand identity, Lee envisioned the interiors of his inaugural store to contrast with his garments and other futuristic design elements.

For interior designer Chloe McCarthy of Akin Creative, with architects Kelvin Ho and Linda Tjaturono, this meant exploring “how the illusion of something unfinished could be introduced into a contemporary retail space”.


“Inverting positive and negative space to create a displaced area within the existing framework was [a] focus, as well as the juxtaposition of a modern environment within a heritage setting,” explains McCarthy.

Construction villaboard was utilised to create a second layer in front of the existing wall, while charcoal marine carpeting covered the main flooring area. This was bordered by polished mirror stainless steel around the carpet edges, which was also used for clothing racks.


Initial challenges to the design however, namely its heritage status, did suspend the construction process.

“Inter-tenancy walls had to be demolished to expand the openings between the three adjoining tenancies so they were less like separate rooms and more of a singular space,” says McCarthy, “[but] due to heritage restrictions this was difficult to get approved.


“Working in the Strand Arcade around Christmas also proved challenging as construction could only take place between 11pm and 7am every day and delivering materials to the site [was] difficult due to limited street and elevator access”.

Nonetheless, this Dion Lee boutique introduces a certain level of polish and refinement to the Strand Arcade heritage space, and offers shoppers a futuristic aesthetic to complement Lee’s designer collections.

Dion Lee
Level 1, Shops 62-64-66
Strand Arcade, Sydney NSW 2000.

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