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Hot Black uses Milliken to express a vibrant vision of Australia

The Hydro Tasmania workplace in Melbourne is a celebration of sustainability, agility, and togetherness.

Hot Black uses Milliken to express a vibrant vision of Australia

Hydro Tasmania is Australia’s leading clean energy business and the largest generator of renewable energy in Australia – and it’s a business driven by a passionate sustainable ethos and culture of togetherness. When Hydro Tasmania decided to consolidate multiple sites into a new workplace in Melbourne’s CBD, sustainability was, unsurprisingly, at the heart of the design by Melbourne-based studio Hot Black. With a sustainable palette – including reclaimed hydro wood and Milliken carpet – the project successfully achieved an impressive 5-Star Green Star accreditation.

“The sustainable approach was particularly important to achieve, due to the nature and objectives of the business and the arena in which their organisation and business operates,” reveals Sophie Safrin, Director and Founder of Hot Black. “One of the biggest challenges was developing design decisions within the project programme that also aligned to the sustainable approach.”

Milliken was the perfect fit for this ambition, with its pioneering M/PACT™ Carbon Neutral Program. Today, all Milliken floor coverings are carbon neutral products that offset the full cradle-to-grave carbon footprint to help fight climate change – a mission that is closely aligned with the values of Hydro Tasmania.

The Hydro Tasmania fit-out is conceptually inspired by what Safrin describes as the “terrains and the connected nature of Indigenous congregation on the land”, dissolving conventional distinctions between various spaces. Known as “The Village”, the interior features seamlessly integrated active workspaces, meeting areas, breakouts, and social spaces with “anchor points” scattered throughout to actively encourage connection between teams and cross-pollination of ideas and skills.

The use of Milliken’s Water Yuludarla collection not only helped the team to achieve the project’s ambitious sustainability goals, but also established this continuous flow throughout the agile workspace. Developed in collaboration with the Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance and the National Aboriginal Design Agency, the collection is a dynamic interpretation of the artwork of Gumbaynggirr Artist, Brentyn Lugnan.

Hot Black selected three of the six designs – Yildaan (Dreaming Track), Mayala (Moving), and Jagun (Birthplace) – to create ‘paths’ that wind through the space. These richly layered designs are set against expanses of Milliken carpet in custom neutral shades.

“The Water Yuludarla collection was the perfect representation of the inherent design drivers – of flow, connected landscape and people, and a true commitment to the Australian landscape,” says Safrin. “Hot Black had a fantastic and great collaborative experience with Milliken. They were hands-on throughout the process and very knowledgeable of all products, which helped us select the best ones to integrate.”

The company’s values and culture were another key driver of the project, and Hot Black closely collaborated with the Hydro Tasmania team to create a workplace ‘for us, by us’. “Our design approach was to articulate the behavioural elements defined by the workplace methodology to support an agile environment with principles of Australian nature and the fluid forms and vernacular of Australian terrain,” explains Safrin.

This was achieved through the patterned Milliken carpet, which evokes the wind-worn rock formations, cracked earth, and sinuous waterways that define so much of Australia’s landscape. The pathways created by the Water Yuludarla collection carpet act as an intuitive wayfinding system, which helps connect and navigate to a series of formal and informal meeting zones, stand-up work areas, tech-integrated and tech-free spaces, and systems furniture to support a variety of different work styles – all of which were developed in close partnership with the people who will actually be using the space every day.

This kind of strategic, consultative approach is typical of the work of Hot Black, which was founded by Safrin from her bedroom a decade ago. Since then, she has grown the studio into an award-winning interdisciplinary team, using her experience working on international projects for some of the world’s most recognisable names, from Google and JP Morgan to Uber and ANZ.

And it’s an approach that has paid off. Not only did Hydro Tasmania achieve the 5-Star Green Star rating they desired, but the workplace has truly connected with and inspired the team. “When I first saw the finished space, I started to cry,” says Amy Childs, Managing Director at Momentum Energy, which is owned by Hydro Tasmania and is a part of the new workplace. “I love what we have achieved, but it was the way we did it, working together, that made it so special.”

Milliken Floors

Hot Block

Photography – Nicole Reed

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