When co-owner Ben Kerr began sketching concepts for the renovation of the Eco Outdoor Melbourne showroom, he set out to create a space which reflected the core values of the company. Once known for crazy paving, pebbles and stone walling, the Eco Outdoor brand has evolved significantly over the years, becoming an innovator in outdoor living and design.
The Story Behind The Design
The transformation of the Richmond showroom embodies the essence of the brand and reintroduces their effortless style to Melbourne. “We’re all about the raw, textural and bare boned architecture,” says Ben. “The design is authentic; what you see is what you get. We add materiality to architecture. In our eyes, the material should come to the fore.”
We’ve designed the showroom to allow for imperfections, details and the natural nuisances of stone to be visible
What was once a warehouse behind a roller door, the new sophisticated entrance to the Eco showroom is just the beginning of the interior’s surprises. There’s layers of texture begging for you to touch, patinas of copper and stone catching your eye and a contrast of intimate and open spaces encouraging you to explore.Traditional showroom room sets have been consciously replaced by large format displays of product allowing the characteristics of the material to come to the fore.What’s perhaps most striking about the Eco showroom is the ambience that has been created in what is essentially a spacious warehouse. “A showroom is meant to a space that embodies atmosphere, mood and ambience,” says Ben.
Using a muted dark and light color palette and stripping back the materials to their raw state creates connectivity throughout showroom. Ben notes by playing with the spaces light and height levels, he’s been able to manipulate the feeling of the individual spaces and create opportunities for new discoveries.The more intimate spaces such as the kitchen and bathroom appear softer and more ambient in contrast to the main space where the ceiling height is dramatic and the flooding of light creates openness.
Woven into the showroom design are unique elements that add a level of sophistication and strengthen the visual language of the space. The rope chandelier created by German-born designer Volker Haug. Ben says: “We collaborated with Volker to design a light installation that married with the feeling we were wanting to create in the space. The rope, copper piping, enamel fixtures and exposed light globes all reflect the bare-boned architecture and rawness we’re inspired by.”
For us, architecture is about how we live in a space and the feeling it embodies
Take A Closer Look
Although understated, it’s the attention to detail that’s evident throughout the showroom.The interiors avoid an overly polished look and, instead, Ben has deliberately kept the spaces pared back and open creating a degree of informality. In the kitchen, for instance, the only shine comes from the high-quality Wolf sub-zero appliances and the translucent glaze of the hand-made cotto tiles.“We’ve paired these with a reclaimed concrete trough, recycled skip-dressed pine cabinetry and exposed copper conduit,” Ben says, as a means to create a visual connection with the Eco brand.
Designing the showroom gave Ben the opportunity to incorporate products from other craftsman to add further interest and complete each space.What’s evident is every detail and product has been all selected for a purpose and a degree of consistency has been maintained. Ben notes that “they all come from the same pedigree, so to speak”. Somewhat obsessive about the feeling he desired to create in the showroom, Ben says it was important to discover local makers where there’s a brand simulation or their products resinate.“We chose to collaborate with Wood Melbourne because of the materiality of their concrete and brass tapware emphasises the raw quality we are passionate about,” he explains.
It’s this consistent emphasis on detail that’s has made the Eco showroom become a space for more than just displaying product. Ben hasn’t created a stylised, overdone statement, but instead embraced the qualities of bare-boned architecture; a statement in itself.“It’s simply about keeping it pared back. We’ve used ban sawn timber for the kitchen cabinetry. The ceiling has been exposed in the bathroom and stone sinks have replaced the typical polished fittings. You see everything there; there’s no plaster to hide joins and fittings,” says Ben.