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Posted on May 12, 2016
Amanda Talbot is the talented interiors stylist behind some of Sydney’s best known restaurants and bars. As a key member of the Merivale design team, she’s worked her magic on a number of venues like Coogee Pavilion, The Paddington and The Newport.
I recently visited Amanda in her studio space in Sydney’s leafy Woollahra, where we talked about her work with Merivale, her design philosophy, trend forecasting and what’s up next for her.
FS: You’ve had a really eclectic and exciting career so far – magazine editor, design consultant, interiors stylist, trend forecaster, reality TV judge, blogger, author…Which one are you most passionate about and how do the all working together?
AT: Design is my passion. It’s my everything. It’s my life. I went and travelled the world and got to meet people like Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Dixon, Patricia Urquiola and Terence Conran. I also consulted for Studio Ilse on a couple of projects and got to work with Ilse Crawford. She was one of the reasons I wanted to go to the UK and work on Elle Decoration.
FS: I’m really interested in the idea of trend forecasting. It actually seems a bit mysterious. How do you go about forecasting trends? How do you even get involved with that? What do you think are the trends we’ll all be loving over the next few years?
AT: Anyone can forecast trends really. You just have to be incredibly curious. You have to have your eye on everything. Yes, you’d be looking at what’s coming out of the trade shows. But you’d also be looking at young emerging designers, flea markets and fashion. Plus you’d be looking at what’s happening politically, economically and environmentally.
It sounds like a lot but when you start to get on top of it all you see little bubbles coming to the surface. I pull these things together and it becomes clear what consumers are wanting and needing. For me trends aren’t just what colours are coming in. It’s about the concepts behind how we live.
FS: Can you tell me more about your design philosophy and how it’s evolved?
AT: I truly believe you can’t design something without understanding the people who will be using the space. Of course there’s the basics like functionality, but we need to know the bigger picture too. For example, the kitchen is going to change. There’s a move towards cleaner eating and we’re going to need less room for processed food, but more room for fresh fruits and vegetables and equipment to cook things from scratch.
FS: You’ve been the stylist for the Merivale hospitality group here in Sydney on a number of projects now. Why do you think the Merivale restaurants and bars are so successful? Tell me more about the newest venue, The Newport.
AT: I think there are two reasons why Merivale is so successful. Location and putting people first. We want to create spaces that people really enjoy being in and feel comfortable.”
I also love to create a character for the space when I am designing it. So when you come to the venue you like it belongs to someone. Like it’s someone’s home.
For The Newport my characters were a married couple from the 1920s. He was Italian and from the Amalfi Coast and she was an American socialite. They landed in Newport and their life is all about family, friends, good food, beautiful gardens. Their look is stylish and tasteful with considered pieces.
The next Merivale project I am working on is called Fred’s, in Paddington. It’s going to be so beautiful and so amazing. There’ll be an intimate bar. A patisserie and open hearths for cooking. I don’t think there’s anything else like it in Australia, maybe even the world.
You can follow Amanda on Instagram @amanda_talbot1
To listen to my full interview with Amanda Talbot, head to iTunes and download it for free. While you’re there, why not subscribe so you can hear other great interviews with design professionals, retailers and makers, as well as lots of practical advice for how you can create a home that you love.