Designer profile: Melissa Collison  

The exceptionally talented Melissa Collison calls herself a ‘futurist’ designer and it’s easy to see why. Her commercial, residential and hospitality projects are setting the bar high in the world of interior design, and propelling the creative vision of the industry ever onwards and upwards.

Based in Sydney, Melissa has been designing interiors since 2001, and with a penchant for mixing objects of different styles, eras and cultures, she creates soulful spaces that are infused with feeling and aesthetic intrigue. While Melissa’s interiors are harmonious compositions of colour, texture and form, there’s no doubt her optimistic attitude and sense of spontaneity shine through, as do a persistent dash of glamour and luxury.

Melissa is known for “getting” her client’s vision and one of her most sublime residential projects is a 1950s duplex in Vaucluse inspired by the 1968 comedy film The Party. The designer introduced colour in measured doses for a mid-century feel, and designed much of the stunning furniture, including the five-metre semi-circular couch, crystal chandeliers and custom rugs. “I get a feeling from my client and their personality. Then I run with it. I don’t follow trends as such, however I am inspired by some very clever designers of the past,” she explains.

When it comes to hospitality projects Melissa’s work ranges from rock ‘n’ roll meets Tex Mex at El Camino Cantina in The Rocks, to traditional meets modern at The Alfred in Melbourne. But despite her vast range of work it’s hard to go past Swine & Co., Saké and Fratelli Fresh.

Although recently closed, Swine & Co. was set within a historic art deco building and its interior design truly brought a vision of “grotesque glamour” to life. The fit out respected the architectural heritage of the building while also paying homage to the hog. Gilt trimmings, brassy amber tones and bold geometric décor punctuated a deep shadowy palette of charcoals, and a collection of antique butcher’s knives referenced the client’s German heritage and memories of his father, a butcher. “It is most important that I am empathic to my client, to their history and their life,” Melissa explains. “For me, it is important to weave items my client already has into their new environment and take the new design beyond their expectations.”

At the contemporary Japanese restaurants Saké, Melissa has applied her magic touch to the refurbishment of The Rocks venue (originally designed by Luchetti & Krelle), and completely designed both the Double Bay and Flinders Lane restaurants. At Saké The Rocks, Melissa designed bamboo chandelier pendants, Koi-fish upholstery and conceptualised a modern geisha as a contemporary backdrop across the entire back wall. She then applied the same attention to detail on a broader scale to Saké’s Double Bay restaurant, which balances comfort and edginess, and at Flinders Lane (shortlisted for a 2016 Eat Drink Design Award), which is inspired by the Japanese obsession with western culture in the 1970s.

Both Double Bay and Flinders Lane feature chairs and stools by Andreu World. The Smile collection, designed by Lievore Altherr Molina, aptly fuses traditional Japanese and Scandinavian design elements, and Melissa incorporated light-coloured seating in the Double Bay restaurant and dark-coloured seating in the Flinders Lane venue. And in Saké Jr, the grab-and-go little sister of Saké, Melissa used Emu’s Darwin collection of seating and tables, which have contemporary elegance and lightness, much like the Saké food itself.

Melissa has also brought a number of Fratelli Fresh venues to life in Sydney and Melbourne. Fratelli Fresh in Westfield Sydney is a fun and casual pasta and pizza bar with a Roman feel; Fratelli Famous has a massive starlit sign illuminating the ceiling; and Fratelli Fresh in Alfred Lane, set in the historic building The Alfred, has red leather banquettes, a black and white marble floor, custom mosaic tiles, and will soon feature EMU’s Darwin collection.

With a skilled and spirited approach to design, Melissa is one of our favourite interior designers who will no doubt keep leading the way with her creative vision and multidisciplinary design.

All of the pieces featured within Melissa Collison's designs are available online or at the KE-ZU Alexandria showroom.

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