Melissa Collison: Talking pet peeves and versatility with a design insider

The pet peeves of a top Sydney interior designerInterior designer Melissa Collison in her Sydney home. Photo: Rocky Batchelor

Melissa Collison: Talking pet peeves and versatility with a design insider

Sophisticated, demure and deeply personal – Melissa Collison’s interior designs are many things. Just don’t call them “on trend”.

Domain Prestige spoke with Collison about what drives and defines her work.  


What drew you to interior design?

It was the most natural thing to do. As a child, I’d leave for school in the morning then I’d come home in the afternoon and one of the rooms would be freshly wallpapered, with furniture moved around and big vases of flowers from the garden.

My mother was constantly re-arranging and redesigning. It’s in my blood.

What’s the first thing you ask a new client?

It’s our philosophy to get a real feeling for our clients and their personality.

We get an understanding of who they are, what brings them joy, their career, their travels. We devise a sensory picture of them. We want to create an environment in which they feel comfortable that also has a design edge.

Many of your designs put opulent luxury front and centre, from the rich colours to the decadent textures and finishes. How do you create the perfect balance?

Our style is sophisticated and demure with a brave use of colour. We love natural fibres of silk, cotton velvets and leather. We combine these with bronze or copper metals. We play with the finishes and stare at them and come back to them. It’s a process. Nothing is ever perfect and therein lays the beauty.

Pet interiors peeve?

Our aim is to create design longevity, whether it is a luxury residential home or a new restaurant. My pet peeve is the expression “on trend”. Who wants to be “on trend”? We need to create our own individuality, not replicate the same thing everyone else is doing.

You’ve also worked extensively in hospitality interiors. Is there much crossover between high-end cafe and restaurant interiors and luxury residential interiors?

Our clients are a sophisticated and well-travelled group of people, whether they are owners of homes, directors of hospitality groups or patrons of restaurants. They all want to have an enjoyable experience, feeling comfortable and happy, so the design sensibility is the same. We are designing for the same people.

The most decadent item you’ve ever bought for your own home?

Recently I purchased a beautiful Robyn Cosgrove rug in cream and black with a fishnet pattern. I love the feel of it under my feet and the way the pattern isn’t uniform or perfect.

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