Senior Interior Designer Rebecca Antos recently relocated from Perth to Hames Sharley’s Melbourne studio and is about to celebrate four years working with the company. Originally from Brisbane, Antos leads the Retail & Town Centres interiors team and is highly accomplished with some seriously impressive portfolio projects to her name.
You might recognise some of Antos’ latest work nominated in the Australian Institute of Architects Awards – Northern Territory Program. Casuarina Shopping Centre embodies a fresh approach to gender neutrality, inclusivity, and wellness, resulting in an interior design that involves and engages with the local community.
Here, the creative shares her career trajectory, offers insights into Hames Sharley’s highly collaborative retail and town centre design approach and reveals what enticed her to move to Melbourne.
Tell us a little about your background – what path has led you to what you’re doing now?
As a kid, I remember looking at my grandad while working on house designs and drawing on the spare plans he had lying around. So, since a young age, I wanted to be in the creative industry.
I loved arts and graphics throughout high school, and with further study at TAFE, I was lucky to get a job with a small design firm.
I have worked on a wide range of projects from small to large retail, hospitality, workplace and multi-residential. Brisbane to Darwin, Perth and now Melbourne, I am so excited to see where this new journey takes me.
You work on a great variety of interior projects. What have been one or two of your favourite projects recently and why?
I have recently worked on some favourites, including One Subiaco and the Kardinya Park Shopping Centre redevelopment. Both these projects demand a high degree of design intelligence and expectation for the finest spatial experiences.
On the one hand, we are crafting personal bespoke homes and, on the other, a best-in-class modern retail offering.
I am always impressed at the passion and dedication within our highly collaborative team to drive these outcomes together. I can’t wait to see the final build for both of these projects.
Where did you turn for creative inspiration for Casuarina Shopping Centre?
The GPT brief was clear from the beginning of the project; our job was to take that small idea and make it come alive inside a retail space. Each space had a specific experiential objective. We needed to creatively sculpt and craft existing ‘vanilla’ mall spaces into beautiful, intimate places that encouraged customer curiosity, engagement and, ultimately, increased dwell.
The successful delivery of these public spaces followed additional projects like amenity enhancements and entry upgrades.
The inspiration for the large nodes was inspired by the idea of bringing a feeling of luxury resorts into an otherwise ordinary mall space. The concept itself and overall design have not been done before on such a large scale, which was incredibly exciting.
What attracted you to the Retail & Town Centres portfolio?
Retail is a space where you can let your imagination run free, experiment and play with things that have never been seen or done before, with a fundamental formula of how people move, behave and use a space. In an ever-changing environment, you can’t follow trends; you need to be setting them.
At the end of a project, I love seeing people’s faces within the spaces we have created and the wonder in their eyes.
What is the most important thing you want people to know about retail interior design?
As Harold Perks, Retail & Town Centres Portfolio Leader, says, retail interiors are a vital component of the whole composition of a town centre, district centre, regional centre, or the local neighbourhood centre.
Unlike other interior spaces, retail is a public interface; it is on display and openly exposed to the public. There is no room to hide or be too conservative with interior design in a retail setting – too restrained and it may not be engaging enough, too gimmicky, and it may miss the mark completely and will age very quickly.
We have an essential role in crafting interiors that are unique, engaging, telling a story, and encouraging people to linger within.
What is your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?
I can’t say I have had time to find a favourite place yet! I love walking around the city and exploring all the new locations at the moment – it’s the best way to learn about a new home. There is just so much happening right now to bring the city back to life; it is fantastic!
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
Saturday morning is a time to relax, coffee in hand with my cat curled up on my lap. I might also have a good book nearby.
Lastly, what inspired you to move to Melbourne?
Time for a new chapter. Brisbane and Perth have been great places, and I learnt a lot but now I want to experience the mecca of design in Australia, Melbourne. What better opportunity than to move with a company that you already love and experience different places around Australia?