No longer does a space need to have just one purpose. It’s an idea that’s become popular with cafes inside shops, boutiques that turn into event spaces and co-working offices with in-house restaurants. Now Living Edge, located off James Street, has unveiled a split-level furniture outlet and “living office” that also serves as an event space.
Downstairs, residential furniture is displayed in a handsome, open showroom where brands such as Herman Miller, Muuto and Eames are artfully arranged. Upstairs is where the living office comes together, with work spaces for Living Edge staff and other businesses, office furniture displays and a fully stocked bar for functions.
The entrance is equally as grand, courtesy of a playfully slanted floor that rises from the street-level entrance up to the main showroom.
“It was for disabled access,” Jo Mawhinney, head of retail, explains of the original concept for the entrance. “But it has created a gallery space that is multi-functional, so I can display furniture or I can pull that furniture out and have a talk.”
Days after opening on May 26, the gallery hosted MILANTRACE – a recap of Salone del Mobile & Milan Design Week by online design publication Yellowtrace. More events are planned.
It’s a significant transformation from the building’s past life as a warehouse. The process was led by Richards & Spence, the architecture firm that’s now a James Street go-to after designing 19 James, the West Elm and Pottery Barn building and the James Street Hotel project, currently under construction on the corner of James and Doggett.
“They have distinct look that suits James Street and Brisbane really well,” Mawhinney says. “So what I tried to do was design the furniture layout to complement that design. Queenslanders need light, easy, breezy furniture in their life.”
Once known for its office furniture, the new showroom reflects Living Edge’s shift in focus.
“Back in 2008 we had a mandate to improve our product portfolio,” Mawhinney says. “We created a distinct look that started with Herman Miller, and from that we’ve started using companies like Walter Knoll, Muuto and e15.”
If you are predisposed to good design, Mawhinney warns: “Everything in the store is available for sale – I don’t believe in props.”
171 Robertson Street, Fortitude Valley
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