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A Lesson in Embracing Colour with Interior Designer Charlotte Coote

Charlotte Coote is a leader in classic contemporary interior design. With many years’ industry experience working in Australia, Europe and the United States, she is a sought-after designer of interiors, furniture and lighting. Charlotte is the founder of and head designer at Coote & Co., her design business based in Melbourne, Australia. She is also the creator of The Mountain Academyan online interior design course.

We recently spoke with her about the inspiration behind her new book, Colour is Home, her creative process and how readers can begin introducing colour into their own homes.

Image: Lisa Cohen

Colour is Home is such a feast for the eyes, congratulations! I’m wondering what inspired you to write the book?

I wanted to document everything I have learned so far in my 20-year career in interior design and to share my knowledge with a wider audience in the hope of providing some guidance and confidence to those looking to embark on a design journey themselves. I have certainly included some hard-earned lessons! I hope it’s a timeless book – something readers will continue to reference over many decades with any project they may have.

Tell us about how you became interested in interior design. How did you know it was the right career for you?

I grew up with interior design. My father was the renowned interior designer, John Coote, whose career took him all over the world. I worked for his business in Europe in my early 20s then started my own business in 2008. Nobody told me I had what it took – I was just passionate and figured it out as I went. It wasn’t easy. I did have a pretty incredible teacher though – even if he was tough!

Image: Lisa Cohen

Tell us a bit about your creative process – how do you approach each project?

Every single project is different. If I think about the projects my team and I are currently working on, the diversity in clients and projects blows my mind! I really love this as it makes for interesting work and forces us to keep pushing the boundaries of our designs. At Coote & Co. we have set up very solid business systems and processes – and then the creative process sits very organically within that structure. It’s so important we let each project be authentic through collaboration with our clients. This becomes evident in the final interior. It’s a partnership, with access and reference to my experience, skills and direction.

You’ve worked all over Australia, Europe, and the United States. Is there a space that you’re most proud of designing?

I have worked on some amazing projects around the world, but the projects for myself are probably the most rewarding: Marnanie, my home in Mt. Macedon, Victoria and now our new beach house on the East Coast of Tasmania, which we are currently designing. There is something so complex but exhilarating about being the designer and the client at the same time. I also feel like these are the projects the market really takes note of and judges you on so to speak. My father knew this all too well – at his house Bellamont Forest (an 18th century Georgian villa in Ireland which he owned for 30 years) I remember him having samples draped over guest bedroom chairs, as if to indicate “I am not done here, so you can’t judge me yet”!

Image: Georgia Blackie

Do you have a favourite room to relax in?

Autumn at Marnanie is beautiful. I especially love having a casual kitchen dinner in my new double height kitchen, in front of the fire, with good friends, delicious food and wine!

After spending so much time at home during the pandemic, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like my living space could do with some refreshing! What’s your number one piece of advice to people wanting to add a splash of colour to their home?

Don’t be afraid! Colour adds such a wonderful feeling to a home. Make sure to bring samples into your space and look at them in different light at different times of day. Take a picture – the photo never lies.

Image: Lisa Cohen. Book Photography: Georgia Blackie.

Is there a song that encapsulates your approach to life and work?

Feeling Good by Nina Simone, because it is a privilege to be here – I see the beauty in all aspects of life.

What’s next for you?

2022 is exciting indeed. We have a wonderful diversity of design projects and clients working with us at Coote & Co.! I am also filming my online interior design masterclass for The Mountain Academy and am excited to launch this in the next couple of months. Viewers will be able to purchase, download and watch the series online. I also just signed another book deal with Thames & Hudson, so watch this space! Finally, I’m designing and building a house on the East coast of Tasmania with my husband Geordie and Coote & Co. I’m pretty passionate about this project – it’s always a lot of fun being the ‘client’.

Colour is Home by Charlotte Coote is available now.

AU $59.99

Posted on April 29, 2022
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In conversation with the inspiring Kerstin Thompson

For over twenty-five years, award-winning practice Kerstin Thompson Architects (KTA) has proven that local architecture can and should shape a community. Leon van Schaik’s Kerstin Thompson Architects: Encompassing People & Place looks at KTA’s extraordinary body of work, its values and processes, and its place in the wider Australian architectural landscape. We spoke to KTA’s Principal, Kerstin Thompson, about her impressive career, the civic endeavour that is architecture and how she hopes to inspire others with the release of this new monograph.

Photography: Ying Ang

You are the Principal of Kerstin Thompson Architects, an Adjunct Professor at RMIT and Monash Universities and you were named Life Fellow by the Australian Institute of Architects in 2017. What led to your incredibly rich career in architecture?

Time on site, as a kid and later as a site architect, a wide variety of experiences in architectural offices from local ones to international multi-design studios, which in combination exposed me to the many valid ways of thinking about architecture. And since 1990 at RMIT, being a ‘pracademic’ – combining teaching with practice where each sphere enriches the other: the idealism, clarity of intent of the design studio, the pragmatism, ability to effectively negotiate the messiness and contingency of building and day to day practice. Good architecture demands both.

Your practice focuses on ‘architecture as a civic endeavour,’ can you explain what this entails? What values does KTA champion?

Buildings, no matter how small or for what purpose, can improve a situation. For the intended users, the client, of course, but also for the street, the neighbourhood, even the environment in projects where ecological repair becomes part of our remit. KTA champions the value of mutual benefit – that in meeting the aspirations of the client the design also contributes something positive for the neighbourhood too. In this sense they are of civic endeavor, in the interests of community, the city, broader environment.

Photography: Derek Swalwell

Is there a project you have worked on that you are most proud of?

I’m no good at favourites, there are many projects we are proud of. In fact, our hope is that KTA’s body of work, the cumulative impact of many sometimes modest buildings rather than one or two stand out icons, will leave a lasting and positive impact. Each project in its own way raised the quality of someone’s everyday life, brought benefit and joy to someone whether in their work, home or recreational life.

Photography: Dan Preston

In Kerstin Thompson Architects: Encompassing People & Place, Leon van Schaik focuses on KTA’s groundbreaking body of work. How do you think the book contributes to a wider conversation about architecture in Australia?

First we hope it provides insights into the motivations and process of architecture, the ideas, the sketches, behind the completed project. Second that it showcases a variety of ways in which architecture can meaningfully engage with, forge a unique sense of place, whether in bush, city or suburban context. And also, how opposites can happily/productively co-exist: subtly with clarity, sensitivity with strength, and last but not least new with existing built form. The inclusion of several adaptive re-use projects demonstrates how the re-use of our built heritage is not only more environmentally resourceful but also a way to hold onto precious cultural memories. May our new buildings also endure to support changed use in the future.

Interior Photography: Trevor Mein | Product Photography: Georgia Blackie

Our favourite inclusion in the book is your ’10 Lessons,’ many of which address what it is like to be a woman in architecture. How do you hope to inspire other women in the industry?

By conducting practice through a studio and business culture that is stimulating and supportive for our colleagues; by mentoring within and beyond the practice; by leaving a lasting legacy of decent buildings that have somehow improved the everyday; inspiring through advocacy, speaking out, being heard, being visible.

What’s next for you? Is there an exciting project that KTA is working on that you can share with us?

KTA has always been diverse in its project selection. Big, small, public, private. So, it’s not surprising that two of our most exciting, current projects are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Queen & Collins project for GPT, almost complete, is a total rethink of half a city block. We’ve transformed it from corporate lobby to network of vibrant, open air laneways and small campiellos (venetian squares) in celebration of the site’s significant neo-gothic heritage. In contrast to this scale and urban location we are excited to see the house for photographer Sharyn Cairns come to life. In a beautiful coastal bush setting, it will be sheer, concentrated concrete delight.

Kerstin Thompson Architects: Encompassing People and Place is available now. Text by Leon Leon van Schaik and design by Stuart Geddes. Series editor Fleur Watson.


Posted on March 24, 2021
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Complete your creative bookshelf

At Thames & Hudson Australia, we pride ourselves on our ‘museum without walls’, our books which explore every interest and spark creative energy.

Product photography and styling: Jackie Money

Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing our top titles for key interest areas, from lifestyle and architecture books, to activities, puzzles and games.

Complete your creative bookshelf today.

Complete your fashion bookshelf

Run away with the latest fashion bibles.


Product photography and styling: Jackie Money

Complete your activities collection

Fight boredom with our best activities on bread baking, bingo playing, fortune telling and collage making.


Product photography and styling: Jackie Money

Complete your lifestyle bookshelf

Discover a heady mixture of our favourite books on topics spanning plant medicine, floristry, home plant care and career advice in the creative industry.


Product photography and styling: Jackie Money

Coming soon…

  • Complete your picture book collection
  • Complete your architecture bookshelf
  • Complete your art bookshelf
  • Complete your interior design bookshelf

Posted on May 20, 2020