I am very excited to be back in Brisbane, Australia in search of the best interior design stores, and am thrilled with what I have found. Much has changed since I lived here 20 years ago, where unique, boutique style interior design stores were few and far between. However, much like the other capital cities in Australia, Brisbane has definitely come into it’s own in terms of whats on offer and how they display their own unique style. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of my favorite design destinations with you.
My first discovery was Magnolia Interiors and for me it was love at first sight. It could only be described as Jonathan Adler meets Martha Stewart on a desert island. Relaxed, charming, happy interiors with a vintage twist. An absolute paradise for a color obsessed, pattern loving individual like myself.
I chatted with the lovely Robyn McKendry, owner of Magnolia about her background, what makes her tick, her inspiration and future plans.
Tell me about your background. What age did you feel design was your passion?
RM: I was born in Lae, Papa New Guinea and moved to Brisbane when I was 9, with my 2 brothers and 2 sisters. I completed a Bachelor of Human Movements Studies at Queensland Uni before travelling extensively. After having 3 babies and successfully renovating and selling 2 homes, I completed a year of study in design and decoration at Tafe. I established my business originally from home in 1993 and had a 4th baby whilst growing my practice. I opened Magnolia Interiors with my sister in 2000 after a long felt frustration with a lack of resources in Brisbane. I actually surprised myself in my late 20s with my interest in renovating our homes and the concept basically grew from there.
Describe your personal design style / design aesthetic?
RM: I love a plethora of things and my taste is incredibly broad. Maybe surprising, after visiting my store but I actually love quite a neutral palette,with lovely dark simple Georgian furniture and contemporary art as a foil but I have found with time and travel I am loving the injection of colour, pattern and texture. I think I have definitely become braver with time!
Image: I already own one of these bone inlay boxes in blue and white, but in pink – it’s just so girly and fun.
What is about Magnolia that attracts customers / what do you think makes your store so popular?
RM: I travel extensively twice a year in an attempt to fill our store with interesting and different pieces and I think that is a point of difference for Magnolia in Brisbane. The great majority of our stock is sourced overseas or custom designed and as a result we have a customer base which spreads internationally which is super exciting. I have been so lucky to have been working solidly for the past 20 years and am very grateful for that opportunity.
What has been one or two of your favorite design projects to date?
RM: Over the past 20 years, we have done a number of resort developments, commercial developments and a vast number of residential projects and I have to say it is very exciting to be welcomed into someone’s home and be entrusted with their private space.
Image: As a fan of animal trophy heads I loved the way they put them against the patterned wallpaper.
What would be your dream project?
RM: I am not sure about who I would like to work for in the future but I know I would love to work with Kit Kemp. I make it a priority to stay in Kit Kemp’s hotels in London and New York and was lucky enough to have had a very long conversation with her in Feb this year whilst staying at the Crosby Street Hotel, New York. Very exciting! She inspires me. I am always fascinated by dynamic business women and how they manage their businesses without losing sight of their families – not always easy.
Give five resources you turn to for design inspiration.
RM: Travel, travel, travel, travel and travel
What are you looking forward to in the future?
RM: A business without stress… is that possible?
Image: If I wasn’t already an obsessive tea drinker, I think I would have to take up tea drinking just so that I could buy the striped tea cups and saucers. So cute!
I usually think of Melbourne as the epicentre for design in Australia. Do you think this is still the case?
RM: We have our own design aesthetic due to our climate and actually believe we are creating something very unique in Brisbane. I love visiting Sydney and Melbourne and always make a point of running around to all of the good and new retailers but feel very proud of what we are achieving in Brisbane.
Name three of your favorite things to do or see in Brisbane?
RM: I love Brisbane and am always really happy to get home after my travels. I have just had a month overseas, having only returned this week and I literally always shower and go straight to work. I love seeing my girls at the shop and seeing all the new things which have arrived whilst away and how its been merchandised. Always amazing to see how we can continue to reinvent the space! I love our river and can think of nothing nicer than resting my weary bones somewhere near it and watching the passing parade (hopefully with a glass of wine!).
If you happen to be visiting Brisbane don’t forget to stop by Magnolia Interiors, Shop AM3, 46 James Street, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006, Australia
See posts of out other favorite Brisbane Interior Design Destinations:
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