Within view of the glittering shores and sun-kissed bathers of Bondi Beach stands our first Sydney store brought to life through the artistic lens of Melbourne-based Designer, Brahman Perera (Brem).
Giving a strong focus to texture, light, and layering, this flagship is making waves, and features some of our most sustainable retail practices to date (the clothes aren’t half bad, either).
Here, our Retail Design Development Manager, Tyla Beattie, takes five with Brem to break down all the store design details…
It was a pleasure to create the store in Bondi with you, Brem. You did a fantastic job bringing the space to life. What was your process in collaborating with us to create our first New South Wales space:
Brem: Thank you. I think it’s important to ingratiate yourself in a client’s brand and world and try and distil that into the physical space. DISSH Bondi was such an incredibly important chapter, and I wanted to design a space that felt honest and true to the brand. Parts of my own design which came through was that it was more contextual to the coastal Sydney experience I think than from where the brand started, and that’s what helped inform the design process.
Tyla: Something we loved when meeting you, you brought out your tarot cards, which were print out Pinterest boards or artistic images that we chose from and informed your design concept.
B: This was important for me because DISSH had such a strong vision of where we wanted to go [with this project], and because I felt like I had such a strong understanding of what the brand was, I wanted to make sure we were aligned. It’s about being in the moment and saying, ‘what do I gravitate towards to’. I remember we selected beautiful images of pieces with textures and fabrics. There were some interesting colours, and it just started to inform how we were going to have the initial concept conversation. And though there were a couple of iterations we worked through, it’s all part of the process of getting to a beautiful outcome. [The store] was a really big step for DISSH and when I think about it, it’s very true to the DISSH look and feel, DNA, and core values, but it’s also something that gives the DISSH customer a bit of a different taste.
What were the non-negotiables for DISSH when bringing the design to life?
B: The space needs to operate very functionally. It had to be a functional backdrop to the clothing, and that was what was at the forefront of my mind. But it also had to be beautiful and graphic as it stands, because that’s what draws people in. DISSH obviously has a very strong online presence, so I really wanted the physical space to relay that same impression. When it comes to contemporary design, I tend to think of it in two lenses: the physical experience, but also how does it translate in photography, and how is it experienced digitally? That’s just part of the world we live in now. Looking at the beautiful travertine Brud chair and the floral arrangements alongside the clothes, it’s not just one or the other. It’s what I hoped it would be, and that is people buying into a lifestyle and a whole understanding of the brand, not just the clothing as a singular item. It’s the connection with the entire brand and what that ethos is.
T: I think for me, my non-negotiable was preserving and honouring what we had done so far in the spaces like Noosa, Pacific Fair, and Chadstone, but evolving it into something more dimensional. When when I was doing my research into designers and architects who could help us enter this next chapter, your level of detail in layering all these textural and interesting things, I think those were all the little touches that makes Bondi so beautiful.
What excited you most about this space?
B: For me, it’s really the location that was the standout. It’s 100m from the beach. It was an unadorned concrete shell, which is a challenge and a blessing in some ways, but it presented an amazing blank canvas that we could soften, layer, and add all our beautiful design to.
Tell us about working with an environmental consultation throughout this process from conception to realisation:
B: It was an amazing experience, from the moment of the consultation I found was very formidable and positive. It also presented how intricate the issue of environmentally conscious building practices can be, and at time how also how limited the information is out there when it comes to building products. So, it really required a lot of consideration - the product, the materiality, its origin, and everything used in store. As far as how sustainable I can be, to do this felt like such a great practice. It felt like such a normal step that should be considered in every design process. This was such a rewarding experience and I think to layer into the values that DISSH stands for, it just made perfect sense. You’re really validating what those values are. What does it mean if you don’t practice what you preach? I feel proud that we managed to create something so beautiful.
Anything that felt risky that you feel has come to life and really made the space?
B: The curved and dramatic dressing rooms is certainly an example of how something in a plan can’t always convey the result. I really wanted them to feel quite singular, quite feminine, and it’s important that the space felt as beautiful as the clothes the customer was trying on. I think the change rooms are quite beautiful and almost feel like a whimsical experience.
T: What you and I would define as risky is very different, because you are a lot more adventurous with your palette, finishes, and approach. I think what was risky was all the layering that you brought to it. I also knew that that was why we loved you, and you were there to pull us along. It’s the most depth we’ve ever put into a palette, but you weren’t worried. You really followed your instinct, and you trust yourself. It was cool that you didn’t stress over every minor detail.
What’s your favourite furniture piece in store and why?
B: The beautiful Sandra Sofa that we got from a vintage dealer. It still had the upholstery from the 70s and it was in pristine condition. I think it’s an incredible piece. It’s inspired by life rafts, and I just think that is so perfect for Bondi.
T: My two favourites (because I can’t narrow it down to one) would be the MR20 armchairs and the Brud travertine chair by Olga Projects.
Favourite design aspect of the store:
B: It’s the change rooms. It’s that dramatic effect that I’m always drawn to. I love fabric for its softness and the movement it has. I think between that and the beautiful application of carpet that runs from the floor and then up the walls, it gives the space a soft, enveloping feel.
T: The carpet is up there but I also love your table design.
B: It’s funny because I would never specify a glass table for anywhere else at that scale. I hesitate to use the word ‘femininity’, but we’ve talked about softness and texture, and that feeling of elegance but then there are some really structured, brutalist additions that somehow worked their way in and they were perfect.
Describe the DISSH Bondi space in one word:
B: I wrote down ‘essence’. I think of the basic nature of things, or the qualities that make something what it is.
T: ‘Sophisticated’. It really does feel like we’ve kind of stepped into our sophisticated era, and hopefully something we can continue to create with new sites. I feel like we put on our big girl pants.