Still going strong and wining awards after almost 50 years in the interior design business is no mean feat, but one that Melbourne’s Nexus Designs is achieving under the leadership of creative director Sonia Simpfendorfer.
Originally from Adelaide, Sonia found Melbourne’s design culture to be a magnet, and moved there as quickly as she could after university. From the get go, Nexus Designs had always been at the top of Sonia’s list of studios to join, inspired by founding director Janne Faulkner AM and her business partner Harley Anstee. Starting her career with a three-year stint at Bates Smart, she achieved her dream to join Nexus in 1997. Some 13 years later, in 2010, they made her creative director.
“Janne founded Nexus Designs in 1967 and then brought Harley into the company in 1975,” says Sonia. “They are still both actively involved today and have just become InDesign Magazine Luminaries in recognition of their extraordinary contributions to interior design.”
With two of Australia’s most accomplished designers as predecessors, Sonia may have some big shoes to fill, but that’s something she’s not having any problems doing. Last year, Nexus won two Australian Interior Design Awards for their Tribeca Loft project: Best International Design and Best Residential Decoration. “It was a dream project: a confident repeat client, brilliant NYC post-industrial loft space and a brief that gave us freedom to push them and keep the concept very pure.”
Having clients that allow the team to push the design boundaries, always gets the best results. “My favourite projects are the ones where we’ve been able to use our full range of skills, particularly space planning, to significantly tailor an interior and make it better within the existing envelope and then make it beautiful and livable too. That’s our specialty and our edge over architects,” Sonia says.
Working in Australia and overseas, Nexus Designs are mostly known for their high-end, one-off residential projects. However, while Sonia admits she has a soft spot for residential, she also works on a range of projects including: multi-residential, boutique hotels, hospitality developments and the occasional marine project.
The business is not just focused on interior design, also specialising in graphic design and product development.“The three disciplines work independently most of the time, but when we get together it’s a dynamite team for our clients,” explains Sonia. “Graphics and interiors work particularly well together. We often have graphics develop identities and signage for our commercial interiors clients which gives a seamless visual experience to the projects.”
With many projects in the pipeline, Sonia loves the variety. “We always have time for the small ones – just the perfect white paint or some furniture, along with the complex, long-term ones, such as the large apartment we are working on in an historic building with really smart, open-minded clients.”
For Sonia, it’s not the scope of the project that matters, rather all her interior design work comes down to one fundamental aim, an aim that she makes sure to tell all her designers and one she believes is achieved in all her work: “Good looking design is great, but highly functional, practical and good looking design, is even better.”