Indesignlive: Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do in design? 

The majority of my experience is in Interior design but I’ve always had a passion for product design and dabbled in some furniture design early in my career. The pieces were sold through Cult (Corporate culture) at the time. My previous interiors practice, arnoldlane, was the main focus, so the bandwidth required for furniture and product design wasn’t available to me.

The closure of arnoldlane in 2020, coupled with the limitations placed on us due to the pandemic, gave me the opportunity to revisit my passion. I launched SIDES late in 2020 with a focus on side tables and coffee tables made from natural stone, predominantly using off-cuts. Then came the opportunity to work with friend and client, Ownworld, designing a locally made, flexible modular sofa range that was missing from their offering. 

After a few false starts during the development phase (due to the pandemic and other factors), A_SOP – a sum of parts – sofa range launched in March 2023. In addition to the furniture design, I’m still involved in various interior design projects under the banner of A R N O L D studio.

Kathy Arnold

Where has your career taken you so far, and where are you based now?

Sydney has been my home base for all of my design career and still is. My long-term commitment to a Sydney-based design practice meant the majority of the work undertaken was local, with some international and national corporate clients in the mix.  

How did you develop your minimalist aesthetic?

I have always leaned toward a minimal aesthetic – even as a child, my artworks were always of a graphic or minimal in nature. I sometimes think it relates to an individual’s mental process; for me, minimalism is calming and removes distractions. It allows the designer to focus on the resolution of details.

The design quote that resonates most in my mind is, ‘less is more’, by Mies Van de Rohe. As a designer, I have evolved my pared-back design aesthetic and it seems to have become stronger than ever.

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“Design is in my blood”: Q&A with designer Kathy Arnold
Kathy Arnold

The A_SOP sofa looks very exciting — what’s the story of this product?

The thought process behind A_SOP was to develop modular components that, when
joined together, could provide endless possibilities for sofa configurations. It’s well-considered to
answer a need for both flexibility and visual appeal via thoughtful design.

The brief from Ownworld was to design a locally made sofa system that offered designers flexibility in terms of individual modules and how they could be configured. The ability to deliver a quality piece with a reasonable lead time was paramount.

Proportion is everything – if the proportion isn’t well resolved, the design will never be well resolved. The simplicity of the A_SOP design language speaks to an elegant minimalism that says, ‘I’m here’ but doesn’t shout, ‘look at me’.

I started to think about the design like a puzzle and decided that it needed some ‘fixed’ attributes as well as ‘flexible’ ones (a bit like humans..!). Having seen so many curved and puffy pieces saturating the designer furniture space I decided that these pieces should be more linear but have the flexibility in size and form to be used in small spaces or large commercial lobbies. They also needed to look good from every angle so that placement of the pieces would always result in an aesthetically pleasing outcome. A mathematical approach was taken which ended up providing the name for the range – A_SOP, a sum of parts.

Kathy Arnold

What are some of your highlights in previous interior/product design? What are you most proud of?

The most recent highlight for me was in 2023: I was very proud to have the opportunity to work on the A_SOP sofa range and to launch the product in the Sydney Ownworld showroom that I also designed. To be honest, the most memorable times are when another individual comments on the quality of a space that I have designed and how it makes them feel. 

Kathy Arnold

Where and from whom do you find design inspiration?

This is going to sound strange but design inspiration for me comes from within. I think it’s what years of living and breathing something does – it just becomes innate, a part of who you are. Of course, there are beautiful images, exhibitions and so on that will always activate a thought process, but a lot of design inspiration comes from a natural inclination to want to improve or perfect something. Designers can be complicated beings.

What does the future have in store?

The intention is to build upon the furniture design side, launching new products under the SIDES banner in 2024 and also collaborating with companies to develop Australian designed products.

Of course I will continue to work on interior projects as well – gift or curse, design is in my blood!

SIDES
sides-sides.com

Photography
Nicole England

“Design is in my blood”: Q&A with designer Kathy Arnold
Kathy Arnold
“Design is in my blood”: Q&A with designer Kathy Arnold
“Design is in my blood”: Q&A with designer Kathy Arnold
“Design is in my blood”: Q&A with designer Kathy Arnold
“Design is in my blood”: Q&A with designer Kathy Arnold

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