Charlotte Coote manages to integrate timelessness and classic design with fresh, innovative, and unexpected elements into her projects. Charlotte established her firm, Coote & Co, in 2007 and she specialises in what she describes as classic contemporary design. She integrates artisan items that are handmade with meticulous details whenever possible for a truly unique finished product.
Charlotte has 16 years of experience in the industry having worked around the world, including in Europe and America as well as Australia. Her studio is in Prahran, and she has a rich history of interior design, having managed her father John Coote’s furniture and accessories company. We recently spoke with Charlotte about her aesthetic and personal inspiration.
1. When did you first decide to become an interior designer and how did you get started with your design business?
I grew up with interior design because my father was a very clever international designer, the late John Coote. I knew I loved design when my father let me choose the wall upholstery fabric in my bedroom when I was 6. He had selected something which wasn’t to my taste and I was able to re-select a beautiful Pierre Frey. Seeing the room come alive from what I had chosen really inspired me.
2. What is the most challenging part of your job?
Travel is such an important part of our industry for new inspiration and knowledge. Juggling exciting projects on the ground and trying to fit in travel to see international interiors, architecture and meet other designers can be a real challenge.
3. Is there an interior design style you favour and do you have your own design aesthetic?
My style is classic contemporary interior design. I make it unique by creating bespoke elements like furniture and lighting in all my projects so they are truly authentic.
4. Who are other interior designers you admire?
Locally, I admire my clever friends Cameron Kimber, Anna Spiro and Adelaide Bragg. Globally, the late David Hicks, Axel Vervoordt, Syrie Maugham, Eileen Gray and Billy Baldwyn.
5. What inspires you?
Travel, for example, recently I was in India, we went to the Agra Fort and saw the beautiful Hindu and Islamic patterns that are hundreds of years old but are still relevant today. They can be used to inspire a rug or tile or table design.
Their use of colour is also spectacular. It is interesting because you gain so much knowledge and then in a years time it ends up in a project in some adapted form.
6. What do you think is the essential piece of furniture we should all have in our bedroom?
A bed. More specifically, the best cotton or linen sheets that money can buy, and an abundance of pillows. You cannot have cheap when you spend so much time in your bed. Everything else is a bonus, call me!
7. What key element do we all need for a chic living room?
A chic living room for me is something that allows for sophisticated behaviour, like conversing over tea or champagne. Make sure that wherever someone sits, there is a place to put a drink, soft lamp light, and comfortable seating. Flexible seating arrangements are also importat, so guests can comfortably arrange themselves and not need to shout. There is no need for a television in this room.
8. Do you have a favourite project or story behind a project?
I was working on a boutique hotel in Europe with my father which included many bespoke pieces. One of which, was a very large Irish Georgian console with a marino medallion with an 18th century profile as the central motif. We were struggling to see the features of the face so I worked with our artisan carvers to create a replica of my client’s face. He couldn’t quite put his finger on why this piece was his favourite!
Let's get personal .....
1. What else are you passionate about besides your work? I love my vegetable garden which my husband, children and I have constructed and planted at home. At the moment I’m growing fennel, garlic, beetroot, cabbage, broad beans, all the Italian herbs and five different types of lettuce.
2. What is your most treasured belonging? In the 1980s Hermes produced 12 limited edition ashtrays of Marnanie, my home for Kevin O’Neil and John Graham who owned the property at the time. John generously gifted one of these to me last year and I treasure it immensely. Also, my Art Deco ring that my husband Geordie and I created with Lucy Folk and my Hermes Cape Cod watch that my brother and sister gave me after our father passed away.
3. What's one thing people may not know about you? Many people have told me that I need to put a coffee table in my living room to complete the space. I will never do this because it will impede the room for me to do my impressive Irish jig.
4. In 10 years I'd like to be .... I would like to have travelled to most of the countries on my hit list.
5. What can't you live without? My husband Geordie and our 3 beautiful daughters Sybil, Francesca and Daphne.
It’ll be impressive to continue to watch Charlotte’s projects unfold over time, each with hand-selected one-of-a-kind items.
Photography: All photography by Lisa Cohen except for photo of brown console with blue painting above it and photo of white sofa with pink painting above it which were shot by Christine Francis