Sleep + Eat Spotlight: Jeffery Copolov, Bates Smart

Jeffery joined Bates Smart, one of Australian’s oldest architectural firms, in 1983 and in 1995 he became the very first director of interior design.  During his career Jeff has been awarded a number of prestigious accolades. In 2003 he received the IDEA Gold Medal, for significant contributions to the design industry, and in 2010 he was awarded Designer of the Year at the IDEA awards. In 2018, he was inducted into the Design Institute of Australia’s Hall of Fame, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Australian design industry.

Jeff Copolov


Your design/career journey – advice and inspiration

My interest in interior design began at an early age and was very much influenced by my family who were involved in architecture and textile design. Initially I studied interior design in Melbourne, but upon graduation I got a job working in television set design. However, after a couple of years I decided to leave and explore interior design practice more fully.

I worked on a freelance basis initially, but quickly realised that this was unfulfilling. Working in television was a collective experience and I missed the interaction with other talented people. I also realised that I liked working on the large productions or the big building projects, which only a large architectural practice could offer. I also wanted to work with a variety of specialists and a diversity of skills. For a young designer, I think it’s important to surround yourself with inspired talent to bounce ideas off and learn new ideas and techniques.

Bates Smart was my first large practice. I joined 36 years ago and I haven’t left. When I joined the interior design team, it was in its infancy. We were only brought in at the end in a cursory way to select finishes. This has changed quite radically and today we craft interiors with the architects from day one, and at the very start of a project. Over the years, the thinking has shifted radically within not only our practice, but across the industry. Today, interior design has the capacity to influence architecture. It’s a much more holistic approach and shows how working collaboratively can change not only a project’s outcome, but the industry as a whole.

Crown Towers, Perth

Crown Towers, Perth, Australia. Image by Sean Fennessy.

The true integration of all disciplines is evident in the delivery of all our timeless and often award-winning projects. We believe longevity is fundamental and that buildings should outlive us. We craft our interiors in a way that creates a timeless shell, and things that can be viewed as trends like soft furnishings, can be changed easily.

I’m inspired by things I witness from a sensory point of view, which is why I find travel essential. It’s the things you can’t quite put a finger on, such as mood or the experience or conjuring a sense of space, that I find most inspiring.

Crown Towers, Perth

Crown Towers, Perth, Australia. Image by George Apostolidis.

For our recent hotel projects, we are interested in capturing the essence of place or culture in order to create a memorable journey. Guests, whether local residents or travelling across the globe, are searching for an experience in their hotel stays.

The interior design for Crown Towers Perth is a recent example where we sought to reflect the local Western Australian landscape within the interior design in order to create a unique and memorable visit.

Crown Towers, Perth

Crown Towers, Perth, Australia. Image by Sean Fennessy.

In the lobby and public spaces we felt that it was important to create a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor areas in order to let the surrounding landscape filter through the interiors and to allow the design to be in harmony with its setting. The lobby’s grand proportions are rendered in a neutral palette inspired by the Western Australian earth and coastline with red accents that reference the area’s native wildflowers. The travertine wall provides a backdrop for a significant commissioned artwork by a local artist. Flowing behind the shimmering reception desk and comprised of 8,000 separate ceramic pieces, the work reflects an aerial perspective of the nearby Swan River.

I think interior design should synthesise, coming together to tell a story or to create a mood that is exactly right for the place.

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