Kylie Mackay – Two Birds Design

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Kylie, you’re a pure creative at heart. Share with us how you came to be in the field of interior design …
I actually studied and started my professional life out as a graphic designer, working for a design agency in Sydney. After a couple of years learning about layout, balance and type, I found myself working for magazines – namely interior publications – before heading into my life changing title of Vogue Living. Suffice to say, this is where my passion and development for all things “interior design” really blossomed and, well really, it was the defining stepping stone into my career as an interior designer. 
Two Birds Design is your interior design business, along with partner Kristie Peel. Tell us a little bit about what you can offer clients …

Experience, passion and professionalism.Kristie and I have worked together for over 12 years both as colleagues and business partners. We have a great understanding of each of our strengths, which we believe reflects in our quality of work and services we offer clients – we simply love what we do.
We offer a wide range of services to suit our clients’ needs, from one-off hourly consults to full exterior and interior works, renovations, new homes and commercial spaces. Our approach is to always work with the client to ensure that their expectations are met and a beautiful design is completed; after all, we want our clients to love their home, office space or the like.

Interior design trends seems to move at a rapid pace. How do you stay up to date with all the current looks?
We are always on the lookout – absorbing – even when we are not at our desk we are thinking and retaining ideas for the next potential project.
We attend trade events, flick through magazines and scroll our fingers through countless websites, blogs, online resources – it really is endless, the research side of this career. It’s all about knowledge; without it, it makes the job that much harder to find the best components and options for a design concept.
My design ideas and approach are influenced by a wide range of mediums. I go for a coffee and see something that could work on a current project, or appreciating nature or a new streetscape; it all influences me. I also draw on the rich history of design as inspiration as well. It’s truly amazing the diversity, creativeness and inspiration you can find in exploring the past.

How does social media play a role in your business?
Social media, like Facebook and Instagram, keeps us in someone’s front of mind. That’s what it’s about and if we can inspire and create some passion and interest in design, that that’s all we can ask for.
Likers, friends and followers may not necessarily use you today, but they’ll remember a post or photo which inspired them.
We also find that being on social media affords us a greater audience than if we were not on any social media networks at all. By the way, you can find us on Facebook and Instagram!

Being an established business of four years, what types of challenges did you face along the way?
Thankfully, nothing we haven’t been able to learn and gain experience from.
We have grown from strength to strength, including moving to a more convenient location in the CBD – at 91 West High St. Small business can be challenging, but it’s all about your appetite for success and attitude.

What is your philosophy on service?
We are mindful that people are busy and budgets can be tight, so we believe an important part of the Two Birds Design philosophy is our ability to communicate well with our clients, architects, builders and people in the trade. To be truthful, in our designs sometimes we will make suggestions of items that are not the cheapest – but they are the statement piece – and that’s our job! It’s about the bigger picture and how the design works in the space.

What type of style do you consider your work is influenced by?
I don’t necessarily think I have an exact “style”, as such. I am a bit of a hunter and gatherer – meaning I take bits from everywhere.
I love a story more than a theme. When I ask a client about the room(s) they are wanting me to look at, my first conversation is normally directed towards understanding why they have the items already in the room, in storage even hidden away in another room or cupboard – not being critical of how it presents initially. I love being able to show that old and new can work together – it generally all comes back to balance.
People who have been around me long enough or have had me work with them previously know my favourite saying is “eclectic”. I love the versatility of it; it’s not age driven nor palette – it’s simply balance.

How does working outside a major city help/hinder with design influences/exposure?
This gap is definitely closing due to the obvious reason – the internet.
We can access just about anything visually – it’s the tactile we miss out on.
Accessibility and freight are more of a challenge being regional (which ultimately can affect cost, making online shopping hard competition). Plus, getting our wholesale suppliers to send out people/sampling has also declined due to expenses – that’s why attending trade events is so important.
As I have mentioned previously, we are a tactile bunch, so we need to be able to use this sense to allow our hard drive (brain) to retain the information for a future project.

For those budding designers out there, what are your top three tips to decorating a space?
1. Move it around – don’t be afraid to mix it up. Not everything needs to match!
2. When looking to furnish a room, make sure all items of furniture are not against every wall. Look at the space – especially in the middle.
3. Multi-purpose – it needs to look visually great (of course!) but can it also be useful/practical. Think beyond
just looking magazine worthy!

Do you have a mentors, and how have they shaped your career and attitude?
I have been lucky to have had both mentors in my graphic design life as well as my interior design life.
Emma Sutton (graphic design – Emma taught me the trade and continues to work with me today.
Melinda Ashton Turner (stylist, blogger, guru!) – I worked with Melinda at Vogue Living; she has made me look at everything around me with potential design ability and that everyday objects can look amazing – it’s all about the placement!

Thanks Kylie.
Interview by with Samantha Wardman from

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