by Neometro

Dialogue | Talia Chow of Supellex.

Design, People - by Open Journal

24th February, 2022

Neometro™ has been developing human-focused apartments within Melbourne’s inner north and south for more than three decades, delivering communities that leverage designs capacity to create connected, optimised lifestyles that are the very definition of sustainable.

Supellex nurtures mindful living, procuring furniture, lighting and interior objects that embrace the new ideal of Minimalism as a lifestyle and the pursuit of owning and consuming less.

The similarities and compatibilities between the two entities has resulted in a temporary show-room presented by Supellex and located within Neometro’s 9 Wilson Ave, Brunswick display suite. The in-situ arrangement abides by contemporary lifestyle values and demonstrates the alignment between apartment living and the “buy once, buy well” mantra. We spoke with Supellex Director Talia Chow about the brand and its latest venture.


Open Journal (OJ) | Can you please share the Supellex story? How the brand came to be and why? 

Talia Chow (TC) |SUPELLEX came about as a culmination of my passion for design and the desire to utilise my creativity by curating a collection of lesser known design gems to offer the Australian market. 

It was born out of the pandemic lockdown in 2020 when, like most people, I had time to reflect and really think about what I wanted for the future and what would bring me career satisfaction in the longer term. So I decided to take the plunge and start my own company after working for other leading furniture companies. 

In terms of the name itself, ‘supellex’ is the Latin word for furniture which in itself is self explaintory but I also love the idea of exploring the origins and roots of language and forms of antiquity.

After working with individual furniture brands it felt quite limiting to only have one narrow brand style, and so I wanted the opportunity to curate a collection of pieces that I felt passionate about introducing to the Aus market. 

I was inspired by my time working for Danish brand Gubi. The owner Jacob Gubi had an amazing eye for selecting vintage designs and reviving them with contemporary designs. I love it when you walk into a room andit’s hard to pinpoint when the pieces were designed because they are all so timeless and by pairing certain pieces together they change the context of the surrounding pieces. I dislike interiors in which it’s obvious that everything is brand new.

One element of what connects me to design is the stories behind them. That’s what enriches it and makes it more than just an inanimate object. When there might be a history behind it to explain how it came to be and why it looks the way it does, it builds a deeper appreciation. 

OJ | What is the guiding philosophy behind Supellex? How does it differ from other furniture, lighting and object procurement brands in terms of offerings and processes?

TC |

I think one point of difference is that morally I advocate for consuming less. 

We have been trained as a population to continually buy. It’s actually a real challenge not to buy. So it’s no surprise that one of the counter-trends to this excessive consumption is the new ideal of minimalism as a lifestyle, the pursuit of owning and consuming less. 

Like many people, I’m becoming so much more conscious of what I’m buying. Does the product I’m buying have unnecessary plastic packaging? Do I actually need that? What’s the life cycle of this? 

I want less junk, less clutter, less distraction and instead more awareness, more intention in the pieces I choose to bring into my space, rather than mindlessly buying.

Choosing less quantity, but more quality.

The underlying motive of this new minimalism is sustainability. People’s interpretations of sustainability differ. Is it better to use a paper cup (biodegradable, potentially recyclable) or a ceramic cup (takes more energy to produce)?

I choose the ceramic longevity option each time. Sustainability isn’t just manufacturing pieces from recycled materials and calling it sustainable even though it is going to be quickly disposed of. 

At a time where furniture has been moving in the same direction as fashion, SUPELLEX advocates for a minimalistic consumer approach of ‘Buy well – buy once’ ethos. We are against excessive consumption and disposable furniture and instead offer pieces that last the test of time. 

One of our most popular sofas, the Anfibio (designed in 1971), is a staple on the secondhand market that can be passed on down the family over generations. We promote purchasing for a lifetime, not just for a fad. 

One of the most frustrating things for me is when I see a sofa sitting on the sidewalk. Probably only under 5 years old but it’s kaput. It was a waste of materials and resources even if it was made from recycled MDF. 

It was cheap to begin with, easily damaged, can’t be repaired and doesn’t hold any of its value. It’s just going straight to landfill. This disposable furniture makes me feel sick. When friends ask me what sofa they should buy on a budget I usually (and frustratingly) encourage them to buy a second-hand designer sofa as they actually hold their value better than most cars, which is crazy!

I think it’s better to buy a sofa that holds its value and you can sell it for roughly what you paid, sometimes even more if you buy the right kind. 

I’m not trying to demonise cost-effective furniture but there is a much higher chance that it will end up in landfill after it has served its short purpose.

OJ | Supellex recently styled Neometro’s Nine Wilson Ave, Brunswick display suite. How did you approach the project?

TC |We thought our hero sofa, the Anfibio, was perfect for the space and development. It was originally designed for Italian apartment living in the 70s and was all about flexible functionality. It takes its inspiration from an inflatable life raft. With its 4 different configurations it can be a sofa (folded), conversation pit ‘island’, daybed or bed (open).

I love it as it embodies the playful spirit of the Italian design – and I think Melbourne shares commonalities with that as a vibrant design-driven city.

Becchi designed the Anfibio when he was in his mid-20s and it’s designed with socialising in mind. The versatility ties in with the Nine Wilson Ave flexible apartment loft layouts designed by MA Architects.

I feel like a sofa bed is an essential for apartment living to maximise space when a spare bedroom isn’t an option.

We paired the Anfibio with some versatile modern coffee tables designed by Danielle Siggurd for Menu. We wanted to pair the sofa with easily moveable coffee tables that can be nested or separated according to space needs.

We also used an iconic Ib Koford Larsen chair called the ‘‘Knitting Lounge’. This cosy piece is adorable and is upholstered in sheepskin. It was originally designed in the 50s for the designer’s wife so she didn’t have to sit upright in an armchair; instead, she could recline and knit in comfort with the elbow cut-outs allowing freedom of movement. It’s an extremely comfortable chair but visually isn’t heavy and is also easy to move. These are important qualities for apartment living.

OJ | Have you noticed any change in what consumers/clients are looking for in terms of furniture, lighting and objects over the past couple of pandemic years? Have major lifestyle changes altered the pieces Supellex represents?

TC |Most people needed to sort out a ‘WFH’ (work from home) set-up so of course 2020 was all about adjusting to this new style of working and there was huge demand for desks and chairs.

But during the pandemic, we can all agree there was a massive consumer trend of buying more pieces for our homes since we were housebound for multiple lockdowns (especially Melbourne). People were wanting to improve the appearance of their homes and many looked to social media for inspiration. 

But sadly I think this fuelled cheap ‘trendy’ furniture. More and more fashion brands started offering ‘home collections’ as extensions to their ranges and this I think has sped up that ‘fast fashion, fast furniture’ consumer habit. Especially when social media influencers are posting ‘homeware haul’ videos. 

I think many people are hesitant to make investments in furniture so they end up buy lots of smaller cheaper pieces but inevitably end up throwing most of it away. 

So I think SUPELLEX is trying to separate ourselves from that trend, to resist the urge to buy at a whim but to carefully consider your purchase and your space before introducing the pieces. 

OJ | What’s the future plan for the brand?

TC |We are looking to slowly and organically grow and take on small brands with a strong emphasis on craftsmanship. We have identified that people are becoming more comfortable shopping/purchasing furniture online, so we are in the process of redoing our website to facilitate that.

Right from the start, one of our goals was to produce some locally made pieces with local talented designers to fill gaps in the market. That idea really excites and inspires me. 

OJ | Can people come and purchase the pieces in the display suite? Is it an evolving display?

TC | All of the pieces can be forward ordered but we do have some of the smaller pieces like the armchairs and coffee tables in stock. The pieces we have put into the display are popular so we will usually have them on order in the finishes shown.

We are looking forward to refreshing and updatinge the space as new pieces arrive.

Photography by Derek Swalwell.

With many thanks to Talia Chow and Supellex.

Interview compiled by Tiffany Jade

Supellex has worked with NEOMETRO™ to style their display suite at Nine Wilson Ave, Brunswick


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