Their textile collection draws inspiration from their shared teenagerhood in the ’80s.

We reckon that the ’80s just so happened to be one of the very-best decades. The power-ballads were banging, the bleach-damaged and crimped hair was ginormous and the shoulder pads were as wide as a doorframe, and it looks like Lisa Gorman and Zahava Elenberg seem to share our passion.

In fact, they recently collaborated together to create “The Super-Graphic Collection” – a textile collection produced by Warwick Fabrics that honours the bright and colourful decade for Move-In Studio. The ace designer and architect sat down to chat with us all about this rad collection, and what they discovered while working alongside each other.

Tell us a bit about yourselves:

Zahava: I started Move-in 22 years ago to fill a gap at the nexus of development and design. There was no one specialising in design-led and commercially driven FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) solutions for high-volume projects when we started. For anyone that’s confused – FF&E is all the stuff that falls out of a building if you were to turn it upside down and shake it. That’s what we put in!

Lisa: After a brief nursing career at the Royal Melbourne Hospital for a few years, I wandered into fashion, literally. I used my nursing qualification to fund life throughout a retail traineeship with bridal couturier Mariana Hardwick to fund my own brand, Gorman, in 1999.

What made you decide to collaborate on a new collection of textiles?

Z: I have always led a busy and multi-disciplinary life, and working with Lisa on a textile collection just seemed to make sense in the progression of things.  We wanted to have our own range of commercial upholstery textiles and reinforce the local nature of collaboration. Lisa is great and I knew she’d take the brief and turn it into something unique and fabulous.

L: I get itchy feet when it comes to experimenting with different materials and how they can be used. While my background sits predominantly in the world of textiles, to offer something completely new for Zahava’s clients was an exciting opportunity. I love Zahava’s attitude of bringing something fresh into the commercial space of FF&E. It’s not a sector I had any prior experience with (I didn’t actually know what FF&E stood for before this!) but I’m loving seeing these oversized graphic print elements coming into the furnishings space.

This collection pays tribute to the design of the ’80s. Why this specific decade?

Z: There is something about your kids getting older that makes you nostalgic for a moment in time that represents the freedom of youth. Each generation has their time capsule, and ours was the ’80s. It just evolved from there.

L: Who doesn’t love the ’80s? To me, my ’80s was a time of hasty sewing and customising vintage finds, riding around town on my bike, going to the outdoor pool in winter that was not heated and getting a Discman. Things were new and bold and very cool.

How did you make the designs of 40-plus years ago feel fresh for the 2020s?

Z: We didn’t try to represent the ’80s, it was more about capturing the spirit and the salient memories we had from our childhood. The eponymous Super Graphic designs that we developed are an homage to the feelings, games, patterns and TV shows that evoked memories for us. The idea of scale and repetition came from the aesthetic of that era – remembering those early MTV videos where things were out of scale and distorted. That’s the ’80s for me.

L: I don’t think we got MTV in Warrnambool when I was growing up. We only had two channels down there!

What are the most important things to keep in mind while collaborating?

Z: I think a good collaboration has a bit of everyone in the mix and needs time to incubate and develop. I invited Lisa to work on the project just over a year ago, and right from the beginning it was a very fluid process. She made me think about things I had never considered, both from a design and a technical point of view, and we both knew when something was working and when it was time to move on.

L: It’s super important to understand each other’s end goals. Something I’ve always considered first and foremost with any collaboration I’ve undertaken is what is the point of joining forces here? What are we setting out to achieve both collectively and independently?

Next, a collaboration is not a licence agreement – it’s the coming together of minds to create something that wouldn’t happen on your own. It relies on both technical appreciation and know-how, as well as the graphics, the theme, the mood and the delivery. There’s a wonderful sense of reward and discovery being involved in a project that you couldn’t achieve alone.

What strategies did you use to make this collection different from other brands?

Z: The project felt new from the outset. Our points of reference were no other textile collections, but rather ideas from other disciplines.  The tension between scale and readability was interesting for me – trying to make these patterns make sense across different size parameters from a cushion to curtains.

L: Totally agree with Zahava here. It was about bringing along something new to the sector – like what the ’80s did! The range is strong and brave in my view. I’m used to working with strong graphic elements across a variety of mediums but had to really reassess in this instance because print and pattern in the home or living space is very different to body.

What tools or gadgets helped you make this collection?

Z: We are both pretty old school. There was lots of cutting, drawing and tracing going on. We had workshops researching star constellations over Fitzroy, looking at Victor Vasarely drawings and playing with paint rollers and spray cans – it was a lot of fun!

L: Eyes, hands and art tools. We digitally superimposed the artworks onto couches, ottomans, etcetera to check print scale because some of the scales are supersized. Best to check what happens to an artwork when applied to a couch with 15 panels before going to print.

What are the biggest takeaways you got out of collaborating?

Z: I always like to be working on new things, and this collaboration reinforced the excitement you feel when you think elastically around the familiar. You don’t know what you don’t know until you challenge yourself. Working with people is a rewarding skill.

L: Being challenged and driven by working collaboratively with somebody that I respect in the creative space. The application of textiles to new forms – dressing furniture rather than dressing bodies – was new for me, and I loved seeing that come to life with the new collection.

Head this-a-way if you want a look at the full and colourful collection made by Lisa and Zahava.

Titans of design collide in Melbourne with Move-in director Zahava Elenberg and renowned fashion designer Lisa Gorman collaborating on a new collection of textiles.

Read the full article here

Zahava sits down with The Urban Developer to reflect on 21 years of Move-in. Read the article here.

The Jewish Museum of Australia and Zahava Elenberg collaborate on Melbourne meeting place

Unveiled today at Melbourne’s Birrarung Marr, Sukkah is a pop-up meeting place collaboratively designed by The Jewish Museum of Australia and leading architect and designer Zahava Elenberg.

Representing a symbol of community, connection and reflection as the city’s Covid-19 restrictions lift, the vibrant prismatic structure forms a kaleidoscopic canopy and offers a place for visitors to rediscover the city anew.

Originally planned to open in time for the week-long Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot in early October but delayed by extensions in Melbourne’s lockdown, Sukkah is now unveiled as a new outdoor meeting place for Melburnians to gather, reconnect and reflect as the city begins to emerge from its long Covid winter.

“This beautiful site-specific installation reflects the long-held Jewish tradition of constructing temporary booths or huts in which to rejoice with family, friends and neighbours while giving thanks to the earth for its bounty,” says Jewish Museum of Australia director Jess Bram.

“As Melbourne comes out of its long and challenging lockdown, Zahava’s inspiring sculpture feels like the perfect symbol of unity and hope that we’re proud to be offering our city.”

Jess Bram, director of the Jewish Museum of Australia

Co-founder of Melbourne-based architecture firm Elenberg Fraser and founder of furniture fit-out company Move-in, Elenberg has created the pop-up installation using the same components used for Clikclax – the mobile distancing solution that she launched earlier this year (https://www.clikclax.com/) in response to Covid-19.

Initially conceived as a post-pandemic return solution for Move-in’s open-plan Melbourne office, Clikclax is the functional and flexible system for physical distancing for workplaces, public spaces and beyond.

Sukkah is a temporary shelter in memory of the huts used by the Israelites as they wandered the Sinai Desert during their exodus from Egypt. It is a place of memory and empathy for those who are homeless and displaced,” explains Elenberg.

“The walls are the colours of the earth, desert and etrog (the fruit of the citron tree). The blue eaves remind us of the limitless sky and encourage us to look beyond adversity. The roof is clear to allow the stars to be seen at night, and is connected with shades of the hadas (the myrtle tree), aravah (the willow tree) and lulav (the palm frond). In this time of uncertainty and isolation, the Sukkah brings us together to reflect on humanity and what it means to be part of a community.”

Available to visit now as an outdoor-only meeting place, Sukkah will remain on Birrarung Marr until 13 December 2020.

The pop-up will open up further as Covid-19 restrictions ease with visitors able to enter and view the internal structure.

Last year, Elenberg Fraser completed Saint Boulevard, a new multi-residential project situated on St Kilda Rd boulevard (https://www.australiandesignreview.com/ architecture/leafy-haven-modern-primates/) that the firm created for an emerging social group they call the ‘modern primate’.

Photography by Marie Luise, Courtesy of The Jewish Museum of Australia

 

 

The work is a collaboration between designer Zahava Elenberg and the Jewish Museum of Australia

Those returning to the city might notice something new at Birrarung Marr. ‘Sukkah’ is a new, temporary work of public art that has been installed at Birrarung Marr in a collaborative project between designer Zahava Elenberg and the Jewish Museum of Australia. 

‘Sukkah’ resembles a colourful, fragile structure similar in appearance to a futurist cubby house or castle and is intended as a “symbol of community, connection and reflection”. That resemblance to a shelter isn’t a coincidence, with designer Elenberg explaining “‘Sukkah’ is a temporary shelter in memory of the huts used by the Israelites as they wandered the Sinai Desert during their exodus from Egypt. It is a place of memory and empathy for those who are homeless and displaced.” 

The transparent multicoloured sheets that give ‘Sukkah’ its magic are the work of Elenberg, who created the material (named Clikclax) earlier this year as a flexible physical distancing aid in workplaces and public areas. As visible in ‘Sukkah’, the material slots together and can be adjusted into many shapes, much like the 1970s toy Playplax that inspired it. 

The installation was originally due to be unveiled in early October in line with the Jewish harvest festival Sukkot but was delayed due to restrictions. Jewish Museum of Australia director Jess Bram says: “As Melbourne comes out of its long and challenging lockdown, Zahava’s inspiring sculpture feels like the perfect symbol of unity and hope that we’re proud to be offering our city.”

‘Sukkah’ can be viewed at Birrarung Marr until December 13. Currently visitors can only enjoy the structure from the outside, but as restrictions ease it’s expected guests will be able to go inside the work. The Jewish Museum of Australia will reopen from January 17, 2021. 

Practical as she is philosophical, Zahava Elenberg works collaboratively with developers and architects realising their vision for how a finished space can come to life.

Having designed award-winning buildings herself as an architect and establishing businesses recognised for design, from architecture firm Elenberg Fraser in 1998, to full furniture fit out company Move-In in 2002, it seems only natural to ask — what does good design mean to you?

After more than 20 years in a design-focused industry, her humility endearing, she responds:

“I have no idea,” mid-laughter.

“It’s like asking, what’s a good painting? Or what’s a good sculpture? They’re so intangible.”

“It’s the fusion between philosophy and execution. That intangible, ungraspable thing. It’s something elusive, which you often can’t define.

“Good design; something has to resonate with you, reflecting your own sense of who you are, and your own morality.”

The Boulevard — Move-In worked with developer GSA and architect MJA Studio on the project. © Dion Robeson

A niche in the market

Established 17 years ago, the idea for Move-In was conceived almost by accident during her time at Elenberg Fraser, when clients asked the firm to furnish properties for their investors.

“It’s not something that I had heard of, something that existed, or something that we did,” she said.

“Today every project we do is totally unique and we try and deliver the promise of the architect and the developer’s vision from the outset,” she says.

Move-In are currently working with developer Global Student Accommodation (GSA) on a suite of student accommodation projects.

The first of which, was a 13-level DKO-designed development called University Square in Carlton.

“We designed and delivered full furniture, fixture and equipment (FF&E) fit out for both locations, ensuring each had its own distinct look that complimented each architectural build,” Elenberg said.

The second GSA collaboration includes Perth-based “The Boulevard”, designed by architecture firm MJA Studio.

Zahava describes the site as a “slick and Scandinavian design aesthetic with monochromatic interior” which comprises 576 beds.

Journal. Move-In worked with developer Citiplan and architect METIER 3 on this project. © Tom Ross

A recent collaboration with developer Citiplan saw Move-In furnish a mixture of 804 student studios and shared apartments, also located in Carlton.

Operated by Journal Student Living, and designed by architect METIER 3, Zahava says the project included several large and quirky social spaces furnished with items to ensure the space feels “quintessentially Melbourne”.

“We’re really trying to bring a localised environment into what we’re doing, whether that’s working with local designers, or using local products, and we’ve got some great clients who believe in that.”

‘Quintessentially Melbourne’ — Journal in Melbourne’s inner suburb Carlton. © Tom Ross

On creativity

As a recently appointed board member of the Melbourne Film Festival, when asked how her interests in film and her roles in the property sector overlap, she’s decisively clear.

“I love process and detail.

“They share the same mental dexterity which is problem-solving. You have to find a creative solution for each one of those problems.

“And I get enormous pleasure out of a beautifully crafted and complicated spreadsheet as much as I do from reading beautifully crafted scripts.

“How you can get involved in the architectural structure of screenwriting, and the way in which you imagine that as a film, is very defined in the way it fits together.

“That sense of order and the processing of information to me is very powerful.”

Zahava pictured with her youngest daughter Hephzibah. © Sarah Collins.

On diversity

As she moves through life, the pool of experiences she draws from continues to refine itself.

“The older I get, the more I gravitate towards people that have a diverse background of experiences. People that have had to navigate difficulties and challenges,” she says.

Having traversed loss, her father at a young age, and illness, she knows trying times.

“The hues of life are richer and deeper when you add those layers of complexity.

“My step-father is amazing and has been part of my life for more than 30- years.

“And Mum has always taught me, not through words, but through her actions that you can be whoever you want to be, and do whatever you want to do.

“And that’s been my goal to instil in my own three children.”

“The hues of life are richer and deeper when you add those layers of complexity”

Zahava Elenberg
Melbourne University was the developer on 303 Royal Parade, Move-In also worked with architect Hayball on the project, © Tess Kelly

And while Move-In is firmly grounded within the student accommodation and the serviced hotels sectors, Elenberg says she’s focused on expanding into the senior living space.

“It can be a very lonely thing to be an elderly person in this society.

“Some horrible statistic came out last year that said around 50 per cent of people in retirement homes have zero visitors.

“Age is not an illness but loneliness is.”

Her plan for “elderhood” a cultural community for people aged over 80 in the senior living space focuses on education, events and social engagement, something she plans to launch in her favourite world city, New York.

Move-In delivered full furniture fit out in the Fender Katsalidis designed Punthill Ivanhoe apartment hotel, Melbourne. © Martina Gemmola

And having known “success” in many forms, the former Telstra Young Businesswoman of the Year believes its definition is being able to implement some kind of change.

“I think there’s this very artificial sense of achievement that wealth brings and that’s not what success is to me.

“Success is more about contribution, and being part of a continuous narrative that allows for change.

“It’s also having the freedom to do the things that you love doing, and the things that are important to you.

“I say to my kids, success is in the tiny things. It’s setting a goal and achieving it, whether that’s cleaning the kitchen or writing an amazing story.

“It’s a sense of achievement, and that’s self-determined.”

Fast facts

Zahava, and Hephzibah, sit on her father Joel Elenberg’s sculpture ‘Untitled’, 1976. © Sarah Collins.

What excites her most about the industry? Imaginative clients.

Favourite architect? Elenberg says she will always have a soft spot for Mies (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe — regarded as one of the pioneers of modernist architecture).

Favourite designed building or space? Central Park, New York.

Mother to three: Lilith, Boaz and Hephzibah.

Only child of art gallery owner Anna Schwartz and sculptor the late Joel Elenberg.

Step-daughter of publisher and property mogul Morry Schwartz.

Her favourite author is Nicholson Baker, and poem? A Season in Hell by Arthur Rimbaud.

Move- in

Moving in has never been simpler. A raw and collaborative approach to complete furniture packages.

The handcrafted fit-out is accented by the brick dividers, that have been left with holes to create a connected atmosphere.
From the street looking into the office space
Words Stephen Crafti
Photography Peter Clarke
Architect Elenberg Fraser
Location Melbourne
Project Move-in

‘Move-In’, complete furniture packages. Founded by architect, Zahava Elenberg, the triangular-shaped 250 square metre office space is sheltered from busy St Kilda Road.

Located in Fitzroy for ten years, the move to the studio-style office in Southbank coincided with the completion of the Triptych apartment tower above. “We liked the idea of working with a concrete shell. The space offered a strong industrial aesthetic, allowing our furniture, lighting and objects, to appear jewel-like,” says Elenberg, who presented a design brief to architects, Elenberg Fraser, whose partner Callum Fraser, is the director. “I wanted quite a raw feeling to the fit-out,” adds Elenberg, pointing out the original concrete floors and exposed services across the ceiling.

Some of the images that flashed through Elenberg’s mind in formulating a brief were of American supermarkets, in particular those by Site Architects, designed in the late 1970s and early 80s. Many of these buildings were ‘deconstructed’, with the structure of buildings exposed, as well as the fixtures and fittings. “It must have been a photo of a deconstructed wall. It seemed so raw, as well as honest,” says Elenberg.

However, contrasted with the rough envelope, is a beautifully hand-crafted fit-out. Slim concrete blocks, hand laid by some of the staff at Elenberg Fraser, create a pod-like arrangement for the work stations. Even the corners of this low wall are ‘twisted’ to form barley-like columns. “There’s something quite rewarding for an architect to actually build walls, as well as design them. This also allowed us to make a few minor changes while the walls were being erected,” says Elenberg. The 2.5 metre high concrete block walls separating the showroom from the offices and staff areas, have ‘feathered’ rather than the hard edges normally associated with bricks. “Our on-hand approach also allowed us to widen or narrow entrances as we progressed,” she adds.

While the hand-stacked concrete blocks delineate the showroom and offices, they also provide a lacey effect, allowing the north-west light to penetrate.

“We treated the bricks as though they were fabric, with a craft-like outcome.”

Zahava Elenberg

The brickwall is a permanent fixture within the space while the furniture is interchangeable

“We treated the bricks as though they were fabric, with a craft-like outcome,” says Elenberg. “but the spaces also allow you to see through the showroom, even when you’re sitting at the staff kitchen table,” she adds. as Move-In occupies two original shells on the ground floor of Triptych, Elenberg was keen to create a cohesive space. as well as building a new concrete block wall to separate a neighbouring tenancy, some of the walls and structural columns within Move-In were painted white with a datum line. “People need to imagine how furniture will look in a space, irrespective of whether it’s a complete furniture package for a private apartment, a serviced apartment or five star hotel,” says Elenberg, who has just completed a makeover of the Como hotel in South Yarra.

Elenberg describes Move-In as the ‘complete turnkey service’, where architects, designers and developers can specify a complete package of key furniture pieces that make a home; from television sets through to hanging pot plants, although the over- scaled macramé-held pot plant at the entrance was specifically designed for the Move-In office and not for an apartment. and with thousands of apartments expected to come onto the Australian market just in the next year, Elenberg will continue to Move-In to these spaces and make her mark.

Move-In

Design Team Zahava Elenberg, Callum Fraser, Reade Dixon, Tom Orton, Mauris Lai, Jansen Aui, Jimmy Gray, Kim Lai, Suby Liu, Dominique Hall
Signature Manufacturer Delta Neon, Premier Graphics
Structural Engineer Webber Design
Building Surveyor Gardner Group
Time To Complete 19 Days
Total Floor Area 297m2
Furniture Hermann Miller task chairs from Living Edge.
Lighting Lighting supplied by Lighting Partners Australia and custom design neon light by Dean Phillips.
Finishes Finishes Paint from Dulux.
Fixed & Fitted Generally throughout, ‘Speedframe’ aluminium shelving from Speedframe.
Laminex shelving systems from Morfurniture.

 

The new Move-in showroom, lovingly designed and built with Elenberg Fraser, is making a splash in the creative community with a fabulous feature on our concrete-chic fit out in Frame.

Closer to home, trend setting design blog Yellowtrace has featured our showroom in a great write-up. Check it out here.