Sarah Cooper, Carlton, Melbourne

Images by Tasha Tylee

Words by Elisha Kennedy


Sarah Cooper is one half of the team that runs Melbourne space, Studio Local. Having worked closely alongside friend and business partner Stephanie Stamatis for years, they opened their own warehouse together in Northcote in 2017 and from here they run events, host markets, produce campaigns and offer a series of "studies" - purposefully designed workshops which are open to the public. For the time we have known her, Sarah has always been the kind of person who always has a thoughtful side-project brewing. In Sarah's home, everything has its place. A 19th century heritage terrace with plenty of charm, the apartment needs little else bar a brass sculpture or two, a well placed Thonet chair and a collection of ceramic objects which each impart their independent aesthetic value to the almost, gallery-like living room. We follow Sarah about as she takes her breakfast (black coffee and a croissant in bed) and learn more about her work and her aversion to excess. What can you tell us about the building you have made your home in?

I was drawn to the 12 ft high ceilings, original marble fireplace, interior archways, split level transition spaces and the romanticism of it all. It's part of a group of four white houses called 'Victoria Terrace' built in the 1860's. It sits at the top of the hill and overlooks the city. Many people who live on this street have been here a very long time and have seen lots of change, however the sense of a village is still very much present. My Grandma came to visit and she was instantly at home because the building has the same floor plan as where she lived with her family in South Melbourne. Every room she knew from memory as she walked through this house.

linen napkin
What are some of your favourite places to go, to eat and to drink in your neighbourhood?
I have completely fallen in love with Carlton. Heartattack and Vine, D.O.C, Baker D Chirico, Nova cinemas and Elspeth's house for champagne. I play basketball on Thursday nights at the Carlton baths and am often there in the summer doing laps of the pool or lying on my towel.

Can you share with us some of the objects in your home which you bring you joy – why?

Everything I own has a purpose or reason for being there – I don’t like excessiveness in belongings. I’ve thought about each item, from the bottle opener to toothpaste. Although not always possible, I connect with the idea of buying good, once, rather than not so good, often.

Books and papers – I like having things structured around me but when it comes to books and pieces of paper I like them to surround me. I like this mess – I draw inspiration from all kinds of literature, news and reference books.

Bruce Rowe architectural sculpture – each piece Bruce made as part of this series is an unplanned, one-off object. Taking inspiration from Bruce’s background in architecture, the works represent architectural forms, hand-cut from thick slabs of clay.

Thonet No.B9 Le Corbusier chairs – This bentwood armchair was widely used by the French Modernist Architect Le Corbusier during the mid 1920s. They are a piece of history, classic and timeless.

Have you always lived in Melbourne?

I grew up at the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges in a small town called Montrose. I moved to Northcote in my early twenties and have found such a sense of home in the inner north. I like moving around and setting up home within different spaces and am really interested in architecture and the different types that signify areas and eras. A friend recently said to me that our generation are really fortunate in that we get to experience different places and houses through renting and share houses. I like this thought. What are you working on at the moment and what kind of an approach are you taking with it?

I'm currently working on a project called, Bruciare. They are Armenian Burning Papers; to be released later this year. I often find myself getting lost in projects _ it's a space where I can be intensely focused on something. This is joy for me.

Coffee, croissants & our linen robe in white
Inspired reading material & IN BED linen bedding

What kind of a space have you tried to create with Studio Local?

Studio Local is the embodiment of our aesthetic and approach to creating a space where all elements are considered. My business partner, Stephanie Stamatis and I got to know the building intimately over months spent painting and renovating. We feel very connected to the space and are enjoying sharing it with other people. It's a second home to us both.

Do you have a morning routine?

For someone who loves routine, I actually don’t have one and I envy those who do. It’s always about getting through the right steps in the morning: shower, get dressed, etc.

I do like the rituals of applying face oils and dry body brushing in the morning; it’s comforting and sets me up for the day.

Really, I’m mostly thinking about a coffee and croissant. I have different locations around town and depending where I’m headed will plan where I’m going to stop by. Loafer Bread in Fitzroy North and Agathé Pâtisserie Petite in the CBD are two on my map.

Bedtime routine?

Evenings are something very special to me and I have learnt to find more time for myself in them. Always a red wine and dark chocolate. Some space for quiet.

Getting into bed, I try to switch off, but my mind usually has other ideas. I’ve always been this way, so many questions at the end of the day. I remember staying on a small boat with my family; the four of us were sleeping in the tiny cabin below deck. I couldn’t stop talking, asking them endless questions and giggling. After being really patient, my Dad asked me to sleep outside on the stern. I did and I remember it was cold and beautiful.

A perfect pairing of dove grey linen sheets and a crisp white linen duvet cover

What are you looking forward to this year?

Launching Bruciare and starting a morning routine of my own.

Can you share with us something you read, saw or heard recently that stuck with you?

Read: Joan Didion, Play It As It Lays

Listen: I listen to ABC 774 when I’m driving and hear lots of things I did and didn’t need to know.

Seen: Dian Fossey documentary on SBS.