Designer Studio Focus – Johanne Soderstrom

Johanne moved to Australia in 1978 – he was sick of the Austrian weather he tells me. Since starting his design practice over 25 years ago and has worked across graphic design, interior architecture and digital design. He now calls the small beachside town of Thirroul home and has built a stunning studio to work from.

Perched at the top of a tree lined street high above the town proper, Johanne’s studio looks out towards the ocean. Large, triple glazed windows over 2m tall surround the space and give 360 degree views of the sea and tea tree bushland. Johanne’s work station sits right in the centre of the room. The substantial work desk was custom made by a local designer from recycled spotted gum sourced from a disused train station that was being demolished.

To the front of the space, large bifold doors from Brio open out to a wooden deck with woodfired pizza oven and chairs that Johanne has designed himself. He likes to sit outside with his notepad and pens when in the initial stages of a design concept, or when he is having trouble solving a particularly tough design problem. The doors have a pleated insect screen integrated – the sand flies are quite busy in these parts – to let Johanne keep the doors open most of the day or night.

Inside, Johanne has designed an ingenious storage and room divider system. A series of plywood boxes, just short of the ceiling height, use bottom rolling door hardware to move within the space. Each box is 500mm deep and has series of shelves hidden from view. He uses these to store his impressive collection of tea and vintage design books but also the studio printer and mini letterpress machines. One wall is comprised of a grid of 100 open shelves housing his impressive shell collection which he tells me, he had initially inherited but which then sparked a bit of an obsession, which he has added to ever since.

A small kitchen complete with Japanese tea set is positioned in the corner of the room. Johanne is very picky about his tea, he says he has over 50 types from all over the world. It’s a ritual for him, it calms him and gets up out of his chair and off the design problem for ten minutes. This is where I leave him, drinking tea and looking out over the stormy pacific ocean.