Kelvin Ho — Akin Atelier, Director

Kelvin Ho — Akin Atelier, Director

We caught up with the firm’s Director, Kelvin Ho, to chat about what inspires them to create, how to utilise your own spaces and the concept behind each of our Incu spaces.⁠

Akin Atelier is in the business of spaces. That is, the spaces that surround us, where we live, work, shop, eat and breathe. Here at Incu, we’ve enjoyed a decade-long partnership with the Sydney-based interior design and architecture firm, and if you’ve been to one of our Incu stores, you too have seen Akin Atelier’s designs. We caught up with the firm’s Director, Kelvin Ho, to chat about what inspires them to create, how to utilise your own spaces, and the concept behind each of our Incu spaces.

When and why did you start Akin Atelier?
I started Akin in 2005. My motivation was really wanting to work with like-minded clients and brands that inspired me.

Explain a little about your creative process.
Realising that we work in the abstract, the most important part of the design process is to develop a clear and creative dialogue that threads each stage of a project – and also each individual store – together.

What is it about spaces that you are drawn to?
Our environment is inescapable. We take a space and give it meaning and purpose. I believe this creates experience, which is what shapes or defines a space. I find this really motivating as a designer.

People have suddenly been forced to spend a lot of time inside their homes. What do you think the most important thing is in keeping the home space a sanctuary?
As we are currently spending so much time at home, it’s important to keep order and structure in your space. Creating different zones for the day means you will utilise as much of your home as possible and not find yourself stagnating in one spot.

Create a space to work in, a space for exercise, a space to eat, a space for down time. These areas should be set-up to enrich whatever activity is taking place in them. I think this is what creates peace, ease and good vibes at home.

Can you explain the concept behind the Incu stores? What kind of mood were you trying to achieve?
I’ve worked with Brian & Vincent now for about 10 years and the mood we aim to create is the same now as it was then – even as the stores visually evolve. The mood is contemporary, warm, familiar, and tactile, accessible - all feelings that resonate with an Australian identity. Brian, Vinnie & I share similar design values, so it’s always great coming together to develop the visual language for a new store or refurb.

Colour / swatch board for (Incu Galeries Womens), Kelvin wears (Incu Collection Yali Sweater)
Colour / swatch board for Incu Galeries Womens
Kelvin wears Incu Collection Yali Sweater

How does the design of the Incu stores align with your own design ethos? Talk us through why you chose the materials you did, how you worked through choices of space, and the mix of textures, colour and light.
We work predominantly with natural materials for INCU’s material palette – premium oak, stone, ceramic tiles – there is always a gesture of colour but it never overwhelms the space. We place fixtures and displays as visual clues to guide customers through the micro-departments of each store - almost like an intuitive map.

What are some of your favourite architects, buildings, or spaces?

  • John Pawson’s ‘Villa Neuendorf’ in Mallorca
  • Baron House (Fabien Baron’s Swedish farmhouse)
  • The Prada store in Aoyama (Tokyo)
  • Donald Judd’s House, built in New York 1968, is lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit

Covid-19 has obviously been a challenging time for everyone. Are there any local businesses that you’d like to support right now?
YES! It’s super important to support local businesses in the best of times – especially now. Totti’s takeaway in Bondi, Dunlin for lighting, Laker Studio for at-home workspace set-ups, The Calmm for massage, Melanie Grant for skincare, and we’re buying art for our clients from local artists & photographers – we just bought a print from Bart Celestino and Kelly Geddes for one of our residential projects.