Creating Timeless Interior Design

An Interview with Anna Aeschbacher

Interior design student Anna Aeschbacher shares how she transforms a historical shop into a cultural bar for her client.

Anna Aeschbacher - I’m Anna Aeschbacher, an interior design student at New Design University in St. Pölten, Austria. Currently, I‘m in my second semester of studies for interior design. Originally, I trained as a carpenter and afterward I trained as a drafter specializing in interior design.

I feel like my passion for this work comes from my parents. My father runs a carpentry business and I grew up in a world surrounded by wood and custom-made furniture. As a small child, I already knew I wanted to work in this field. When I worked as an assistant to an interior designer, it became clear that interior design was the direction I wanted to move toward.

For me, interior design is connected strongly with the psychology and personality of the individual. I love to “put myself in the shoes” of many different people, to harmonize with them and construct the best possible concept for each individual. Each concept should really speak to who the person is and what his or her needs and desires are. The space reflects the essence of the individual. In my opinion, good interior design is timeless, or at the very least can be refreshed with a minimum of changes.

What is your personal style like? When you imagine a place, what kinds of elements do you like to have?

I‘d describe my personal style as minimalist. Although my style is constantly evolving, I like to think that it remains timeless. The subtle details I add to my designs give them that special something.

For me, the principle “design follows function“ is a given. Form and function are interdependent. I credit my training as a carpenter for the ability and knowledge that allows me to produce designs that are functional. For me, the training I had as a carpenter was the true foundation of my career as an interior designer.

Can you tell us about your kost•bar project? What were the goals for the project? What atmosphere were you trying to achieve and how did you plan them into your design?

The kost•bar project was my thesis project during my training as a drafter. The assignment I was given was very specific. The task was to transform a former lingerie shop into a cultural center for all ages. I needed to create a place where cultural exchange could flourish, where people of all ages could hang out, drink a coffee or a glass of wine and soak up the atmosphere of openess and creativity. My specific job was to develop the ground floor into three separate sections: a cafe, a wine bar and a lounge with capacity for approximately 20 guests.

The greatest challenge was in the division of space… the former shop was very small and the building was historically significant. It was imperative from the owner’s perspective that the character of the building not be lost. I needed to create a mix of new and old to provide the energy and welcoming atmosphere of a cultural meeting point with the character and charm of the historical building.

The name kost•bar has several possible interpretations. On one hand, the word means “precious”, precious time with friends or precious art. On the other hand, the name is comprised of the German word “kosten”, which means to try or to sample (e.g. wine), and the English word “bar”. Thus, the name combines multiple concepts into one.

Kost•bar concept sketch.

Can you walk us through how you came up with your idea and designed it? What steps did you go through to imagine the cafe? How did you turn your ideas into a design, and how did you turn the design into a plan for the finished cafe?

First, I proposed different layouts for the ground floor, using Concepts to sketch my ideas with the Apple Pencil on my iPad Pro. The interior designer I worked for discovered the app and told me about it. We tried it on our iPhones first and were convinced, so we both bought iPads. In our opinion it is a perfect tool for our profession. Some other students use it now, also, because I told them about it… they saw my drawings and asked how I drew them.

Variants 1 and 2. These layouts were drawn in Concepts on my iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil.

Variants 3 and 4.

Variants 5 and 6.

The client chose one of the six proposals I provided, and I got to work. I produced sketches on Concepts which I used to complement my lines of thinking. I found this to be a good tool to illustrate the project to the client and to support our collaborative decision making.

Kost•bar 4, the layout the customer selected.

When the layout of the ground floor was set, I drew renderings and views of the projected space. This was an important part of the process because it helped me to visualize how my ideas fit into the concept of the kost•bar. The crux of the project was to combine old and new with a sense of harmony, creating a living, breathing space with a feel for history and the comfort of an old friend.

Mood photo from Wever & DucréModel: Cork.

Moodboard of materials and furniture.

Incorporating the existing furniture was an important part of my concept, and by visiting the location, I was able to get an impression of how the new rooms would fit with the existing furniture. By creating moodboards, I provided the client a means to get a feel for material, colors and different surfaces.

These 1:20 plans of the project were created in AutoCAD, then imported as a PDF into Concepts and colored.

The following photorealistic renderings were created using Winner Design (software from Compusoft Group).

Currently the kost•bar project is under construction, and it will be completed shortly.

What do you hope to do with design in the future?

I hope that my passion for interior design will continue to inspire me, and that I can use this passion to awaken in others a sense of surprise and delight.

Anna Aeschbacher studies interior design at the New Design University in St. Pölten, Austria. Born and raised in Switzerland, based in Vienna. Instagram: @annavondergasse. Art project on Instagram: @howviennalives.

Interview by Erica Christensen


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