Sarah Coghlan (2002): Crafting Designs and Creating Dreams

Sarah Coghlan’s (2002) passion for design first blossomed in Art class, taking her on an extraordinary creative journey. Today, she crafts one of a kind designs, tailored to the unique tastes and needs of her diverse clientele. As the visionary behind Within Studio, a hub of residential interior design excellence, Sarah draws from a rich tapestry of experiences, acquired through countless collaborations with companies and individuals alike. In this blog, she graciously shares insights into her journey towards establishing her own studio, her enthusiasm for upcoming interior design trends, and the sources of her inspiration.

Could you please share with us your experience at Santa Maria College? 

I began my journey half way through Year 9 at Santa Maria College and was welcomed with open arms by classmates. I have very fond memories of my time at school, with many of the friendships I made continuing to this day.

Reflecting on my journey, I can’t help but attribute a significant part of my personal and professional growth to my exceptional Art teacher, Mrs Clooney. Her boundless creativity was not just confined to the Art room; it permeated through every aspect of my education, leaving a long-lasting impression on my approach to life. Art class taught me the skill of problem-solving and thinking outside of the box—which has proven invaluable in navigating the twists and turns of my career, starting a small business, as well the challenges that each new design project brings.

After graduating, what did you do?  Were you certain about what career path you wanted to follow?

After graduating I went straight into university to study Interior Architecture at Curtin, taking every opportunity I could to travel – be it visiting the home country of other students during the term breaks, or selecting electives overseas. Given my profound love for the creativity of art class over my love of painting itself, coupled with my studies, I found myself diverging from the traditional artist’s trajectory. Instead, my passion for travel, new places and the built form became a guiding force, influencing my appreciation for diverse design within Architecture and Interiors. 

I would not say that I was certain on the career path I wanted to follow in the early years after high school. I found setting university preferences quite the challenge as my interests were wide ranging. My selections ranged from Interior Architecture all the way to Physiotherapy. Even throughout the first year of my degree I flipped back and fourth between Interior Architecture and Architecture, finally settling on the interior sector as my knowledge and passions evolved.

In 2014, you took the leap to open up your own Creative Studio. When did you realise that you were ready to take this risk?

It had always been my dream to run my own creative studio. The decision to take the leap in 2014 was a culmination of a decade of working in some of Perth’s most prestigious Architecture firms on a wide array of project types. Over the years, I had continued to travel for extended periods, and with the influence this had on my design perspective and entrepreneurial desires, it became evident that the time was right for me to change things up. I had the craving to work one on one with clients and families to design and bring to life their dream homes, weaving their passions and personalities together to tell their story.

Tell us about Within Studio. What services does it offer and what sets its creative approach apart, making it unique?

Within Studio is a small boutique Interior Architecture and Design firm in Perth. We offer an array of bespoke services for residential projects, from full service Interior Architecture (where we take care of the whole lot!) through to curation of furniture, objects and artwork for clients homes. We believe in the bespoke nature of every project, advocating for a one of a kind approach.

 Our passion lies in creating breathtaking designs that embody the essence of the clients they are made for and reflect their unique lifestyles and stories. The focus is on creating spaces that not only look and feel beautiful but also convey the client’s narrative in their personal style. It is a collaborative journey where the client’s story becomes an integral part of the design process.

What current trends in interior design are you excited about or incorporating into your work?

At Within Studio, we embrace the dynamic landscape of interior design trends as inspiration only – whilst maintaining a commitment to client-led design. We are particularly excited about the growing emphasis on sustainable and eco-friendly practices within the industry. Incorporating sustainable materials, energy-efficient designs, and environmentally conscious choices which align with our values of creating spaces that stand the test of time.

Additionally, the fusion of technology and design is an intriguing aspect we are exploring. Integrating smart home features, innovative lighting solutions, and interactive design elements allows us to enhance both the functionality and aesthetics of our projects. We have always found inspiration in the use (and now resurgence) of natural elements in design. We have always been strong advocates for natural materials and textures to connect people with nature within their built environments.

We stay attuned to current trends as part of our research, our approach remains client-centric. We adapt these trends to align with the unique preferences and stories of our clients, ensuring that each design is a personalised and enduring reflection of their individual style.

As a business owner, it can be quite challenging to detach from work. How do you strike a balance between your profession and leisure time?

Balancing the demands of being a company owner and family time is indeed a delicate dance. I would certainly admit that I have become better at the ‘blend’ (as I like to call it) with practice. Learning from mentors who have tread the path before me has been extremely helpful. 

Setting realistic goals and prioritising tasks helps streamline the workflow, reducing the tendency to overextend into personal time. Additionally, as the business has grown I have learned to delegate responsibilities and trust in my team, fostering a collaborative environment where everyone is invested in great outcomes. We are certainly in a new era of ‘work’ where there are many ways to pull collaborations together when momentum increases.

Creating designated “off” times and respecting those boundaries is very important to me. I have a beautiful young family, and remain acutely aware that my kids are growing up very quickly, so we make sure we schedule in those family holidays!

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

My biggest inspiration in the design world would have to be Yasmine Ghoniem of YSG Studio. I love the bold style of her studio’s design work and admire the impressive company she has built.

When you are not working, where can we find you? Do you have any hobbies you thoroughly enjoy?

As my daughters are still young, you will often find me immersed in the world of kids’ sports, attending their parties, enjoying time at the pool, or exploring the park together. We cherish our getaways, whether it’s heading down south for a leisurely long weekend or embarking on camping adventures in Dwellingup with friends. Interestingly, some of the families we now regularly camp with were initially met during our time at Santa Maria!

My husband and I love a bit of DIY so you will find us perpetually designing and building new bits and pieces for our own home.

I love to travel, experience new places and take my family on adventures. You will always find me at new art exhibitions, Perth Festival events and Fringe World.

One of the top priorities on my list of future plans is a visit to Salone del Mobile – The Milan Furniture Fair, followed by a trip to Los Angeles to explore and acquire vintage furniture.

We would like to thank Sarah for graciously sharing her career journey with us, and we offer our sincere congratulations on her remarkable achievements. We eagerly anticipate witnessing her continued success and innovation as she continues to shape the landscape of interior design.

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