Seljak Brand and Five Mile Radius have spent the past few months settling into our studio and showroom in Highgate Hill, Meanjin (Brisbane).
Also working to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and more sustainable material futures, Five Mile Radius is an architecture studio focusing on the use of local resources in construction. They make buildings and furniture from recycled materials, including their epic waste terrazzo surfaces.
Karina Seljak, Sammy Seljak and Clare Kennedy (Five Mile Radius). Photo: Aimee Catt
When Sammy came across the shopfront in Highgate Hill, which used to be the home of Onespace gallery, she saw the potential to create a space that would enable Seljak Brand and Five Mile Radius to explore circularity through our independent businesses, but also bring together other Brisbane creatives to create endless possibility for collaboration and cross-pollination.
So we embarked on the commercial leasing journey and prepared to turn the shop into something we wanted; a studio that was beautiful, functional, sustainably built and flexible for everyone’s needs.
Seljak Brand and Five Mile Radius collaborated to develop a brief for ourselves that was true to circular economy principles (designing for disassembly and reuse, using waste or second hand materials) as well as using locally made, low impact materials and products.
Clare Kennedy, Five Mile Radius’ founder and registered architect, led the fit-out design, with input from Seljak Brand. And Clare’s partner, furniture maker and carpenter Jack of Jack Hamilton Joinery built the design. Together we spent a few weeks over the summer holidays bringing the space from a dream to reality.
The desks and shelving were made using plywood and cypress pine. We sourced the ply from Austral Plywoods, which is based 8km from the shop, and it originates from 100% plantation-grown hoop pine forests in South East Queensland. The cypress was used for the structure of the desks and shelves. This beautiful Australian timber was ethically sourced from a private forest in Northern NSW and machined in Northgate, Brisbane. Clare meticulously sanded it down to expose the beautiful grain. The desks were designed using the supplied lengths of ply so minimal waste was created in the process. The joinery was all screw-fixed, without the use of glue, making disassembly a viability in the future.
Jack Hamilton and Clare Kennedy on the tools
We left most of the original walls as they were, but painted the ceiling and bathroom with Rockote Ecoystyle, a low VOC (volatile organic compounds), natural paint manufactured on the Sunshine Coast.
Leaning into slow production, our mate Rick Haywood, a traditional signwriter, hand-painted our signage on the front door.
To find the office chairs, we visited Absoe – a second hand office furniture distributor 6km from our space – and sourced eight office chairs that were originally used for a Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads job.
Secondhand chairs sourced from QLD Department of Transport and Main Roads. Photo: Anwyn Howarth
We were generously donated a secondhand fridge and printer. A beautiful office is never complete without plants, so we sourced Mr Kitly’s locally-made recycled plastic planters to house plants we found on Marketplace – propagated by a local green thumb.
To top it all off, Five Mile Radius created a beautiful boardroom table using their signature waste terrazzo and recycled hardwood, charred and finished with a natural oil.
WIP of the boardroom table & finished product. Photo: Anwyn Howarth
But finding completely closed loop solutions proves difficult no matter the industry. We struggled to find lighting that fit our brief, for example, and we also ended up with some design solutions that involved fixing desks to walls, which will make disassembly more difficult. With every project comes more learning, consideration and understanding – both Five Mile Radius and Seljak Brand are in perpetual betterment towards more sustainable solutions.
With a showroom and gallery up the front, and a co-working space out the back, we’re now proud to share the space with other excellent local creatives; Sophie Vaughan of Studio Gentle, furniture designer Tom Wade of Plain Store, photographers Aimee Catt and Anwyn Howarth and Marilena Hewitt of Platypus Publication. Together, we can share an every day work space, but also enrich each other’s small businesses.
We’re nestled into one of our favourite strips in the city, with organic store institution Handmade Naturals and local legends Lucky Duck and All My Friends as neighbours, and we’ve absolutely loved joining the already blossoming community on Gladstone Road.
The future of the studio is bright; both Five Mile Radius and Seljak Brand aim to continue to explore the circular paradigm together and independently. From collaborations to pop-ups, launches, material explorations, talks and more, we’ll be hosting an array of events from Seljak Brand and Five Mile Radius, our coworkers and the greater community.
Get in touch if you’d like to do something together!