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It's Not All Black and White

Posted by Sarah Garrison on

In our Q&A with the effervescent Alexandra Kidd, she shares how she uses a monochromatic palette to create bold design statements. Spoiler alert: It's not all black and white...

Photos courtesy of Alexandra Kidd Design.

It's infectious. Alexandra Kidd exudes such a positive energy and passion for her work, you can't help getting swept up in it from the moment she says hello. Sorry, make that Hello!!! :-) :0 \o/ <3

The Sydney-based interior designer is fresh, fun, and very serious about not taking herself too seriously. (Read that again - it makes sense, I promise.) Want proof? Read on to see how the Aussie's personality leaps out from the page...er, screen...in this month's designer interview with the principal of Alexandra Kidd Design. Among other topics, I asked her about about designing with black and white - a challenge she has mastered in numerous projects to create spaces that are breathtakingly bold.

A quick note before you delve in: This working mom (or mum, in her case) may have a sense of humor (or humour - what is with the English language, anyway?), but her designs are no joke. Each thoughtful and deliberate project is clean, strong, and will leave you saying wow. Sorry, make that WOW!!! :-0 o/\o *\0/* <3 <3

Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your work.

A: I’m a Sydney interior designer, wife, Mum, and general design addict!

After 10 years working with an iconic Australian interior designer, I was inspired to set up my own design practice – one that was more personal and client driven. I have always been as passionate about relationships as I have been about design. I wanted to surround myself with clients, trades, contractors and suppliers who view the world as I do and who are as passionate about people and design as I am.

At AKD we focus on the experiential nature of design, believing that well-considered design can truly change lives. 

My fabulous team and I work on a diverse mix of design projects including residential, hospitality and recently healthcare. All projects are undertaken with the same sensitivity…what energy are we trying to create? I am preoccupied with the way a space feels. I want to create spaces that people want to be in, be inspired by and feel nurtured within.  Most days in the studio you’ll see us oscillate between complete creative breakdown and mediative Tibetan bowls. 

Alexandra Kidd

Q: You make excellent use of a black and white color palette.  What do you like about black and white design and how do you use it to make a statement? 

A: Thank you! I love exploring the “soft” contrast of black and white, playing with textures and metallics to blur the cliched black and white relationship. Startling white and black is very graphic and contemporary but sometimes can feel cold…I prefer a warmer white or soft blacks…creating layers of neutrals and materials to complete the story and enforce the design. I believe a successful interior is achieved by adding layers of texture and levels of patina. An interior should be a journey starting from the front door every space should be considered and evaluated for what the client needs to receive from the space, how they want to feel and how they need it to work for them…we then set about how we may influence that experience.

We focus on the experiential nature of design, believing that well-considered design can truly change lives. Using the contrasted black and white theme can be a lovely canvas to start with…strong enough to stand on its own with little adornment or the perfect base to add artwork and accessories.

Mosman House Living Alexandra Kidd Design

Kitchen designed by Alexandra Kidd Design

Black and white bathroom by Alexandra Kidd Design

Q: What tips do you have for those of us who want to try and achieve this look?

A: Layers, cohesiveness and completeness.  Consider the layers starting from the big picture and working through to the smallest detail. Tell a story…it may be a colour or a theme, a detail or a material choice…resolve this element and carry it through the whole home. Articulate it, repeat it, reinforce it.

master bedroom by Alexandra Kidd Design

Kitchen with black and white wallpaper by Alexandra Kidd Design

Q: Can you share your favorite design/decor elements from past projects?

A: I love lighting…and I guess you’d say lighting led me to design. My step mother was a lighting designer and imported Italian lighting into Australia for many years. Lighting has become art-like, no longer just functional. I love that clients now see the true value and beauty of light fixtures. We play with the mix of architectural lighting and feature light fittings…one close to my heart is the lighting installed in a recent Sydney project. Where vast voids and spaces allowed us to use lights as sculptural additions, filling spaces as well as being functional and adding ambience and mood.

Mosman House Dining by Alexandra Kidd Design

Mosman House Bathroom by Alexandra Kidd Design

Q: What is one piece of advice you find yourself giving clients on a regular basis?

A: Ohh, I am very opinionated…where to start? Documentation is key, Communication is paramount…Trust me…If you don’t love it when it’s done, I’ll pay to have it replaced/ redone.  I figure that if I feel that passionately about it…they will eventually too!

Ensuite bathroom by Alexandra Kidd Design

Q: Can you give an example of a particularly challenging project? How did you overcome it?

A: When clients’ vision and aesthetic aren’t aligned, this can be very challenging. Design is as much about psychology as spatial planning and colour choices. For a project to be successful, I believe that all personalities of the home have to be heard and feel that the home is an extension of them. This is often just a process…I believe that communication is paramount. I encourage clients to talk through their concerns, ask questions, give positive feedback, to be really involved in the process. This all influences the design and allows their spaces to really reflect who they are.  And if all that fails, you have to know when to have the “come to Jesus” chat.

Entryway by Alexandra Kidd Design

Dining area by Alexandra Kidd Design

Q: What makes working in Australia a unique experience?

A: Fundamentally we don’t take ourselves too seriously….And are usually at the ready for a good laugh. I think this is terribly important. I am really proud of Australian design and in our small way to be contributing to it.

At its core, I believe Australian design is honest with emphasis on natural materials and clean details. I think across the board we embrace and celebrate our outdoor lifestyle and, in response to this, create clean, fresh and strong interiors. We also celebrate craftsmanship and artisans…once feared to be dying off, I believe that bespoke workmanship is alive and well.

Dining area in front of windows by Alexandra Kidd Design

Q: Who do you admire today in the architecture and/or design fields, and what are they doing that you admire? 

A: My inspiration is limitless. I am inspired by so many people and things, but mostly at this time of my life and career and socially I am completely inspired by women and particularly working, creative mums!


From one working mum/mom to another, I'd like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Alex. On a day of little sleep thanks to a grumpy toddler (he was awoken by the cacophonous rumblings of snow plows all night), speaking with her is like getting a much-needed energy shot of inspirational go-get-'em! Emoticons not required.

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