Jac, owner of JAC&

An interview about life and community at
Nightingale Anstey — Laneway
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Tell us a little about yourself and your business.

I’m Jac and I run JAC&, a small design studio that focuses on strategic branding. 

What were the most important factors for you when looking for a commercial space?

I was looking for something smaller after spending six years running 43 Derby Street, which was a big building that came with a lot of overheads and responsibilities. I wanted something well-designed that would be enough for me and some staff, but wouldn’t feel overwhelming.

Being on the ground floor and having people passing by is really important to me. It’s hard to find smaller spaces that aren’t shoved up on the tenth floor, in the back of a building. The Nightingale space was a real rarity. Ground floor, small, accessible - pretty perfect. 

Was the sustainability aspect of Nightingale’s approach important to you?

Definitely. I appreciated Nightingale’s guidelines on fit-out for the commercial space, because it makes you double-check that you’re choosing good materials and working with the right people, rather than diving into everything quickly and cheaply. I really respected that. 

What are your thoughts on Breathe’s Nightingale Anstey design?

I fell in love with the building. It’s a new build that’s done so well; it looks like it could have been here for forty years. The materials are really robust and quite brutalist, but I also like the softness around the edges. The simplicity and the materials chosen really speak to me. 

How have visitors and clients responded to JAC&’s new home?

Everyone has said it’s such a beautiful space and there’s not much you need to do to elevate it, which was a big drawcard for me: that the space in itself is beautiful, and anything that I do to fit it out will only enhance it. There’s no need to gut it and start again. 

You’re still in the process of fitting out your new office. What is your vision for the space?

I’m excited about activating the front half of the space. Side ventures and collaboration have always been integral to JAC&. Being on the ground floor, we might explore a retail concept that celebrates small business and design. Stay tuned.

We have some lighting coming in from one of our clients, Remodern. They work with great designers in China who use cement with lots of recycled materials, so it felt like the perfect fit. 

The intention with the fit-out is to do it slowly. I haven’t felt the need to do everything at once; I’m happy to sit, do the work, respond to the space, and also respond to the community and see what they actually want, and what would be useful or exciting for people.

Nightingale buildings are designed to engage with the local environment and encourage pedestrian access, and Nightingale Anstey is situated right near Anstey Station and the shared Upfield bike path. How does this affect your experience of the space?

People are really excited and always popping their heads in to see what’s going on!

I used to live in Coburg, and I’m running into a lot of people I knew there who ride their bikes to work along the Upfield bike path. A few of my clients are nearby as well. I work with the guys at Wild Life Bakery and they ride home this way, which is lucky for me as they drop in delicious samples! It also means we can have quick impromptu meetings at the end of the day.

The people in the apartments upstairs have been really interested and supportive. Being in a commercial space and running a small business like mine can be quite lonely. Here, it almost feels like I’m part of a residential community - but I don't live here. That’s been a surprisingly lovely thing that I hadn't really thought about before. 

How does working at your Nightingale Anstey studio complement the other aspects of your life?

We’ve recently bought a house in West Brunswick so this location fit really well, being a 15-minute walk from home. I have a toddler, and we’ve been coming here on the weekends to drop things off. We didn't do that at the old space because it took a car trip to get there, whereas this is a really lovely walk away, and having Bulleke-bek Park just nearby is a big win for her. I find it really rewarding to be in the office with her, seeing her running round Mum’s work, excited by the space. 

Top 3 favourite spots in your new neighbourhood?

Tochi Deli - the food is so good. 

Kines are really good for coffee, I’m always ducking down there. 

Brunswick Market. I love that it’s really good produce, and it’s such a nice down-to-earth environment, and the staff there are lovely - and it’s really reasonably priced. 

Published September 2022

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