Lumira x LUXE Profile: Poppy O’Neil, POCO Designs
Mother and daughter design duo Charlotte and Poppy O’Neil set up POCO Designs 8 years ago, and are responsible for transforming numerous residential and commercial interiors in Sydney. Their combined passions and a love of travel infuse all elements of their work. Daughter Poppy chats to Lumira about working as a team with her mother, the importance of scent, travel, and shares a few of her favourite city spots.
Hello there Poppy, tell us about your business
Charlotte and I launched the POCO Designs after working as a team on Joh Bailey’s flagship salon in Double Bay. Since then, we’ve worked on numerous residential and commercial projects, executing a variety of different styles.
Charlotte trained in London as a specialist painter and restorer – working with established designers such as Jeffrey Bennison, Colefax and Fowler and the National Trust – before relocating to Sydney 33 years ago. Through my studies in Sydney and abroad, I explored numerous styles and as a young designer, I am able to bring a different approach to design. Together we are a mighty team.
Describe a typical work day
Every day is different. I’m normally in the office by 7:30/8am, unless I have an early site inspection. We often have a team meeting over our coffee to update on the various projects. I rarely have an entire day in the office, often popping out to site visits, client consultations or product sourcing. I strive to fit in some design time with the team and then the rest of my day consists of client and order management. Install days are my favourite and often require all hands are on deck. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your client’s reaction as you transform their home.
How does scent exist in your work?
Scent is incredibly important in our work. We are strong believers that the styling of a project can make or break a space and we like to play on the various senses in creating a warm and welcoming environment. We have a Lumira, Persian Rose candle constantly burning in our office and often incorporate them in our residential interiors. The devil is in the detail and when it comes to the final touches of our projects, you would always find a fresh bunch of flowers and a beautiful scented candle.
What’s the most evocative scent for you?
One of the most memorable and identifiable scents is Fracas Perfume by Robert Piguet. This is a perfume I grew up with, and the very first fragrance I wore. It reminds me of the most influential women in my life, my mother Charlotte and grandmother Lucinda, and recalls childhood holidays to the UK. My mother and I still wear Fracas today; its lush floral nature with hints of orange blossom and base of sandalwood, is incredibly emotive and identifiable.
What do you love most about living in Sydney?
I love Sydney for its relaxed outdoor nature and the fun lifestyle activities. Whether its starting my day with a morning run and swim at Bondi or indulging in a long lunch on a weekend, Sydney offers some of the best food, views and atmospheric locations.
The heart of Sydney, in my mind, is the Harbour. Whether you’re admiring it from the foreshore or on a boat, it is a sight to see and enjoy.
How does travel feature in your work and personal life?
Travel plays a major role – it’s a key element in my creative process. Whether it’s for business or personal reasons I’m always looking at and admiring my surroundings and constantly drawing inspiration from my travels. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel and live overseas in the past, and feel each experience has allowed me to build upon my design knowledge. The multisensory nature of travel equates to key memories of my past and is a reason why I look forward to further travel in the future.
Who are your biggest design influences?
International designers such as Joseph Dirand, Charles Zana, Pierre Yovanovitch and Jean Louis Deniot.
Which Instagram accounts are your go-to for inspiration?
Poppy's favourite Sydney haunts:
Sean’s Panorama in Sydney’s Bondi beach has a warm and homey feel about it. If you’re after a delicious and carefully crafted meal made with love, Sean’s is the place.
Bistro Moncur sits within the Woollahra Hotel in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. The restaurant uses some of Australia's best produce to create impressive French dishes.
The Apollo, Potts Point is an Australian-Greek Restaurant with minimalist interiors of concrete, marble and brass touches. It’s perfect for a special-occasion or just a simple Sunday night out.
Jackie's Cafe in Paddington is the place you go to to have fresh, Japanese sashimi in-between shops at The Intersection.
The Roosevelt in Sydney’s Potts Point transports you back to New York in the 1950’s as soon as you step inside. With Art Deco interiors, leather and candle-lit tables it is a cool spot.
The Wine Library on Oxford St, Woollahra has a romantic air about it, while being upbeat and edgy.
Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay has incredible traditional Italian cuisine, combining innovation and flair to create a lovely experience. The cocktail list is carefully curated to complement the dishes .
Sydney Harbour is lovely for walks around Mrs Macquaries Chair, catching ferries over to the Northern Beaches and is just a great place for events and unexpected adventures.
The White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale houses one of the world’s most significant collections of Chinese contemporary art – discover unusual visuals and venture downstairs after for amazing dumplings and assorted Chinese teas.
Swimming at Bondi beach or Bondi Icebergs is a refreshing start, middle and end to any day for us.
Centennial Park has so much to offer. Walk, run or bike around the park, get lost in the many beautiful trails or bring some friends and indulge with a picnic. Dogs are also allowed.
Becker Minty is a lifestyle concept store in Pott’s Point stocking perfumes, candles, fashion (women and men), home decor, art and both antique and modern jewellery.
The Intersection is a collection of boutique stores on the corner of Glenmore Rd and Oxford St. It’s a beautiful area to go for a spot of shopping, and it’s easy to find cute spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Produced in collaboration with Lumira.
Planning a trip to Sydney? For more hot tips on where to eat, play and shop, snap up the LUXE Sydney guide.
A spur-of-the-moment decision to move to Bangkok brought Liz to Asia in 2003, where over a decade and three countries later, she's in Hong Kong heading up LUXE editorial.
- Liz LOVES... Chilli (on everything), getting lost in cities, hiking, people-watching at airports
- Liz LOATHES... Suburbia, MSG
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