Kett furniture featured in the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C.

Photography by Joe Fletcher

The Australian embassy in Washington D.C stands as a bold statement amidst Washington’s architectural scenery, with every element of the design embodying the allure of Australia.

Renowned architectural firm Bates Smart has redesigned the Australian Embassy in Washington DC with an Australian narrative woven through all touch points of the project.  

The Bates Smart team approached Kett to supply exceptional Australian-made furniture for the Embassy, with reference to the Australian landscape to enrich the storytelling of the interior. Today, Kett furniture sits in the foyer of the Australian Embassy, a significant milestone for our brand. 

The new Embassy stands as a bold statement amidst Washington’s architectural landscape, a captivating space that honours Australia’s natural splendour, creative talent and cultural legacy.

At the heart of the building lies a spacious atrium, serving as a central hub seamlessly connecting the ground with the sky. This pivotal space anchors an organised layout that embraces natural light. These well-lit workspaces promote a serene and structured environment, fostering a sense of equity and calmness.

The interiors showcase furniture from leading Australian designers and manufacturers, offering a modern interpretation of Australian design that enhances the space’s contemporary appeal. Additionally, the Embassy incorporates historically significant designs, such as re-interpretations of Robin Boyd’s iconic Walsh St Sofa and Domain Park Chair.  

Further enriching the environment, Australian paintings, vibrant specialty rugs and sculptures are proudly displayed throughout, celebrating First Nations artists.

In the waiting area, guests are welcomed by our Johanna occasional chairs and Johanna sofas, inspired by the rugged beauty of Victoria’s Johanna region.

In the foyer, guests are greeted by our Johanna Sofas and Occasional Chairs, inspired by the rugged beauty of Victoria’s Johanna region. The Johanna Sofas were custom-made for Bates Smart in a three-seater size, with an integrated side table and power access. Featuring a dark stained oak base and forest green wool upholstery, the setting complements the native-inspired colourways that flow throughout the Embassy.

When collaborating with Mark Healey of Bates Smart, Kett Design Director Justin said, ‘It was the Johanna Occasional Chair that emerged as a focal point for the waiting area,’ noting, “Its restrained yet pragmatic aesthetic signalled a shift toward a distinct Australian design vernacular.” 

Captured during the final stages of upholstery and finishing touches, the Johanna sofa receives its last adjustments in our Bayswater workshop for the Washington D.C project.

Mark Healey’s original layout for the Embassy’s waiting area initially showcased the Otway Sofa and Otway Side Table. Recognising the firm’s fondness for the Johanna Occasional Chair and desire for a minimal environment, Justin explains it was “this discourse that inspired the evolution of the Johanna Sofa, culminating in the innovative integration of a side table which displayed the Ora Lamp by Ross Gardham.”

This custom-integrated table blends seamlessly with the original design. Continuing the line of the sofa’s solid oak base, the timber platform extends beyond the upholstery, creating a cantilevered side table with gently curved edges. This addition maintains a simple yet functional style, which embodies our reductionist design ethos, and ‘epitomises the fusion of collaborative influences and design emblematic of contemporary Australian craftsmanship,’ says Justin.

Their simple yet functional style embodies a distinct Australian design ethos, catalysing the evolution of the sofa and prompting the innovative integration of a side table to elegantly showcase the Ora Lamp by Ross Gardam.

The Embassy, having achieved a Green Star rating, highlights its commitment to leading environmental design. Our Johanna Collection, also crafted with a focus on sustainability, enhanced its appeal as a feature piece for the project. 

During the original design process for the Johanna collection, each element, from the natural timbers to the eco-conscious fabrics, was carefully selected to align with the principles of responsible design. Additionally, these materials also had to ensure durability, given the high-traffic environment.

Additional pieces chosen for the Embassy’s interior are from Kett’s Otway Coffee and Side Tables. Featuring non-porous ceramic surfaces and hand-made timber bases, they also incorporate durable materials and contribute to the Australian design and manufacturing narrative. 

This collaboration not only marks a pivotal moment for Kett, but it was also a true honour to team up with Bates Smart in shaping the future of the Australian Embassy in Washington DC. This partnership reflects our commitment to excellence and our immense pride in showcasing Australian design on the global stage.

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