This year’s KBDi Certified Designers Forum guests were treated to an informative and inspiring session with renowned interior designer, Julie Ockerby (Meli Studio), with thanks to the generous sponsorship of Blum Australia.

With previous careers in nursing and the boutique hotel industry, Julie shared how she combined her past experience with a passion for interiors, and a genuine desire to reinvigorate aged care living. 

Together with her Sydney-based design team, Julie is committed to ‘pushing the boundaries’ with her clients in an effort to create beautiful, warm and stimulating spaces for those nearing the end of their lives.

Drawing on her personal experiences, Julie shared how important it is to create spaces that are not only appealing to the residents, but also inviting to family and friends. She explained how by creating a less sterile and more homely environment, the elderly occupants are much more likely to be visited by those near and dear to them.

Fighting hard against beige-to-beige norms of the industry, Julie strives to incorporate colour in her aged care projects. With an international clientele, she noted the need to consider the cultural relationships with particular colours: red, for instance, could be deemed far too intense for a Western population. Asian culture, on the other hand, would embrace the hue for its prosperity and energetic values. 

Julie also discussed how furniture design can be approached with greater thoughtfulness. For example, upholstering an otherwise ordinary bedhead with patterned fabrics adds softness and a sense of opulence, and including drawers for jewellery allows for sentimental reflection (with the necessary security).

Julie’s passion for the industry was truly inspirational, and her energy and enthusiasm for change was contagious. Forum attendees certainly left with some food for thought about the aging population, and plenty of inspiration. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

  • Great insight into an area needing a lot of attention and respect.
  • Julie offered great inspiration for following your passion and leading industry to change. 
  • Great insight into something I knew nothing about. Her ideas about introducing colour were brilliant and the way she went about it all.
  • As a designer, I have done some work in Aged Care and medical and absolutely love the challenges it presents. Julie was great to listen to and very informative. And down to earth.
  • Julie’s presentation was dynamic and engaging. With a vast array of knowledge and experience in Aged Care, I learnt a great deal and opened my mind to items/ideas that I had never considered.

If you have an interest in learning more about designing for an aging population, don’t forget to refer to our technical bulletin, ‘Designing for the Elderly and People with Disabilities’. (Don’t have a copy yet? Contact us today, and we’ll get one to you.)

And if you’d like to see more of Julie’s work, visit

Many thanks to Blum for their sponsorship of this fantastic Forum, and for bringing such an inspiring speaker to our program.

Blum’s Ange Geroukos with Julie Ockerby of Meli Studio.