BAFFSKY and SASS
In issue 01 of Habitus magazine, Kirsty de Garis met with landscape architect Daniel Baffsky and fashion designer Sarah-Jane Clarke of sass & bide fame
The heart of sass & bide is very much affiliated with London, where the idea for the business was born. “I love that city,” says Sarah-Jane. She and Heidi take annual inspiration trips, including twice-annual visits to the big fabric fairs in Paris.
Current inspiration adventures for Sarah-Jane and Heidi include visits to the hills of rural Vietnam, where a tribal culture is thriving. They’re also turning their attention to Russia, but as always, with a twist. “Everyone thinks of Russia in winter so we were thinking of venturing over there during the summer; to take some of the wintry elements and translate it to summery clothes,” she says.
Australia remains the biggest market for sass & bide creations, with the UK a close second. Sales have also grown in Hong Kong, Japan, Dubai and across Europe. The list continues to grow.
Although the UK remains a huge part of the design philosophy of sass & bide, its designs are also hugely influenced by Australia. “Our designs are trans-seasonal,” Sarah-Jane explains. “Our collections are quite light. This reflects the Australian climate and we are very influenced by the colours, weather and lifestyle here,” she adds.
Daniel’s work can be seen on the extensive rooftop gardens at M Central apartment complex in Pyrmont, Sydney. It’s a heritage building that was modified for residential living – something dear to Daniel’s heart. “We’ve had a string of interesting heritage projects,” he says.
The brief was 1960s Palm Springs and the results revealed in stage one reflect the glamour of that era. A Japanese maple was planted as the centrepiece of the interior atrium and in addition to hanging baskets of Boston ferns, Daniel introduced a wild element in what he chose to plant. “A trumpet vine,” he says. “It’s Brazilian – mad, with cup-shaped trumpet flowers.”
Each space has a strong aesthetic direction unique to its purpose but they also work as part of a unified whole. “There is a feeling of domesticity, familiarity,” says Daniel. It was what his client was after. “I loved working with this group [that included Nik Karalis and Dominic Alvaro of Melbourne firm Woods Bagot] as they’re all perfectionists,” he says.
Daniel relished the opportunity to harness his architectural knowledge when it came to the design of his home with Sarah-Jane and their sons.
The design of their family home reflects both Sarah-Jane and Daniel’s love of organic forms and materials, and each of them took a large role in detailing to turn it into a space that spoke volumes about how they choose to live. “We trust each other,” says Daniel.
“I think we’re quite complementary because Daniel focuses on the details and I probably focus more on the bigger picture,” Sarah-Jane adds. When it comes to drawing on each other’s talents for inspiration in their wider lives, it’s an indirect influence, Daniel explains. “We don’t look at each other’s work and, by osmosis, think, ‘I can apply that somehow’, but it’s SJ’s magazines that I might flick through, or the places that we travel together, that become a source of inspiration.”
Daniel focused on architectural details including broad timber window frames that invite the visitor to sit on and admire the view. Sarah-Jane focused her attention on fabrics and furnishing. “Sarah-Jane likes to move, as well,” says Daniel. “So there’s a sense that this will be one of many homes we live in.”
Travel as a couple has been, and continues to be, something they love to do. The pair recently snuck away to Japan for five days. “I appreciate the Japanese dress sense and I love collecting curiosities and weird things. There were a few unusual things we came home with,” says Sarah-Jane. Adds Daniel, “We were both drawn to the Japanese way of overlaying the modern world with their ancient, traditional way of life. There are few places on earth where this contrast is more pronounced.”
“Having met Daniel, I now appreciate land¬scape a lot more,” says Sarah-Jane. For some reason I was a little bit oblivious but now I think about landscape and how it works – the layering of trees and shrubs and grasses. I guess everyone can appreciate a beautiful garden but I quite like to break it down and really work out why it’s beautiful,” she adds.
Inside their home, Daniel has introduced large potted indoor plants to many of the light, airy rooms. Sarah-Jane has taken care of the interior decoration and furniture. When it comes to art, there’s a rule: “We both have to like it for it to go on the wall,” she says.
Thanks to their shared aesthetic and appreciation of life, the ways in which design enters the private worlds of Sarah-Jane and Daniel has been a blessing, not a curse. “We like the mix of old and new,” says Daniel. “And we like the 1960s era in architecture. We had a similar feeling about the family home – we wanted open-plan living, we didn’t want everything to be separated because that’s not how we want to live.”
Sarah-Jane adds, “I suppose when we look at our combined approach, it is more organic. But we do like to twist it with something modern – to throw another element in there.”