About Habitusliving


Habitus is a movement for living in design. We’re an intelligent community of original thinkers in constant search of native uniqueness in our region.


From our base in Australia, we strive to capture the best edit, curating the stories behind the stories for authentic and expressive living.


Habitusliving.com explores the best residential architecture and design in Australia and Asia Pacific.


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SICIS – Manufacturing Art

Italian Art Mosaic company SICIS are not simple tile manufacturers; their tiles represent true craftsmanship and artistic expression.

The company was founded by an unlikely candidate – Italian ex-football star Maurizio Placuzzi – in 1987, with a vision to bring the art of mosaic from “the depth of oblivion into the modern age”.

The SICIS headquarters in Ravenna, Italy, are testament to the company’s passion for art mosaics: created as a colourful, Roald Dahl-like wonderland, the mosaics created inside spill out onto the landscaped gardens – far from your regular manufacturing plant. 

All this is a far cry from the original factory – little more than a 200sqm shed – now a 200,000sqm ‘art mosaic factory’ where the glass tiles are produced under the watchful eye of Murano craftsmen. However, the company has not let tradition stunt their growth, investing in technology and expertise to deliver the best results.

In just 20 short years, SICIS have expanded to have ‘art factories’ in Italy and North America, with showrooms across the globe, from Europe to Australasia.

For SICIS, mosaics are more than aesthetic adornments; they are a means of communication, an expression of trends, lifestyles and the times in which we live.

SICIS Australia
Free Call 1300 310 002


SICIS Founder - Maurizio Placuzzi



Design Hunters

Test Shoot Gallery

Creative professionals are at the heart of so many cultural expressions, from art to architecture and even fashion we speak of our cultures through creativity. However, as time goes on, it appears these professions are finding it more and more difficult to eke out a living.

It was this concern that prompted a small collective of Design Hunters™ in Singapore to form Test Shoot Gallery (TSG) in December 2008. The online gallery and blog aims to showcase and promote emerging designers and artists within the realm of ‘Creative Fashion’ – creating a “platform of multi-disciplinary expressions of pop culture, design, fashion and photography”.

“Test Shoot Gallery knows that to bring our distinct Singaporean designs worldwide, we should start with supporting our own new talents,” explains co-founder, Ashburn Eng.

The site, which initially began as a Facebook page, creates unique fashion shoots that, through photography, cross the divide between art and fashion. Since establishing the official website late last year, the collective has garnered a strong following with over 40,000 visitors.

It seems there is a groundswell of support in the Singaporean design and fashion scene for ‘underground’ non-commercial offerings such as TSG.

“If Singaporean designers want to go global and survive in the long haul, we must learn to aggressively soak up and expand the technicalities of apparel-making and hold design shows which will draw feverish world-wide media attention and coverage,” Eng insists.

Although there are no immediate plans to take TSG into the offline world in the form of runway shows or other events, the team behind the initiative are adamant that Singaporean fashion must take hold of their destiny and support their emerging talent.

“When we wear our local brands, not only can Singaporeans be educated in brand appreciation and brand identity, but we can also invoke a sense of national pride,” Eng says.

“With every baby step we take towards our target, we aim to be the next London, Paris, New York, Tokyo or Milan.”

Test Shoot Gallery



Elysium Noosa

Far removed from coastal McMansions and inner-city apartment or terrace dwelling, residential sub-divisions represent a large and increasing quota of the way Australians live. Elysium Noosa, a unique development in Queensland, explores this typology through the eyes of 12 significant Australian architects. With each firm designing a number of individual lots, this project offers an insight into the ways Australian designers respond to unique physical elements. “We are now maturing as a culture that understands the significance of site, climate and location, as real influences in the built environment,” says Woods Bagot Senior Associate, Domenic Alvaro. For Elysium Noosa, both variety and unity informed Woods Bagot’s designs. The elements of an idealised sub-tropical villa, such as the courtyard, overhang, landscape and pool, were interpreted as personality traits (overhang = umbrella, landscape = no house) and then scattered throughout their allotted division. Cohesion comes into play in the reading and experience of the whole. Alvaro explains, “Our interest is not in the calibre of each individual house, but how they, in unison, combine to create a distinct residential experience not to be missed.” Featured in Habitus 06 (out now), the Wonga Beach House also designed by Alvaro, shows a similar approach to site specificity and sensitivity to issues of light, airflow and site in tropical North Queensland. Elysium Noosa features lots designed by: Arkhefield Bark Design Bligh Voller Nield Cottee Parker Architects Cox Raynor Architects Elizabeth Watson Brown Fairweather Proberts Gabrielle & Elizabeth Poole Design Lahz Nimmo Architects Richard Kirk Architects Spence Pearson Architects Woods Bagot Photography: Thomas Bloch Photography Elysium Noosa elysiumnoosa.com.au lifestyle@elysiumnoosa.com.au abc

The Better Umbrella

The ‘move’ section of habitusliving.com will generally profile ways to get around, from cars and boats to bicycles and scooters, but we won’t be forgetting all those other little things that make getting from A to B just that bit easier… so today, welcome the Blunt Umbrella.

Designed by Auckland-based designer and mechanical engineer Greig Brebner, the innovative umbrella is the result of research into aerodynamics, lightweight materials and safety.

Cities and rain don’t go well together – something that Brebner found out when on working sabbatical in London. “The first day the rain arrived in London, it became obvious as to how prolific umbrellas are in a big city,” he explains. “I was quite astounded to find out how dangerous a mass of umbrellas can become with their sharp points at eye level.”

Brebner’s design aims to eliminate this rainy day peril. He has adapted the traditional wet weather necessity by creating a safer ‘blunt’ umbrella, with rounded tips that add to the structural strength.

The design also uses a unique ‘Radial Tensioning System’, which essentially reinforces the canopy, providing greater durability and wind resistance. The technicalities aside, the Blunt Umbrella displays a unique aesthetic (helping you stand out in the crowd) while offering the same convenience and basic operation as a traditional umbrella.

“The response from the public for the product has been overwhelmingly positive. Comments like 'why hasn't someone come up with this before' and 'what took so long' really validate for me that I have achieved what I set out to do,” Brebner says.

“For people to be so easily convinced that this design is a massive improvement on the old proves that this product has got huge potential.”

There is no mode of transport more sustainable than walking, but there’s also nothing worse than getting soaked in the process – so it is with ingenious design such as the Blunt Umbrella that we can help the environment and our health, and stay dry doing it.

You can buy the Blunt Umbrella online here.

Blunt Umbrellas



blunt umbrealla better

blunt umbrella perfect

perfect umbrella blunt safe

strong umbrella blunt


The Provenance Restaurant

Driving the inland route between Melbourne and Sydney isn’t as dry an experience as one would think. Nestled along that 10-hour stretch is a wealth of experiential gems – whether it be in the form of wineries, bed and breakfasts, or restaurants.

Provenance Restaurant and Luxury Suites in Beechworth
, just south of the New South Wales border, is the perfect example. It is the kind of place that makes you reconsider your itinerary and stay another day.

Provenance is housed in a classic late 19th Century building that started its life as the Bank of Australasia. Built in 1856 at the height of the gold rush, it housed banks for almost a century until 1951, when it transformed from a lodging house for nuns, into a run-down squat, a jewellers residence and then finally a restaurant.

Owner and Chef Michael Ryan took over the building 13 years ago, after selling his restaurant, Range in Myrtleford. “We were really looking for a building which gave its own character to a restaurant. The old Bank of Australasia building was perfect,” says Ryan

True to word, the building is steeped in charm and character. The waiters’ bells hang dormant beside the staircase, soaring six-metre ceilings border original arched windows, and the old bank vault has been put to good use as a wine cellar.

Most curious of all is the delicate Japanese influence found in the food – and the tastefully hung art. “I have always had an affinity for Japanese design and food. What I most like about Japanese cuisine is that a small number of base ingredients, used in different portions and with different techniques can produce such varied results,” says Ryan.

“The artwork in the restaurant is a mixture of [Japanese] prints and modern pop art. Being an old building, we feel it is important not to [do] a complete period refit, but to include small modern touches throughout the building.”

Of Provenance’s luxury suites, class is no compromise, with all the suites having undergone modern refits. Rooms feature double spas, double rain showers, king-size beds  – and they’re the only place you want to go after you’ve finished in the restaurant! “Those who stay and dine with us return for all of the above, but also for the comfort and relaxation that our accommodation provides,” says Ryan.

Provenance has been named:

-    No. 30 in the Gourmet Traveller Top 100 Restaurants in Australia
-    Best New Country Restaurant in The Age Good Food Guide, 2010
-    One Chef's Hat in the Age Good Food Guide, 2010.

Provenance Restaurant and Luxury Suites
86 Ford Street
Beechworth Vic 3747
(61 3) 5728 1786

Around The World

Luxury Camping

Camping may not be most people’s definition of luxury travel, but a visit to The Paperbark Camp on New South Wales’ south coast could well change their minds.

In 1998, inspired by a recent trip to Africa, Irena and Jeremy Hutchings built several luxury ‘safari tents’ deep within a paperbark forest in Woollamia, Jervis Bay, giving birth to The Paperbark Camp. Essentially large canvas tents on permanent raised timber platforms, each hut has a full bathroom, deck, polished floorboards and bedroom with timber bed, all kitted out with 'eco linen'.

Since being established, the camp has grown to include 12 tents in total, and now offers the original Safari Tents as well as 4 Deluxe Safari Tents, which include a full bathroom with claw foot cast iron bath – far from a traditional campsite.

The camp also boasts the Gunyah restaurant on site, where chef John Evans (previously of 3 Weeds and Est.) has crafted a unique menu of local produce, including Southern Highlands duck and Jervis Bay Kingfish, complemented by Canberra wines and local and imported cheeses. Designed by Sydney-based Nettleton Tribe Architects, The Gunyah sits high in the forest with open walls emphasising the feeling of floating in the bush canopy.

Designated a National Marine Park, the unspoilt natural beauty of Jervis Bay will remain that way, for all to enjoy. The Paperbark Camp offers packages that include a sailing excursion on the bay – a playground for the dolphins and majestic whales – and entry to the Illawarra Fly treetop walk.

Accompanied by one-on-one hospitality and memorable food, The Paperbark Camp offers the perfect way to connect with nature without abandoning home comforts.

The Paperbark Camp


Wattson Designer Energy Monitor

Forget about the iPad, the most beautiful piece of technology our households will be sporting this year is the 'wattson01' and it's totally green.

Fresh off the boat from the UK, the wattson ‘personal energy monitor’ is the 2006 design by green technology firm DIY Kyoto. This nifty little device hooks up wirelessly to your domestic electricity meter, giving you real-time information on your energy consumption.

The sleek design is all about communication, telling users how much energy their home is using in watts, dollars and cents and through colour-changing lights.

The wattson comes with software – aptly named ‘holmes’ – which allows you to download up to four weeks of data from the device, straight to your computer and ultimately upload onto the DIY Kyoto website (for those competitive types among us, you can compare usage with others).

Wattson can even help you make money, keeping track of energy you put back into the grid from solar or wind energy.

DIY Kyoto claim that simply by being aware of what energy you’re using can help you cut up to 20% off your electricity bills. However, by far the most engaging thing about this clever little device is that itmakes saving money and looking after the environment sort of… well, ‘sexy’.

Starting from just AUD$199, you can buy the 'wattson01' online from todae.com.au, neco.com.au


DIY Kyoto


Wattson DIY Kyoto in dark


wattson personal energy monitor sustainable


wattson personal energy monitor sustainable




Labware Homewares Design

When looking for inspiration for homewares the science lab is probably the least like place to find it. But for Surya Graf of Snack On it was the ‘spark’ of an idea behind his Labware collection.

“There is a science supplies store near my studio that I often just walk past,” Surya explains. “One day I found myself drawn to go inside, and became fascinated by the lab equipment.

“There is a real beauty in the forms and materials that are used, and I was inspired to find a way to bring these into a domestic context.”

Labware was one of the first designs developed for the Brisbane-based Snack On label back in late 2008. The brand has since created a range of designs including the Spare Tire belt – made from recycled bicycle inner tubes.

Designed for use as a water carafe and cups, the Labware collection includes a ceramic flask and beakers and comes in gloss finish in black and white.

“People seem attracted to ceramic as a material, and there is an immediate affinity with the design because the forms are so familiar,” Surya says.

“There is a real sense of fun about the product, with people enjoying the irony of taking lab equipment and using it in their homes.”

Surya has plans to extend the collection when he exhibits at Design Tide Tokyo, creating a smaller Labware set suitable for sake.

The full set (the flask and 4 beakers) in black or white starts at AUD$140 or you can buy the flask and beakers separately. 

Snack On


Labware black and white beakers homewares surya graf

Labware black and white beakers  homewares surya graf

Labware black beakers and flask homewares surya graf

Labware black flask and beakers beakers homewares surya graf

Labware black and white flasks homewares surya graf

Labware white beakers and flask sake homewares surya graf


Design Hunters

Songs of Sapa Winner

We recently offered readers the chance to win a signed copy of Songs of Sapa, by renowned chef and restaurateur Luke Nguyen (above). All readers had to do was tell us their most memorable Asian food experience.

The response was fantastic, and we enjoyed a number of tales from far and wide, from home cooked meals to lavish restaurants. However, there can be only one winner, and it was Lien Giang’s mouth-watering description of a reconnection with his heritage that got our senses tingling:

“The most memorable Asian food experience I have had is…

…in Vietnam, when at 25 I visited my parents homeland for the first time. The street food is fresh and full of flavour, waking up at 7am for BBQ pork chop on rice cooked over coals served with pork and vermicelli cake, pork crackling, shredded pork and a fried egg with chilli nuoc mam.  It’s just not the same over here.”

Luke Nguyen’s SBS television series, Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam, recently completed its first series and he will soon be launching a new Sydney food venture, complementing the success of the Surry Hills Red Lantern restaurant.

You can buy your own copy of Song of Sapa online here. Thank you to all those who entered and stay tuned for some more great prize giveaways.

Luke Nguyen's Red Lantern



Zac’s House

Responsible design forms the backbone of Sydney-based architect firm Neeson Murcutt where respect for the environment and urban density is as important in a house design as the needs of the client.

Zac’s House – a weekender on the Mornington Peninsula on the Victorian coast and a recipient of a 2009 Australian Institute of Architects National Award for Residential Houses – upholds this principle.

“It’s really about the landscape and how to organise the landscape around the house,” explains director Nicholas Murcutt. “With Zac’s House, there was only a small piece of land on which to build – 400 sqm [out of 1200] – because of the tennis court.”

Their solution? To sit the house at the back of the property, make a consolidated garden in front with deep soil planting on either side and retain established trees.

Not only that, they wanted to “challenge the building codes and have zero lot alignment – where the house is close to the boundaries”, make it follow the contour of the land but be single storey to not impact the neighbours, and have a small footprint of just 160 square metres.

The result? An unobtrusive, sustainable, light-filled holiday home that fulfils the client’s brief and offers a design premise suitable for any house in any urban or suburban environment.

With its bright yellow window and door frames against a grey concrete façade, Zac’s House makes an aesthetic statement as well as a design one, proving that by challenging convention you can improve and enhance the urban environment without compromising liveability.

Neeson Murcutt

Words by Jane Riley
Photography by Brett Boardman


OTTO Makes Coffee

The daily cup of coffee has become so entrenched in some people’s lives, and time so valuable, that we’ve seen the emergence of coffee machines that take no time at all, with no mess, no fuss and – some would argue – no soul.

This is where OTTO Espresso steps in. The brainchild of Craig Hiron and designed by Sydney’s Tiller Design, this “little guy” is as far from ‘instant’ coffee as you can get.

OTTO’s closest comparison would be an old-fashioned stovetop percolator – but it is so much more, being the first stovetop maker to extract an espresso shot. "This is not stovetop coffee as people know it," Hiron explains. "This style of coffee can not be made on any other stovetop maker in the world. The coffee, shot and milk texture, is akin to that made in cafés today."

Until you’ve held the OTTO in your hands it’s hard to appreciate its quality – it feels like those appliances your Mum had that still work today; sturdy, reliable.

“It’s for people who’ll spend ten minutes striving towards two perfect cups of coffee,” says Hiron.

A great deal of research and development has gone into making OTTO as simple and effective as possible, using heat to create pressure, allowing the water to slowly penetrate the coffee, delivering a perfect crema.

OTTO includes a milk-frothing wand that provides the same pressure (if not better) as a full coffee machine, and its body is made from solid, cast stainless steel – which takes one person a whole day to hand-polish. 

The slow food movement has taught us that the best food often takes time: OTTO shows that the true satisfaction in a great cup of coffee comes as much from the process as the end result.

You can buy the OTTO online here, but for the full experience you can visit one of the select coffee roasters and design stores.


OTTO Espresso

Following all the comments on this article Craig Hiron from OTTO hasmade the following statement regarding the original Atomic Coffee machine:

Thank you for the comments.

I have owned and loved my Atomic for well over 10 years. Giordano Robbiati's invention is a timeless icon that makes great coffee, and is rightly followed with passion and loyalty. The videos on my website will attest to my own passion and loyalty for the Atomic.

OTTO is an evolution of the Atomic, definitely not identical. The aesthetic is an intended parallel.

Scores of qualified people have worked tirelessly for years to create and house this technology within it's form, hence the international patent and the design award. The coffee extracted will evidence this point.

Again, thanks for the comments and please know that I'm very happy to help with any arising questions.

Craig Hiron Founder of OTTO










IXL Tastic Neo

The IXL Tastic has been a recognised icon in bathrooms across Australia for more than 30 years. Founded in Geelong, Victoria in 1858, IXL was originally concerned with producing wood stoves, before moving into gas stoves and then electric appliances.

The design aesthetic of their best-known product the Tastic, has changed little over the years, however the introduction of the IXL Tastic Neo has launched the evolutionary process for the brand.

Architecturally-designed, engineered and made in Australia, the Tastic Neo is a statement of elegance. Its modern design complements any bathroom - combining heat, exhaust fan and light units with a unique aesthetic.

The flush-mounted sleek design, houses the tungsten halogen heat lamps neatly behind the frosted toughened glass and uses energy saving compact fluorescent lights with gimbal-mounted downlights allowing flexibility in light direction.

The Neo is complemented by a 5-year in-home warranty and a 2-year replacement warranty on heat globes and in-line fan.

With the Tastic Neo Sampford IXL has produced a design evolution, providing unparalleled safety and quality, building upon 150 years of experience – ensuring that the Tastic will remain a welcome bathroom addition for many years to come.

Sampford IXL
Ph. 1300 727 421



IXL Tastic Neo insitu


IXL Tastic Neo directional lights


IXL Tastic NEO


IXL Tastic NEO