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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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Around The World

Gary Shead’s Fine Art Retreat

Acclaimed artist Gary Shead spends most of his time painting and drawing in his beautiful studio in Bundeena, NSW.  Only once or twice a year does he take leave of his little patch to do some travel through South East Asia or to teach a workshop on an island. The acclaimed figurative painter, who has previously led fine art retreats at Arajilla on Lord Howe Island, has just announced his next art workshop will take place in Ubud. In May 2012, Gary Shead together with the Fine Art Dealer David Nagy, will welcome guests to an art workshop that is designed to wake up the five senses. "It's all a mystery to me, it's all a big adventure and that is how it is for everybody," says Shead, who traveled extensively through Papua New Guinea as a graduate from the National Art school in the late 1960's, and believes cultural immersion is a tonic to the creative brain. Open to only a dozen art enthusiasts, Nagy and Shead's 'Bali Art Experience' includes close encounters with a local Balinese storyteller, intensive drawing workshops and just a dash of 'de-cluttering' meditation. "I don't really regard it as teaching, I regard it as a sharing of experiences at the place. We probably are a kind of guide, whoever we are, us artists, but that's our function just to kind of guide the people," Shead says. The Fine Art Retreats Gary has taught previously supply students with all the materials they need and are suitable for everyone from very beginners to fully practicing artists. Having painted and exhibited work for almost 50 years, Gary says he will share with people the various methods and techniques that have worked for him. "I always start these things with drawing, at first we have a bit of fun with perception. Then once the group has got to know each other. We choose someone to start drawing. At first they usually say to me; 'Oh I'm not very good at this', 'I haven't drawn for a long time', 'It's very hard,' and so on and so on. Then I say: okay we will make it easier, you draw with the opposite hand - the old yard stick method - then we ask them to draw with their eyes closed and we just go on and experiment like that, until they start to feel free and they realise that to make a mark on paper is really not that hard," Gary says. The next retreat planned for May 2-12 will take place at the resort of Warwick Ibah Ubud. Home to a series of Villas and Suites, Warwick Ibah is situated on 2 hectares of land between a Hindu Temple and a Holy Spring. When working en plein air,o picnic lunches are provided by Bali's leading boutique caterer, Lynley Marston and for some local insight Ida Bagus Oka, the retreat's storyteller and cultural expert, will offer up a wealth of knowledge, on the historical, religious, spiritual and artistic context of the workshops setting. "I think this experience that we are going to have, will be good because it's always quite different when you go to place, when you go to Europe or wherever and you know someone there who is local then it is always quite different. You go to their place and see how they really live. It is not the same as if you are a tourist and you just go the hotspots." Bali Art Experience runs in May 2012. Fine Art Retreats Michael Nagy Fine Art Eva Breuer Galleryabc
Habitus Loves
Design Accessories

Habitus loves… ceramics


Stones and bark


Designed by: Bridget Bodenham

Why we love it: Soft shapes and organic forms make these quirky handmade ceramic utensils irresistible.

Where you can get it:




Soft shapes


Designed by: Mud Australia

Why we love it: Hand-made porcelain, with a nuanced finish, Mud plates and bowls feature heavy and delicate pieces in crayon yellow, matt black and soft pastel shades.

Where you can get it:



Wonki ware


Designed by: Di Marshall

Why we love it: Wonki-ware strikes a balance between simple and special. All the way from sunny South Africa, this neutral range has handmade charm with polished glaze finish.

Where you can get it:



Altered form


Designed by: Stephanie James Manttan

Why we love it: Functional and sculptural, these little porcelain objects starts as cylindrical forms that are then altered and manipulated to have their dappled texture.

Where you can get it:



Rhythm of life


Designed by: Szilvia Gyorgy

Why we love it: Perfect for small spaces, Szilvia's tea light holders are a soft deconstructed lamp that can be used on the dining table.

Where you can get it:





Designed by: Kris Coad

Why we love it: Handmade from translucent porcelain. These bowls are initially thrown on the pottery wheel before being shaped into one-offs.

Where you can get it:




Morning colours


Designed by: Beclau

Why we love it: This range of nicely-weighted breakfast ware adds a vibrant punch of colour to any kitchen. Look out for more Beclau products in issue 14 of Habitus.

Where you can get it:





Designed by: Ingrid Tufts

Why we love it: Ingrid Tuft's functional range of ceramic tableware, teaware and vases are all hand-made. Each piece is thrown on the wheel and then turned and finished in her cosy Victorian sutdio.

Where you can get it:




Meeting the people behind Secret Gardens

What does your company supply?

Secret Gardens is passionate about building beautiful gardens for our clients to enjoy, which will look great today but even better tomorrow. This requires great design, quality construction and an outstanding garden maintenance team. 

How did your company come about?

Started 18 years ago by Matthew Cantwell, today Secret Gardens employs over 35 passionate and talented Landscape Architects, Designers, Construction experts and Horticulturists. 

Where do you distribute?

We build gardens in Sydney and have designed gardens across Australia.

Describe your customers?

Savvy professionals, entrepreneurs or successful people that appreciate design and quality workmanship. They are looking for a company that they can trust to deliver a high quality product, great service with minimal impact into their lives. 

What sets your company apart?

Our reputation has been built on customer service, quality workmanship, creative designs and our experienced and qualified team. This means we ensure every project is produced to the highest quality. 

We are proud to be a multi-award winner in all categories – Best Design, Best Construction and Best Garden Maintenance Awards. At Secret Gardens we can be involved in individual elements of your project, or as most clients prefer, manage the entire process from garden sketches on paper right through to maintenance of a completed garden. Not a lot of companies can provide a complete landscaping service. 

We treat each project as unique and design with the client’s style in mind, taking into consideration the architectural style of the home and ensuring that each project is designed to suit all elements. This is evident in our eclectic portfolio. 

What is design to you?

Delivering a design that meets a clients brief but exceeds their expectations. Good design is evident when you see how clients use their garden after we have finished. It is a different lifestyle for them as they can enjoy their outdoor areas as much (if not even more) than the indoors. 


What does the future hold?

To continue to create more beautiful gardens with our team of inspired and passionate people.

If you love beautiful landscaped gardens why not keep up to date with new work and projects via the Secret Gardens Facebook Page. To win a 2012 subscription to Habitus Magazine please go on to the Secret Gardens Facebook Page and like this site.


Contact details:

URL: www.secretgardens.com.au

email: secret@secretgardens.com.au

Phone: (+612) 9314 5333

Design Hunters

Design Hunter™ Q&A: Fiona Lochtenberg

Fiona Lochtenberg (née Borda) is the woman behind Studio Becker, Australia. Born and raised in Malta, a small Mediterranean island with a long history and a trading culture stretching back to Antiquity, Fiona has developed a palate of highly refined tastes.  As part of our new Design Hunter series, Fiona shares with us her answers to a lightening fast Q&A design story!

Your name: Fiona Lochtenberg

What you do: Designer

Your latest project: Studio Becker Showroom, Redfern, Sydney

What is your favourite… travel destination Europe

Hotel/place to stay Villa D'Este, Lago di Como

Airline Qantas, of course !!

Magazine Habitus

Three people that inspire/excite you

1) Dale Jones-Evans, Architect

2) My Mother, Interior Designer

3) Mies van de Rohe, Architect

Design classic La Chaise, Ray & Charles Eames

New design Salmon skin drawer/door fronts by Studio Becker

Meal Spaghetti alle Vongole

Restaurant Longrain, Nobu London, Hakkasan II

Drink Caipiroscka

Bar Harry's Bar, Cipriani

Gallery/museum Moma, NY

Book Earth Atlas

Item in your studio Ying Yang Kitchen

Artwork Figurines by Zadok Ben David, London

Artist Loic Le Groumellec, Paris

Piece of technology iPad & Zip Tap


Sultry scene change

Vanda Crescent, Singapore is an elegant renovation and addition of a tropical dwelling. The double height building with timber screens features a V shaped roof with large shady overhangs and a peaceful entrance courtyard and pool. Designed by RT & Q architects to bring a modern interpretation to tropical home, Vanda Crescent gives the home great spatial transparency and a feeling of cool filtered light. The brief was to transform an old structure into a contemporary one and to use eco-friendly methods for cooling. The home also had to accommodate four children, have a pool for cooling off, a study, garden, six bedrooms and a family room. The resulting home manages to offer all this as well as a double height dining room and a custom designed powder room off the master bedroom. As the images attest, this home has been beautifully transformed into a tropical dwelling that takes it’s cues from the surrounding vegetation. The use of travertine and timber  beautiful complements the earth toned interiors and lush surrounds. Architect: RT + Q Architects Pte ltd (Design Team: TK Quek, Rene Tan, Hor Sue Wern) rtnq Photography: Paul Gaddabc

Mosman House

Sarus Standing Lamp designed by David Weeks, davidweeksstudio.com. Available from FY2K, fy2k.com.au We loved the organic nature of the design which contrasts with the structured elements of the room.  It sits in the formal living room as functional piece, as well as a piece of art in its own right. Adjustable Table E 1027 designed by Eileen Gray. Manufactured by ClassiCon, classicon.com. Available from Anibou, anibou.com.au We chose these side tables for the family room because of their friendly curved lines, which is used by our young boys who are very 'playful'. Also a beautiful classic that we will have forever. Yoda Easy Chair designed by Kenneth Cobonpue, kennethcobonpue.com. Available from KE-ZU, kezu.com.au We loved the playful shape of this chair and think it works very well in the master bathroom as a decorative element. The playful shape, material and bright colour adds a bit of fun to a room that doesn't really require furniture. Helion sofa designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for Minotti, minotti.com. Available from dedece, dedece.com The sofa is used in the formal living room. we chose it for it's structured design and the sense of order it adds to the room. We love its deep rich leather. Botanica Kiri rug designed by Naja Utzon Popov, najautzonpopov.com This rug is used in our family room, we chose it for it's vibrant colour and relaxed playful pattern which creates movement in the space. Wishbone chairs designed by Hans Wegner. Manufactured by Carl Hansen & Son, carlhansen.com. Available from Corporate Culture, corporateculture.com.au We chose this chair for our more formal dining room. We loved it's simple lines and tactile materials that adds a lovely scale to this large open room. Read the full article on the Mosman House in the latest issue of Habitus #14, on newsstands 7 December, 2012. Or subscribe here. PopovBass Architectsabc

Muuto Celebrating 5 years!

Muuto has be a great player in the Scandinavian design scene over the past 5 years. With an MBA background and previous experience as strategy consultants, founder Peter Bonnén and Kristian Byrge launched Muuto in 2006. Using their shared passion for new Scandinavian design they worked together to harbor and nurture new individual talent. “At Muuto we believe that good design starts with the person behind, which is why we handpick the brightest design talent and leading contemporary designers in Scandinavia and give them the freedom to express their individual story through everyday objects.” Muuto is firmly rooted in Scandinavian design, picking up their new designers from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. Muuto’s philosophy is to give their designers freedom to express their personal design philosophy when designing everyday products for the home. “This gives Muuto designs great diversity and character and further links them to the Nordic heritage – a heritage Muuto is proud of and that all the designers carry with them as part of their professional luggage”, says Kristian Byrge. Information, products and shops can be found at muuto.comabc
Design Accessories

Genuine and True Houses

The notion of house-as-home understands the home as an experiential phenomenon focussed first on the body as the primary source of experience, and place as the other key source of experience – with place involving an internalised accretion of physical and cultural knowledge. This is what is known as habitus. More recently, this phenomenological school of architectural philosophy has been represented by Finnish architect and writer, Juhani Pallasmaa who has written the introduction to Alvar Aalto Houses. The book is organised chronologically (periods in Aalto’s evolving practice) and Sirkkaliisa Jetsonen provides contextualising introductions to each section with detailed project descriptions. The generous photography and reproductions of Aalto’s original plans and sketches makes this an absorbing book. Australian architect, Peter Stutchbury, may not seem at first sight to be an inheritor of Aalto, but essentially he is – in his response to place, his sensitivity to individual clients, his imaginative use of materials, his love of customised solutions (especially in the joinery, and his insistence on a unity of habitation, both within the house and between the inside and outside. This book Under the Edge is lavishly illustrated with Stutchbury’s projects divided into two – Projects in Brief and Projects in Detail. The former is illustrated by black and white photos, the latter by Michael Nicholson’s fine colour photographs and Stutchbury’s own beautifully expressive, if restrained sketches. Aalto, of course, designed a number of fascinating summer houses. In recent years, the summer house in New Zealand – known as a bach – has become almost a typology, and certainly the occasion of some wonderful experimentation. Once again we are dealing with genius loci. If Aalto’s rural homes are quintessentially Finnish, then the bach is quintessentially New Zealand and typically takes full advantage of the country’s staggeringly beautiful coastal and mountain locations.   Summer Houses is more a coffee table book with brief project descriptions and lavish photography. But you won’t find the usual ostentatious suspects in here – because what marks New Zealand residential design is its integrity, its lack of pretention and its reassuring individualism. It takes us back to Aalto – an architecture which is ‘imperfect’, which adapts to the inhabitants’ way of life, which does not set out to control, but goes with the flow. Under the Edge – The Architecture of Peter Stutchbury Edited by Ewan McEoin Photography by Michael Nicholson Published and distributed by the Architecture Foundation of Australia 288pp, hardcover AUD$89.95 ozetecture.org Alvar Aalto Houses Jari Jetsonen and Sirkkaliisa Jetsonen Introduction by Juhani Pallasmaa Published by Princeton Architectural Press Distributed in Australia by books@manic 224pp, hardcover AUD$75.00 manic.com.au Summer Houses Andrea Stevens Photography by Simon Devitt Published and distributed by Penguin Books 208pp, softcover AUD$60.00 penguingroup.com Read the full story in the latest issue Habitus #14, on newsstands 7 December, 2011. Or subscribe here.  abc
Around The World

Lozano-Hemmers electronic life

On show at The Museum of Contemporary Art until 12 February Lozano-Hemmer is one of the world’s best-known electronic artists. A Mexican-Canadian, he first attracted global attention for his highly interactive and complex digital artworks shown in public spaces. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Recorders features 13 recent pieces by the artist, including two new works. Public engagement is critical to the work and to that end all visitors to the MCA exhibition will play the role of performer. Trained in physical chemistry, the artist uses robotics, projections, sound, internet and cellphone links, sensors and other devices to create critical and poetic platforms for public interaction. In this complicated process, the viewers become the viewed. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer explains: "In Recorders, artworks hear, see and feel the public, they exhibit awareness and record and replay memories entirely obtained during the show. Using advanced surveillance and biometric technologies, the pieces either depend on participation to exist or predatorily gather information on the public as they go through the exhibition. In all cases the artwork compiles a database of behaviours that then becomes the artwork itself. I am always delighted when a visitor takes over an artwork and personalises it, like they might take over a stage or a public square." Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Recorders is part of the Sydney International Art Series, bringing the world’s most outstanding exhibitions to Australia. MCA Director, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, says: "Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s work has captivated and fascinated audiences all over the world, especially young people. The exhibition is a world-class example of how digital technologies can be used to create innovative art which inspires, involves and stimulates. However, the exhibition is more than spectacle. As visitors move through the exhibition, they notice an ominous or predatory overtone. The work physically and emotionally engages people and raises questions about systems of surveillance that are part and parcel of 21st century life. The artist challenges the systems which track, predict and at times control our life." Rafael Lozano-Hemmer made headlines in the United Kingdom in 2008 for his large-scale installation which projected video images into the shadows of visitors in Trafalgar Square, London. He was also responsible for the world’s largest interactive artwork, for which hundreds of thousands of participants used the internet to shine searchlights over Mexico City. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Recorders 16 December 2011 - 12 February 2012 lozano-hemmer mcarecordersabc
Design Accessories

Snapshot, Helsinki

From the air, the coast of Finland looks like smashed glass. Like the interior, which is smattered with lakes and forest, it seems half land, half water. It is a coast of peninsulas and islands morphing into the Baltic. On the ground you soon discover that Helsinki, too, is sprawled across a series of peninsulas. Partly because of this and partly because of its tongue-twisting street names, it is initially tricky to orientate yourself. An easy landmark is Esplanadi Boulevard, a twin tree-lined avenue running down to the port, where you find evidence of names like Alvar Aalto, for which Finland is known.       To the south, this imperial character mellows. Finland gained its independence in 1917. So on the other side of Esplanadi, in a grid of streets dominated by Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) and Functionalist buildings, you find the Helsinki that evolved along with Finland’s own identity. Dubbed the design district, it covers about 25 streets and contemporary architects are about to add another layer, as Helsinki has been named World Design Capital 2012 and new works are underway. To get to know this design and art rich zone, we took a walking tour. Stopping at Marimekko, our guide explained why Finns are so enamoured with colour. “It was so grey after the war,” she says. “All of a sudden we got colour in life.” Across the road, in the equally vibrant Finlayson, she holds up a towel that is like a tartan on steroids. “It is by a young Lapthian designer,” she says admiringly. “It is the colours he sees in his country in spring.” On the adjoining corners are two landmark buildings, the Savoy, the interior of which was designed by the Aaltos, and Artek. To read the full story, please purchase Habitus #14 on sale now. Better still subscribe to Habitus here. Photography: Jane Burton Taylorabc
Design Accessories

Castle and Things for Gorman

CASTLE was founded  by artist Rachel Castle in 2008 when she set sail with her own small range of bedlinen. Created originally for her friends and family Castle quickly moved on to launch a commercial venture of handcrafted or handprinted, pieces for the home. Not without the right experience Rachel Castle has spent the past 20 years working in the homewear industry both in Australia and abroad.       Prior to CASTLE, Rachel was joint founder of London-based branding and design agency, The Nest, and before that, worked for The Conran Shop in the UK. She regularly styles and writes for Australian lifestyle magazines, and currently lives in Sydney.   All handmade artworks are sewn by Rachel Castle and her very patient and loving mother, Jillian Patching. The images featured are from the a lovely range of tea-towls, hats and bags created with Gorman just in time for Christmas.   Put the love in the coconut when you order with Gorman on line. You could even win one of these fabulous Gorman bikes if you refer a friend! Now that's neat! referafriend rachel-castle  abc
Design Accessories

Nature boy Christopher Boots

Driven by a love of nature and light, Australian designer Christopher Boots creates astonishing light designs.  Trained by renowned lighting designer Geoffrey Manse (2005-2007), its clear that Manse informed Boots’ ethos by teaching him to fuse the classics with the unexpected. To this day Christopher Boots makes surprising lighting features that range from marvellous centrepieces to understated adornment. Trained in Industrial Design, Boots may have a background in both product design engineering but its in his choice of materials that his designs comes to life. All his products are hand made in Melbourne, using a variety of techniques learnt from artisanal glass-blowers, coppersmiths, ceramicists, sculptors, and bronze casters. Christopher Boots, Diamond Ring light is made from Quartz crystal, neodymium rare earth magnets, iron and carbon. Ranging in size from a 450 cm to 2.1m diameter, the finished light can weigh up to a whopping 39kg.  Illuminated by 12 volt LED’s this light will cost you anywhere from $2,800 to $12,000   Simple light by Christopher Boots is made from copper, zinc, iron, carbon and silicon. 1360 mm X 35 mm, weighing 2.5 kg priced at $650 AUD. Lamping Banana/ Edison or spirals Just one in a range on unusual lights, please visit Christopher Boots for more information. Christopher Boots Christopherboots.com  abc