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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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Parallax Universe

Hero Image: Look carefully and the parallelogram form becomes apparent.

Architects often love to play with ideas. The problem is that the ideas can often become too abstract, leading to a kind of obscurantism which makes the final product unliveable. When he came to design his own home, Sydney architect, Jon Jacka, also wanted to wrestle with issues. But these were anything but abstract.

On the contrary, Jacka wanted to address the fundamental realities of place, construction, affordability and constant change. The result is a house which embodies, reflects and articulates process.

Approaching the house, it presents like a flying wedge exploding out of its corner site. In fact, the house is a parallelogram whose form has been determined by the way in which the site has been sub-divided to allow for rear vehicular access to the pre-existing terrace house. The new house replaces an old garage and makes do with just 75 square metres of plot.

Left: A bridge across the double-height stairwell provides space for a study nook above.
Right: The living/dining/kitchen area. 

Basically, the house takes the notion of responsiveness to its logical conclusion. Nothing is imposed or prescribed. Instead, Jacka’s modus operandi has been to respond to the reality of prevailing circumstances.

So, let’s look at some of those responses, starting with place.

This is a raffish neighbourhood with a wild mix of residential types along with a mix of light industrial buildings, most of which are now being adapted to new uses such as apartments, and artists’ and designers’ studios. ‘Such a context,” writes Jacka in some notes on his building, “suggested a building not necessarily tied to an expression of its type”.

Part of the first floor living area. The coffee table is a military trunk belonging to Lieutenant colonel George Colvin, commanding officer of the 2/13 Battalion.

Hence, he has opted for a threestorey building which conforms in scale to its neighbours. Its general form hints simultaneously at a shopfront, small industrial structure and terrace house. A deck at the rear of the house not only provides a fascinating roofscape vista of the immediate neighbourhood, but also ensures (along with the fall of the roof on the second storey) that there is no over-shadowing of the terrace house at the rear.

Jacka points out that the area is “an outdoor gallery of sorts” which hosts regular tours of the local graffiti. Jacka was reconciled from the beginning that the house would attract graffiti – although he didn’t expect the civility of the graffitists to knock on the door and ask permission to paint on the front façade.

The downstairs space with its pivoting timber wall.

In much the same way, the construction process was also responsive to reality. Jacka describes his role in the construction process as “akin to that of editing”. Having established the basic form, planning and construction at the beginning, Jacka says that subsequently the builder and, to a lesser extent, the Council, pushed the design in new directions.

“Early assumptions of what the building may look like were re-thought throughout the construction period – at times in response to the builder’s preferred construction method, at others in response to the availability or cost of comparative materials. The process was one of continual response and resolution,” says Jacka.

The master bedroom looks out towards the railway line.

The one constant was affordability. Jacka argues that if economy in building is to be taken seriously, then it is imperative that an architect respond to the way his chosen builder works. In this case, for example, the builder argued for the use of pre-cast concrete. So, in the absence of any other tender responses, pre-cast became the main construction material. And there are lots of other examples – the use of plywood finishes throughout derived from the decision to use plywood to clad the two, large, hinged doors downstairs (where the plywood also acts as bracing), the use of C-grade ply throughout, the privacy/shade screens changed from clearsealed Cedar to painted treated Pine, while the use of steel cladding for the downstairs bathroom pod replaced tiles and allowed for its curved profile.

In his notes, Jacka comments: “The idea of luxury that so often pervades material selections in contemporary houses, is replaced here by durability and robustness and the idea of living without the need to tiptoe around the house. Our four-year-old son can throw whatever he likes at the building with no impact.”

Left: The downstairs bathroom features a basin from Caroma.
Right: Local graffiti artists have made their mark on the ground floor walls of the house – with Jon Jacka’s permission.

Finally, the house has an inbuilt adaptability which allows for constant change. One way in which this works is by “avoiding the spatial prescription of uses”. So, the house can be used in different ways and for different purposes, responding to constantly changing circumstances, including new owners in the future who, says Jacka, could have a wide range of uses for the building from share accommodation, through office-residence to a small gallery. The main tactic here is to create uninterrupted open spaces by keeping services (bathroom, storage, kitchen) and circulation (the stairs) to the internal, side wall – not to mention light and natural ventilation from the external wall. Jacka also points out that the “unorthodox” biomorphic shape of the bathroom allows for a generously sized bath without reducing the size of the adjacent garage. Storage areas are located under and above the stairs.

On the ground floor, flexibility is achieved by the insertion of large (3.5 metre wide) hinged walls which, when opened up, provide a single space, or three separate rooms when closed. On the first floor, the kitchen is partly tucked away under the stairs, allowing the living/dining area to flow out to the deck.

On the top floor is what is effectively the master bedroom, a kind of mansard room with views out over the urban tapestry of Newtown. Appropriately, Jacka and his wife and small boy are currently living on the ground floor, leaving this room as an office-cum-playroom.

The upstairs deck off master bedroom provides a fascinating roofscape vista of the immediate neighbourhood.

Perhaps Jon Jacka should have the last word. “The decision to use these materials as the finished surfaces,” he says, referring to the precast concrete and plywood, “could also be seen in relation to what the modern artist would have referred to as ‘knowing when to finish’.

“Translated into architecture, I’m suggesting that the application of finishes or embellished architectural detail around or over that which is required for structural or construction purposes requires more consideration in term of its merit or necessity. In the case of the walls and floors of this house there is a story behind these materials that adds to the character of a space that could all too easily be lost.”

John Jacka Architect

Photography: Tom Ferguson

Design Products

Experienced Hands, New Designs

As a pioneer of the Australian design for over 40 years, Tony Parker is a point of reference for the industry. Producing uniquely Australian furniture with unquestionable integrity since the mid ‘40s, Parker’s latest collaboration with Workshopped is a testament to his love and passion for the industry he has helped forge for over half a century.

Working in collaboration with Covemore Designs, Workshopped will re-introduce selected pieces from Tony Parker’s mid-century range, bringing his designs to new audiences. The mid-century range was enormously popular: beautiful, functional and expertly crafted. “It starts with our finish,” Parker would say of his designs, “our designs were for today and tomorrow.”

“It is fitting that Covemore Designs, whose craftsmen are ex-employees of mine and skilled in the making of fine furniture, are now partnering with Workshopped to re-introduce selected pieces from the early mid-century range,” says Parker of this new collaboration. “Workshopped are well known for promoting and supporting Australian design and manufacture,” he adds, “it is pleasing that these early designs of the 60’s are once more becoming popular with the discerning customer in Australia.”

From a humble pre-WWII background, Parker has followed his passion with love and commitment, and in the process has been part of forming a unique Australian industry that now cultivates creativity and imagination. And with the help of Workshopped, his furniture can inspire a new generation of designers.

“We’re incredibly excited to be working with Covemore Designs to bring the original mid-century pieces to life,” speaks Workshopped Director Raymond Scott. “The craftsmanship is outstanding and we think there’ll be considerable excitement in people being able to own original, high quality Australian designed and manufactured furniture.”

Just like Parker, Workshopped is passionate about local design and product – an apt company indeed to bring original avant-guard Australian style back to life. 


Design Hunters

Blood, a Cultural Compendium

Culture and society are what gets Suzanne Boccalatte up in the morning, and what keeps her awake at night.  Both at home and work she strives to push the boundaries with the creation of compelling cultural content.

Trunk volumes are emblematic of her unbridled creative energy and imagination. The critically acclaimed first edition, Hair, was recently made available in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.

As a designer, writer, artist, and social innovator, Boccalatte established her Trunk Book series in 2011 with contributions from a global community of writers and artists.

For Blood the text is edited by cultural theorist Dr. Meredith Jones with all the images and art direction executed by Suzanne herself.

Of her cultural pursuits, Boccalatte says: “I’ve always been a curious person and I love challenging expectations. Trunk sits at the crossroads where art, culture and society collide.”

And of her treasured project, she explains: “Trunk is a visual and psychological feast. This volume looks for distortions and metaphors on the topic of blood.

“It covers historic moments of bloodshed, such as Jackie Kennedy’s blood-spattered Chanel suit – a horrifying exposition of her husband’s murder and also includes master works by Goya, Frida Kahlo and Caravaggio.”

Either side of these iconic images sit photographs by Shaun Gladwell, Mike Parr, Petrina Hicks, William Yang and Trent Parke, and prose by Kirrilly Thompson, Rebecca Huntley and Katy Evans-Bush.

Blood is currently available online at Trunk Book and through Aesop stores in Paddington NSW and Prahran Victoria.

Every book sold through these selected Aesop will donate $10 to the Red Cross Blood Service.

For more information visit Trunk Book



What's On

Habitus Does Milan

It’s one thing to see the sights and lust after the latest products. But now that the heat from the Salone Internazionale del Mobile has died down (sort of), it’s time to reflect. Because it’s not enough to take in the visuals and the atmosphere on the ground – we need to understand how it will affect local residential design. Along with an industry panel, Nicky Lobo and Fabio Fanuli, MD of Fanuli, will discuss themes and trends and how they will translate into Australian residential environments. The panel will include interior designers Alena Smith of Jackson Teece and Kate Hogan of Woods Bagot, and industrial designer Chris Hardy (who presented his work at Ventura Lambrate), to date. Form, colour and materiality will be discussed – how it is being used and where it is headed in the future. As we look to the traditional centre of design in Europe, the panel will ask, what makes Milan the foremost design event in the world, and where does it look for inspiration? The event will be held on Tuesday 7 May at the Fanuli showroom in Cremorne. To register your interest to attend, please contact liana@lsquaredink.com.au   Habitus + Fanuli Milan Discussion Tuesday 7 May, 6:30pm Fanuli Showroom, 269 Military Rd Cremorne. Habitus Deputy Editor Nicky Lobo travelled to Milan courtesy of Finnair and Unique Tourism Collection.abc

Lantern House

Presented with a generous but uninspiring structure identical to many others in the area, the architect and designer collaborating on the project were given a brief for a cleaner, less cluttered façade and a series of internal ‘purpose rooms’. In response to the first issue, Chan Mun Inn (Architect and Director of Design Collective Architects) and Wong Pei San (Director from Essential Design Integrated) resolved to clad the exterior of the building in a semi-transparent box composed of fixed ‘thermo-pine’ louvers. Not only did this dramatically distinguish the home from its neighbours, it simplified the external appearance of the home into a single, textured surface, which allows for a good balance of privacy and natural lighting. Whilst the aesthetic appeal of the addition is constant, it is particularly striking at night, when the home is illuminated internally and thus resembles an enormous, luminous lantern. Satisfying the second point in the client’s brief, the addition also served to accommodate for a new master bedroom and audio-visual room, thus allowing the internal layout of the house to be rearranged to include a hobby room, sewing room and other activity-specific areas. In doing so, the architect was also able to remove a series of compartment walls, opening the home’s interiors and favouring better cross-ventilation. The renovation was further capitalised on as an opportunity to improve passive heating with the extension of roof eaves and introduction of louvres to reduce sunlight penetration. Internally, the home is fitted out and furnished with the owner’s collection of European and north American design classics and modern Asian art and furniture – as Mun Inn comments, it feels like something of an “informal designer furniture gallery”. Whilst the collection is certainly luxurious, it is, thankfully, coupled with an unornamented and pared back material and colour palette, thus avoiding the overwhelming, kaleidoscopic overload sometimes encountered in this class of home. Old and new inhabit the home largely harmoniously (with the possible exception of the electric blue accent lighting in the kitchen, which is certainly a matter of personal taste), creating a clean, fresh home that is both richly detailed and soothingly minimal. ­­­Design Collective Architects dca.com.my Essential Design Integrated edi.com.my Photography: Darren Ch’ng and Sze Meng of Creative Clicks creativeclicks.com.my Check out another project by Design Collective Architects in Habitus 19, on sale now. abc
Design Products

Art Deco Resurrection by Catherine Martin

The ‘Catherine Martin Deco Collection’ is the second range created in collaboration with this Academy Award winning designer and multi-skilled visionary who, on this occasion, has crafted a superb series of five designs, each of which pays homage to the romance of the unique period that is ‘Art Deco’, while remaining imbued with a fantastical quality of their own that is undeniably the signature of Catherine Martin herself.

Black Pearl

“This collection is the confluence of the playfulness and romance of the French Art Deco styles that permeated my childhood and the forwardlooking energy of American Art Deco that surrounds me in my second home of New York.” said Martin.

Garden Party

She adds, “I have been tremendously inspired by living in the Deco metropolis that is New York - a city that surrounds me with monuments that encapsulate the miracle of the modern age. I find it absolutely overwhelming and thrilling to see how 20th Century architects have looked to the future while still referencing the past with intense decoration, creating dynamic, sky-scraping forms. It is this characteristic exuberance that I have fallen in love with and looked to in designing these rugs.” 


Hand knotted from Tibetan wool and pure silk, the colour palette - which includes exquisite combinations such as steel blue, amethyst and champagne, alongside dark chocolate, topaz and tobacco - are as subtle as they are sumptuous, evoking both magical nostalgia and sophisticated modernism in equal measure.

Night Bird

Catherine Martin's Deco Collection is available exclusively from Designer Rugs. International delivery is available. All rugs can be custom coloured and sized to suit any interior.


Hero Image: Westchester

Designer Rugs