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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Brightly Balanced

The client’s brief for the project was to add a second storey and a rear lane structure to a fairly typical terrace house, taking the opportunity to renovate the entire space as part of the intervention.

As part of the design Fearns aimed to resolve the common terrace-house challenges of privacy and illumination, with the latter further exacerbated by a south-facing yard.

An important strategy in overcoming these challenges was the use of skylights – as Fearns states, “It’s not clear from the photos, but the ceiling over the dining area … has a huge skylight - about the same size as a queen bed. It lets in so much light it kept overexposing the images during the shoot.”

Further skylights and clerestory windows allow natural light to penetrate seep into internal spaces without compromising the residents’ or neighbours privacy. On the ground floor, expansive glass sliding doors connect the living/kitchen space with the outdoor area.


A particularly striking feature is the second floor bathroom window, which consists of a strip of wall and tiling that can swing out to allow light and ventilation, but when closed ensures insulation and privacy.


The house’s materiality is elegantly concise, with painted brick and painted timber strip cladding to all new exteriors as well as clear sealed timber windows and doors. Interiors are white set plasterboard throughout with concrete and timber floors and oak joinery.


The kitchen is particularly successful, fusing the utilitarian honesty of polished concrete floors with solid yet meticulously resolved oak cabinetry and island bench. In turn, this is interrupted by the stainless steel splashback, which highlights the timber’s warm, matte texture.


Fearns Studio

Photography: Tom Ferguson

What's On

Quench Collective launch Hightide and Wrap Up After Dwell on Design 2013

Whilst the sunshine state's design credentials might have once lagged behind its southern siblings, today Queensland A+D creatives are thriving. A central driver of this evolution is the Quench collective: six designers making waves both locally and internationally, taking out Best in Show at last year’s Dwell on Design in the US. This year, beside launching new product the collective are also appearing at the LA event, Tastemakers, which combines 15 of our best designers in one exhibition. Quench continue to grow across America, creating new opportunities in a new market. “The reception that we, and our products, received last year was just overwhelming. It reinforced that the American market appreciates the quality and humour in our designs." Jason Bird of Luxxbox (part of the collective) is committed to chronicling the growth of Queensland's design industry, and has produced Hightide, a 10-year collection of the top 22 designers in the state today. Those featured come from different backgrounds and crafts, but they share the desire to improve and create anything from the high tech to the rustic. Being a less inner-city-centric state, with a stronger emphasis on outdoor and nature, the designs reflect this yet still have the ability to cater to every consumer. hightide-book.com dwellondesign.com wearetastemakers.comabc
What's On

‘Working Class Hero (A Portrait of John Lennon)’ by Candice Breitz

After putting Michael Jackson and Madonna through a similar treatment, Candice Breitz, a South African born audio/visual artist, has turned her focus to former Beatle, John Lennon. Obsessed with the fans of these pop icons more so than the icons themselves, Breitz has created a sensory experience for viewers -  25 dedicated fans are filmed simultaneously singing the complete track list to Lennon’s lesser-known work, Plastic Ono Band.


Breitz believes that “a piece of music is never that interesting until it starts to have meaning for a particular individual, until it starts to become organically woven into a particular life.” It’s an interesting way to look at things, and flips the generally accepted view on its head. Taking the attention away from the star and onto the dedicated followers, these are the “people on the other side of the equation, those people who listen to the music, who go to the movies. The people who create an icon like Lennon.”


Her installation is a recording of 25 extremely dedicated fans who’ve sung on film the complete 39 minutes and 55 seconds of Plastic Ono Band, with songs like ‘Mother’ which, compared to his chart topping, uplifting tunes, are some of his more melancholy tracks. After advertising the project in various newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, over 900 fans from Nigeria to Argentina replied. Once 25 of the most dedicated had been selected, Breitz sent them unbiasedly into the recording studio.

Her work has been shown in such renowned spaces as the Palais de Tokyo and the New Museum in New York, and now this video installation piece lands in Sydney on the 27th of July, at the Anna Schwartz Gallery, running until the 28th of September.

Anna Schwartz Gallery

Design Products

Prime Time Chair for Great Dane

Creating a trusted reputation is no mean feat, however Great Dane has shaped a successful niche in curating internationally sourced Scandinavian design. Founder and director Anton Assaad still hand selects each piece that is found inside their showroom, including Great Dane favourite the Prime Time Chair by Tom Stepp. Stepp creates his products in his native country of Denmark, and has an impressive folio of work. After finishing his degree in 1980, many different influences led him to the Prime Time chair, with family at the forefront. The chair was formed to seat an adult and child; Stepp describes it as the support to free time, “When you get home from the whirlwind activity of the world and have a little while to enjoy sitting and chatting with your child without interruptions, now that’s prime time!” Being designed with family in mind, Stepp’s chair demands attention without overpowering the space. The timeless, pared back aesthetics of the chair allow it to sit comfortably in most environments, including the prestigious Southern Ocean Lodge (pictured above), and sustain the creation of a dynamic, well-balanced Scandinavian home – an accurate balance of warm neutrals, reminiscent of nature, yet contrasting at the same time. Great Dane Furniture greatdanefurniture.comabc

Creative Directors Announced for 2014 Venice Biennale of Architecture

The announcement was made last Thursday night at an evening function hosted by Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull at their Point Piper residence. 

Keeping in line with Rem Koolhaas’s focus on historical importance and national identity, the team will bring 21 unrealised Australian projects to life through three-dimensional augmented models, images, voiceovers and animations; ten historical designs, ten unbuilt public buildings by contemporary architects and the new Australian Pavilion by Denton Corker Marshall which will then be under construction in Venice.

 ‘For every finished building there are countless designs that for whatever reason don’t eventuate and these masterpieces often remain hidden to the outside world,’ said Director of felix., Rene Van Meeuwen.

Architectural historian Philip Goad will assist the team in selecting the noteworthy unrealised historical projects. Meanwhile, the ten contemporary works will be selected through an open call to architects with unbuilt public projects designed in the last twenty years for an Australian site. Rem Koolhaas has observed that ‘national identity has seemingly been sacrificed to modernity’. felix._Giles_Anderson+Goad are interested in this global trend and also in its rebuttal; entrants will need to define how their project relates to this, as well as to Koolhaas’s theme more generally. Submissions for unbuilt public projects can be made at architecture.com.au/venicebiennale.

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Photography: Alexander Mayes Photography


Thrifty Creativity

Above: The metal grates of this house were left to rust to perfection. left | the unassuming frontage of this house all ow for ample parking space at the entrance. 

There’s an ongoing commentary in design circles – namely, that architects should try to live in a house that they have designed, at least once in their lives. The irony is not lost on Wen Hsia and BC Ang who are doing just that. The 30-something duo behind Malaysian architecture firm, Building Bloc, were looking to combine a home and an office when they were scouting for a house in Petaling Jaya a couple of years ago. As luck would have it, a bungalow came up for sale and the couple soon got to work tearing down walls and carving out new spaces. The project became an experiment and a necessity all rolled into one, and was completed within six months in 2009.

A lightweight roof structure and generous height of the house increased the spatial volume and makes an airy abode.

“We love to experiment. A big part of what drives our studio and us is the need for innovation. Hence, we dip our toes into trying out things that might be overlooked by others,” says Wen Hsia. Using concrete, bricks, steel and glass in its basic form, the house is a testament to their industrial aesthetic. Raw, unfinished materials are left as is; steel grilles are left to rust, and offform concrete ceilings are left bare – one is hardpressed to be able to find a painted wall within their compound.

Furniture of all manner and sizes, salvaged from junk yards and vintage shops, is scattered across the living room.

The idea behind their abode is rooted in thriftiness. And when it came to crunch time, creativity triumphed. “We were watching our costs to ensure that our budget was met, so it became a challenge to see where we could save without sacrificing quality,” adds Wen Hsia. While they have implemented low-tech strategies that will save costs and energy, it’s the way they did it that was novel in execution.

Take, for instance, the double roof which consists of a single, thin concrete plane with a layer of garden mesh stretched out above it that acts as an insulator against the hot, tropical climate. Or the rainwater harvesting system that was built with a series of terracotta drain pipes connected underground. These chimney-like installations can collect and contain enough rainwater to last a week of watering plants in their garden – handy when rain is scarce. Even their home’s metal grilles, used in gates and windows, were made of scrap metal – the pair scoured junkyards in search of large solid metal sheets, which were remnant materials of machinery die-cut sheets. Each one was carefully measured, cut and fused in place to create an amalgamation of patterns that is unique for each grille. It is these small, thoughtful gestures that have become the hallmark of their practice.

Left: Building bloc’s idea of beauty remains rooted in form following function, elevating it to an art form.
Right: the kitchen and dining have become the main focus of the living area. 

From the outside looking in, the home appears quietly unassuming. The sliding motorised steel gate was custom built to accommodate plants to add a layer of screening – and was also one of their experiments. “It didn’t work out as we had hoped – we’re still finding ways to put in plants so that they are able to withstand movement. It’s all still a work in progress,” laughs BC. With ample space for parking, visitors then traverse a path leading up to a heavy gate that has been rusted to perfection. It opens to a sheltered courtyard beyond a brick wall, and is guarded by the couple’s black German Shepherd, Arang (meaning ‘charcoal’ in Malay), as he makes his rounds throughout the house.

A wet kitchen is extended out to the side garden, where continuation of the lines and elements serve to elongate and connect the outdoor and indoor.

The 3,500 square foot (325m2) house isn’t large by conventional standards, but its spatial quality is heightened by a large living room with a double-volume space that looks towards an inviting pool. Their furniture is an eclectic collection of vintage and thrift store finds, with leather chairs, plush couches, solid wooden tables and offbeat dining chairs adding much character to the space. The kitchen, which overlooks the dining area has an adjoining door that leads out to the garden. An outdoor stove with a choice selection of self-grown herbs and plants completes the area, as it is one of the most used spaces within the house. Refreshingly, they’ve managed to blur the line between outdoors and indoors, tapping cool breezes while allowing heat to escape efficiently so that the building does not use air-conditioning, unless absolutely necessary.

Little details in the entrance of BC and Wen Hsia’s home – light, volume and space are defined with simple materials and an understanding of space.

As a relatively young studio, Building Bloc has had its hands full in conceptualising homes, offices and various small projects for the past five years. Their choice of materials are rooted in the same thriftiness that has made them popular for their quirky inventions and methodology. They’ve made lamps out of old wok covers and used copper piping as taps – consistently turning junk and scrap into beautiful functioning works of art that are unusually simple, yet sophisticated at the same time. “We were faced with the problem of weight loading once. A client had wanted a concrete table, but had it been built entirely of concrete, it would have been too heavy for the building. Only a slab was permitted and with nothing to rest it on, we had to be creative. In the end, we used the concrete slab’s rebar itself as a stand – twisting and manipulating it to form a solid base that’s as beautiful as it is functional,” relates Wen Hsia.

The master bathroom’s simple understated finishes add a touch of rawness while showcasing the duo’s creativity. Note the copper used as fittings on pipes and taps.

In the future, they plan to map a clearer distinction between public and private spaces within the house. While there’s already a guest room fitted with a balcony and a kitchenette that is easily accessible from the entrance, the pair is looking to better organise their space, since they’d like to define areas for work and play to a greater degree. “Building a home isn’t just about carving a shell. It’s about space, it’s about the people, and it’s about the flow for both spaces and people,” quips Wen Hsia.

Almost everything is left as is in this house – bricks, concrete and steel.

So how has the experience affected their design process for clients and projects? “After building our own home, we’re more sensitive when it comes to designing homes for others. A testament to a good house is how well it integrates into people’s lives, and having gone through the paces of building our own, we understand people’s needs and are better equipped when it comes to carving out other people’s spaces.”

WHBC Architects

Photography: Tian Xing Ching

What's On

Sydney Architecture Walks

Trespassing brazenly across disciplines and genres, Sydney Architecture Walks (SAW) walks seek out the architecture and public art that materialises contemporary conditions and attitudes; projects that respond to the culture, history and environment of Sydney and not just imported formulaic codes.

SAW walks are interested in the edgy and the beautiful, the provocative and the daring, the local, the foreign, the trashy and the raw revelling in the vibrant network of ideas and human relationships that are every cities’ very reason for being. The walks are aimed at you, the general public, and want you to get stung by architecture and begin to understand why buildings and cities are the way they are.

Far from being institutional or ‘touristy’, SAW walks are carefully crafted urban-narratives lurking beneath a guise of informality. SAW don’t carry signs or wear badly tailored suits and we’re not ‘professional guides’. More likely, in fact, SAW will be looking a little scruffy (we find that stylish!). Guides have degrees in architecture and the walks are casual, conversational, narrative-driven meditations on Sydney. Get SAW feet. Sydney will never look the same again.

If you have a special request, particular interest or certain arrangements you need met – email SAW for a custom tour. Small groups, big groups, bus, bicycle or walking tours, two-hour to multiple-day itineraries we can do it. Mandarin tours also available.

For more information visit sydneyarchitecture.org

What's On

Everything You Really Want… and So Much More

Embracing its motto ‘Everything you really want’, Spence & Lyda will be launching a raft of new products, many fresh from their Milan debut, by the likes of Alvaro Catalan de Ocon, BROKIS, Ay illuminate, Bernard Schottlander, Bolon by Missoni, Artifort for Missoni and Nathan Yong. The fun and colour will commence at an invitation-only ’Chocolate Drop In’ on the night of Friday the 16th, in collaboration with design neighbours Reece and Precision Flooring, where all things chocolate, including Martinis, will be on offer. Sydney Stylist Jason Grant will be applying his colourful touch to the celebration, painting a rainbow on the pavement outside connecting the Spence & Lyda, Reece and Precision Flooring showrooms, and fostering the spirit of collaboration that makes SID so special. Experience first hand the ‘Bolon House’, an installation purpose-built for the launch of the Bolon by Missoni range, with the glamorous Swedish sisters in attendance over the course of the three days. International furniture designer, Nathan Yong will also be present for the Australian launch of his collection on Friday and Saturday. PET Lamps by Alvaro Catalan de Ocon PET Lamp might just be the ultimate feel good modern design story, possessing as it does an inspirational back story of redemption and hope, impeccable ethical and environmental credentials and an utterly enchanting aesthetic. Mantis Lights by Bernard Schottlander The Mantis Lights with their eternal play between balance and imbalance, reveal some of the secrets of what we mean by ‘solid’ and ‘empty’. And like the works of American sculptor Alexander Calder, Schottlander's idol, they appear to defy the laws of gravity. Be it eye-catching lights made from bamboo or hand woven sisal pillows, the designers of Ay illuminate always work with what they find in nature and cultures around the world. In close cooperation with artisans in Asia and Africa they explore the natural materials and traditional skills at hand. This results in contemporary, organically shaped designs, created by local techniques in natural materials. Ay illuminate's products celebrate the unique beauty of traditional handicrafts around the globe. BROKIS was founded in 2010 by a group of visionaries who have dedicated their lives to the production of lighting fixtures. The company’s long experience with high quality glass has given birth to a range of hand-made lamps which exemplify the belief that beautiful design must always come together with quality. BROKIS focuses mainly on interior lighting, decorative objects and unique interior lighting architectural solutions. To catch all the action at Spence & Lyda and much, much, more, register now for Sydney Indesign! sydneyindesign.com.au Spence & Lyda spenceandlyda.com.auabc
Design Products
Design Accessories

Raffles Bangkok 2013 Graduate Collection

Bangkok’s Raffles International College annual show raised the standard this year through a venue collaboration with TCDC (Thailand Creative and Design Centre), to hold the event in the chic, CBD Emporium Shopping Complex on Sukhumvit road.

The venue has long been reputed as a fostering ground for design enthusiasts, and so made a perfect venue for the graduate designers to exhibit their works. With live jazz and a non-stop flow of cotton candy and mocktails for all visitors, the mood was fun and festive.

The event was the first graduation show by an international private institute ever permitted in the government-run venue; Jett Pisate Virangkabutra, Product Design Program Director of Bangkok’s Raffles said, “Apart from trust, we really do not know what the outcome of this event will be, but certainly we know we are good enough to be here in TCDC today”.

The finale came in the evening with the display of 15 collections on the 12-metre catwalk, with their authors hailing from as far as Scandinavia and Africa. The Raffles’ freedom of aesthetic expression is reflected in their choice of material in both ready-to-wear collections, or as experimental couture.

Highlights included the ready-to-wear collection by Wanlada Lertsrijatuporn from Thailand, inspired by crystalline forms and executed with a sharp-angled seam line, colour, and print.

Heidi Kalapuro from Finland took common elements from fashion icons of the 20th century, and reincarnated them in gold in her Golden Age collection.

A vernacular approach was seen from Yaki Bhutia from Tibet in her use of traditional Tibetan hand-woven and dyed-fabric to create a contemporary relevance in her collection.

Indian-born Tripti Sharma elegantly explored the tattoo art that for some cultures is meant to denote hierarchy or ward off evil spirits via hand and machine embroidery.

Hai Nguyen, from Vietnam, bravely explored an experimental couture concept in his fusion of insects and origami, resulting in his men’s collection of folding fabric and geometric form.

And Unyime Nta from Nigeria took the challenge of portraying mood contrasts and dual personalities with extreme colours, zippers, buttons, and tied components to create a collection of transformable outfits.   

Raffles College Bangkok

Thailand Creative and Design Centre


Penthouse Poise

Presented with a canvas two apartments and asked to transform them into a single, modern residence, the Architects and Designers at Shanghai-based KokaiStudios were determined to define modern luxury in the Chinese context.


To achieve this the studio set about resolving the volumes of and flow between indoor spaces, the penetration of natural light and access to dramatic panoramas, and the visual and tactile appeal of materials and finishes.

The most immediate result of this was that the two single-storeyed spaces were unified into an expansive ‘super-duplex’ of over 600-square-metres. Within this parcel rooms and passageways are arranged in a natural yet stimulating layout, allowing intuitive navigation while presenting sudden, expanding views both within and without.

As the architects state, “The concept of fluid and dynamic spaces is the mainstream of the entire project and has been applied … allowing continuous journey between [them]”.

Seeking to capitalise on the opportunity to access abundant natural light, a small portion of the outdoor terrace was enclosed into a glass pavilion in the centre of the penthouse, creating a new core of the apartment in an impressive double height atrium.

Interior spaces are characterised by sumptuous materials and refined workmanship, including natural-oil oak flooring, white cream Spanish stones finished with ancient hand-hammering techniques, and luxurious Venetian “marmorino” plasters on the walls, which, as the architects comment, “are hard and glossy as is marble but able to transmit soft and warm mood by distributing the light as no other material is able to.”

The project’s title, ‘House of the Tree’ is derived from the unexpected but animating feature of a tree planted among the tiles of the enclosed courtyard space, which blurs boundaries between internal and external areas and is glimpsed from multiple angles across both floors.


The project, whilst still obviously high-end and luxurious, is an example of a welcome shift away from garish, opulent manifestations of wealth in China.

As KokaiStudios elaborate, “The end product stands as an example of Kokaistudios vision of luxury living with timeless-chic taste; defined by a connection to nature, a connection to fine materials and craftsmanship, while meeting the demands of a modern way of living.”





Photography: Charlie Xia