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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.

 

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

 

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Architecture
Homes

‘70s Renovation in Sydney’s Potts Point

Whilst a marked improvement on the dim, compartmentalised homes of previous decades, the ‘70s nonetheless suffered from marginalised functional spaces and a decided poverty in choice of finishes. darling_point_3 Thus when briefed for this project, Interior Designer Michael Bechara and partner Axel Osborne were asked to focus on the layout of the kitchen, laundry and bathrooms, and apply a modern touch to materials and textures throughout the home. darling_point_2 The communal kitchen, living and dining area on the ground floor creates a luminous, open space that capitalises on the abundant natural light from the rear glass doors. The light pink sliding door elegantly separates the laundry area from this space, and adds a further material and colour dimension. darling_point_10Natural honed stone, oak parquetry flooring, steel and brass detailing alongside stark white surfaces result in a layering of textures and colours that give the interiors depth while retaining a clean, refined tone. A particular favourite of the resident is the brass shelving unit and range hood in the kitchen. darling_point_9 The home owner had seen previous examples of Bechara’s customized lighting and asked him to design all decorative lighting for the home (with exception to the Erco track in the living room). These fuse retro and industrial elements, simultaneously referencing the period of the home’s construction and animating their environments with their unique forms. darling_point_6 The project demonstrates the effectiveness of considered intervention in tired spaces, and how a firm grasp of elementary principles of layout, materials and light can dramatically transform interiors. darling_point_4 Michael Bechara Designs michaelbechara.com Photography: Justin Alexander justinalexander.com.auabc
Happenings
What's On

Mandy Gunn at ATG

“Pattern, repetition and gridded arrangements are central devices applied in Gunn’s work and there is strong sense of harmony, symmetry and balance within these structures. Despite being static works, the assemblages sometimes create optical illusions, giving the impression that they are moving or vibrating on the wall.” - Edwina Bartlem [contemporary art curator, + exhibitions manager State Library of Victoria] 2013 mandy_gunn_3 Her large installation works consisting of any number of items including shopping bags, met tickets, phone books, fence droppers, steel strapping, corrugated iron, echidna quills, emu eggs to name a few, are not only visually-compelling but also, upon further consideration, reveal the nature of consumer wastefulness and its effect on the urban and rural landscapes. The materials in Gunn’s pieces are mostly hand cut and reassembled using textile-linked techniques; laborious and time-consuming work. Often these projects start small, becoming bigger installations or sculptures, partly due to an endless supply of consumed products. mandy_gunn_2 “Looking closely at Gunn’s work, the viewer cannot help but reflect on the amount of technique and time involved in making these constructions. In an era when everything is speeding up and we demand that most things be done more ‘efficiently’ and quickly, this work reminds us of the rewards of slowing down and taking the time to make something that is incredibly detailed and beautiful by hand. Gunn’s work rewards the viewer for taking the time to slow down and look more closely at the finer detail of the work.” - Edwina Bartlem mandy_gunn_6 Re[as]semble is proudly exhibited by ANITA TRAVERSO GALLERY as part of the ongoing AT_SALON program for unrepresented artists. The exhibition runs from Saturday 31 August to Saturday 21 September. Anita Traverso Gallery anitatraversogallery.com.auabc
Finishes
Design Products
Accessories

Laminam by Living Tiles

Laminam is a company but also a product; a technological system which is above all a truly versatile, flexible and exceptional solution with high aesthetic and technical performances; for the first time ever it is now possible to use large surfaces in previously unthinkable applications. living_tiles_1 It is the first ever large format slab with a thickness of just 3 mm: an aesthetically innovative surface with exceptional technical performance; a real skin for contemporary architecture, an epochal innovation that has revolutionised the way of dressing spaces and volumes. living_tiles_2 Living Tiles livingtiles.com.auabc
Happenings
What's On

Timothy Paul Myers at MiCK

When Myers was growing up in Adelaide, Australia, he loved going to the local dump, where he would collect discarded objects from other people’s trash. “My father still talks about how I used to bring home beat-up, broken radios, take them apart, and then try to build them back together in new ways, in different configurations that were more interesting to me,”  Myers recalls. Now a Brooklyn-based artist, Myers still scours thrift shops, flea markets and sidewalk rubbish for new material to reorder into multi-media works. timothY_myers_3 Methodical repetition and grid-like arrangements of found materials are prominent in Myers’s work. He incorporates a lot of vintage ephemera such as old postcards, trading cards and lithographs. These are then layered onto other unusual media such as White Out tape and colour swatches. There is a sense of unexpected delight in Myers’s work, where seemingly disparate elements are juxtaposed against one another. These unexpected components are then painstakingly arranged and presented in large and small-format grids. timothY_myers_2 Myers' exhibition “From Parts and Pieces” is on display at MiCK gallery from 27 August to 29 September. MiCK mickthegallery.comabc
Finishes
Design Products
Accessories

‘Wings’ by Bolon

Wing, which is part of Bolon Studio, facilitates new dimensions for large and small interior design environments. The strong architectural form interacts elegantly with interior design elements and building details. The results are striking. The new format reenergises each collection with all new characteristics, especially in combination with one another and adds an extra visual dimension to wherever it’s installed. bolon_6 “Bolon Studio was created to offer architects and designers greater creative freedom with a few selected collections. Initially it was an experiment but today it is an increasingly popular solution and almost like a collection itself. The Wing’s strength is the ability to mix and match freely, especially when combining smaller patterned collections with some of our more sensational floors,” says Annica Eklund, CEO of Bolon. bolon_4 “Wing is a fantastic tile that both highlights our collections and gives architects and designers a new palate of creative interior design possibilities. It’s possible to create a whole new spectrum of expressions that truly take advantage of Bolon’s light reflective characteristics,” concludes Marie Eklund, CCO of Bolon. bolon_7 To demonstrate some of the possibilities Wing offers for different public environments, Bolon has worked with Swedish and internationally recognised stylist Lotta Agaton on a series of expressive installations that use the new form in an array of different tones and interpretations. bolon_1

Wing is available now from Bolon by The Andews Group. bolon.com.au

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Finishes
Design Products
Accessories

The Evolution of Timber Flooring

Historically, architects and interior designers have had an unlimited palette of colours and textures available to them in carpet and tiles. Timber, whilst possessing the natural beauty of its landscape of provenance, was limited to a spectrum of approximately six colours and a handful of shades, stifling its creative potential. antique_floors_1 Times, however, have changed. Antique Floors combine an intimate understanding of traditional carpentry with modern, innovative techniques and finishes, bringing limitless possibilities to the timber floors. Employing the Rubio Monocoat range of oils, clients can not only enjoy the wonderful advantages of an oiled floor, but the beauty of smoked, fumed, smooth sanded or wire brushed textures. antique_floors_7 More adventurous still, antique timbers can be given a contemporary twist with techniques such as filling in cracks in the wood with black epoxy. This fresh and diverse range of options ensures that designers can match a timber floor to any aesthetic style, creating coherent, fully resolved interiors. antique_floors_4 Through the genius of John Fredriksson and the team in the workshop, Antique Floors can customize timber floors with incredible skill and imagination –highlighting or hiding the wood’s grain, removing specific colours or using prewashes to add whole new dimensions to a floor. These prewashes can be used subtly - giving a soft, white glow - or boldly, steeping timbers in a range of rich colours. antique_floors_3 Whether it’s a clean, simple surface of European Oak, or burnt boards given a rusty brown wash, then sanded and finished with a pure oil to produce a dark floor with the personality created through centuries of use, Antique Floors can guide you from concept to completion. Drop by the workshop, meet the team, browse the timbers, see, touch and smell them – with Antique Floors, the process of imagination and discovery is as magical as the end result. Antique Floors antiquefloors.com.au  abc
Architecture
NOT HOMES
Places

A Slice of Devon

Devon is the product of a recent renovation undertaken by Matt Woods Design, converting an Indonesian restaurant into a unique, urban design café. devon_8 The tight space has been arranged cleverly to seat up to 70 people, with a clean and pared back aesthetic. The primary material employed throughout the project is certified AC grade plywood, used for the bar top and front cladding, wall and ceiling, as well as the custom designed furniture. A bright blue line painted over the walls and tables in a spiral design interrupts the blond timber monotone. devon_14 The dining area sustains the urbanity of the project; an un-used garage space has been stripped back to its original brickwork and then animated with graffiti. Woods has been careful to apply this element sparingly, and rather than the clichéd ‘bombed wall’, a relatively uniform arrangement of words in a single colour keeps the visual effect coherent. devon_1 Woods also engaged one of Australia’s top street artists, Numskull, to develop a cheeky graphic design for the garage space that hints towards the ‘luncheon-meat’ double entendre of the café’s name. To the rear of the café is an alfresco dining pergola that has been covered in camouflaged netting to create a green, urban oasis. devon_2 The green wall is a favourite for owners Derek and Noni Puah. The vertically arranged garden of herbs and edible flowers is used both to supply the kitchen and dazzle foodies, lured in by the irresistible troika of design, local produce and good food. Rising to the challenge, Devon’s menu has been designed by two ex-Guillaume chefs, and includes playful, intriguing dishes such as the truffled toastie. The gastronomic philosophy of the locale has also informed its aesthetic, as Woods states, “A more adventurous fit out was required to compliment the food on offer”. devon_9 Devon Cafe devoncafe.com.au Matt Woods Design killingmattwoods.com Photography: Sam Ali samali.com.auabc
Design Hunters
People

Design Hunter Q+A with Leo Yip

Your name: Leo Yip What you do: Co-owner of Heluva Design Studios with business partner Steve Barry & Co-owner of Ellaspede Motorcycles and Apparel with business partner Steve Barry. Your latest project: Harley 48 1200 Sporter Who are three people that inspire/excite you: 1) Chip Foose 2) Dieter Rams 3) Peers, Friends and Family What is your favourite… Car/bike/plane/boat model: 1967 Porsche 911 / 1963 Parilla 250 Wildcat / Playboy plane / Dolvik 28 Chair model: Eames Lounge and Ottoman Residential space: Falling Water Commercial space: Sydney Opera House Decorative product: Chinese Ru ware ceramics Functional product: Victorinox SwissTool RS Handmade good: Levis made to order jeans Mass-produced good: iPhone meal: Raclette  restaurant: my wife’s cooking drink: Any wine by Some Young Punks bar: Spring St Down Town LA item in your studio: Aeron Chair piece of technology: MacBook Air historical figure: Bruce Lee fictional character: Monkey Magic vice: motorcycles virtue: modesty (haha not very modest mentioning it) What does the term ‘Design Hunter’ mean to you? Documenting and archiving design in a particular era and show casing them to the greater public. Hightide - Queensland Design Now hightide-book.comabc
Happenings
Parties

Bolon at Corporate Culture

Corporate Culture founder, Richard Munao, welcomed key editors as well as the foremost voices in Australian and New Zealand design who were the first to experience the expansion and recently redeveloped premium space. Corporate Culture corporateculture.com.au Bolon bolon.com.au [gallery ids="24757,24758,24759,24760,24761,24762,24763,24764,24765,24766,24767,24768,24769,24770,24771,24772,24773,24774,24775,24776,24777,24778,24779,24780,24781,24782,24783,24784,24785,24786,24787,24788,24789,24790,24791,24792,24793,24794,24795,24796,24797,24798,24799,24800,24801,24802,24803,24804,24805,24806,24807,24808,24809,24810,24811,24812,24813"]abc
Architecture
Homes

Wendy’s Garden

Above: Wendy Whiteley’s home with its unique tower, viewed from the garden she created from disused railway land. Wendy Whiteley lives in an inventive, lightfilled home lined with windows on two sides of a small but very public corner site, making it as open as her honest and forthright personality. But it’s the public garden that she has expertly created on the disused land below her house, which she now finds most fulfilling. “I go over there for five minutes and five hours later come back. I try not to do that now, but that’s my obsessive nature.” wendys_garden_2_3 Left: A view of Lavender Bay, looking down to the enclosed rainforest-like micro-climate of the lower garden. Right: The inimitable Wendy in the bedroom of her home. Wendy’s transformation of a derelict railway site into a lush, semi tropical garden dotted with sculptures and an eclectic mix of planting from Bangalow palms, Moreton Bay figs and native grevilleas to lavender, rosemary, camellias and citrus trees is the very model of how public spaces should be: an aesthetically enriching experience. wendys_garden_4 A view of the garden and its winding footpaths. The planting, featuring both native and exotic species, is deliberately eclectic. The topographically challenging site was originally the cliff of Lavender Bay, land-filled to create a railway, and then left to become a tangle of lantana when the local station closed. After years of overlooking the disused space Wendy decided to do something about it. “I was just looking at this great lump of weeds, and I thought, what a waste.” wendys_garden_5 The garden is dotted with sculpture and found objects, from old pieces of railway machinery to this antique child’s tricycle. Undeterred by her lack of experience and pointedly neglecting to alert the railways – “they would’ve done contamination reports, and it would’ve taken years,” – Wendy started clearing the land herself with the assistance of two gardeners, Rueben and Corrano. wendys_garden_6 A sculpture by artist and friend Joel Elenberg – originally in marble but later caste in bronze to stop graffiti – stands at the entrance to the garden nearest to Wendy’s house. Seventeen years later, and Wendy is still maintaining it, and even extending the now flourishing, established garden, occasionally with help from a volunteer. “I love seeing people enjoying it,” she says. “It seems relative to what we need now. To a city, the size that it is, on the harbour, we’re rapidly losing a lot of public access. There’s less and less space where you can just sit down and have a picnic. wendys_garden_7 The Bangalow Palms in the heart of Wendy’s garden were a gift from her late daughter, Arkie. I’ve always felt really lucky to be here and in a way it’s about sharing this space, which is why I put the sculptures in. It’s sharing creativity and sharing the fact you can actually change something – if you’re as stubborn as me.” wendys_garden_8 The stairway with its ‘bush rail’ leading up the steep escarpment of the garden. The variation in heights of the pathways allows intermittent view lines to the harbour. The deliberately eclectic planting on the now intricately terraced hillside, criss-crossed with hidden footpaths leading down to a rainforest-like micro-climate, is a constantly evolving project for Wendy and her small team. wendys_garden_9-10 Left: View from the living area to the kitchen. A wall of masks features tribal pieces mixed with sculptures by Brett Whiteley and Joel Elenberg. A carved wooden Chinese temple lion on the floor was rescued from a waterfilled ditch in Bali. Right: Wendy in the living room in front of one of her favourite pieces, a 16th Century English table. The variation in heights of the winding paths is key to the garden’s appeal. “As you get further down to the lower levels you can’t see the harbour anymore, so you lose the sense of place, which gives it a lovely enclosed garden kind of feeling,” explains Wendy. “But I wanted people to be able to take a few steps up and suddenly realise where they were again, so you’ve got extended space. A landscape designer friend of mine calls it the view line. wendys_garden_11 Brett Whiteley’s original studio has been returned to two rooms, a guestroom and an unconventional office space. It’s the same with making a drawing or painting, the same kind of balance. I didn’t know anything about gardening so I just worked visually. It’s been a learning process but we’ve lost very little. There’s something instinctive about it too.” It’s this same intuitive sense of aesthetics and desire for transformation which has seen Wendy’s home evolve from a dark, Dickensian maze of small rooms into a unique, open and light-filled space. wendys_garden_13 The now monochromatic living area, which was the original flat and entire living space for the Whiteley family. When she first discovered the Federationera building with her husband, artist Brett Whiteley, they had just returned from living in London. It was 1970 and they were visiting a painter friend who lived in what was then one of two dark and very dingy flats. “We had a place in London, had lived in New York for two years, then Fiji,” explains Wendy. “We were actually thinking of going back and building a house in Fiji with a tower on the end of it.” After pressure from their daughter, Arkie, to halt their gypsy lifestyle, the family moved into the upstairs flat at Lavender Bay. “We fell in love with the bay,” says Wendy, “It’s very magical. But the flat was really dark, really gloomy.” wendys_garden_14 The kitchen with its winding steel staircase, enclosed in chicken wire. After four years of living on one floor with an unusable veranda, which Wendy populated with parrots and doves, the couple bought the building. “The first thing we did was knock down a big wall one night in the middle of a party,” Wendy recalls. The second was to cut a hole in the ceiling and add a ladder into the roof, which was turned into a bedroom. Brett then set to work taking out walls in the downstairs flat, making two rooms into one for his studio. “We just wanted to open it up,” says Wendy. “Then we started building the tower, with an engineer’s help. That replaced the artist’s tower we were going to have in Fiji.” wendys_garden_15 Wendy’s office overlooking the garden features re-purposed windows from an old factory. The Whiteleys’ bravely inventive approach to their first renovation is still apparent in the current home, which Wendy renovated again six years ago following the deaths of Brett in 1992 and daughter, Arkie, in 2001. Unique solutions such as enclosing a steel spiral staircase in chicken wire instead of railings to avoid it looking “too heavy”, and employing workmen to cover an old table she found on the street in the same zinc they were using to re-do the roof – “I love zinc, because it patinas. New York bars have it and it’s quite interesting, unlike stainless steel,” – are all part of the innate, emotive sense of design that makes Wendy’s vision so inimitable. wendys_garden_16 The north-facing end of the living area, featuring works by Brett Whiteley and another of Wendy’s favourite pieces, one of two antique French chairs, she brought back from London and had re-upholstered in black patterned velvet. The house now consists of four levels: the top floor bedroom with its iconic views made famous by Brett’s paintings such as Balcony 2 (1975); the second floor kitchen/living area; first floor guestroom and unconventional office space; and a new level in what was once the basement, which was hollowed out from the deep sandstone foundations of the house. The elevator in the tower, an extension in the roof to make Wendy’s bedroom more liveable, and taking out a final wall to expand the kitchen, were the other major additions. wendys_garden_17_19 Left: Family photos adorn a metal cupboard, handmade by steelworkers from Newcastle’s BHP factory who used it as a locker for personal belongings. Right: A corner in the guestroom. The artwork on the walls is constantly changing. “I think things should be changed around because you stop looking at them after a while, you take them for 18 granted.” Wendy is a great collector. A mix of refined pieces – antique furniture, objects from her travels and a gallery’s worth of Brett Whiteley artworks – populate a largely white interior, even the recycled Blackbutt floorboards are painted white, which accentuates the brightness within.“I got a fetish for all white,” says Wendy who counter-balances the elegant, slightly French aesthetic with the industrial feel of metal. “I like things with history and character and I wanted metal because I had too much wood... but I’m trying to stop acquiring things. I just don’t go looking anymore. I can’t. I just don’t have the room for it.” wendys_garden_18 A nook in Wendy’s rooftop bedroom with its freestanding bath is a favourite escape for guests. Brett’s original studio space, now divided back into two rooms, gives Wendy “another wall to hang something”, the guestroom and an office space, which is the only sign of slight disarray in a very ordered home. “It’s where I can put all the clutter,” explains the artist. “Working from home I find quite difficult, because I want to be in that garden... I love this place. And always have. Brett and I in the beginning, and me in the end.” Photography: Prue Ruscoe prueruscoe.comabc
Finishes
Design Products
Accessories

Silent Gliss

As children grow, so does their curiosity with the world around them. A basic household could become a potential danger to infants. Silent Gliss puts safety first and has developed innovative products that can reduce the risk of accidents. These products not only enhance the look of any interior, they are designed with safety in mind. silent_gliss_1 Fire Protection Decorative textiles like curtains are the most common fire accelerant in buildings. In line with omnipresent fire protection and fire fighting, measures to avoid human and property damage gain importance. With this in mind, Silent Gliss decorative fabrics are now produced with flame retardant properties. The fire safety specialists Silent Gliss make fire safety a priority and as a result, with all of their fabrics being flame retardant without compromising style and quality. The Trevira fabrics exceed the standard norms and are incombustible. These are particularly recommended in highly populated areas. Worth knowing Whilst flame retardancy in window treatment fabrics is a statutory requirement for commercial premises, amazingly it remains optional for domestic settings. Silent Gliss appreciates that for most of us it is our homes that protect our family and most valuable treasures. For this reason they only offer flame retardant fabrics regardless of where they are being used. Silent Gliss's “Safescreen” is a non-combustible Glass fibre composition that is at the top of environmental, fire and smoke classifications to fully meet the strictest of health and security requirements suitable for Roller Blinds. Silent Gliss silentgliss.com.auabc
Happenings
What's On

Habitus LiveLife Series at Sydney Indesign.

The first talk in the series was an intimate affair hosted at the Corporate Culture showroom. Titles ‘Ant Heap or Home?’ the discussion explored the issues surrounding multi residential living in the Australian context. Incisive commentary from Architect Tony Owen on the realities of economic pressure and sustainability regulation (which he argues is already highly developed in NSW) was balanced by the extensive industry knowledge of Crown Group developer Tim Campbell. Residential architect Tom Ferguson shed light on the intricacies of negotiating council in inner city projects, while UrbanGrowth NSW's Vy Nguyen highlighted the importance of good design and access to amenities for new developments. livelife_3 The Friday afternoon instalment saw Habitus Editor Paul McGillick guide a somewhat more narrative discussion on ‘Placemaking in Australia’ at the Jardan showroom. The conversation opened with a powerfully evocative anecdote from Architect Peter Stutchbury recognising the manner in which indigenous Australians have layered cultural significance onto the landscapes they inhabited. Following from this, Architects Carol Marra and Fergus Scott extrapolated the topic to include their work in tropical climes and the Australian environment, respectively. From the need to camp out on a site to get a sense of place before designing a home to commentary on the importance of recognising resource pressures in an area, the discussion offered enormous insight into how architects can, and should, employ their sensitivity to create dwellings that harmonise with their surroundings. livelife_2 Comedian, radio-presenter and resident of a 1950’s modernist home Tim Ross’ humorous observations enlivened the tone of Saturday morning’s discussion on Adaptive Reuse, hosted at the Ke-Zu showroom. Despite the laughs, the analysis of the cultural, economic and practical consideration associated with conservation and adaptation gave a three-dimensional understanding of an issue that varies enormously between instances. The broad knowledge Historic Houses Trust’s Caroline Butler-Bowdon lent authority and scope to the conversation, whereas the project-specific examples of Architect Bruce Eels explored the particularities of designing within heritage guidelines. livelife_4 Last in the series, the Saturday afternoon discussion of ‘Living in the Suburbs’ brought thoughtful discourse to the otherwise bustling Spence & Lyda showroom. Passionate advocacy for greener, more sustainable suburbs from South Australian developer Adam Wright provided many talking points, challenging assumptions about economic viability. The informed confidence of Architect Hannah Tribe regarding the evolution of suburbs throughout English and Australian history and the importance of letting architects and designers guide their future raised serious questions about who should be in charge of shaping our cities, while Designer Domenic Alvaro’s considered contributions illuminated the alarming trends of growing homes and shrinking gardens across the country. livelife_5 Overall the LiveLife discussions offered thought-provoking windows into their respective topics, giving Sydney Indesign-goers a chance to punctuate the frenetic tours of showrooms with some casual yet informed discourse. Sydney Indesign sydneyindesign.com.auabc