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Design Hunters
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Creating MINI Design Hunters

There’s a massive push towards sustainable living, sustainable design and sustainable architecture and Habitus, since its inception nearly 10 years ago, has been firmly at the forefront of this movement. In the 90s society was living beyond its means financially and got a rude shock when – care of a slight economic dip – we were forced to rein it back in. Is history repeating itself? The advancements we’ve made in architecture and design in recent times are enough to elicit a global level of excitement, both in and outside of the industry. Architects are able to make the highly conceptual into a reality and their clients are egging them on from the sidelines. But again, we find ourselves living beyond our means. Only this time we’re paying with the environment not just our matt black titanium AMEX. So what can we do to counter this? Educate fledgling architects and prioritise the environmental? Definitely. Encourage practicing architects to lead by example and incorporate sustainability as common practice. For sure, many architects already do. Sway the market towards one-off investments in design and away from the fast fashion that has infiltrated its way from clothing to furniture and homewares? Absolutely. But before we go too far forward, let’s go back a little. Let’s think about the high school students with an interest in architecture, interior design, furniture design, styling or academia and research in the field. Then there are those with an interest in the area but not a great understanding of the opportunities that await them. Jo Pretyman has thought about them. At length. Her NGO, I-Manifest, hosts Micro-Schools of design for high school-aged students to explore the full scope of their interests; understanding and learning practical applications; connecting with – and learning from – industry professionals. Habitus partnered with I-Manifest and MINI to bring together an iteration of MINI's global MINI LIVING initiative. Launched in 2016, MINI LIVING is a creative platform to develop architectural solutions for future urban living spaces. Last year, they showcased visionary concepts for shared and collaborative living/working spaces in urban areas through the installations MINI LIVING – Do Disturb (at the Salone del Mobile in Milan) and MINI LIVING – Forests (at the London Design Festival). MINI LIVING – Breathe is the third installation created as part of the initiative. “We were excited to introduce the MINI LIVING philosophy in Australia through a localised and collaborative project with I-Manifest,” said Tony Sesto, general manager of MINI Australia.“MINI LIVING is all about creating innovative communal spaces of the future. It’s a concept that the students at the micro-school grasped and interpreted through their own lens – the end result was an inspiring concept that I’m sure we will all experience in the near future.” The Micro-School aimed to teach students to consider how architecture and design brings awareness to future living habits. Who better to start thinking about these concepts than those who will be living in them? What better time than now? The workshop began with a panel discussion mediated by Jo, between myself; Alex McLean, national marketing manager at MINI; Dave Hartikainen, showroom manager at Space Furniture; photographer Alina Gozin'a; and ideas curator Janne Ryan. Following on from this the brief was given to the students to create a modern living space – adaptable, considered, modern and highly designed. Furthermore the space was to encapsulate the tropes of our region with a focus on Asia Pacific designers and products, and showcase designer living with a minimal impact on the environment. The group was split in two and half were to create a compact living space for a young couple while the other half were to create one for a family of four with mature children. A small spaced connected the two rooms – and briefs – to showcase the adaptability of the spaces they were to fashion. Essentially, both rooms were able to answer both briefs and the dining table was the link between the two spaces. “Boundaries were defined by the kids who created a permeable skin from lengths of rope, linking the smaller internal spaces with their surrounds and allowing for transparency and permeability. The living space we created had to accomodate a family of four, and the students immediately understood the imperative to employ minimal intervention - leaving the modest spaces uncluttered and making the most with the least.” Miriam Green, Tribe Studio Architects. Is it unbearably trite to say the future is now? Holly Cunneen Deputy Editor Photography by Alina Gozin'a and assisted by Nick Prokop and Ryan James Kenny Cover image from left to right: Holly Cunneen, Kerrie-Ann Jones, Janne Ryan, Sylvia Weimer, Alina Gozin'a, Jo Pretyman and Kate Peck MINI School of Design | Habitus Living MINI School of Design | Habitus Living Mentorship and guidance over the course of the three days was provided by I-Manifest ambassador Kate Peck, Miriam Green, managing associate director at Tribe Studio Architects; stylist Kerrie-Ann Jones; freelance interior designer Nicholas Gurney who specializes in small spaces; photographer Alina Gozin'a; photography assistants Nick Prokop and Ryan James Kenny; Glenn Urquhart, group creative director for the Foxtel LifeStyle Channels; Elenka Webber, senior promo producer for the Foxtel LifeStyle Channels; Sarah Gibson, co-founder and director of DesignByThem and Charlene Cong, associate at Alexander &CO. Students selected pieces pieces from local Sydney studios and showrooms including DesignByThem, SP01, Rogerseller, Tait and Grazia & Co. I-Manifest i-manifest.org MINI mini.com.au MINI School of Design | Habitus Living MINI School of Design | Habitus Living MINI School of Design | Habitus Living MINI School of Design | Habitus Living MINI School of Design | Habitus Livingabc
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Design Products
Design Accessories

Aboriginal Art Meets Designer Rugs with Yulparitja Collection

Above: Kirriwirri In 1999 a young man from Bidyadanga, a coastal Aboriginal community 180km south of Broome, entered the Short St. Gallery. Shyly declaring that his name is Daniel Walbidi and he wished to become an artist, the young man revealed four small paintings on the desk; it turns out Daniel was already and artist after all. This was the start of Daniel’s journey of artistic acclaim, which he has used to explore and explain the history of his people, the Yulparija – this range from Designer Rugs is the next step in his, and his people’s, artistic journey. The work of the Yulparija people is contemporary art in the truest sense – based on the people's traditional and contemporary experiences as the native Australians. Their story is one of survival in a harsh landscape; a story of unity and the importance of working together for the collective good of the community; and a story of time and of creation – with a focus on sites specific to significant mythological stories. Working with a range of Bidyadanga artists was a moving experience for the design team at Designer Rugs. With extraordinary simplicity, the artists manage to challenge the viewer's perception of desert landscapes, while also bringing to light the complex issues relating to the impact of white settlement on the lives of Indigenous Australians. The range comprises five unique style, Kirriwirri by Jan Billycan, Lungarung by Weaver Jack, Pikarong by Lydia Balbal, Pinkalarta by Alma Webou, and Untitled 2006 by Daniel Walbidi himself. Available in custom sizes and made from Tibetan wool, the range is a beautiful evocation of traditional Yulparija artistic sensibilities, and contemporary design aesthetics. Designer Rugs is Australia's leading rug company, specialising in custom and handmade rugs and carpets for residential, commercial and hospitality interiors. The Yulparitja collection is on display now at Designer Rugs' showrooms in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland, and viewable online. Designer Rugs designerrugs.com.au Untitled-2006-1_1Untitled 2006 Pinkalarta-1_1Pinkalarta Pikarong-1_1Pikarong Lungarung_1Lungarung GROUP-SHOTThe artists at work DANIEL-WORKINGDaniel Walbidi working on Untitled 2006 winpa daniel-in-countryDaniel Walbidi Desert-Tripabc
Design Hunters
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The Epidemic of ‘Stuff’ – Part #3

Beyond the saga of the Cheap Coffee Table, I do wonder about my green velvet 1960s Parker chairs that smugly flank its weak form. Why have they stood the test of time? I imagine they were out of fashion by the ’80s and certainly through the ’90s, when beige took no prisoners on the colour scheme front. Now though they seem timeless. So if something is well-made can we assume its style will always survive its era of manufacture? Perhaps the integrity of manufacturing gone by means we’re now at ease with how vintage (and of course antique) furniture sits within our concept of taste.

Contrived durability of contemporary furniture is one thing, but the ‘on-trend’ obsession of a post-Pinterest era adds to an otherwise aesthetic planned obsolescence. I have seen my Cheap Coffee Table in too many self-consciously styled rooms on my Pinterest feed and it’s not pinteresting anymore.

The queen of trend forecasters Li Edelkoort had predicted a brass trend for 2017 but ‘experts’ online are already warning customers of brass overkill, telling consumers to throw their brass bits out to make way for rubbed bronze. Former director of brands at trend forecaster WGSN Lauretta Roberts explains to me that retailers need to inject newness to “keep the consumer excited”. She believes we’ve seen an end to the overarching trend type of the late ’90s and talks of “hundreds of niche trends” in their place.

But most don’t feel niche for long. There’s the tale of the ancient motif that was almost stripped of its timelessness on the bottle of a mouthwash. The chevron had been around for centuries yet its repeated online and shop-floor exposure meant that by last year the flame stitch pattern of ancient Hindu temples was decorating a bottle of Listerine.

Vogue Living’s former editor David Clark has ironically spent most of his working life avoiding the word ‘trends’. He prefers ‘directions’. I was telling him how I was inspired to choose subway tiles for my kitchen back in 2010 because of a Vogue Living story about Londoners who used real salvaged Underground tiles. “Do you still like them?” David asks me.


I have a thing for vintage decorating books. I love the retro styling and twee suggestions, but mostly I’m nostalgic for a time when a hardback book could confidently suggest interior design specifics that might see the reader through at least a decade. The Age of Disposable Decor, which began in the mid-90s, is as much about the marketing machine of fashion as it is about the machines that pump out those brittle plastic screws that pop out of your cheap shelving units. Consumers have themselves become giant cogs in the marketing machine and 'consumption trends' are so fast-moving they disappear in a swoosh of smoke before the packaging is even removed.

Everyone is jumping on the trends bandwagon; discount retailers use multi-platform digital marketing that has made online stores and online magazines hard to tell apart for many consumers. ‘Listicles’ are everywhere: ‘FOUR NURSERY TREND PIECES YOU NEED IN 2017’ was a notable recent addition to K-Mart’s ‘inspirational’ posts. Those with real estate or interiors-related social media feeds are used to being told what to do with their homes every time they dip into Facebook. Trends to buy now. Ex-trends to throw out. We may as well be talking about toothbrushes.

The savvy British high street has almost single-handedly changed the clothes industry with its fast-fashion model and its happening in interiors, albeit less dramatically. Major Australian retailers have adopted the cunning of quick copycatting and replica manufacturers are ten to the dozen. While I hope Australia follows Europe’s lead in terms of replica laws, Phillippe Starck’s ‘Louis Ghost’ chair on Target shop floors meanwhile recalls how even the genuine LV-monogram handbags started to look cheap in the noughties.

It’s great that ideas are shared and it’s fair that looks once reserved for the rich are now accessible to anyone with an interest in design. And while DIY ‘hacks’ involve mass-market products, they are at least being customised by hand. Yet the same outcome persists; sub-standard manufacturing plus fast-moving trends equals more stuff relegated to landfill, and The Future Laboratory predicts a consumer-driven backlash via the rise of ‘seasonless style’, which will open more doors to customisation.

It seems to me that homes everywhere are begging to be ‘customised’. That is, to be allowed to express only their owner’s taste, style, moods and fancies. Perhaps it’s as simple as looking away from the virtual interiors on our screens and looking back into our actual living rooms, slowing to the home’s own pace and finding its real beating heart.

Words by Joanne Gambale

Photography by Richard Powers

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The World’s Most Famous Chair: A Hollywood Icon

I am forever explaining what my job – precisely – is. As an editor and writer working in the publishing and design industries, I’m not surprised that people find it difficult to grasp what my average working day would look like. In fact I, myself, find it difficult to grasp. Normally, it’s a lot of emails and phone calls; it’s a lot of word documents; it’s a lot (and I mean A LOT) of note-taking, notepads and biros behind my ear). On bad days, it’s sweating as I frantically type out a mountain of articles seconds away from a surprise print deadline. On good days, it’s picking the brains of some very inspiring people. On the best days, it’s archival work.

You see, the lion’s share of my job is research. And, while most appear to abhor this aspect of meticulous reconnaissance, I can’t seem to tear myself away. I often find myself in the oddest places: everything from trawling the national architecture library, hob-nobbing at Christies auctions or Skype-ing NASA personnel. Last week, I found myself going through the Playboy archives to come across this line: “you sink into a voluptuous luxury that few mortals since Nero have known” (Playboy, May 1961).

Knowing its provenance, you’d be forgiven thinking the writer referred to any number of the women populating the pages of Playboy. Oddly enough, however, the writer in question was referring to a chair.


When the Eames Lounge and Ottoman were introduced into the world in 1956, they captivated the market quite unlike anything anyone reasonably expected. Having just celebrated their 60th birthday last year, the pieces still remain unquestioned icons of design that grace museums, penthouses and executive offices the world over. In continuous production since its inaugural release, the Eames Lounge and Ottoman are, at once, universally distinguishable and widely renowned for being a hallmark of twentieth-century design. But, thanks to my absurd trawl through the Playboy archives, I discovered a story behind the chair quite unlike any other.


It all started with Billy Wilder – beloved darling for many a cinephile – the Hollywood director of classics such as the award-winning The Apartment (1960), Some Like It Hot (1959) and Sabrina (1954) . After Charles and Ray Eames visited the director on set at Paramount Studios during the filming of Sabrina (starring Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden), they noticed that Wilder would construct a makeshift lounge-chair out of bits of old clapper board, his director’s chair and cushions for naps in-between takes.


The year before, Wilder himself had given a modernist chair to the couple as a gift – one that they loved so much that Charles Eames was known to be jealous of not having designed it himself. Based on a similar design to that chair (which, unfortunately, has been lost to the annals of history), the first prototype of the Eames Lounge and Ottoman was given to Wilder as a birthday gift and remains in the Wilder Estate to date.

But the Hollywood connection for the Eames Lounge and Ottoman doesn’t stop with Wilder. On the Paramount lot, there are tales of Marilyn Monroe having her photograph taken sitting in one, flicking through her script. Julian Blaustein (big-time Hollywood producer) was invited by Paramount to their offices to review scripts and, while sitting in a test for the lounge, fell asleep. Blaustein was apparently embarrassed, but Ray Eames remembers only Charles’ elation.


The design was ultimately the result of the Eames’ pioneering innovations in the field of moulding plywood and a conjoined desire to improve upon the most cumbersome (and for many, the most unsightly) element in living rooms across the world: the lounge chair. According to Charles Eames, their intention rested on wanting to create “a special refuge from the strains of modern living” – a desire which many in the design industry still strive to achieve and a sure-fire sign that vouches for the piece’s iconic place in industrial design history.

Through super-heating the wood and then bending it into what was then thought to be impossibly symmetrical forms and smooth, sweeping vital lines, the undulating seat and the curvature of the backrest aimed to trounce off the paradox Charles Eames sought for all of the studio’s designs: an unimpeachable balance struck between contemporary technical process and ancient, natural forms.

And yet, for all of the Hollywood associations that pepper this chair’s little history, it probably was accidental. After all, according to Eames it was meant to reflect the “warm receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt”.

In any case, few would deny that the Eames Lounge and Ottoman are undeniably a box office hit. Or, indeed, a home run.


The Eames Lounge and Ottoman is available in Australia through Living Edge.

Words: David Congram.

This article was originally published in McGrath Magazine: April 15th 2017

Design Hunters

Selling Free Water

Why do we drink bottled water? Perhaps that’s the wrong question, let’s rephrase. Why don’t we drink from public water fountains? Some people are concerned about hygiene. Others might not like the taste. Others again might not be averse to public fountains per se but rather are drawn in by the intoxicating campaigns pushing bottled water as a luxury. Five years ago Melbourne Zoo celebrated their 150th birthday with fifty fiberglass models of the famous elephant calf, Mali, painted by various artists and put on display throughout the city. It was called Mali in the City. Of the thousands of residents, tourists and professionals alike who saw and were inspired by this art installation, Gretha Oost got something that maybe no one else did. The O Initiative, founded by Gretha, aims to reduce the plastic pollution associated with drinking bottled water and is using art and design to instigate social and behavioural change. Their inaugural installation can be found at Alma Park in St Kilda, Melbourne. For whatever reasons people may have avoided public water fountains in the past, Gretha has sought to counteract them in her own. The sculptural aesthetic of the water fountain was the first step in creating visual appeal. Then was the question of how to dress it. “We put out an official call for artists [and] we had six artists apply, then we shortlisted the six to three,” says Gretha. The artist’s fee was crowd funded which not only aided Gretha financially but also gave the community a sense of inclusion and control. To thank them for their support, Gretha gave them a voice: “all the people that pitched in for the crowd funded campaign were all given a vote. We had the three artists and then people could vote for which one they preferred to do the fountain, and that’s how Georgie [Faircloth] was selected”. The end result is a hand-painted scene that depicts the wider Almaville/St Kilda East community including the Hank Marvin Markets, family picnics with children playing and dogs running as well as often marginalized transgender and multicultural minorities. “I had to create [the artwork] on site and interact with people as I painted, so I took a number of personal requests and added them to the work. It was a new way to paint and very rewarding. I hope the final work was inclusive and that the community has a sense of ownership around it,” says Georgie. In terms of hygiene, health and taste, Gretha approached Zip Water “and they literally jumped on board immediately,” she remembers. Each Art Fountain is the sum of three parts and any additional fountains will require a company to fund the fountain, a community to vote on the artwork and the local counsel to install and maintain it. World domination is firmly in Gretha’s sights – yet she is practical in her approach. “I want to roll it out worldwide [but] I see it as a kind of cluster first,” she says. “And then we can spread it out. We’re just taking it step by step.” Words by Holly Cunneen The O Initiative Habitus | Living The O Initiative Habitus | Living The O Initiative Habitus | Livingabc
Design Hunters
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In Conversation With… Michele Chow

Dessein is three years old. What are your goals and how are you meeting them? We are constantly looking how we can best service the residential and hospitality markets with great design. But specifically we’re interested in looking at ways to assist Australian designers make their mark in the industry. To this end we’re very focused on extending our network of manufacturers in Australia which is a huge challenge and a big undertaking for a company of any size but particularly for a small one in start-up mode. Even though we’ve been in the market for three years now we still consider ourselves new. We are changing and evolving as we adapt. The key to being a successful brand is dynamism, to roll with the changing conditions as they arise. How do you see the next three years unfurling? The future of Dessein lies in our ability to take onboard the comments and feedback and try to create systems or protocols that work for us as a business. That is, sculpting systems that work for us, not so much working just to supply the industry with great design but to finesse the workings behind the business. It’s a matter of producing well thought out and well produced design, but at the same time creating a sustainable company in every sense. Is the complexity of your business model Dessein’s USP? Our business model sets us apart from any other company out there. I don’t know of any other company willing to engage on so many levels in one go, and to do it well. We’re trying to create a platform for designers to produce work for industry but also for the general public and we are marketing ourselves as an affordable luxury lifestyle brand. I’m fairly convinced there are big brands in Europe which do this kind of thing, but not so much in Australia. So our offer is unique. You began as an online offer, with a traveling show of pop-up shops across the country. Is that sustainable? We are retaining the e-commerce platform because we intend to extend internationally in the not too distant future. We do want to at some point to wholesale to distributors and agents, but that entails reconsidering our price points in order to generate a very solid revenue plan. Three years in the running, do you have a sense of who your customer is? The Dessein customer is someone who is very up-to-date with the design scene, of course, but who also has an appreciation of the back story, the work that goes on behind the product. A person who understands what good design really is. We have a lot of interior designers specifying us to their clients, so effectively they operate as our interface with the end-user. They understand quality and they also know the designers we work with. You launched the Pieman collection last year, featuring furniture and objects designed by Simon Ancher, Nathan Day, Tom Fereday and Marcus Piper using Tasmanian hydrowood. How successful has it been at wholesale? It’s going really well. There has been a long period of testing the prototypes and refining the products. They’ve gone through several iterations to make them commercially viable. Obviously, manufacturing in Australia is very different from manufacturing in Asia where everything is done in house under one roof. In Australia you have to source and coordinate the different companies that not only specialize in but excel in the various component that go into making a finished product. Then you have the whole process of post-production as well, which has its own set of complexities. Do you consider that there is a stable of Dessein designers? When we select designers to create a piece or a collection, it sets in motion a rich exchange from which we all learn. We are very supportive of Australian designers and we think all of the designers who work with us also show strong support for Dessein. It’s a mutually engaged relationship that we are proud of. Michele Chow was In Conversation with… Stephen Todd. Portrait by Chris Crerarabc
Design Hunters
HAP - Feature

John Wardle – Not Like You’d Expect

“Can a foyer have the intimacy of a living room? How might a house have the civic atmosphere of a university hall?” These are the questions posed by architect John Wardle in his latest exhibition, Coincidences. Twenty-six photographers were asked to visit two John Wardle Architects buildings each and take one singular photo to capture the essence of the site. The resulting 26 images are presented in pairs to draw out points of commonalty: coincidences. Contributing photographers include Sharyn Cairns, Erieta Attali, Sam Noonan, Kristoffer Paulsen, Brett Boardman, Earl Carter, Peter Hyatt, Dianna Snape, Peter Bennetts, John Gollings, Shannon McGrath, Trevor Mein, Max Creasy and artist Peter Kennedy. Following on from the photographic chamber is an immersive film installation by Coco and Maximilian describing a survey of John Wardle Architects work across varying scales. It is accompanied by a series of 3D visualisations of projects soon to commence construction. Coincidences doesn’t so much push the boundaries between public and private spaces as it does point them out, bring them to the forefront of the conversation, and silently leave them there for the patrons to muse on and form their own opinions. The exhibition runs from 27 April - 26 May 2017 at the University of Sydney in the Tin Sheds Gallery, Wilkinson Building, 148 City Rd, Sydney. Find out more here. Words by Holly Cunneen Coincidences by John Wardle Architects | Habitus Living Coincidences by John Wardle Architects | Habitus Living Coincidences by John Wardle Architects | Habitus Living Coincidences_JWA-HabitusLiving1 Coincidences by John Wardle Architects | Habitus Living Cover image: Coincidences at Nishi Gallery. Photography by Lee Grant, Molonglo Group, Hotel Hotelabc
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A Quiet Camouflage Or A Wild Embrace?

Elements of Byron Resort is a testament to slow architecture – a form of slow living that is perfectly fitting for the ‘feet in the sand, head in the surf’ lifestyle that is favoured in Byron Bay. Slow architecture is an approach that aims to foster the relationship between the built environment and surrounding world, with sustainability and human experience at the forefront. Buildings that gracefully delineate the awe of the outer landscape. Elements of Byron immerses itself within the vast and shifting ecologies of northern New South Wales. This connection to place grants the resort a uniquely Australian flavour where creative design thinking is able to delicately amalgamate into the beauty of the natural landscape. “Byron is not about buildings,” says the resort’s architect Shane Thompson. “It’s about how the edges between them disappear.” This is particularly evident in Thompson’s ambitious roof design that artistically traces the gentle dips and crests of the surrounding sand dunes. The slumping, relaxed form of the roof gives the illusion of extending up and out from the earth. Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Interior designer Rowena Cornwell devised the colour scheme to compliment the exterior palette of the locations’ natural flora. Soft coppers reflect the underside of the banksia leaf and deep bronzes from the tea tree stained Belongil creek. Vibrant cracks of hot orange, fiery corals and brilliant reds allude to the native birds of the region, including the Comb-crested Jacana, Pied Oystercatcher and Black Cockatoo. The languid and free-flowing movement of the resort edges away from the impersonal feel of touristic spaces. Rather, the infusion of organic elements helps to create a more eternal site alike the landscape itself. The protective curve in the central leisure precinct prevents the space from feeling too open and exposed while orientating you towards the ocean. The cradled design aims to enhance connection not only to the outside beauty but also to other people, encouraging community and connection. Set to the back of the 850,000-litre infinity lagoon pool is the fire pit. With the inner bowl designed by Adelaide’s FCT Flames – who produced the rings of fire for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games – this pit beckons as the ideal space to engage with the primitive sensibilities of the natural world. Elements of Byron elementsofbyron.com.au Words by Ella McDougall Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Living Elements Of Byron | Habitus Livingabc
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Tasmanian Blackwood Stands Out at Milan Design Week 2017

Master furniture maker and craftsman Jon Goulder has created a series of bespoke furniture pieces in Tasmanian Blackwood for exclusive showcase in the 2017 Milan Design Week. Goulder’s iconic Settlers Chair, one of 33 chairs recently selected by the National Gallery of Victoria to be exhibited as part of the “Creating the Contemporary Chair” exhibition, is featured in presentation at the “Local Milan” exhibit, curated by Emma Elizabeth’s Local Design. The chair is designed and made with reference to the earliest Australian Colonial furniture and is inspired by the natural materials that were accessible during colonization – including Tasmanian Blackwood. The frame is made from Old Growth Blackwood from Tasmania’s forests, while the water formed leather, sourced from Australia and crafted to feel and wear like an old saddle, was created using a unique process developed by Goulder specifically for this piece. Also featuring in the “Local Milan” exhibit is a series of congruent side tables – a collaboration from Adelaide’s Jam Factory between Goulder and glass artist Liam Fleming. The tables are composed of hand blown glass with turned Tasmanian Blackwood tops. Goulder says, “I am developing a real affinity with Blackwood, it is beautiful to work with and it is great to take and Aussie timber to the world.” Tasmanian Blackwood tasmanianblackwood.com.au Words: Andrew McDonald Photography: Grant Hancock Goulder_0591 Goulder_0643 Goulder_0641 Goulder_0616  abc
Design Hunters

The Epidemic of ‘Stuff’ – Part #2

There’s a sequel to the Cheap Coffee Table saga. The other day my husband found an identical table dumped outside someone else’s house. He brought it back for me excitedly explaining we now had a back-up, but I don’t want it and I can’t even give it away. I read that in Greater Sydney alone a weight the equivalent of 3.4 million coffee tables is taken to landfill each year (and that doesn’t include illegal dumping or those delivered directly to tips). It’s my fault, says Kevin Morgan, director of consultancy EC Sustainable. He reminds me that furniture made overseas in engineered wood and veneer is never going to be repaired. Yup. It is now much cheaper to replace than repair, which is just costing the environment. But is it realistic to think the average consumer could afford, or would be willing to pay more for, locally made furniture in quality materials? Back in 2009 we were fortunate enough to have an eight-seater dining table handmade by our friend Myles Gostelow, the high-chair fixer-upper and a fine furniture maker who exemplifies the true meaning of the word ‘materialist’. Oh the joy that is our skilfully handcrafted table! In fact it was a collaboration between Myles and his former fellow at ANU School of Art & Design, Rohan Ward, my husband’s best man who moved to Chicago and was therefore unable to build the table he’d designed for us before our wedding. The Tasmanian Oak on top has a tight fiddleback, the mortise and tenon joints of the legs peep through and feature tiny wedges of ebony and the minutest indentations hand-carved by Myles on a whim. Each corner’s two Tasmanian Blackwood legs come together as one to represent our marital union. Sometimes I lie under it and smile at the hand-carved names of its co-makers. Rohan Ward went on to receive an off-the-charts commission from the White House. Barack Obama needed a table to present to French president Francoise Holland to commemorate his State Visit in 2014. Not all of us count artisanal carpenters among our close circle of friends, and most of us blindly conform to the mass-produced decor model because the alternative of sourcing locally handmade or commissioning bespoke furniture just seems elitist. An architect friend of mine scoffed at my heartfelt evangelising that middle-income families might contemplate holding off on their next car to save $8000 for a dining table. I’m not alone though; Australian start-ups trying to educate consumers to buy more sustainably for the home include Handkrafted and Makers Lane. The latter encourages customers to share their design ideas online with a large community of small and medium makers who can tender for the business. Founder Clare Gilligan believes this transparent model of tendering, and the fact her business supports customers through the entire process, helps those new to bespoke to understand and trust its value. There are ready-made designs available too and since the makers are able to do small-batch runs the prices aren’t inaccessible. The higher bespoke prices tend to be about double what you might pay at a mid–premium homewares store, but on top of assured quality is the promise of ongoing maintenance by the makers themselves. Forget your limited warranties. Myles works to commission only, and his pieces can take four months from conception, but during that time you get to collaborate, visit his studio in Tharwa, ACT, and watch him at work. He might invite you to choose the timber or show you the air-drying or milling process. He wants you to know the true value behind the piece; sometimes he even creates a book documenting its story. What Myles really wants is for his pieces to become heirlooms, a hitherto archaic concept that many makers are trying to bring back. If we are emotionally invested in a piece as well as financially, he believes that’s enough, plus he always considers the pragmatic aspects of handing furniture on. He’s currently making a large library unit as a modular so that when it’s passed down to the client’s children, they can each take a unit or two and happily move it into their own smaller homes. Emotional connection grows even deeper if there’s a personal provenance to the material. Myles is often presented with a specific tree, which he mills and air-dries over a year at home before collaborating with the client on its reincarnation. Myles genuinely values materials – from a plastic high chair to a soon-to-be-culled street tree. When his arborist contacts tells him of an impending tree lop, he drives over and scoops it up onto the back of his ute in heroic fashion. “It’s not economical for me as that’s a lot of work to get a small volume of timber,” says Myles, “but I’m saving the timber from being thrown on a tip or chipped.” Short of commissioning a one-off by Myles, skilled makers are easier to directly source in the era of Instagram, especially those just starting out who might come with a discount. Student exhibitions are another great way to enter the world of woodwork and crafts. We use that table every day, more often than we use our $20,000 car. We expect that’ll do us for another six years or so. The dining table? It will be passed down through generations. Words by Joanne Gambaleabc
Design Products

Shining the Spotlight on Il Fanale in Milan

Above: Alchimia Looking back on the whirlwind that was the Milan Furniture Fair 2017, it’s easy to have certain releases and showcases overlooked or forgotten; with so much on display it’s only natural. To have stood out required something special – and Italian locals Il Fanale brough that special something. The brand, originally founded in 1979, has long held a focus on designing and crafting striking lamps with traditional metals, made with the highest level of artisanal craftsmanship. Perfect for the design hunter, these products showcased in Milan are an ideal representation of why Italian design is adored the world over… Narciso: Cute and functional, Narciso is a collection of lamps that, with their bell shape, recall the delicacy of a bluebell flower. This metal shape is used as a diffusing body, able to be oriented in any direction by means of a simple and intuitive gesture. Narciso   Metissage: Inspired by a life of world travel, Metissage marries simple and classic shapes, with the futurist idea of digital print technology. The main feature that makes this collection flexible is the possibility to choose the drawing for the glass, designing to your own personalized pattern. Metissage   Babette: This collection of suspension lamps is inspired by an ideal banquet, where the stars are the Savarin puddings created using the unmistakable moulds, a perfect example of “culinary microarchitecture”. Babette   Molecola: Comprising a collection of indoor lamps (from suspension and floor, to ceiling, wall and table lamps), Molecola is a brass range available in both natural and antique-effect aesthetics. Molecola   Étoile: The Étoile collection of indoor lamps is as elegant and sophisticated as its inspiration – the principal dancer of a ballet. The collection comprises a suspension lamp, floor lamp, table lamp and wall lamp, all suitable for bringing that extra touch of class to space. Etoile   Alchimia: Interplay of proportions and combinations, of dimensions, materials and shapes, gives life to the Alchimia range. Comprising delicate refined lamps made of brass and glass, the collection has been designed to make an environment unique and creating a space within the space Alchimia2 Bon Ton: Suspension lamps inspired by pendant earrings, the Bon Ton range are designed in simple forms with different materials, shaped into dangling pieces of jewelry. Bon-Ton   Il Fanale is distributed in Australia through LightCo lightco.com.auabc
Design Products
Fixed & Fitted

Elevating the Bathtub to the Level of Couture

Specialising in beautifully handcrafted reclaimed marble stone bathware; Apaiser continues its bath couture design movement with the Zen and Chameleon bath and basin ranges. “Bath couture is high end custom designed bathware, individually created with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced master craftsmen,” Apaiser say “Distinguished by the exclusive use of high quality, luxurious apaisermarble® enriched with the purity of Australian minerals. Expression knows no boundaries.” The Zen range epitomises the pure expression of design that the Apaiser brand is known for, with simplicity of form without elaborate distortion. The Zen range offers a full suite of bathware design that invites one to focus on total togetherness of body and mind; Zen is a bathware range designed for reflection and relaxation, perfectly epitomising the brand’s bath couture aesthetic. The Chameleon Collection, a collaborative range designed with Paul Flowers, embodies the essence of Apaiser – the perfect fusion of distinctive design & individualism – sleek and adaptable, like the chameleon. Driven by the desire to create a collection that’s bold, distinctive and individual, the Chameleon range harmoniously blends to its environment, yet reveals beauty upon inspection, with subtle features that catch the eye. With the belief that in this world of mass production and sameness, many design lovers seek out the unique, unusual and extraordinary – the Bath Couture movement, led by Apaiser, allows us to express our individuality in the most personal and relaxing space of the home. Apsier apaiser.com.au apaiser_Bath-Couture-Campaign-Image apaiser-Chameleon-range_asymmetrical-bath_aqua-blue Paul_Flower_Custom_Soka_Bath_Angle_300nospecklesabc