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Habitus is a movement for living in design. We’re an intelligent community of original thinkers in constant search of native uniqueness in our region.


From our base in Australia, we strive to capture the best edit, curating the stories behind the stories for authentic and expressive living.


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


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Three Ways To Explore Minimalist Furniture Design

At the heart of minimalist design and interior architecture is the question: What can be stripped away from an item that won’t make it lose its identity and purpose? In doing so, minimalism emphasises the simplification of form by aiming for the fewest possible elements, and a final design wherein everything is essential.


Minimalist furniture design should be defined by a subtle understatement of form and supported by an emphasis on function and aesthetic appeal. The piece of furniture, although simple, should express a presence in the room that balances both eye-catching and harmonious elements. Below are three ways to ensure a furniture design that adheres minimalist principles. [caption id="attachment_66777" align="aligncenter" width="612"]Minimalist furniture design table and chair Design by Khai Liew[/caption]

High-quality materials

In practically every area of design, this principle rings true: The higher quality the materials used to create a piece, the higher quality the final design. Of course, quality materials also need to be paired with quality concepts. While using lesser quality materials may save costs, the result will often not be what was desired, and the strived-for minimalist aesthetic ends up looking cheap and ill-conceived.

Simple, pure, organic design

Minimalist furniture design isn’t about a lack of design; it’s about simple design done well. By stripping the complexity from a piece of furniture, designers can capture the essence of a design while retaining its integrity and functional purpose. In doing so, beautiful, organic design is partnered with functionality to create the ideal example of furniture design that is minimalist.

Use of space to create impact and presence

Spaces that feature minimalist furniture design can be at risk of appearing sparse or lacking – but it doesn’t have to. More often than not, minimalist furniture design makes the best use of available space to create an illusion of sparsity. In doing so, the piece of furniture stays true to its function while also adding to the sense of abundant space within the room. By following just these three simple principles, achieving quality minimalist furniture design is more accessible than ever. [caption id="attachment_66778" align="aligncenter" width="612"]Minimalist furniture design dining chair Design by Ritzwell[/caption]abc

Welcome To The New Nordic : Habitus Celebrates MUUTO in Australia

Let's talk about 'it': that quiet, confident ability of making perfection appear entirely effortless. Unsurprisingly, every designer and their brand the world-over spend inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to achieve that feeling of 'it', the self-assuredness of an object appearing as though it was always meant to be just so, revelling in its singular and unaffected timelessness. And over the past decade or so, the design history of Scandinavia has captured the world's attention for precisely this reason. Touted as the enduing aesthetic, or the perfect synthesis of form meeting function, the Scandinavian design tradition is undoubtedly one of honesty and sublimity. It comes as no shock, then, that the Finns have a word for 'it' – muutos: 'new perspective'. Taking its cues from this singular and perfectly honed word, Scandinavian design house MUUTO has taken it upon itself to reimagine the parameters and perspectives of the region's design thinking. Founded by Kristian Byrge and Peter Bonnen, MUUTO maintains the stance that timelessness in design need not shirk the concept of change and innovation. After all, within this past decade when Scandinavian design took over the world – proliferating an entirely new conception of living well through design – it  became apparent that through appealing to the late majority we quickly found ourselves faced with the constant reinterpretation of existing designs and a pervading sense of ennui. 

We began to worry: is this the end of cultural history?

Well, I'm normally not one to back the naysayers, it's not a dumb question and I can't deny that they have a very strong point. Sometimes, the bizarre Groundhog Day approach of our industry feels like a never-ending concatenation of déjà vu. Nothing old, nothing new, been there, done that, continuing all the while to wear the t-shirt with neither compunction nor irony. It begs the question, then, whether it is possible to innovate without destroying tradition. Perhaps I'm being a little hyperbolic, but it really isn't too flippant a question. And it's a question which lies at the core of MUUTO's orientation to contemporary design. Having tired of the overabundance that ended up cheapening the Scandinavian design tradition, MUUTO engaged an impressive lineup of architects, designers and fine artists from the Nordic countries to disrupt and reimagine the accepted concepts of Scandinavian design history. Engaging this group of multi-disciplinary specialists, the brand has now ushered in, in their own words, "a great new era of Scandinavian design" that covers accessories, lighting and furniture now vaunted as the benchmark for quality and functionality.   [gallery columns="4" ids="63889,63890,63891,63892,63893,63894,63895,63896,63897,63898,63899,63900,63901,63902,63903,63904,63905,63906,63907,63908,63909,63910,63911,63912"] Seeking to expand the heritage of  design, MUUTO continues to innovate with unflagging aplomb. Forward-looking materials, techniques, creative thinking and specialist craftsmanship all combine with its ongoing commitment to a no-nonsense, fresh perspective on the history and future of Scandinavian design and aesthetics:
'To MUUTO good design starts with the person. MUUTO handpicks the brightest design talent in Scandinavia and gives them the freedom to express their individual story by encouraging experimentation. The result is a new and unique take on common everyday objects. Some want to alter the world, others find passion in colour and shape or draw deeply from personal experience. How do they see a chair, vase, lamp or any other everyday product?' – Kristian Byrge, MUUTO.
Never, it would seem, has this come at a more timely point for the design community. After all, Christen Grosen, Design Director at MUUTO, wisely reminds me that "today, the boundary between private and professional lives is slowly dissolving – workplaces, restaurants and other public spaces are becoming less formal and we do not enjoy everything too sterile and rigid." His words remind us that, while the conditions of our daily lives continue to change, should not the design traditions that facilitate these changes change and evolve, too?
'I am very aware of how much power aesthetics has in a room. For example, the difference between a table being square versus round – it changes the dynamics of a meeting. You change your daily life by moving around and it shows what a huge influence your décor has. It creates renewed energy and, derived from that, a sense of happiness.' – Christen Grosen, MUUTO.
Celebrating this keen understanding of the future of Scandiavian design, Living Edge – MUUTO's suppliers in Australia – hosted a private event at the Sydney Opera House's Utzon Room to welcome the brand's CEO, Anders Cleeman, and Sales Director, Christian Ernemann, to Australia where it seems that Scandinavian design has left an indelible mark on our national psyche. Showcasing an impressive host of designs by an equally impressive list of names, pieces from MUUTO's latest collections beautifully offset Sydney's harbour views. For the lucky and impressive punters on the guest list, they were treated to exclusive peeks at designs brought to life by an equally impressive litany of contemporary designers that include:
Anderssen and Voll, Andreas Bergsaker, Andreas Engesvik, Broberg and Ridderstrale, Cecile Manz, Claesson Koivisto Rune, David Geckeler, Form Us With Love, Hallgeir Homsvedt, Harri Koskinen, Iskos-Berlin, Jakob Wagner, Jens Fager, Johan Van Hengel, Jonas Wagnell, Julien De Smedt, Lars Tornoe, Louise Campbell, Margrethe Odgaard, Mattias Stahlbom, Mette Duedahl, Mika Tolvanen, MSDS, Norway Says, Ole Jensen, Simon Key Bertman, Staffan Holm, Soren Rose Studio, TAF Architects, Thomas Bentzen, Thomas Bernstrand, Tina Ratzer, Whatwshat.
[gallery columns="4" ids="63913,63914,63915,63916,63917,63918,63919,63920,63921,63922,63923,63924,63925,63926,63927,63928,63929,63930,63931,63932,63933,63934,63935,63936,63937,63938,63939,63940,63941,63942,63943,63944,63945,63946,63947,63948,63949,63950,63951,63952,63953,63954,63955,63956,63957,63958,63959,63960,63961,63962,63963,63964,63965,63966,63967,63968,63969,63970,63971,63972,63973,63974,63975,63976,63977,63978,63979,63980,63981,63982,63983,63984,63985"]abc

A Home Inspired By Melbourne’s Café Culture

Cafés are part of Melbourne’s DNA, each with a neighbourhood vibe, the ability to bring people together in a communal space and serving some of the best coffee, of course. This eco-friendly house in Coburg, Melbourne, designed by Zen Architects, is inspired by Melbourne’s world-renowned café culture and takes a communal, colourful and sustainable approach to its functional and aesthetic design. Laneway House has been designed as the long-term home of a couple and their beloved dog. While they loved their existing weatherboard cottage, they recognised its shortcomings – lack of functional space, sunlight and indoor–outdoor connection. They wanted their new house to be “smarter, not bigger,” says architect Luke Rhodes. “One that would allow them to live with a better connection to the environment while reducing energy and water use, and one that would support their love of entertaining. In this household, relationships are fostered through the shared enjoyment of food and drink – and especially coffee – with relatives and friends.” Zen Architects reconfigured and modernised the front rooms of the existing house and added a rear extension to take advantage of the northern orientation and laneway access. Drawing on the couple’s appreciation for eating and drinking with others, Zen Architects looked to Melbourne’s café culture for inspiration and incorporated distinct functional and aesthetic elements. The kitchen, living and indoor and outdoor dining areas flow into each other for communal enjoyment; the kitchen has a bar area and servery to the outside; a pergola, with the beginnings of a grape vine, defines the outdoor dining space; and the carport offers an additional gathering area and laneway access. Habitus Living Laneway House Zen Architects open plan The mix of old and new materials similarly reflects those used in Melbourne’s neighbourhood cafes and includes an exposed recycled brick wall and recycled light fittings; bi-fold steel-framed glass doors; steel-framed windows and art deco doors. “The materials we use often have stories of their own that imbue another layer of meaning and beauty in our architecture,” Luke explains. Yellow joinery, tiled splashback and exterior trim are joyful and welcoming, and the FSC certified plywood is warm and tactile with the lowered ceiling above the daybed creating an intimate area inside. Furniture and fabrics have a mid-century vibe and the New York subway sign in the living room complements the black subway tiles in the bathroom. Ecologically sustainable design principles played an important role in Zen Architects’ approach to the house, including orienting the living areas to the north and minimising glazing to the south, east and west. High-level louvres provide for cross ventilation; the exposed concrete slab offers thermal mass; angled eaves block summer sun and allow winter sun; and the pergola will shade the lower windows once the grape vine matures. Like Melbourne’s much-loved cafés, Laneway House has a bright and friendly neighbourhood vibe where friends and family are welcomed with open arms to enjoy some of the best company and coffee in town. Zen Architects zenarchitects.com Photography by Emma Cross Habitus Living Laneway House Zen Architects kitchen Habitus Living Laneway House Zen Architects kitchen Habitus Living Laneway House Zen Architects living Habitus Living Laneway House Zen Architects lounge Habitus Living Laneway House Zen Architects corridor Habitus Living Laneway House Zen Architects veranda Habitus Living Laneway House Zen Architects exteriorabc
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Aloft Hotel In Perth by Design Theory

Hotels are no longer just a place to stay, but rather have become lively and connected destinations for visitors and locals alike. As trends in the travel industry have shifted, due in large part to AirBnB, large and small hospitality brands have reacted and adapted with a new generation of hotels, such as Aloft Perth. Aloft is Marriott Hotels’ urban, modern and affordable offering aimed at the social and tech-savvy millennial. Design Theory conceived and decked out the communal spaces on the ground floor, including the lobby and reception, Springs Kitchen café and restaurant, WXYZ bar, Splash pool and Backyard games area. “This project required a design that would resonate with locals, the wider Perth community and visitors to Perth,” says designer Lisa Reeves. “It needed to have the flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing ways we now travel and choose to spend time, and it needed to have a welcoming vibe and personality with visually cohesive spaces that still had their own identity.” “Loft spaces are synonymous with large volumes, industrial details, exposed services, large rugs, open floor plans and warm loose furniture, so we developed colour and texture palettes to express the concept confidently and comfortably,” Lisa explains. Reception. Aloft by Design Theory, photography by Dion Robeson, on Habitus Living The “loft” concept lays the foundation of each space, with each area given unique colours and finishes for its own identity. The WXYZ bar has a darker palette of blood-red accents, mustards and dark green wools that speak to the warmth of the fireplace; the Backyard games area has bright and punchy colours; and the Springs Kitchen café and restaurant has a lighter, fresher palette of terracotta, turquoise and white to reflect the local produce, climate and landscape. Attention to the connections between adjacent spaces ensured a natural and logical transition from one to another. The Perth location also played a major part in the design. “We wanted to showcase the best parts of living in Western Australia: our natural light, climate and easy-going lifestyle,” Lisa says. As such the design connects indoor and outdoor spaces wherever possible; sliding shutters open to filter the light for the time and mood of the day; and the “non-traditional” and flexible lobby with communal tables and bar opens to the outdoor seating and pool area behind. Lisa invited local artists such as Elle Campbell and David Spencer to create mixed-media pieces and large-scale insitu works, including the mural on the pool wall. “We commissioned Mike Gray to create a striking photographic series to be featured throughout the guest rooms, and I went on late-night adventures with Mike and his projector to capture images amongst Perth’s laneways,” says Lisa. Design Theory also furnished the mezzanine, conference rooms, rooftop terrace and guest rooms with soft furnishings. Photography by Dion Robeson Courtyard. Aloft by Design Theory, photography by Dion Robeson, on Habitus Living Courtyard. Aloft by Design Theory, photography by Dion Robeson, on Habitus Living Cafe. Aloft by Design Theory, photography by Dion Robeson, on Habitus Living Kitchen. Aloft by Design Theory, photography by Dion Robeson, on Habitus Living Lobby. Aloft by Design Theory, photography by Dion Robeson, on Habitus Living Aloft by Design Theory, photography by Dion Robeson, on Habitus Living Reception. Aloft by Design Theory, photography by Dion Robeson, on Habitus Living Aloft by Design Theory, photography by Dion Robeson, on Habitus Living Aloft by Design Theory, photography by Dion Robeson, on Habitus Living Suite. Aloft by Design Theory, photography by Dion Robeson, on Habitus Livingabc
Design Products

Rugs of Transient Beauty

Above: Eden Christine, Lia and Phillipa have brought collective decades of designer experience to the fore with the Transient collection – a range that sees rugs exploring natural and manmade spaces, the shift and changes of surfaces through time and materials, the building and erosion of structures and patterns both organic and geometric. The result is a playful yet tasteful myriad of textures that convey permanence and impermanence at the same time, moving and shifting underfoot to add an animated energy to any space. For the range, colours were drawn from current interior trends, transposed to the fresh, luxurious pallet of New Zealand wool and gleaming bamboo silk. Deep emerald and wintergreen tones are contrasted with pops of amber and terracotta, with highlights verging on metallic bronze and white gold. The Collection… Current by Lia Pielli: An abstraction of pulsing energy waves and electrical current surging through wire mesh. Eden by Lia Pielli: Nature at a macro level, inspired by a close up detail of a leaf structure, emphasizing the subtle patterns and shift in light. Rift by Lia Pielli: The deconstruction and reconstruction of layers and stripes, creating shifts and fault line patterns. Attic by Phillipa Cowdrey: Inspired by the idea of materials breaking down over time, this design is an exploration of layering by extracting colours and lines with luminescent accents. Despatch by Phillipa Cowdrey: A fragmentation of repetitive forms and the destabilization of geometric structures Archery by Christine McDonald: A deep structural design of movement back and forth, inspired by the humble tyre treads Zandt by Christine McDonald: The exploration of erosion to a painted surface over time in the elements. Each rug in Designer Rugs’ Transient range is handmade and comes in standard sizes of 200 x 300 cm, and 240 x 300 cm. Naturally, each design can be custom made in any size or colour desired, from hall runners and circular rugs to wall to wall carpet solutions in residential and commercial spaces. [caption id="attachment_63884" align="aligncenter" width="1170"] Zandt[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_63883" align="aligncenter" width="1170"] Rift[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_63881" align="aligncenter" width="1170"] Despatch[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_63880" align="aligncenter" width="1170"] Current[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_63879" align="aligncenter" width="1170"] Attic[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_63878" align="aligncenter" width="1170"] Archery[/caption]abc
Around The World
ARC - Feature

A House In Hong Kong Or A Loft In Manhattan?

Conceptualised and realised by Vincent Lim and Elaine Lu of award-winning design studio Lim+Lu, the 2,600 square-foot warehouse looks nothing like its former self. Having been transformed into a spacious and flexible family home that doubles as a workshop space for not only the painting and cooking classes which the highly social couple teaches, but also the dinner parties that they frequently host. The modern décor of the apartment, which is concealed behind the original door of the warehouse – intentionally left untouched – is largely inspired by New York, the city that left the deepest impression on the couple who spent time in the Big Apple before moving to Hong Kong. And if there are any designers who know New York, it’s Lim+Lu, who co-founded their eponymous studio while living in Manhattan. “When inside the space, without looking out the windows, one is transported to a loft in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. When you look out, you are immediately connected to Hong Kong,” say the couple. Habitus Living Lim+Lu Warehouse House dining room “We design with the context in mind; being mindful of the surroundings as well as the inhabitants,” Vincent Lim points out. “In this instance, we were working with a space neighbouring many industrial complexes for a client who had a deep connection with New York. We saw this at the perfect opportunity to harmonise western and eastern cultures. “We borrowed elements from those industrial surroundings and intertwined them with the idea of a loft in New York. When inside the space, without looking out the windows, one is transported to a loft in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. When you look out, you are immediately connected to Hong Kong,” Elaine Lu adds. Lim+Lu’s first and biggest challenge was to plan – strategically – the layout of the apartment, which, at the beginning, had no divisions, bathrooms or even a kitchen. Then came the question of how to distribute natural light, as the former warehouse had windows only on one side. The solution came in the form of handsome, black steel doors that slide together or apart to easily divide or connect the living and workshop spaces. And because the top halves are made from glass, natural light passes through to the bedroom and master bathroom more effectively – just like a loft in New York.

Lim+Lu limandlu.com

Habitus Living Lim+Lu Warehouse House interior

Habitus Living Lim+Lu Warehouse House living room

Habitus Living Lim+Lu Warehouse House living room

Habitus Living Lim+Lu Warehouse House dining room

Habitus Living Lim+Lu Warehouse House corridor

Habitus Living Lim+Lu Warehouse House master bathroom

Habitus Living Lim+Lu Warehouse House master bathroom

Habitus Living Lim+Lu Warehouse House bathroom

Design Hunters
DH - Feature
The Nostalgia Issue

John Wardle Leads From The Middle

For the most part, architect John Wardle is a forward thinker, a designer whose practices’ buildings – including the under-construction Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and the Melbourne School of Design – are shaped and crafted using the latest computer-aided design technologies and innovative construction techniques.

In some ways though, John looks backwards and forwards, subconsciously, to advance and compress time. As founder and principal of John Wardle Architects (JWA), John maintains that good architecture needs sufficient time to percolate and evolve.

At JWA, there is a constant endeavor to expand time: ideas are given space to emerge; the client’s needs might change or become more readily understood; spatial outcomes and minute details are refined. “The design development stage can only benefit from an extended period of deliberation and consideration,” he notes. His own house in Kew, in Melbourne’s inner east, is an extreme example of the transmutations that can occur in the architect’s mind and a building over a prolonged timeframe.

Home to John and his wife Susan for more than 25 years, the house was originally designed by Horace Tribe in 1951. Today, it’s almost unrecognisable as the building the Wardles purchased, having undergone two major renovations, most recently in 2000. At that time John was exploring “a fascination with a sense of enclosure”; a new wing was added to project the primary elevation outwards towards the street, partly to capture city views.

The resulting living room presents as a cross-section of the house. “All of the structure, internal finishes and furniture elements are capped by a single sheet of glass, which invites an understanding of the inner program,” says John.

John Wardle Habitus photography by Marnie Hawson dining room

Inside, the perimeter of this space is emphasised by articulated shelves and benches used for formal display, while a collection of contemporary furniture pieces – including a large sofa and iconic chairs such as the Fjord chair by Patricia Urquiola for Moroso and the Take a Line For a Walk armchair by Alfredo Häberli for Moroso – are arranged and rearranged to facilitate entertaining or relaxation modes. A grand piano takes centre stage: a house concert is being planned with an old friend, singer-songwriter Rebecca Barnard, who will be joined by Monique diMattina.

John explored the same preoccupation – with different results – on later JWA projects, including the City Hill House and Vineyard House. “To use your own projects as a test bed for the sorts of ideas that we often encourage our clients to consider gives validity to those concepts,” he says. “When you test your ideas with genuine enthusiasm and a degree of strategy on a project for your own family, it can draw those moments of individual endeavor into something that becomes part of a larger office discussion, such as a joinery element or ways of lighting a room.

“I enjoy that aspect of practice,” he adds, “where personal experience rolls into larger discussions with colleagues.”

Now that the couple’s children have grown up and recently moved out, the architect is developing plans for a third major reworking of their home. “The intention this time is to make it bigger by turning the kids’ playroom and elevated terrace into a place for drawing and study,” he says. “The original floor plan is still there, but it’s been slowly consumed as I’ve worked and reworked it over many years. The house is basically a constantly shifting experiment, and I think we will continue to stay there for many years.”

Despite this long-term preoccupation with one building, John and his family also enjoy visiting their farm on Bruny Island in Tasmania. The same location in which the JWA-designed Shearers Quarters won Australia’s highest award for residential architecture: the Robin Boyd Award in 2012. John has spent the past 18 months overseeing the renovation of the property’s historic Waterview cottage, originally constructed in the 1840’s by the ship’s carpenters, on the edge of a cliff overlooking Storm Bay. “I need to visit Waterview as an antidote to city life,” he says.

John Wardle Habitus photography by Marnie Hawson sculpture

John grew up on the outskirts of Geelong, on the banks of the Barwon River; his father was an agricultural scientist turned science teacher and his mother was a school librarian. His childhood home was a place where accepted knowledge and conventional wisdom were endlessly challenged by constant questioning and new evidence. It was an environment that stimulated his ingrained sense of curiosity, one that was instrumental in setting the tone for JWA’s inclusive practice model, where the studio structure enables John to “lead from the middle”.

“Rather than just an understanding of architectural history, I bring a broad range of interests into the practice discussions,” he says. “I’m a very curious person and many of the methods of our practice are informed by that curiosity, as well as that of fellow Principal Stefan Mee, and by drawing craftspeople, artists and makers into our circle. I’m not an architect who works in isolation and we very much require many levels of input from a broad group of others within the practice.” John’s home and office are testament to his broad interests, with their substantial arrangements of unusual objects collected over time.

Over several weekends each year, members of the JWA team visit John’s Bruny Island property en masse, to undertake building projects. “Those trips are beneficial in so many ways: they remove us from the conventions of the space and the orthodoxies of an architecture office to somewhere that is completely other,” he says. “When we are there I try to not dictate, but rather to suggest and encourage, so those weekends are very playful. They are less about pure design and much more about the process of making, and sparking connections with the skilled tradespeople who craft our buildings.”

John also seeks respite from the pace of city life and his own restless energy by taking long walks through far-flung landscapes, including a recent overseas holiday where he and Susan walked along age-old tracks in three European countries. “It is such a pleasure to walk within ancient places,” he says.

Walking for pleasure is a simple way to return to a less demanding era. On foot, it’s possible to reconnect with nature and relish the present moment.  Short of time travelling, it’s one of the best ways to return to the foreign country of the past, and to luxuriate in the pleasure of having enough time.

This story was originally published in Habitus #37, the Nostalgia issue – out now!

John Wardle Architects johnwardlearchitects.com

Photography by Marnie Hawson

John Wardle Habitus photography by Marnie Hawson patio

John Wardle Habitus photography by Marnie Hawson exterior


Laos Heritage Inspires The Interior Design Of Bang Bang, Melbourne

When something is new and shiny we are afraid to touch it. Afraid that we will make some mark of damage. Ultimately this creates a sense of unease, where we tiptoe rather than stretch out into the world around us. When you are designing a venue – in the public and for the public – the space should feel comfortable and inviting for one to come and stay. Bang Bang is a recent restaurant and bar in Melbourne’s Elsternwick that reimagines the colonial clubs throughout South-East Asia. And despite the overt exoticism of the jungle-infused décor, there is also a well-worn, nostalgic impression that exudes a sense of familiarity and comfort. It was important to the owners for Bang Bang to integrate into the local community. The inciting colonial club idea for the venue was not only a means to draw from the owner’s heritage, but also to thematically reinforce that the restaurant is a place for the local people. And with Bang Bang open from morning through to late night, the space is designed to act as a verdant escape for any time of day. Bang Bang Melbourne photography by Shannyn Higgins bar Bang Bang is the cumulative result from Six Degrees Architects, Chamberlain Architects and branding by Pom Kimber as well as input from the owners themselves. The lived-in feel is created from the heavy use of rough-look materials – exposed concrete and stripped back red brick walls, for example – as well as the inclusion of vintage furniture. The owner’s personal collection of vintage pieces add to the assembly of mix-matched furniture used throughout. The owner’s Laos heritage pervades the interior styling. Their engagement with the designers and the creation of the space, allowed for authentic and custom artistic features, such as the stencil pattern that flows throughout. “We even created a custom tile print referencing traditional Laos patterns that were turned into a stencil pattern,” says Ella Leoncio, interior designer with Chamberlain Architects. “This stencil was hand painted onto the floor and bar to create a sense of embellishment and opulence.” Bang Bang combines three diverse dining areas, the Sanctuary, a temple-inspired, intimate wine bar; the Jungle, the main dining room and adjacent outdoor dining space; and the Night Market, the festive, multi-coloured rear alfresco dining area. Each section offers a unique experience to suit the needs of the patron. Yet, within each, the styling seamlessly adheres to the character of South-East Asia. Local textiles and imagery from Laos culture helped to imagine the vibrant jungle wallpaper panels within the dining room. And further, a standout custom pendant light, draped in billowing cloth, exudes a relaxed and natural appeal. It is a feat for a space that is so visually different to the surrounding Melbourne suburbs to evoke a sense of homeliness. A club of any sort is constructed to be a space to serve its members. Bang Bang’s attempts to veer away from a look that is decidedly new and untouched helps to make it instantly familiar. And when paired with rich textures and foliage, make for this restaurant to become an ideal oasis for one to wind down the hours. Bang Bang bangbang.com.au Photography by Shannyn Higgins Bang Bang Melbourne photography by Shannyn Higgins bar Bang Bang Melbourne photography by Shannyn Higgins dining room Bang Bang Melbourne photography by Shannyn Higgins foliage Bang Bang Melbourne photography by Shannyn Higgins greenery Bang Bang Melbourne photography by Shannyn Higgins No.B9 Le Corbusier   Bang Bang Melbourne photography by Shannyn Higgins indoor-outdoor Bang Bang Melbourne photography by Shannyn Higgins exteriorabc
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Grafunkt Welcomes Ariake

Named after the Ariake Sea in Southern Japan, Ariake is a furniture brand owned by Legnatec and Hirata Chair – two factories from the furniture town of Morodomi in Saga prefecture, Japan. The word ‘ariake’ means daybreak in Japanese, and symbolises a new beginning for the two factories as they collaborate not only with each other (Legnatec is a cabinet specialist and Hirata Chair a chair specialist) but also with a team of international designers. The Ariake brand and inaugural collection were born from an intensive workshop in Morodomi. Legnatec and Hirata Chair engaged Singaporean designer Gabriel Tan, whom they met at IFFS last year, to form an international creative team to create a new collection for the international market. This international team consists of furniture designers Tan, Espen Voll of Norwegian design studio Anderssen & Voll, Japanese architect Keiji Ashizawa, and Swedish designer Staffan Holm with Swiss design studio AnnerPerrindesigning the branding and Swiss photographer Sebastian Stadler documenting the visuals. The result of an eight-day intensive workshop in Morodomi is a collection of 18 furniture pieces that utilises the best of hand and machine. Inspired by the spirit of Japanese culture and urban living contexts, Ariake collection is very much international in taste, with a Japanese twist. The collection mixes wood both imported (white oak, ash, cedar) and native Japanese (hinoki), pairs them with leather, paper chord and unique finishes such as sumi ink, indigo and burnt cedar. Indigo is used for a dark blue finish while burnt cedar brings a smoky effect. Made from candle soot, sumi ink (a common staple in Japanese painting) is used to dye the wood black without diminishing its natural grain like paint can. The availability of sumi in Japan has also made it a more economical choice than black paint, lending to a reasonable price point for the quality. Ariake is the first brand to use sumi for commercial production. Ariake collection ariakecollection.com Ariake Collection Rikyu Sideboard Ariake Collection Saga Stool Ariake Collection Saga Chair Ariake Collection Sky Ladder Low Shelfabc
Around The World
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The Nostalgia Issue

Manila Modern In Habitus #37 – On Sale Now

In a rapidly developing metropolis, spaces that exist simply to provide a sense of space are exceedingly rare.

Metropolitan Manila, like so many other South East Asian cities is strewn with towering condominiums perpetually under construction. Life here can be claustrophobically congested.

The Manila House by actLAB sits at the other end of the spectrum – a notable example of considered spatial design against a backdrop of stifling density. Situated within an old pocket of Makati City and built for a young professional couple, the project was briefed as a nuanced interpretation of the traditional Filipino home.

“It was important to us to not be just one of those new houses following the same ‘modern’ trend,” say the residents.

“They are a contemporary Filipino couple, and wanted a modest, clean-lined house that will sit well in its context,” says Aya Maceda, founder of actLAB. “They knew of my modern interpretations on vernacular architecture and that I was starting my own practice, and they wanted to work with me.”

The inherited existing house had sustained water damage from the last typhoon in the area. For their forever home, the clients wanted to maximise what they could build on the property to include three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a home office, as well as an open plan arrangement to cater to the extended family gatherings customary in Filipino culture.

aya maceda actlab manila interior

“There is a Sunday lunch legacy in this family where three generations get together weekly to share a meal. Siblings and parents catch up, children are running around in the background… you know, it’s big!” says Aya. “So I designed for that, with the idea that the many segments of the house would be visually connected.”

The expansion of the structural footprint towards the bounds of the site gave rise to the pivotal courtyard feature at the core of Manila House, which lends the home its uniquely inward-facing quality.

“It always rains in the Philippines, so we wanted a covered outdoor space – a lanai, which is an important space in the Filipino vernacular – our equivalent of a veranda. Traditionally, it is an open air living room that is covered, and facing a garden,” says Aya.

This green space at the heart of the home separates the dining room and double height living area, skilfully compartmentalising the ground floor while enhancing its spacious, sociable feel.

“The house is zoned in clusters. Visually, you feel you are all in one space, but at the same time, the spatial arrangement allows for different pockets of conversations to happen,” continues Aya.

In a culture so rich in celebration and family feasting, it follows that many Filipino households, even modest ones, are commonly served by two kitchens. The dry kitchen inside the house is kept for entertaining and the preparation of simple meals, while the serious culinary grunt work – frying whole fish over a dramatic industrial wok burner, for example – is reserved for the utilitarian wet, or ‘dirty’, kitchen outside. To this end, Aya included an adjoining outdoor service space. “Inside, they have somewhere nice to serve guests and eat breakfast, but it’s so important for them to have a place where they can cook traditional food.”

aya maceda actlab manila kitchen

Natural air flow became another driver of the spatial plan. Bucking the nation-wide trend for maintaining artificial fridge-like temperatures indoors, the client preferred to reduce the need for air-conditioning. The actLAB team ensured lots of opportunity for cross-ventilation, with louvers specified on even the smallest openings.

“Air flow can be released upstairs, and they can purge air into the courtyard,” says Aya. “You can be inside the house and feel a breeze, even on very hot days.”

The furniture in Manila House is entirely produced by local craftsmen. The living room set was designed and created by local maker Milo Naval, a long-time collaborator of Aya’s with a background in architecture. “Besides supporting the local industry and having pieces that fit perfectly, we found the quality and craftsmanship of local artisans to be excellent and reasonably priced,” says the resident.

Milo’s wooden pieces sit well against the Manila House’s restrained material palette of porcelain tiles, compressed stone, masonry and local hardwood timbers. A native timber called Tanguile was used – a largely overlooked, inexpensive hardwood not frequently used in a fine house. The decision was made to use timber only in the places that you would touch, creating a sense of warmth and tactility as you move through the sequence of spaces.

While the Manila House provides a joyful respite for its human inhabitants, it is also a safe haven for its furry occupants. Though stray street dogs are endemic to the Philippines, many prized purebred pets are lamentably kept in cages to protect against escape, or theft. By contrast, the couple’s beagles sleep indoors and are free to roam the perimeter garden, which is screened with live bamboo for privacy.

“Much of the planning on the site was arranged to give the animals easy access to the outdoors, whilst keeping them away from the open front gate,” says Aya.

The house greets the street with an unassuming façade. Its exterior is clad in rendered masonry, with a first floor screened in white aluminium battens echoing the rhythmic timber slats within. This linear patterning is part of an overall strategy to lighten the visual mass of the project at street level, in reference to its context within a gated community.

Likewise, the gate blends in as part of the overall design. Greenery was designed into the façade to soften the frontage over time, with native foliage along the fence line, as well as over the garage canopy and behind the slatted screen.

“I worked for architect Alex Popov for seven years, and I always remember him telling me, ‘if you strip the house of its ornamentation, the design should be able to carry itself.’” Aya says. “This has been a guiding voice in my own practice, and I feel like that’s what this house achieves.” Or more simply put, and in the client’s words, the Manila House is a “happy house”.

This story was originally published in Habitus #37, the Nostalgia issue – out now!

Dissection Information Living room furniture OMO by Milo Naval. Other pieces custom made. Plaster and paint on concrete blocks for the interior and exterior wall. Concrete and porcelain tiles on floor. Glass louvre windows and powder coated aluminium windows. Custom made interior and exterior doors, interior louvres, stairs and handrails using local Tanguile timber. Custom made exterior louvres in powder-coated aluminum. Living in Style floor tiles by Cebu Oversea Hardware Company. Tanguile floorboards elsewhere. Custom made kitchen joinery, lacquered and timber veneer cabinetry. Countertops from Caesarstone. Refrigerator, cooktop and laundry from Whirlpool. Built-in oven from Franke. Sink from Creston. Kitchen taps from Franke. Bathroom fixtures from Grohe, Hansgrohe, Kholer and American Standard.

aya maceda actlab manila staircase

aya maceda actlab manila entrance

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