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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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Australian Furniture Design: Who’s Killing It According To Habitus

Despite the fact that we are were once seen to be hidden away, in this little pocket of the globe, Australian furniture design ranks among the best in the world. Why? According to our European brothers and sisters such as famed design matriarch Patrizia Moroso, “Australian designers are not burdened with history and tradition that Europe is. Designers from this region are far more free to explore uncharted – even unconsidered – possibilities. And that quality makes the design outcomes some of the most daring and exciting in the world.” It’s for this reason that we could have easily made a top 20, but for the sake of being concise, here are Habitus’ top five Australian furniture designers, and some of products that makes them exceptional…   Adam Goodrum, Adam Goodrum Studio No other furniture/industrial designer in modern Australia is more internationally admired or sought-after than Adam Goodrum. A firm believer that every environment is defined by the objects within it, Adam Goodrum designs with the philosophy that an object must therefore justify its existence – through its story and detailing. For this reason, his designs celebrate process and craftsmanship, and accentuate components and joinery to create functional pieces with spirit and personality. In recent years, Goodrum’s work has been awarded a host of design accolades including the NGV Rigg Prize, Vogue x Alessi Design Prize, Indesign Luminary Award and the Idea Awards Editor’s Medal. He has also been commissioned to design pieces for several global luxury brands including Veuve Clicquot, Alessi, Cappellini, Normann Copenhagen and Poltrona Frau. Adam’s impressive and imaginative portfolio continues to grow, and we find ourselves adding new must-haves to the list each year. But for now, here are Habitus’ top 3 Adam Goodrum furniture design faves: [gallery size="medium" ids="70221,70220,70222"]   Kate Stokes, Coco Flip Traditionally speaking, Austrlian furniture design – if not on a global scale – has been a bit of a boys club. Sure, there are phenomenal female furniture designers who have risen through the ranks to produce some of the world’s most exceptional design pieces (think Patricia Urquiola, Charlotte Perriand, Zaha Hadid, and Hella Jongerius) and Australia is lucky enough to add to this exceptional list of talented women with Melbourne-based powerhouse Kate Stokes, founder and designer of the Coco Flip brand. Sharing the brand with her partner Haslett Grounds, Kate’s work is characterised by a strong relationship with local craftspeople and manufacturers to create lasting products with depth of character. “We draw extensive inspiration from travel,” says Kate. “New destinations and cultures help us see things from a fresh perspective and renew our enthusiasm for design. We also spend a large amount of time researching new materials and processes. It helps us form boundaries to influence interesting ideas afforded by material constraints.” Her design process begins with a mood or tone. Whether it’s a place, character or feeling, Kate’s goal is to imbue objects with personality. ‘Play’ is a crucial part of the process – “we believe the best ideas come when you least expect,” she says. Since launching in 2010, Kate and Coco Flip have produced some of Australia’s most prolific and celebrated lighting and furniture collections and pieces. Here are just five of our favourites: [gallery size="medium" ids="70231,70233,70232"]   Alexander Lotersztain, Derlot, Derlot Editions Argentinian-born designer Alexander Lotersztain is arguably Australia’s most dynamic, agile and wonderfully outspoken figure in the Australian industrial design scene. Not only is he passionate and vocal about some of the world’s most poignant design issues (including replica, design accessibility and material selection), Alexander Lotersztain also has one of the most diverse portfolios, having worked with local and internatioanl brands including Idee (Japan), Planex (Australia), Sigg (Switzerland), Asahi (Japan), Mizuno (Japan), UFL (New Zealand), Escofet (Spain), Nestle (Switzerland), Superior (Australia), Virgin Australia Airline (Australia), The Queensland Art Gallery (Australia) and Australia's first Design Hotel and Limes Hotel in Brisbane. Alexander’s work can be described as rebellious, highly geometric and expertly resolved. His approach and aesthetic is so impressive that it has captured the attention of international design royalty figures including famed Italian design curator Rossana Orlandi, who in 2016, hand-picked Alexander during the Salone del Mobile to produce an exclusive collection for her – the insta-famous QTZ range. It is difficult to narrow down our top three furniture faves from Alexander’s portfolio given the broad scope of product’s he’s contributed to the Australian furniture design catalogue, but here’s what we just can’t go past: [gallery size="medium" ids="70225,70223,70224"]   Sarah Gibson & Nick Karlovasitis, DesignByThem Quirky Australian design house DesignByThem describe themselves as: “Bauhaus meets fun – you know, Bauhaus but if the weather was better." And it’s so true. Not only are founders and designers Nick Karlovasitis and Sarah Gibson some of the coolest design kids you’ll ever meet in the Asia Pacific, they also genuinely care about the value of the Australian furniture design industry. DesignByThem produces (in this writer’s humble opinion) some of this region’s most original and imaginative industrial design work. Their latest collection, Cabin, is definitely a new favorite, not to mention the Butter collection and iconic Ribs bench. But more than just being good at what they do, they put their money where their mouth is. Many brands attach themselves to supporting Australian design, and yet have only one token Aussie creative on their floor. Nick and Sarah are constantly expressing their opinions and support of Australian design and it’s designers. Not only collaborating with them, but taking their designs in-house including fellow creatives such as Tom Fereday, Seaton Mckeon, Jon Goulder, and Trent Jansen. Founded in 2007 – and having recently celebrated their 10 year anniversay – DesignByThem have a design-first approach that is reflected in their culture and products. Every design is carefully considered, developed and curated by them to ensure it meets their requirements and represents what they consider to be good design. “We believe that our products must be innovative but not forced,” say Nick and Sarah. “They must be useful but also be enjoyable.” Because of their young, energetic furniture designs, Sarah and Nick have contributed to the success of some of Australia’s most reveared hospitality, residential, retail, education and workplace projects. Here’s three of our favourite pieces: [gallery size="medium" ids="70227,70226,70228"]   Grant Featherston, Featherston Design Industrial designer Grant Featherston is arguably the Godfather of Australian furniture design. As a young lad from Geelong, Victoria, Grant Featherston began his design trajectory as a self-taught lighting and glass panel maker before serving in the army during the Second World War from 1940-1944. On is return to Melbourne, he produced the first of his famous plywood shell Contour Chairs in 1951. Shortly after, he launch Featherston Contract Interiors furniture showroom in 1956, and in 1957 he became a consultant to Aristoc Industries for 13 years. Grant was a foundation member of the Society of Designers for Industry (the forerunner to the Design Institute of Australia) before he sadly passed away in 1995. His designs have since received many Good Design Awards and he is represented in the collections of National and State galleries and museums throughout Australia and internationally. Though he produced over 30 iconic furniture pieces throughout his career, here are our top three Featherston favorites: [gallery size="medium" ids="70230,70229,70479"]abc
Around The World
ARC - Feature

Film Inspired Design: The Budapest Cafe In China By Biasol

Every interior designer on the planet is talking about creative cross-pollination – AKA borrowing from outside the industry. But while many are talking about it – few are doing it well. Creatively integrating aspects of an outside source into interior design requires great design intelligence, foresight and finesse. Belonging to this select few is Melbourne-based design studio Biasol. Their most recent project, The Budapest Café, is a whimsical hospitality project in China’s Chengdu providence. The film inspired design guided by the unmistakably nostalgic, nuanced cinematic style of art-house director, Wes Anderson. The Budapest Café is designed to feel feminine and fun, while subtly layering elevations and surprising design features to encourage customers to explore and physically engage with the space. The concept, colours and details continue through the branding, which is integrated into the design of the café to contribute to the imaginative and evocative space. Biasol founder and principal, Jean-Pierre Biasol explains: “Our design draws on Anderson’s meticulous, memorable and magical worlds to create an inviting destination with whimsical character and international appeal. Much like Anderson’s mythical The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), The Budapest Café is designed to offer an experience that detaches patrons from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.” The client specifically engaged an Australian design practice to create an international hospitality experience, and requested a space that would appeal to social the media-savvy who enjoy café. “We began by understanding Anderson’s style,” says Jean-Pierre, “his symmetrical, precise and quirky set designs; vivid and nostalgic colour palettes; and the sentiment that infuses his films. He tends towards one-point perspectives and peering down from above; gives attention to the edges of a set as much as the middle; and frames stories with proscenium arches. Our modern, minimalist and refreshing interpretation is defined by design, materiality and brand.” Biasol Budapest Chengdu Photography by James Morgan staircase This interpretation is sewn into every encounter with the space. The building façade for example, projects a sense of grandeur with an arch framing the entrance and welcoming patrons to The Budapest Café. Once inside, customers are invited to engage with the physical design of the café, much like a stage set for patrons to play out their own story. A mezzanine level provides a view from above; symmetrical arches frame recessed seating and shelving; and steps lead up stairs that lead nowhere – instead are integrated into shelving, fireplaces and the long marble bar. A pink ball pool, neon signage, and Eero Aarnio Bubble chair inspire playfulness, and the bathrooms surprise with speckled pink terrazzo to complement and contrast with the nostalgic-green hues of the café. The contrasting hard and soft colours and design details showcased a film inspired design that reflects the personalities of Anderson’s characters in The Grand Budapest Hotel, enhanced by branding integrated into the café through signage, menus and printed collateral. “Like Anderson, we create imaginative and evocative spaces. Our design for The Budapest Café has a relaxed and indulgent atmosphere; a whimsical and elegant aesthetic; and a hospitality experience infused with Melbourne’s café culture,” says Jean-Pierre. Biasol biasol.com.au Photography by James Morgan Biasol Budapest Chengdu Photography by James Morgan seating Biasol Budapest Chengdu Photography by James Morgan chairs and tables Biasol Budapest Chengdu Photography by James Morgan interior shot Biasol Budapest Chengdu Photography by James Morgan graphics Biasol Budapest Chengdu Photography by James Morgan entrance We think you might also like Captain Grey by Biasolabc
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A Compact, Coastal Home By Topology Studio

As both the client and the inhabitants of this home, Topology Studio was able to experiment with the build for this coastal home in South Melbourne. “We were in a unique position to really test our design ideas in both the unconventional spatial arrangement as well as details,” explains Amy Hallett of Topology Studio. “We are a family of four with two small children, and we have created a family home and studio within a very compact footprint of 150m2 total floor area.” The house sits on a street lined with others built in the Victorian era. The new design is both sensitive to this era’s scale and materials, while also taking cues from the 1950s renovated version. “The original house was Heritage Listed and yet in very poor condition due to the very harsh coastal conditions,” explains Amy. “The alterations undertaken in the 1950s left the original Victorian unrecognisable and although we loved aspects of the 1950s version, it was beyond repair. The Council accepted that our design for a new home was of high architectural merit and so the listing was lifted, enabling us to build a new home.” Topology Studio demolished the once renovated 1950s building and started from scratch; creating space for a kitchen at the front of the home that captured the beautiful morning light. Light was an important consideration for these homeowners, and they awarded it a voice in the design of the new home. “We were extremely careful in our consideration of the quality of light and texture,” says Amy. “The old house had beautiful soft light and we worked hard to ensure that this was maintained in the new design. Spaces change with the seasons and across the day as light crosses textured surfaces of the masonry, the burnished slab, and the internal timber walls,” she explains. “Internal and external corners are rounded and this adds to the complexity and dynamic of light. The spatial flow is quite complex with an internal courtyard that allows for joyful interactions between spaces, both horizontally and vertically. The compact layout of the home was intentional and considered with the homeowners wanting to reduce embodied energy consumption and employ passive design principles. They wanted to ensure the comfort of the coastal home was retained – thinking outside the box on ways they could achieve this was imperative. Compact Coastal Home Photography by Paul Hermes exterior 2 Topology Studio managed this balance by planning the efficiency of the space intelligently. Excellent flow between rooms within the house creates a deceivingly spacious environment that feels open and large, while still being compact and therefore ensuring energy usage remains low. The couple also selected materials that were high quality, long-lasting and adept at coping with the home’s coastal positioning to further ensure the longevity and sustainability of the property. The resulting home is intelligent. Its exceptional attention to space and light gives the home its bright and breezy character and enables a petite design to cater beautifully to its family. Its attention-to-detail particularly on the exterior allows it to slot in smoothly on a street lined with homes from many decades past. Topology Studio topologystudio.com.au instagram.com/topology_studio Photography Paul Hermes Styling by Lynda Gardener, Belle Hemming Dissection Information Dayview sashless windows Brio retractable fly screens Vintage Louis Poulsen PH4/3 pendant from Angelucci Louis Poulsen Doo-Wop pendants from Royal Design External lighting Davey Lighting, Mast Light and Chelsea Outdoor from Dunlin Jasper Morrison Glo Ball pendants from Euroluce Iro pendants from ISM Objects Led lighting from Vintage LED & Inlite Durable Terrazzo internal and external tiling from Fibonacci and Signorino. Port Fairy bluestone crazy pave from Bamstone Asko & Schweigen appliances Brodware tapware Door hardware from Design Doorware Insulated burnished concrete slab on ground floor with gas fuelled hydronic heating Timber flooring American Oak Engineered boards from Royal Oak Floors Wall tiles semi hand made from The City Tiler Recycled brickwork masonry (internally and externally) painted with Porters Stone Paint The front section of the house is reverse brick veneer, with painted T&G timber cladding Joinery and internal timber hand finished in Woca finishes Original metal door handles reinterpreted for the kitchen and front door handles using American Rock Maple by designer-maker John Hallett The rear fence is made from boards salvaged from the original fence that was in itself made from reused hardwood stud framing Compact Coastal Home Photography by Paul Hermes kitchen Compact Coastal Home Photography by Paul Hermes lounge room Compact Coastal Home Photography by Paul Hermes study Compact Coastal Home Photography by Paul Hermes bathroom Compact Coastal Home Photography by Paul Hermes deck Compact Coastal Home Photography by Paul Hermes lounge Compact Coastal Home Photography by Paul Hermes exterior We think you might also be interested in the Seaberg House by Kerstin Thompson Architectsabc
What's On

Introducing Life Instyle Sydney 2018

Life Instyle has cemented its place on the Australian design calendar as a highly anticipated event within the retail industry in the form of a fresh and vibrant celebration to inspire the year ahead. Committing to a strong focus on creative excellence and inspiring design, Life Instyle showcases emerging trends, brands and products amongst a relaxed and ambient open floorplan where visitors can immerse themselves in the latest offerings from an impressive list of over 350 exhibitors. The event team are passionate about curating the suppliers to grow with an ongoing focus and continued support for Australian Designed, Handmade and Eco/Sustainable brands and products. Now in its 16th edition, the upcoming Life Instyle Sydney event will be held over four days at the Royal Hall of Industries and Hordern Pavilion, 22-25 February 2018. The upcoming event includes new features such as the Kids Style Stage, new partners, more dining options starting with the Bookshop Cafe, even more content and a refreshed floorplan that highlights the many new brands and designers on board for 2018. Among the extensive list of exhibitors, some early names to look out for include WHEAT Down Under, Huxbaby, Four In The Bed, Just Smitten, Husk, Atolyia, The Lust List, Heaven In Earth, Barefoot Gypsy, Accessories by. G, Style Temple, ECOnation Collective, Island Jade, Little Things Interiors, FINEPRINT Co, Seljak Brand, The Society Inc and Kartell. A trade event for boutique retailers, Life Instyle provides a definitive platform and inspiration filled sourcing experience for design-focused buyers who are searching for the curated, edited and local designs of today. Engage your inner designer when you register to attend Life Instyle. Life Instyle SYDNEY // 22-25 February 2018 lifeinstyle.com.au  abc
Design Hunters
DH - Feature

An Excuse To Stay In Bed

Utterly effortless. How else could one describe IN BED, the online retail space created and curated by Pip Vassett? What once started out as a small selection of linen and homewares has now grown tenfold. Inspirational, aspirational, but ultimately achievable. The IN BED aesthetic is an infuriatingly fabulous mélange of laissez-faire and perfectly poised. Yet you can lift it from the site to in-situ in your own home to the same effect. The product styling is simple and unfussy, as is the product offering, and thus easily reimagined in the homes of Design Hunters like you and me.

In 2013 when IN BED was first launched, it was speaking to a gap in the market for high-quality, reasonably priced, linen bedding. But equally so it spoke to Pip’s personal sensibilities and professional goals. Off the back of eight years as the Fashion Director at Yen, it was time to do her own thing and play by her own rules.

A gut instinct and a growing interest in interiors and textile design saw the world open up for Pip – albeit from a seat at the computer.

Nine months of research and production and another five years in business later, Pip has built solid relationships with suppliers and manufacturers the world over. The linen is sourced from Shenzhen, China; cotton from Portugal in a town called Guimarães; the baths towels are made in Izu Shizuoka, Japan; cashmere from Shanghai; and more locally they’ve had blankets made in Tasmania.

“We’ll usually go over to Shenzhen once or twice a year, and Shanghai as well. We just came back from Lisbon and Japan,” says Pip. The ‘we’ is in reference to her partner and IN BED General Manager Eddie. “It comes down to choosing or sourcing products from a location you know has a strong reputation in that particular area,” he adds. “In [Imabari, Japan] we looked at a number of examples of the Japanese cotton towels and they were known to be beautifully soft and high quality, so we wanted to produce our products there.”

Likening the appeal of IN BED to that of APC, Bassike and ACNE, “brands that I really love and trust”, IN BED is conversely dedicated to the residential sphere. 

In addition to the sourcing of linen, building relationships with suppliers and manufacturers, designing and sampling the initial product range, it was always intended that a carefully curated selection of work from local and regional designers would sit beside her linen to complement and round out the collection.

Henry Wilson, Wignut & Co., Gidon Bing, Rina Ono and slightly more established – as opposed to emerging – brands such as Anglepoise, Iris Hantverk and HAY have each gradually made their way onto the website. Like any new business venture that’s to extend beyond a successful first reception, continued success comes from building on what works and ensuring the ability to be responsive to the market. Staying close to her clients and their growing interests – anticipating them even – is of utmost importance to Pip.

Pip Vassett Photography by Michele Aboud interior

In such a way the IN BED Journal extends the brand beyond its initial offering, while her investment in original photography translates skills of a past life into the present.

Fresh campaigns are usually shot every two to three months. They might be shared online (the website), through social media (Instagram) or printed media (a lookbook). As Eddie notes, most – if not all – photography used is original content and the supplier visits often double as global shoots.

“We took a photographer to Japan, shot a whole campaign, produced a broadsheet-slash-lookbook, and we had an exhibition in our studio space,” says Eddie. “It’s a nice way to create a bit of an activation around the launch, another level of engagement.”

Fuelled by more than her own self-conceded curiosity, the IN BED Journal is a look into the homes and private spaces of the different creatives that have inspired the brand, and how they, in turn, have been inspired by the brand. “[The journal] didn’t launch at the same time that the site did but it was something that I wanted to do,” says Pip. “That’s the whole inspiration behind IN BED: real people and how they live at home.

“Some are incredible, and some are just sweet little homes, but there’s always a point of interest… Everyone has a beautiful little spot in their home – even if it’s tiny.”

Now the tables have turned and Pip and Eddie are sharing their home space, their private sanctuary to the rest of the world. “We’ve been here for a year now and we’re slowly building on pieces,” says Pip. These pieces in question might be gifts, family heirlooms, or vintage finds, but the overall objective is to find furniture that comes with a backstory or personal connection.

“Anything in our home we want to love now as much as in 10 or 20 years. That’s what good design is; something that’s going to be good in a decade or two,” says Pip. So it seems the pursuit of timeless design for IN BED extends to the design of her home – or is it the other way around?

IN BED inbedstore.com

Photography by Michele Aboud

Pip Vassett Photography by Michele Aboud buddy

Pip Vassett Photography by Michele Aboud details\Pip Vassett Photography Michele Aboud bed

Pip Vassett Photography by Michele Aboud boar

We think you might also like to read about lighting designer Alex Fitzpatrick

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How Do Interior Designers Design For Entertaining?

“The initial brief from the client was to completely reimagine the interior, instigated by their initial feeling upon purchasing the apartment that the kitchen in its current state occupied too much of their entertaining ‘real estate’,” says Arent&Pyke co-founder and principal, Juliette Arent. “They knew that the bones of the apartment were great, but the finishes and fittings were outdated and did not suit their lifestyle or aesthetic.” Though initially engaged to rework the kitchen alone, Arent&Pyke saw too many opportunities to design for entertaining cohesively throughout the house and were eventually tasked with undertaking an entire metamorphosis to produce a one-of-a-kind interior including “floors, walls, lighting, custom joinery and furnishings,” says Juliette. And so a larger, more holistic interior concept began to take shape. “Rather than compete with the view, we developed a strategy of tonal variation through the introduction of nature oak parquetry floors as the foundation for the soft yet sculptural shapes of the both the built in elements like the custom fireplace as well as the furnishings.” This stunning legacy apartment on Sydney’s waterfront was not without its challenges – great bones, but a wasteful use of the interior. For example, the apartment has an unusual tapered shape, which opens out toward Sydney Harbour. “We designed the living area to take full advantage of the spectacular views, but also to have an internal focus anchored by the new custom designed fireplace,” says Juliette. The challenge then, was to rationalise the combined living, dining and kitchen spaces ensuring that all the spaces feel connected yet distinguisged. The irregular symmetry of the spaces meant that the furnishing stage was particularly challenging for the Arent&Pyke team. “We adore working on projects of this nature,” continues Juliettte, “projects where we have the opportunity to really change the way people use and inhabit their spaces.” The strategic elements of the design are anchored primariliy in the custom designed bookcase, which acts as a spine for the main living space, drawing you toward the view, and links to the bar that we also designed to adjoin the dining space. The existing volumes of this beautiful harbourside residence were then stripped bare, allowing a complete reinvention of the spaces. Iconic, timeless and beautifully-appointed, the soft grey and natural timber base accepts accents of terracotta and emerald, while brass details and navy linen add textural luxury. The sculptural shapes of the built elements such as the curve of the fireplace or arch of the bar unit are complemented by the soft curves of the furnishings. Rather than allow these curves to dominate however, the team chose decorative elements that would explore the beauty of surface and texture. Moreover, it was this complexity of nuance that created a foil to the boldness of the bespoke black/brass shelving, which seemingly floats across the parquetry. Textural variations in the kitchen splash-back, the travertine plinth, and the timber flooring, for example, each deliver a subtle richness to the whole, as does the Minotti rug. Effectively a meditation on curve, tone and texture, the soft sculptural shapes of the built elements, such as the curve of the fireplace, play on the spatial illusion of a curved single colour. This in turn, is complemented by the soft curves of the sofa, side chairs and tables, which introduce textural fabric, glass, brass and colour. Further within, the kitchen nook continues this direction with a green marble Saarinen table, paired with a curved custom bench seat in navy linen and the angular lines of custom shelving. The dining setting likewise plays on curves with Hoffman chairs paired with the angular Atticus table. Texture and pattern afford a sense of play with the success of the powder room lying in the repetition of the chevron floor motif, in striking black and white marble. Taking just under one year to complete, Arent&Pyke’s work on Darling Point Penthouse is a terrific reminder that the limitations of a space can be the key to its reinvention. The result of this clever and economic design for entertaining is certainly one of the most lauded and prolifically instagrammed residence’s of the last 6 months – and it’s not hard to see why. Arent&Pyke arentpyke.com Photography by Felix Forest Dissection Information Custom extension Atticus dining table from Hub furniture Thonet Hoffman dining chairs Arent&Pyke custom designed bench seat and shelves, navy linen on seat Green marble Saarinen table from dedece Walnut Cherner chairs from dedece Hermes silk cushion Custom shelving in living room Minotti Seymour Sofa in black stained oak and brass Classicon Bell tables Stucco-plastered fireplace Silver travertine plinth, sculpture from Becker Minty Sheer linen curtains in master bedroom Block out curtains with silk band to the base Feature fabric from Tigger Hall Custom designed dressing table in emerald green lacquer with brass detailing Kitchen from Boffi We think you might also like Croydon House by Arent&Pykeabc
Design Hunters

Habitus Loves… Brutalist Architecture

In 2016, The New York Times Style Magazine published an article with the fittingly stark headline “Brutalism is Back”. Indeed, Brutalist architecture is enjoying a renaissance, emerging as the new darling of social media – particularly Instagram, where pictures of sharp-cornered buildings cast in stunning chiaroscuro abound. A quick search of ‘Brutalist Architecture’ on Pinterest yields pages upon pages of results, their contents a blend of archival images and contemporary photographs. But something seems a bit odd about capturing brutalist architecture in the digital world, a medium that feels almost too fleeting and lightweight to sufficiently encompass the scale and gravity of the movement. Find below our top 5, heavy-duty books on the matter.  

Concrete Concept: Brutalist Buildings Around the World / Christopher Beanland (Frances Lincoln)

“Why do you like these ugly buildings?” Concrete Concept asks readers. The question comes right off the bat and echoes throughout the building’s many pages – at 192 pages and nearly 1kg, the book is a veritable tome that serves as a meaty introduction for those new to brutalist architecture. Brutalism is arguably one of architecture’s most divisive styles, with few others seeming to inspire the same level of clearly articulated, much stewed-upon vitriol. In Concrete Concept, Beanland takes readers around the world to 50 of what he deems the best examples of brutalist architecture to come out of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. The book’s earliest pages set the scene with an ‘A-Z of Brutalist Architecture’ that provides a helpful guide to the jargon that is often bandied about in discussions of brutalism. Ever wondered what Expressionism was? Or World’s End? Well, wonder no more. Assertive, imposing, and sharply laid out, Concrete Concept demonstrates the fearless and unmatchable aesthetic of brutalism, and gives readers plenty of explanations for why we like it so much.  

Lost Futures: The Disappearing Architecture of Post-War Britain / Owen Hopkins (Royal Academy Publications)

British architecture historian, writer, and curator Owen Hopkins is well known for his surveys of architecture that are unique for their perspective of an insider looking out. The former Architecture Programme Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts, Hopkins seeks out topics that fall outside mainstream architecture canon – Mavericks: Breaking the Mould of British Architecture explored those working outside contemporary norms and From the Shadows documented the life of Nicholas Hawksmoor, a key London church architect relegated to the footnotes of architecture history. In his latest effort, Hopkins turns his attention to the brutalist architecture of Britain between 1945 and 1979. Drawing parallels between brutalism and the optimism of postwar society, Lost Futures captures the many faces of the style in everything from housing to factories, civic buildings, commercial buildings, and industrial structures. Hopkins then tracks the progress – and in many cases, decline – of these buildings as time has progressed. Lost Futures casts brutalist architecture as a clear product of its time, and is telling in its reveal of the many ways that brutalism is disappearing through alterations, additions, and demolition. The increasingly private, neoliberal cities of today are edging out the civic-oriented postwar architecture, and doing so at a rate that is, well, brutal.  

Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed / Frédéric Chaubin (Taschen)

It’s virtually impossible to talk about brutalism without mentioning communism. The movement’s utilitarian, functional drivers and uncompromising nature made it the style of choice in many European communist hot spots during the mid- to late 20th century. Quick, cheap, and efficient to build, brutalist buildings are still considered by many as vestiges of the communist era, where they took the form of civic and residential buildings of a grand scale that spoke to the hope and social equality touted as benefits of communism. Ninety buildings in 14 former Soviet Social republics are documented in the book, whose spreads are in glossy, full bleed colour. The double spread images depict buildings that are stark but not grotesque, and vibrant in a way that challenges many of preconceptions about the staid, depressing nature of Soviet architecture. Once a utilitarian feature, the no-nonsense construction of Soviet brutalist architecture is now at their core, allowing them to remain standing today as monuments to a bygone age.  

Sirius / John Dunn, Ben Peake, & Amiera Piscopo (Piper Press)

What Australian interested in brutalist architecture – and, for that matter, cities at all – doesn’t know about Sirius? Tao Gophers’ public housing project in the historic The Rocks has been making shockwaves throughout the Australian architecture world for the past few months as a failed bid for State Heritage Listing prompted the NSW government to put the tower up for sale. The building is one of Sydney’s most iconic pieces of brutalist architecture, recognisable for its prominent position on the city skyline and resemblance to Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67. The tale of the building has captured the hearts and imaginations of many, and mobilised architects, designers, and those interested in the urban realm to protest the treatment of an important part of Sydney’s social and architectural history. In Sirius, the authors trace the history of the building back to the iconic 1970s Battle for the Rocks and Green Bans, two key shapers of the built form of the city today. The richly illustrated, evocatively written book is excellent for giving an understanding at a granular level of the social significance of brutalism, particularly within an Australian context. Proceeds from the book’s sale support the Save Our Sirius campaign, a citizen group fighting to preserve the brutalist icon.  

This Brutal World / Peter Chadwich (Phaidon)

This Brutal World, a sleek, glossy coffee table book about brutalist architecture is arguably the final mark of brutalism’s acceptance into the mainstream architecture canon. Treating the style not as a historical quirk or quaint social project, it instead portrays it with the cool gravitas accorded to other movements such as minimalism, internationalism, and sustainable architecture. Peppered with book quotes – including one from Orwell’s 1984 – that tap into the imagination and dystopian nightmares that brutalism’s stark aesthetic often conjures, This Brutal World portrays brutalism as something very much alive and thriving. Unlike the other books on this list, it is less a retrospective of brutalist architecture and more a manifesto: Chadwich is more concerned by Brutalism as an aesthetic than a movement per se, and includes buildings by Zaha Hadid and David Chipperfield alongside the classic Breur, Kahn, and Le Corbusiers. Highly graphic and stylised in monochrome with red accents, This Brutal World is a bold, teasing statement of what is still to come for brutalist architecture.  abc
Design Hunters
DH - Feature

For Gabriel Tan, Time Is Of The Essence

Today’s design culture is such that almost everything can be discussed and decided upon over the internet, with photographs of prototypes passed back and forth from design conception. It’s no surprise that designers only come into contact with their final products at retail stage. For Singapore-based product designer Gabriel Tan, this process is far from ideal. “The best ideas are forged on the factory floor and during conversations with the people you are designing for, or with the people who are manufacturing your work. If we don’t make the effort for face time, and stay for prolong periods in the places where our products are made, it is hard to completely understand the company culture, manufacturing processes and true motivations behind your collaborations.” It is with this mentality that Gabriel has chalked up plenty of airline miles to make conversation with not only makers and clients but also fellow designers the world over for the work he has been busy with since establishing his eponymous studio in 2016. Barely two years old, the firm has already amassed an impressive portfolio of more than 20 products, counting brands like Design Within Reach and The Conran Shop as clients. Gabriel had previously designed solely under international design collective Outofstock. A desire to “take an independent viewpoint on design” led him to solo explorations, although he still collaborates with Outofstock on selected projects. The studio debuted with the Domino shelves and stacking trays for Tokyo’s Ishinomaki Laboratory at the Lifestyle Tokyo 2016 fair. Simultaneously, he designed several products for Furnishing Utopia, a project tasking a group of designers to translate the American Shakers’ ethos of purposeful minimalism into contemporary objects. “Projects that involve traditional craft or new technology, learning about another’s culture, and the preservation of skills that have passed on through generations interest me greatly,” shares Gabriel on what compels him. “I also try to bring about a new perspective on things that may have once been archetypical,” he adds. For instance, the Stove chair designed for Furnishing Utopia – a compact seat with a notch enabling it to be hung up when not in use – attempts to challenge the aesthetics, size and function of the commonplace chair. The charming design has recently been picked up by Swedish furniture brand Blå Station. Gabriel loves working with timber for its versatility and tactility. His timber designs often highlight the material’s natural beauty and the relationship of components with beautifully expressed joints, as seen in the curvaceous Sky Ladder shelf designed for new brand Ariake of which he is also creative director and the Tenon shelf for Furnishing Utopia. Like renowned Danish designer Hans J. Wegner whose sculptural furniture he admires, he hopes his designs are timeless and will last through generations. Timelessness and taking time to cultivate good work relationships – these traits have proven to be the perfect formula for Gabriel. Gabriel Tan Studio gabriel-tan.com We think you might also like the highlights from the most recent Thailand International Furniture Fair abc

A’tolan – A Serene Home Amongst the Rocks

The home, located on the eastern seaboard of Taiwan on the Pacific Ocean, is built upon a unique foundation of narrow rectangular shape, upon which three levels have been built up a sloping hill, facing the majesty of the ocean. The essence of this home is driven by the traditional architectural technique of A’tolan – the placing of stones. This extends from the greater scheme of the house as a whole, to the micro – with the rocks excavated from the site itself used to build the east-west walls spanning over three levels like rice patty terraces. Striking a humble posture before the beauty of the ocean, the structure’s low profile invites I the surrounding natural beauty rather than standing as an affront to it. The steel frame of the home has been clad with the area’s native rocks, and with the living roof-turned-walkway peppered with various herbs; the overall look of the home inspires a sense of serenity and connection to nature. It’s as if the house’s design has been carved from the hill it rests on, rather than harshly constructed into it. The designers at the Create+Think Design Studio opted for the least invasive design possible when planning the home – with shelter and food preparation needs at the fore. Becase of this, the interior consists only of cooking areas and sleeping quarters – defined and separated by accordion glass doors. This allows not only light and air to flow freely throughout the spaces, but ensures anyone in the space can take no more than a few steps to be able to take in the beauty of the ocean, or the stoicism of the adjacent rock wall. Facilities aren’t lacking though – just designed with a connection to the overall space in mind. The skylight covered shower and the outdoor bathtub rest just outside the sleeping areas, and the al fresco dining area is situated perfectly to appreciate both design and nature. Through a carefully constructed symbiosis with the surrounding nature, the low footprint structure contains possibilities grander than many multi-storey designs. Photography by Kuomin Lee You might enjoy A New Kind of Court House by Peter Winkler Architectsabc

Neptune: Design, Wine and Dine in Windsor

Though a visit to Neptune Food & Wine today would suggest otherwise, Ewert Leaf encountered something of an uphill battle in creating the venue’s effortlessly stylish ambience. Located on a commercial strip in Windsor at the former Charlie Dumpling joint, the original site came with kitchen facilities but was constricted, long and dark. Having once housed a secret bar concealed behind the old takeaway frontage, there was a total lack of existing natural light. “You couldn’t see a thing, it was pitch black! But we could all see the potential in it,” says Toby Ewert, Director of Ewert Leaf Architects. With a seasoned group of young hospitality guns at the helm, including brothers Michael and David Parker (behind cool culinary hotspots Pastuso and San Telmo) as well as Nic Coulter and Simon Blacher (responsible for the hugely popular Saigon Sally, Tokyo Tina and Hanoi Hannah), the planning for Neptune took shape. The group had all done small bar fit-outs before, mainly on their own, but engaged Ewert Leaf for this new venture to navigate a tricky space with architectural expertise. “Those guys know how to run vibrant businesses, and because they had a clear vision, so they were great clients to have,” says Toby. Neptune’s ground level was conceived as a warm, inviting wine bar, evoking the rustic elegance small bar fit-outs often associate with vineyards in an urban context. To achieve this, Ewert Leaf emphasised the character of the building with exposed brick walls, textural timber surfaces and a range of ambient lighting solutions. It’s an unfussy yet refined environment which, along with the tasty cuisine, is hitting the right notes with locals. “Some diners have been back three or four times since we opened, and that’s the kind of business we wanted. It’s just classic food, in a welcoming space,” says Nic Coulter, one of Neptune’s co-owners. Towards the end of the lengthy dining area, a curvilinear white steel frame encloses guests in a more intimate zone. Inspired by conservatories, this feature exudes a lot of light overhead, with subtle greens in the banquette seating picking up the garden theme. Here, a central wine station for the sommelier doubles as a long communal table, creating a generous atmosphere while facilitating flow within the narrow space. Just beyond this, a fireplace draws a crowd of its own in colder months. “Because it was such a long site, we needed to give people a reason to go all the way to the back. So we designed the conservatory to provide a very different experience,” Toby says. “You can go there to settle in, but not feel like you’re tucked away in a place that feels like an afterthought, just because you’re at the end of the venue.” From an operational perspective, Nic agrees. “The steel cage really defines the space, and it engages both sides really well, so that there’s great movement throughout the restaurant.” Upstairs is a slightly different animal. Designed as the more sophisticated next level to the experience downstairs, Neptune’s first-floor cocktail bar and function space seats roughly 60 people. “We created a private whiskey cabinet set up, so you can buy a bottle and leave it there,” Toby explains. “You get given your own key, so each time you visit, you can open it up yourself!” A uniquely discreet luxury that gives off a speakeasy whiff, one of Neptune’s more flamboyant points of difference. “I think the greatest thing about the design is that it caters seamlessly for so many different groups,” says Nic. “And every time you come you can access a completely new part of the experience.” Neptune Design neptunedesigngroup.com abc
ARC - Feature

A Light-Filled Terrace Nails the Art of Living

Helping us to be happier, healthier and more productive, the benefits of designing for natural light can’t be overestimated. For a couple looking to renovate their dark and dated Victorian era terrace house in Port Melbourne, designing for natural light natural light was one of the most important parts of the brief. Buoyed by its bright, airy passages, the Nordic-influenced minimalist home is a testament to their foresight. Designed by Winter Architecture, the home is a delicate balance of openness and seclusion, necessary for the differing roles it plays in the lives of its inhabitants. On the first floor, private living quarters for an elderly parent meets the brief of being both accessible and autonomous for its dweller. Further on, an open-plan kitchen, living and dining area leading onto the courtyard is anchored by white walls, timber composite flooring and few choice furniture, so as to not crowd the narrow space. Throughout, the outdoors permeate. The altered floor plan – delineated by courtyards to introduce floods of natural light to the ground floor – and the full-height double glazing that opens up to the courtyard add to the sense of expanse and are equally responsible for the calm, refreshed feeling that envelops the home. The use of just a handful of essential furniture staples is mirrored on the couple’s second-floor retreat, where easy flow and ties to the building’s wider environs continues. “The external areas of the upstairs retreat are carefully screened to evoke a strong sense of connectivity to the outdoors from the bedroom and generous ensuite, while ensuring a sense of seclusion and privacy from the ground plane,” says Winter Architecture’s Jean Graham. Engaged after crossing paths at the local university, Winter Architecture and the homeowners were a good pairing. The latter had a fondness of soft Nordic design, and the former knew how to perfect the look down to the very last detail. Similarly, the home exudes soothing Scandi sensibilities – the furniture functional, the material natural, the clutter minimal. Gone are the intricate detailings that typically adorn Victorian era homes – in its place is sleek, handleless cabinetry, form-fitting furniture, and neutral finishes. Designing for natural light afforded a symphony of light, hence this warm, minimalist home is the perfect antidote to the hectic lives of its inhabitants – a place where they will live happily, healthily and yes, productively too. Winter Architecture winterarchitecture.com.au Photography by Nicole England Dissection Information Outdoor furniture set from Tait Rocher chair from Domo Twiggy floor lamp from Space Furniture Warren coffee table from Dedece Jelly vase by Kartell, from Space Furniture Boss sofa from Fanuli FollowMe timber table lamp from Ajar Spotted gum external timber batten screens Winter Architecture Photography by Nicole England backyard Winter Architecture Photography by Nicole England kitchen Winter Architecture Photography by Nicole England dining table Winter Architecture Photography by Nicole England lightwell Winter Architecture Photography by Nicole England bench top Winter Architecture Photography by Nicole England bedroom Winter Architecture Photography by Nicole England hallway Winter Architecture Photography by Nicole England bathroom Winter Architecture Photography by Nicole England exteriior Winter Architecture Photography by Nicole England front exterior We think you might also like to read about the Cantala Apartments by SJB and ICON Developmentsabc
Design Products

Exterior Style to Match Indoor Beauty

With natural elegance and a subtle colour scheme, the new Colorbond steel Matt range offers a range of statement hues with versatility to adapt to virtually any design. Harnessing new paint technology to deliver a naturally inspired finish that diffuses light for an understated designer look, Colorbond steel Matt features five colours to fit any external environment: Monument, Surfmist, Shale Grey, Dune and Basalt. The Colorbond steel Matt collection has been developed in collaboration with the leading colour consultants at Nexus Designs, and is the result of observing several trends in the market. An increased demand for matt finishes in the design scene – as seen in cookware, appliances, technology, automotive, and in the commercial and residential segments – lead to the creation of this charming paint collection “Matt is the next evolution in finishes,” says Sonia Simpfendorfer, Creative Director at Nexus Designs “We are seeing Matt both overseas and locally in interiors and exteriors; translating into colour finishes, textural contrasts and the preference to wanting to stand out by way of strength of form, which requires a subtle, less obvious finish. “Colorbond steel is an expert in colour. This is due to BlueScope’s ability to observe and translate emerging global colour trends for the local audience; to the point where suppliers of other products are inspired by Colorbond steel colours.” Tested for over a decade, Colorbond steel Matt has been designed to withstand the harsh environment under the Australian sun. The result is a product that maintains its matt finish, looking even better for longer.  abc