In an agreeable contrast to the traditional context of the residential neighbourhood of Toorak in Melbourne, the monolithic silhouette of the Myvore house brings an unexpected sense of presence to an otherwise conventional street.
Designed by Cera Stribley as a forever home for their clients, the somewhat rebellious building amicably contradicts its immediate surroundings. The outer shell of the residence sees a rectangular brick base crowned by an elliptical copper cladding of the upper level, both reflect the architect’s deliberate commitment to materiality, and something that permeates the indoors in a similar capacity.
A wide, wooden door opens onto a grand foyer that centres around an imposing spiral staircase. While the hypnotic curvature of the stairway leads the eye up onto the upper floors, the entrance hall veers off to various areas around the ground floor, leading into the true core of the dwelling. “I think the kitchen is the most important part of the house – the beating heart,” says Alice Villella of Alice Villella Interior Design. “Within the overall layout of the home, the kitchen is centrally located.”
Alice collaborated with the architect and the owner – and fellow decorator – Peter Kerr to create a place to enjoy time with friends and family that addressed the needs and habits of its users. “I worked very closely with the client designing the kitchen. Lots of onboarding and questionnaires to really dig into how they use a kitchen,” she describes of the process.
What surfaced through these conversations was the fact that the ability to entertain was a crucial part of the brief for this central area of the residence. “The clients entertain all the time; it was important that the kitchen be a social space. Through the briefing, we learned that part of the ritual when hosting is having guests crowd around the main island while they finish cooking,” Alice explains the genesis behind a substantial, three by two-and-a-half metre island bench that subtly mirrors the texture of the exterior copper cladding while grounding the space. “It taps into the way they live and the idea of sitting around the chef’s table as they prepare.”
The clients’ affinity for entertainment has informed the selection of kitchen appliances as much as the layout of the space. “If you’re a cook and love cooking, it’s important to have a good oven,” Alice points out. However, equipping the kitchen with the right cooking appliances wasn’t the only consideration from a design standpoint. “One of the big decisions that was key to the project was getting the wine fridges right,” says Alice. “The clients are big wine collectors, and there is a 35-metre wine wall. So having good wine storage was crucial, which is why we went with Sub-Zero & Wolf. They are the top end of the market.” The brand holds a profound appreciation that better storage brings more enjoyment out of the wine. “Our wine preservation units don’t just cool the wine. They also guard against heat, humidity, vibration and light, which can all decrease the wine’s complexity – and affect its character,” .
This expertise and unshakable commitment to creating only the highest quality products has been at the heart of Sub-Zero & Wolf since its inception. “We have been pioneering the science of home refrigeration since 1945, and along the way, we have helped revolutionise kitchen design with built-in and integrated products that open up endless possibilities when it comes to layout or decor,” “Today, we pride ourselves in helping create stunning and high-performing kitchens that respond to the needs of the habitants.”
The exquisite performance of the appliances is matched by the products’ outstanding design credentials – a relationship Myvore kitchen aptly highlights as the selection of integrated and built-in Sub-Zero & Wolf appliances seamlessly blends in with the layered materiality of the space. The textural choices employed on the exterior – a combination of brick, concrete and copper – chosen for their solid, almost brutalist qualities, are also reflected inside the dwelling. “The interiors draw on the architectural concept led by Cera Stribley, that of brutalism and concrete”, explains Alice. “Materials throughout are sophisticated but highly practical, bringing walnut timbers and bronze for a timeless look.” Further contributing to the longevity of the interior is the fact that both walnut and bronze develop a wonderful patina and age beautifully, just like the exterior copper cladding.
The warm walnut creates a bold yet measured juxtaposition with the cold concrete and the natural stones, which, as Alice explains, were selected for their durability and beauty. She says that the natural stone is ideal for a kitchen space because it’s strong yet introduces movement and depth.
With sustainability a core consideration for the project, and incredible importance assigned to the incorporation of solar panels, considered use of water, temperature control through the thermal mass of the building and high-performance glazing, materiality played an essential part in achieving the environmental goals of the house. In line with that, all natural materials – including the stones used in the kitchen space – were sourced ethically.
Fusing the unusual combination of textures, the pleasantly rebellious design language and the balance of restraint and grandeur, the Myvore house challenges the habitual perception of residential design while astutely responding to the needs of its creative owners. Warm and welcoming, yet striking and energised, the highly-resolved dwelling embraces the present moment while looking towards the future.
The kitchen space plays a crucial role in aligning with the present routines and preferences of the habitants and in fulfilling the future-forward potential of the residence. With a considered layout that enhances the lives of its users, materiality that’s bound to age beautifully and high-performing appliances designed to last, this extraordinary space will delight and entertain for generations to come.
Sub-Zero & Wolf