Category: Australia

Melbourne town

I had a great trip back home. Melbourne is a fantastic city, visually beautiful (except some of the fugly looking new developments) and lots going on. In lieu of a more lengthy post (I have so much work to catch up on,  you know how it goes)…I will leave you with a few recommendations for places I visited on this last trip. Mostly food this time…no time or funds for shopping unfortunately.

Firstly, Melbourne is known for its foodies and coffee afficionados. If you’re a fan of Anthony Bourdain, like I am, you will already know this, as he has referred to the fact that all Melbournians are food critics (or at least we think we are!) so the quality is good and competition fierce.

I had time in the CBD on my own for an afternoon and asked a friend to recommend a great coffee place and these were his recommendations – Patricia and Little Wish. I only made it to Patricia…and was not disappointed. In a city where Starbucks is failing miserably, good coffee is fairly abundant. There are obviously a few that stand out from the crowd and I dare say this is one of them.  With an almost hidden entrance at the back, and probably always packed with uber cool young things, Patricia certainly serves up a mighty fine coffee. And the interior isn’t too bad either 😉

I had breakfast at The St Kilda Dispensary one morning with friends and loved it. I am a bit of a sucker for nice decor and have been known to sacrifice quality of food and service for a nice interior…but you needn’t do that with this place. Set in an historical building (actually the first medical dispendary in the British empire, hence the name) with a fun but not too kitsch interior, and a menu to die for. Great coffee and a selection of interesting and not-so-usual breakfast items. I would definitely go back.

Finally, I enjoyed a wonderful meal with a large group of friends at Otsumami, a Japanese resto on the ever changing and newly hip High Street in Northcote. It must have been good…it managed to get a bunch of strict south-of-the-river Melbournites north of the river for the night! I loved their slightly fusion version of Japanese, and the fact that they managed to please a vegetarian and a pescatarian.  Pretty well priced too.

That’s it for now. Thanks to all the lovely people who made the trip a memorable one. You know who you are…

Wrightson Stewart

So I’m actually back in Melbourne at the moment…I snuck away without telling you!  I attended the designEX show on Friday for the first time in a long time…but I’ll let you know all about that in a separate post, probably when I’m back in HK.  In the meantime I wanted to share with you a fab warehouse conversion in Teneriffe, Queensland by the design firm Wrightson Stewart.  Love it…especially the timber detailing in the bedroom and the kitchen.
If you like these pics, go check out their website for more…I love the look of their office space too! 

Blainey North

Like I said, I love to get a parcel…and I got another lovely one last week…from the office of fellow Australian, Blainey North.  I’ve been a big fan of her work for some time now, and I have to say I think her design studio is producing some of the chicest interiors in the Southern Hemisphere. 

The Crystal Club in the Crown Towers (my hometown), Melbourne
Not happy just designing interiors, the studio has recently launched a range of their own furniture and lighting designs.  Full of lovely art deco references, with thoughtful details, updated with modern materials, the collection is a winner in my book.  Here are just a couple of my faves…
the Calero Lounge chair, front and back
the Adriano Sofa
 the Tsara side table
the Hercule dining chair
The collection is available in Sydney via Becker Minty, or contact Blainey North for further information.

antipodean abodes

Another new book to be released just in time for Xmas is INTERIORS: Australia and New Zealand by Mitchell Oakley Smith (with a foreword by David Clark – editor of Vogue Living Australia).
INTERIORS presents a broad snapshot of the contemporary Australian and New Zealand home, as told through over 30 of the industry’s leading practitioners. From coastal retreats and ecologically sustainable farmhouses, to renovated Victorian terraces and contemporary city penthouses, the variety of projects showcased reflects the region’s architectural and design diversity. The highly-regarded work of established design practices is richly illustrated through detailed photography and extensive profiles. INTERIORS contains over 200 colour images and the industry leaders’ inside spots for the best design, furniture and art around the world. A detailed directory provides contacts for the interior designers and architects responsible for the projects featured in the book.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to ask the author Mitchell Oakley Smith a few questions about the book and how one begins to start when you have such an enormous amount of great work to chose from…

What was the inspiration behind this book?
Interest in design is undeniably on the rise. People are spending more time at home, perhaps a result of multimedia engagement and accessibility, or maybe a post-GFC era of reduced spending. Social and economic climate aside, the television programs, magazines, blogs and events dedicated to interiors and architecture indicate our focus is firmly on residence: the place in which we rest, nest and spend our leisure time. I created Interiors in response to this change with the aim of creating a tangible record of the current period in Australia and New Zealand’s design history.

How long did it take you to compile all the information in the book?
Unlike my first book, and maybe because of it, this book didn’t take too long to put together. It took 8 months in total.

How did you decide which designers/projects to feature and which not to?
There’s over 30 designers featured in the book. When I began, I created an extensive list of every designer working in the region and gradually edited down to those I believe are making a unique and creative contribution to the industry today. Of the projects featured, the criteria was that they are relatively contemporary and represent the designers’ work.

What particularly about Australian and New Zealand interiors do you think is unique and different to the rest of the world?
Our local form of design, as made apparent by the book and its subjects, is to serve the population’s lifestyle needs: efficiency, security and a desire for the outdoors and indoors to be seamlessly connected. The use of elemental building materials, including concrete, steel, timber and glass, create an interesting aesthetic, raw and yet refined. This is further defined by a penchant for partial enclosures and for a connection to the surrounding landscape. Unlike other regions, Australia and New Zealand have not been bound by history or specific design traditions. Instead, there has been a freedom to cherry pick elements from around the world. The aesthetic of local interior design is one as broad as the region’s cultural diversity. There is BKH’s cool mishmash of Modernish and decoration, contrasting the relaxed grandeur of Thomas Hamel & Associates, the architectural innovation and commitment to landscape and sustainability of Patterson Associates, and the finely crafted whimsy of Hecker Guthrie.

What changes have you seen in the way Australians and New Zealanders design and decorate their homes in the last decade, and what changes do you anticipate for the future?
In Sydney alone, the next 20 years will see the addition of over 600,000 dwellings on top of an existing 1.2 million. If Australians weren’t building houses three times the size of the British average, this wouldn’t pose such a significant problem. Fortunately, design institutions are producing graduates of a high calibre and teaching curriculums that emphasise environmental sustainability. Hopefully, in the near future, green design will cease to be an optional, costly extra, but rather a seamlessly integrated element of contemporary architecture and design.

Designer David Hicks Residence Melbourne, Victoria

Designer Hare & Klein Residence Coledale New South Wales

Makes me proud to be an aussie!
INTERIORS: Australia and New Zealand will be released next month by Thames & Hudson, and will retail for AUD $79.95.

Spicers Balfour Hotel

Inner city Brisbane (capital city of Australia’s northern most state, Queensland) may not be the first on the list of your must see getaway destinations, especially after the recent floods. However, if you are headed to there for a business trip, or in Australia and looking for a weekend away that will help the local economy I’d stay at the new Spicers Balfour Hotel in New Farm.
Just minutes from theCBD of Brisbane, this nine-room boutique hotel has something to offer every kind of traveller. The design of the hotel and colour palette employed throughout is not typical of tropical Queensland, which I kinda like. The hotel is appropriately urban and looks to me like it would feel more like staying in a very chic friends city pad. Each room has a 50″ TV, Bose i-pod docking stations and a great mix of antique and modern furnishings. The rooftop bar is definitely a strong selling point, but its the Library that had me at hello. I wonder if this is where the nightlycanapés are served?Fantastically located within walking distance of the shopping district, art galleries and local gastronomy…I’ll definitely be staying here next time I’m in Brizzy.


The welcoming reception / check-in area

Great views of Brisbane city from the rooftop bar

The lovely looking library – very chic and cosy!
Another view of the library – I love the mix of colours in here

All day dining area

The meeting rooms – very chic

A view of a Balcony room

One of the Courtyard Rooms

All photos care of Spicers Group

Khai Liew

My latest love affair is with the home of the Malaysian-born Australian, Khai Liew. I’ve been a fan of Liew’s work for some time now so it was a real teat for me to see his Adelaide home. It embodies all that is good about the Australian lifestyle – laid back and casual, and is blended with a cerebral Asian influence. Its the epitome of East meets West (sorry, I know that term is so overused, but I can’t think of anything else). If you are a fan of the American designers Annabelle Selldorf or the firm Shelton Mindel then I think you’d like this place. If so, go buy yourself a copy of the latest German Architectural Digest.

As you can imagine I’ve been mentally re-decorating since I saw this….

Photographed by Derek Henderson for German Architectural Digest, Nov 2010 edition.


Do you remember the exquisite sets and costumes from the 2001 movie “Moulin Rouge”?

Aussie Oscar award-winning designer Catherine Martin is the woman behind those spectacular creations, and has quite a few other notable movie production credits to her name. Her premiere homewares collection was launched recently with a range of rug designs for Australia’s Designer Rugs, and is soon to be followed by wallpapers, paints, tabletop and bedding designs. The collection is made up of Australian flora and fauna, which Martin is reported to have studied for the production of the upcoming movie epic “Australia” (with husband and director Baz Luhrmann). I love how she has managed to create elegant and timeless designs from some of Australia’s most iconic emblems, without them being kitschy in any way. My two favorites (below) are reminiscent of times gone by, just a little nostalgic, but also very au courant.


Catherine Martin & Baz Luhrmann’s Sydney home was featured in the latest Vogue Living, and I couldn’t resist sharing this image with you. She’s done a great job of incorporating her product into their home (probably for marketing purposes, but there’s nothing wrong with a little shameless self promotion some times!). This room has such a fresh, relaxed feel to it – to me it feels like it could be in the middle of the city, in the countryside, or by the beach. Love it!

Speaking of shameless self-promotion, I hope to be able to share some exciting news and projects with you in the near future, so stay tuned!

Above image from Vogue Living (Australia) Magazine Sept/Oct 2008 issue, photography by Peter Brew-Bevan.

Happy Holidays!!

This is where I’ll be spending the festive season with my family and friends this year – Airey’s Inlet – on the stunning Great Ocean Road in Australia. I’ll be away without internet access until January 7th. So to all my readers – have a great festive season, and happy holidays! Thanks again for visiting my blog and for your comments, it makes it all wothwhile.

See you in 2008!