Category: Melbourne

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…

This is making me homesick…

Broadsheet. If you’re not reading it – you should be.  Even if you’re not in Melbourne. Or the rest of Australia, for that matter.  It’s so exciting to see all the great stuff going on in my hometown. It gives you the lowdown on all there is to eat, drink, shop and do in the greatest city down under. Totally making me homesick…

Nicholas & Alistair

If the Nicholas & Alistair gallery had been open when I lived in Melbourne, I may never have left. Housed in a hundred-year-old building located near the banks of Melbourne’s Yarra River is what can only be described as Australia’s greatest collection of 20th century design.

The gallery is named after co-owners Nicholas Mesiano and Alistair Knight (of course) who spend much of the year travelling the globe sourcing pieces for the gallery. In fact they’ve recently returned from a 2 month buying expedition in Europe and the Americas. Lucky them!

The pair pride themselves on finding the more exceptional and unusual examples of design…and I have to say the list of designers whose pieces have graced the space reads like my favorites list: Gio Ponti, Osvaldo Borsani, Carlo Scarpa, Ico Parisi, Jacques Adnet, Guillerme and Chambron, Jules Leleu, William Haines and Paul Evans….and many more.

I’ll definitely have to pay them a visit next time I’m back home…

Aussie aussi

While I was back in Melbourne I enjoyed catching up on few of the decor magazines that I don’t buy regularly here in Hong Kong, namely House & Garden. One spread in particular that caught my eye was the home of the Melbourne-based French interior designer, Jean-Pierre Heurteau. If you remember, he is the designer behind those glossy black floors in a previous post. He is such a character in real life, so it was so great to see a home of a designer that I’ve actually met. His home is so full of life, colour, and well – flamboyance, that is enough to make any minimalist sick. But I love that he has been true to his personality, and has somehow managed to blend Australian and French cultures together – not an easy task!

As you can see he’s used an all white palette for the background and layered it with pieces of different eras and cultures – and so many colours. Who knew that Aboriginal art would look so fabulous with French antiques?

With all those reflective surfaces and silk damasks it would feel like you were living inside a jewellery box!

I love the contrast between the stark white walls and the super dark (black?) carpet, and all that gold gilding. So lush. Yum. It’s almost enough to make me want to move back to Australia…

All photos by Shania Shegedyn for Australian House & Garden magazine, May 2009.

The Kiln

If you have a cool AUD$1.7m to spend on real estate, check out this amazing apartment in Collingwood – just on the outskirts of Melbourne’s cosmopolitan CBD. ‘The Kiln’, c. 1862, is designed over 5 levels, including underground parking and balconies with amazing city views.
Not sure if you can see the photos clearly, but the ceiling is an amazing barrel shape and the whole space has so much character. Now if only I could find something equally unique in Hong Kong…and find a few spare dollars.

Steven Quigg

This renovation from an industrial warehouse to an uber chic bachelor pad in Melbourne had me swooning! If I was to renovate an old warehouse, this is pretty close to what I would do myself. The former 1 bedroom apartment owned by Steven Quigg, Melbourne based Interior Designer has been transformed into a 4 bedroom space with a study. Normally you read about people buying apartments and knocking down walls to open it up – but not this time. I’m a big fan of walls, and I actually like having rooms, so I appreciate what Quigg has done here. With a mix of high and low, old and new, minimal and decorative, he’s created a space that he calls international, yet feels very Australian. Painted brick walls and highly polished concrete floors mixed with Ralph Lauren wallpaper (Ashfield Floral in Gunmetal) create a stunning backdrop to a collection of period and custom made pieces. Its cool and cozy.

Sorry, bad scanning quality here, but these images are of the open living dining area. The sunburst mirror was purchased while the owner was living in New York. An antique Empire sideboard sits behind Jardan sofas. A 19th C French chandelier sits over the custom reproduction dining table. The 50’s French neoclassical dining chairs are covered in a pearlescent vinyl and backed with black dyed springbok. The large canopy chair (on the right hand side of the 2nd image) is covered in cowhide.

The painting at the end of the galley kitchen is by Peter Walsh.

Photographs by legendary Australian photographer Bill Henson line the length of the open study.

A custom made lampshade by Quigg adds a bit of glamour to an antique lamp base. The painting beside it was commissioned by Quigg.

A custom made mirror panel head board adds some light and a bit of glitz to the bedroom.

All images from Belle Feb/Mar 2008, photos by Shannon McGrath.


OK, It’s official. I miss Melbourne. I’ve only been back in HK a week and I’m homesick already…I guess its natural for people to love their home town…but I REALLY love Melbourne (yes, okay, just a tad biased here ;)!
Here are my top 10 reasons for loving Melbourne so much:
1) Best food in Australia, bar none (sorry to the rest of oz!),
2) The arts and cultural capital of Australia,
3) Within 1-2 hours drive of several great wine regions (Mornington Peninsula & Yarra Valley in particular),
4) Great shopping – fashionista’s love Melbourne. There are so many great shopping precincts it’s hard to know where to start! – But here are a few to get you started…city centre (especially the old GPO), Chapel St -Prahran, Acland St – St.Kilda, Brunswick St – Fitzroy, Bridge Rd – Richmond, Queen Victoria Market, etc. etc.,
5) Fantastic architecture. Where else woudl you find these 4 buildings on just one street corner?
Flinders Street Station

Federation Square

The Young & Jackson Pub

St. Pauls Cathedral

6) It’s within a few hours drive of some of the best beaches in the world (13th Beach, Bells Beach, Point Addis, Fairhaven…and the entire Great Ocean Road),
7) Outdoor cinemas – there are tonnes of them in and around the city over summer
8) Great festivals (see below)
9) The coolest and funkist bars (tucked away and hidden in the central business district laneways – half the fun is finding them! – check out Deck of Secrets if you’re interested),
10) The Laneway Commissions – temporary art installations in the CBD laneways – comissioned by the city of Melbourne.

PLUS, there is something on pretty much year round (although it usually centres around summer)…check this out:
January – Australian Open Tennis tournament
January – Big Day Out (alternative music festival)
January – Midsumma – Melbourne’s Gay & Lesbian festival
January to March – Moonlight Cinema in the botanical gardens
February to March – Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
February – Yarra Valley Grape Grazing Festival (wine and jazz amongst the vines)
February – St.Kilda Festival (music, food, arts etc.)
December – Boxing Day Cricket test match
There really is something for everyone in Melbourne (and I’m sure I’ve missed out heaps of stuff). Just in case I’ve inspired any of you to visit in the not too distant future there are tonnes of great guides to help you navigate the wonderful city I call(ed) home. Deck of Secrets, Melbourne Design Guide, Luxe Guides, Lonely Planet, Visit Melbourne, Only Melbourne, That’s Melbourne. Enjoy! P.S. please feel free to email me if you are planning a visit…I’d be happy to make some more recommendations! P.P.S. if anyone else wants to share their top 10 reasons for loving their home city I’d love to hear them!

The Great Race

I’ve lived away from home, Melbourne that is, for over 5 years now and I get homesick often. It’s hard not to. But there is probably no other time of the year that I would want to be in Melbourne more than in spring…..for the Spring Racing Carnival. Today, for the uninitiated, is Melbourne Cup Day, which is held annually on the first Tuesday of every November.

The $5.1 million Emirates Melbourne Cup is more than just a horse race – it is a 145-year old social and cultural tradition that ‘stops the nation’. This spectacular event is the focal point of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

This might sound ridiculous to those who live outside Australia, but horse racing is something we take pretty seriously down under. So seriously, in fact, that Melbourne Cup Day is a public holiday in Melbourne, and 21 of the other regional cities in the state of Victoria also has a public holiday in honour of their own “Cup Day”.

For girls especially, Spring Racing Carnival is a social event more than anything else. It’s a chance to get dressed up (hats are almost compulsory), go out with your girlfriends and drink way too much champagne! And there are a few horses around for those that are interested…

It’s the only time of the year that I actually gamble, and will allow myself to by hats. The scramble in the weeks leading up to spring racing is like nothing else, its worse than sale time. It’s pretty much the only time of year you’ll see hats for sale in the major department stores, and I’m sure its the only time of year our talented miliners make any money! But, as most girls I know need a different outfit for each of the major races, thats at least a few hats per year!

If the weather is good (always a gamble in Melbourne at this time of year) there is nothing more fun than getting dressed up from hat to heels and heading down to Flemington racecourse to watch the crowds, the boys make idiots of themselves, a few horses, the punters and most importantly, the ‘fashions on the field’. Myer, one of Australia’s oldest and largest department stores sponsors a fashion contest called “Fasions on the Field” which to the girls is more important than the horse race itself.

And for those of you who are still doubt as to how seriously Melbournians take this…..last year Emma Jane Pilkington was brought over from the US to decorate the main sponsors tent, and Carson Kreslley came to judge the contest! (Fashions on the fields that is, not the horses).

As the race is already over, (“Efficient” won if anyone is interested), I know my friends will be heading home from the racecourse, or from the home of whoever hosted this years BBQ, probably drunk, hatless, and looking a little less glam than they did this morning…but I wish I could be there with you!!

Jean-Pierre Heurteau

Yesterday’s post on gardens had me thinking of all things green, my favorite colour, and made me remember this Melbourne home that I had seen some time ago. It was decorated by another of my favorite Australian designers, Jean-Pierre Heurteau (he’s french, in case you can’t guess from the name!). I was fortunate enough to meet him once when I was living in Melbourne, and he is quite a character. The owners of this home had just returned from a trip to the US – including a stay at Kelly Wearstler’s fabulous Viceroy in Santa Monica – and after finding a copy of her first book they were inspired to re-create that Hollywood glamour look in their own home. They knew that Jean-Pierre would be the best person to do that for them.

This home is a typical victorian-style townhouse that you find a lot of in Melbourne, but which are being gutted or having the backs chopped off to ‘modernize’ them. Personally, I think if you want a modern home you should just go build one and not destroy history, but that’s just me. Anyway, I love what this couple has done to theirs, they’ve opened it up a little, but it seems to be a sympathetic renovation, and the decor is perfect. The colour combination of mainly white, green and a little black is so fresh. I love it.

The owner with family pet standing in the hall. I love the contrast between the glossy black floorboards and the white walls. It’s super airy and light, looks modern, but they’ve kept all the original mouldings. Love the green chandelier and the mirrored console behind.

In the Living Room, Jean-Pierre has tried to keep the high-glam to a minimum so that it still feels comfortable and livable.

The open dining/kitchen area is beautiful. I love the green velvet on these chairs, and how it picks up ever so slightly the green from the glass splash-backs (hard to see in this photo, I know). The multi-coloured murano glass chandelier above is just amazing.

Two views of the master bedroom. Feature wall covered in a wallpaper from Cole & Son. Lamps, cushions and other accessories from Jean-Pierre’s shop.

Two views of the master bathroom (with a mirrored dressing room barely visable to the right). I would kill for an open bathroom like this. As you can see from the lower image, it opens out to an internal courtyard. The perfect place to sit and soak and unwind after a long week. Just need a small table beside that tub to rest magazines and a glass of champagne!

All images from Vogue Living (Australia) March/April 2006.

Small space style

Believe it or not but this grand looking apartment is only 10 x 5 mtrs (32.8′ x 16.4′). What I find even harder to believe is that it is part of a conversion from a warehouse space in an ultra modern and hip part of Melbourne. It’s super tiny, but it has one great thing going for it – 5 mtr (16.4′) high ceilings. All of the mouldings you see were added by the owner (an antiques broker, in case you can’t guess) to this standard-issue development. It just goes to show you don’t’ need a huge space to create something palatial looking, or an old building to create a look with character and history. I know I’ve been guilty of writing off newish buildings that have no mouldings and look boring as hell, but these photos prove that you can create the look you want (of course the high ceilings help), and you can do it yourself with a little know how.

Two Louis XVI style chairs and a 2 seater sette – covered in venetian silk damask – sit in front of a pair of 200 year old doors that were rescued from an ailing chateau in Normandy.
The doors open to reveal a cleverly hidden hotel quality fold-out bed.

A brass inlaid tortoise shell clock made for Louis XIV sits above a Louis XV set of fruitwood drawers.

View of the living/dining area from the entrance. The kitchen is hidden to the left, and the black spiral staircase leads to the bathroom above. The owner uses small console tables together and is able to seat 8 for dinner parties.

View of the Main room, with bed hidden.
Images from Vogue Living (Australia) July/August 2007 edition.

Cool bars of the world…

I thought I’d share a few favorite hotel/bar/restaurant designs with you all. Here is one that’s new-ish in Melbourne (it opened after I left and I still haven’t had a chance to try it out). It’s called Baroq House, designed by multi-disciplinary firm Playground in Melbourne, Australia – lead by a very young but very talented Fady Hachem. Enjoy!