BRIEF To introduce sculptural & artisinal beauty to an existing three bedroom waterfront property for a family of four or as the client aptly said " keep it as unpretentious and simple as possible'
APPROACH Over the 8 month trajectory of the project, our brief expanded from simply sourcing furniture to: internal building works, custom joinery, mini landscape details [existing Landscape design by Spirit Level ], selecting artwork as well as hand selecting every piece of furniture. Although the modest weatherboard cottage had had an extensive external facelift 2 years prior, the internal spaces had been seemingly overlooked. In keeping with the client's brief ....'to keep it as unpretentious and simple as possible', we looked to Japan's effortless design aesthetic known as Wabi Sabi; which champions the simple, slow and uncluttered. "A warm minimalism that celebrates the human effect rather than the machine made or mass produced" [Amanda Talbot of Rethink: The Way You Live"]
Our major design intervention was the design and installation of a 10 meter long floating concrete bench, which we hoped would bridge the two living areas and encourage a more engaging, communicative experience for the family. Working closely with Sydney's joiners Evostyle, we custom designed a 1.8m wide American Oak sliding panel, edged in bronze, which cleverly hid the TV when not in use. When open, the sliding panel sat comfortably on the opposite of the room as if a piece of art in itself.
Additional joinery included a low floating entry bench in wire brushed American Oak, stained black, with the same bronze edge detail found in the sliding timber panel. A subtle metal sculpture of a reclining nude hung above the entry ledge which we commissioned a sculptor in Byron Bay called Dominque Sutton to produce. Both children's bedrooms lacked storage, so in addition to the desks we designed for each child, we custom designed full height cupboards which combined birch ply and cork sliding panels which allowed for a controlled poster display space. The original downstairs master bedroom, was a former garage and very uninviting. To introduce some warmth, birch ply paneling was fixed to half of the room. A beautiful credenza in ebony wire brushed American Oak on brass feet was designed for additional storage in the bathroom. The clients were not avid art collectors so we hand selected an interesting body of photography which included both landscapes and quirky female portraits.
We addressed one of the client's major concerns which was light reflection, or lack thereof, by collaborating with paint consultant, Sonia van De Haar of Lymesmith Polychromy, whom created a beautiful palette comprising of warm grays, bright whites and rich blacks to help combat the inherently 'boxy' nature of the space. Instead of running the paint all the way up to the ceiling, blocks of colors stopped short of the ceiling and were rounded at the corners. Interesting patterns found in the floor rugs were meticulously replicated onto walls to ensure the 'hand crafted / manmade' elements remained.
The clients were minimalists at heart, so rather than cluttering the space, iconic pieces were chosen for their sculptural qualities, beautiful shapes and impeccable craftsmanship. Familiar pieces included the 'Butterfly Chair' by Pierre Paulin and 'The Spanish Chair' by Serge Mogensen which we combined with local furniture makers such as Jardan, Henry Wilson and Tom Skeehan. To ensure the 'makers touch' was still visible, thick, textured wool beni's from Kulchi were scattered throughout.
"This was collaboration at its best, providing us the opportunity to work with some of Sydney's best joiners, builders, photographers, paint consultants, metal artists and furniture suppliers. With an incredibly strong vision from the start and with very trusting clients, we have been able to create something very special. " Yasmine
All photos by Prue Ruscoe
All existing garden design by Spirit Level