ISSUE 12 JULY – SEPTEMBER 2011
AUD $13.95 NZ $14.95 USD $15.95
CDN $16.95 GBP £8.50 SGD $10.95
Latest design objects Ilse Crawford inspires Contemporary Philippine design Design and craft masters A fashion designer’s Singapore Eclectic
Mimco home in Melbourne SIXTIES design revival Coastal drama Sculptural staircases Urban architecture in Thailand Sydney’s Burley Griffin trifecta
HOLIDAY AT HOME
contents 1. HABITUS PRODUCTS Breaking new ground with inventive design, speakers to
2. HABITUS PEOPLE & PLACES
3. HABITUS HOMES From cliff TOPS to inner suburban
take a peek inside the homes,
blocks, these homes show the
tickle your audio and visual
HEARTS and minds of designers
variety of ways a house responds
fancy, and tantalising fabrics to
from around the region,
to its context, and the unique
touch. we bring you the best new
investigating their inspirations,
solutions by their architects.
products from around the world.
processes and their creations.
From baskets to baby rompers, we’ve collected a plethora of ideas for every corner of your home.
Malaysian-born, Adelaide-based Khai Liew is one of Australia’s great furniture craftsmen. Gordon Kanki-Knight discovers his journey.
Filipino designer Milo Naval’s furniture creations begin with the materials, largely indigenous, and end in a distinctly modern form. Aya Maceda investigates his creative process.
Listen up, audiophiles. With ears to the ground, we’ve sounded out the latest new designs for speakers.
98 Scenario: CLIFF House
Residential architecture Perched perilously on the cliffs along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, this house by Woods Bagot is an architectural match for its dramatic, ocean setting. Stephen Crafti reports.
59 On Location
Fashion designer Jo Soh takes Madhavi Tumkur around her favourite places in Singapore which inspire her vintage aesthetic.
Nicky Lobo speaks to Sydney interior designer Juliette Arent, one half of Arent & Pyke, about her inspiration, UK designer and former editor Ilse Crawford, and her eclectic collections.
37 in camera
Threading together rich patterns, constructions and textures to bring you the best in textiles and fabrics.
108 DIRECTOR’S CUT: SLICE house
Architects and designers designing for themselves Aya Maceda visits the home of Filipino architect Ed Calma and discovers how, in building his own home, he’s resolved a multitude of ideas which his clients have shied away from.
Kath Dolan discovers the quiet calm of the inner-suburban home of Mimco’s Creative and Commercial Director, Cathryn Wills.
4. HABITUS SIGN-OFF We visit the Eastern European cultural hub of Prague and ponder the possibilities of prefab construction in housing.
Residential architecture Andrea Stevens talks to architect Matt Chaplin about his response to this atypical New Zealand landscape, set between a Pine forest and the Pacific Ocean.
202 snapshot: prague
175 Cross Fade: Balwyn House
118 scenario: rose bay house
Residential architecture An introverted white box exterior conceals complex volumes and melodramatic plays of light in a Tribe Studio-designed home in Sydney. Jane Burton Taylor reveals the personality inside.
Renovations and additions Nostalgic for bygone times, the owners of this Melbourne home wanted an architect who was sympathetic to their ‘retro’-vision. Stephen Crafti discovers how Nest Architects created the couple’s 1960s technicolour dream.
In the former Bohemian capital, the city of the Charles Bridge and Frank Gehry’s Dancing House, Sol Walkling takes a step off the tourist trail and discovers a theatrical side to Prague.
Director’s Cut: Surry Hills
Architects and designers designing for themselves In the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills, architect Dom Alvaro has created a house for himself that is the most efficient use of space on a small site. Paul McGillick reports.
On the cusp of Prefab’s coming of age, Rachael Bernstone reviews three books which charts the history, the successes, the failures and the future of prefab construction in housing.
165 Director’s Cut: Chatpong
133 Scenario: Ting House
Residential architecture Jasmeet Sidhu visits a majestic and curvaceous house located on a sloping site outside Kuala Lumpur by architect Lok Wooi.
Architects and designers designing for themselves Architect Chatpong Chuenrudeemol’s house resumes a silent urban conversation with the neighbourhood. Tonkao Panin visits this rare find in contemporary Bangkok.
185 Jump Cut: Burley Griffin
Three projects by one architect While Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin’s unrealised plans for Australia’s capital may be Canberra’s loss, the houses they designed in Castlecrag is Sydney’s gain. Anne Watson visits three of these Griffin gems.
Correction In the Editorial Index in Habitus 11, we provided an incorrect contact detail for Recovery Upholstery. The correct phone number is 0414 668 842. We apologise for this oversight.
Suita Sofa. Developed by Vitra in Switzerland. Design: Antonio Citterio Suita Sofa photographed at VitraHaus, Vitra Campus 2010
editor’s letter paul mcgillick
There is certainly a crossfertilisation going on and the encouraging thing is... the trend to getting the core values right first.
At the time of writing, I have just returned from Singapore where I again attended the International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS). I was also a judge for the new Deco Asia section of the Fair, so I had a good look at the products and hopefully picked up a feel for where design is heading in the Region. Now, just so that we are on the same page regarding ‘the Region’... The other day, someone commented to me that Habitus had a bias towards Asia. No, I said, it was about balance and about the Region – by which I mean Australia, New Zealand, South-East Asia, South Asia and the Pacific. It is about encouraging a dialogue within the Region which we all share – rather than the traditional dialogue with the U.S. and Europe which are culturally and climatically removed. While the Region may be culturally diverse, transmigration, along with geographical and climatic affinities, has brought the countries closer together. Hence, the value of a dialogue about design across the Region. So, when I look at the kinds of products being designed, manufactured, marketed and distributed in the Region, do I see any evidence of this co-habitation? Well, yes I do. There is certainly a cross-fertilisation going on and the encouraging thing is that this is no longer simply a matter of surface imitation using, as previously, inferior materials and engineering. What is encouraging is the trend to getting the core values right first. As always, this is about form and function. Singapore-based company, Air Division, uses local designers and materials, but with an international aesthetic. Alternatively, another company at the Fair (they received the award for best product in Deco Asia) was the Thai lighting designer and manufacturer, Ango. Their elegant lights use a composite of natural and man-made materials and are hand-made. For example, the use of hand-cast polymer which is then used as a skin containing silk cocoons to form the shade, or with rattan ‘wires’ acting as diffusers. Another example was d-Bodhi from Jogjakarta who have developed an extraordinary range of tables, dressers and shelving using recycled timber with recycled galvanised steel piping (they have now also introduced a range of upholstery and clothing fabrics made from recycled cloth). Using local craftsmen (including street artists), d-Bodhi’s products are again of their place, but with international appeal, especially for the emerging urban market. These are just some of the designer-manufacturers from the Region who illustrate an emerging commercial design culture which is very much of its place, but also universal in its appeal and application. Paul McGillick, Editor PS No, I don’t bring Habitus out all by myself. Actually, most of the work is done by my Deputy Editor, Nicky Lobo. We are pictured above sharing a local tree.
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New materials & inventive forms:
from speakers to
design news living 01
“Design is a constant challenge to balance comfort with luxe, the practical with the desirable.” – Donna Karan
Wooden carpet German textile designer Elisa Strozyk’s experiments into wooden textiles bare their first fruits with this decorative carpet for Böwer. Wooden Carpet is no ordinary floor covering. It’s made with pieces of various timbers laminated onto a fabric base and laid in beautiful tessellated patterns. But it’s also flexible, malleable and can be sculpted into limitless three-dimensional shapes and forms thanks to the stiffness of the wooden pieces. Available in four timber varieties – Wentwood, Sherwood, Mortimer and Ashdown, boewer.com
Coco pendant Kate Stokes blends smooth, oiled Victorian Ash seamlessly with powdercoated aluminium in this pendant shade, corporateculture.com.au
White shimmer With iridescent mirror chips that
fmp-spring/summer 2011 Inspired by the colours and patterns of UK fashion designer Paul Smithâ€™s Spring/Summer
reflect light, White Shimmer from Caesarstone is now
ready-to-wear collection, design student Kirath Ghundoo created these five wallpapers as part of a final collection for an MA
available in a 30mm slab, caesarstone.com.au
in Textiles. The wallpapers are digitally illustrated and screenprinted in silver foil and yellow neon ink, kirathghundoo.com
aeratron Designed with biometric engineering and the latest technology in quiet and efficient motors, the three-
Canvas This coffee table by Moe Fujishima of
dimensional aerofoil blades of the Aeratron ceiling fan silently delivers smooth and even airflow throughout a space.
Esperimento has an unusual strung table top using fine
Aeratron is also energy-efficient, leading the world in Energy Star ratings, aeratron.com.au
threads fixed to a simple wooden frame, esperimento.st
close up khai liew — SA, australia
A crafted life Gordon Kanki-Knight meets the refined, and immaculate Khai Liew and hears how the former antique dealer’s life has taught him volumes about honest-to-goodness craftsmanship. Khai Liew’s self-built home in the inner-eastern Adelaide suburb of Norwood has a cloistral purity. Decades of investigation into furniture construction methods, materials and form have given the 58-year-old an unrivalled ability to not only create furniture that appeals but also to harness its visual impact. In the house, which Khai shares with partner Nichole Palyga and his two sons, the designer’s demure Portia chest of drawers connects the entrance hallway with the living room; an Arts and Crafts stool sits beneath a French oil canvas from 1815 – enhancing the beauty of both; and his Double Dutch table provides an appropriate display for works by ceramicists Kirsten Coelho and Prue Venables – friends who collaborated with Khai on his most recent exhibition, Collec+ors. It is no accident that Khai opts for clean lines, quiet hues and truthfulness to his materials – mostly American White Oak or American Walnut. His furniture, like his home, aims at creating sanctuaries of calm. “I feel a surge for order,” Khai explains, “and within that order, a search for peace.” Born in 1952 to Straits-Chinese parents, Khai was raised on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, where his father, Wan Thye Liew, owned and ran a shop. “We lived in a kind of farm situation, a typical Chinese family set-up. I was one of nine kids, and we lived on what was perhaps 16 acres of land,” says Khai. “It was a carefree childhood.” In 1964, his father visited Tokyo, which had been polished for the Summer Olympics. He returned determined to build a home in the style of the kominka dwellings he had seen in the Japanese capital. A trained draftsman who had worked for two years at a London architectural atelier, Wan Thye created what Khai describes as an “LA Case Study meets Japanese-style house”.
Text Gordon Kanki-Knight
Photography Derek Henderson
For colour & design inspiration and to find your nearest display, visit... www.caesarstone.com.au Phone 1300 119 119
on location jo soh — singapore
Meeting fashion designer Jo Soh of Singaporean label Hansel is as much of an experience as visiting her shop. Adorned with vintage-style, rimmed glasses – her quintessential accessory – the “retro-spec” Jo infuses her label with vintage chic persona and extends to her shop, a fairytale fantasy feel. Text Madhavi Tumkur
Photography Caleb Ming/Surround
on location jo soh — singapore
Borrowing from children’s fairytales and kinder craft, Jo Soh’s clothing label, Hansel, is fresh and full of child-like imagination. Simple and understated, her designs employ classic tailoring and are punctuated with amusing accents that lend to the wearer a certain je ne sais quoi attitude. “I am drawn to fairytales,” Jo declares. “I love spending time with children and being inspired by their power of imagination.” Jo’s collection is often themed after a fantastical story. Her current Spring/Summer line themed ‘Geometric Swan’ comes with flutter sleeves, ruffles and graphically illustrated swans. To complete the picture, Jo has created a backdrop of hand-drawn swans on large sheets of paper and crafted origami swans and lily pads to accessorise the display table. “I change the décor with each new collection,” she tells me. “I want people to walk into my store and feel like they are a part of a story.” Naturally gifted with keen sensibilities of arts and craft, Jo had decided quite early on to go into fashion design. “I sincerely believe that design could be used for the benefit of others,” she states. “It may sound altruistic but I feel that design makes a more direct impact on others than fine arts, perhaps because it has a pragmatic approach towards influencing people.” Jo confesses to being able to relate better to practical objects. “Ladders, screwdrivers, nuts and bolts, door handles, hangers, tables and chairs – these everyday objects make life easy for us but don’t demand any special attention or care,” explains Jo, and so she approaches fashion
01 Jo Soh at the entrance to food and drink venue Night and Day. 02 Hand-crafted origami swans and lily pads accessorise the display tables in Jo’s shop. 03 The décor of the shop changes with each new collection.
04 Greeting cards from the ‘retro-spec’ range. 05 Jo outside the Art Deco styled Tanjong Pagar Train Station.
“Tucked within the confines of this bustling city, there is a small seed of inspiration just waiting to blossom.” – JO
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at home cathryn wills â€” VIC, australia
Cathryn Wills, Creative and Commercial Director of Australian accessories empire, Mimco, lives in an unassuming pocket of Melbourneâ€™s Brunswick West. Kath Dolan visits her understated little oasis of solace and calm.
Text Kath Dolan
Photography James Geer
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creation milo naval â€” MANILA, the philippines
With attention to detail and commitment to a style that he developed, Filipino furniture designer Milo Naval maintains his place as a forerunner in the Philippine Moderne movement.
to form Text Aya Maceda
Photography Kurt Arnold
the art of ba thing
inspired juliette arent â€” NSW, australia
design from the heart Interviews and photo shoots have become the norm for Juliette Arent of young Sydney interior firm, Arent & Pyke, who have already attracted plenty of attention for their emotive approach to design.
Text Nicky Lobo
Photography Anson Smart
scenario cliff house â€” VIC , australia
Text Stephen Crafti
Photography Tom Berry and Mary Cooke
This house on Victoriaâ€™s famous Great Ocean Road is not content simply to observe the drama of the ocean. Stephen Crafti discovers that, from its clifftop stage, it is also a robust participant. 99
scenario TRIBE STUDIO
rose bay house â€” NSW, australia
FANTASTIC Can you design an elegantly poetic house that also works for a young family? Jane Burton Taylor visits a Tribe Studio design that ticks all the boxes.
Text Jane Burton Taylor
Photography Brett Boardman
scenario rose bay house â€” NSW, australia
When Hannah Tribe was approached to design a house for a young family, she made the usual site visit. Afterwards, she prepared a choice of designs. The owners chose the most unconventional, and now the whole family – and most of the neighbourhood, particularly the children – are fans of what they call their “big tree house, on the ground”. As you drive down the street in Rose Bay, you can easily spot the house by Tribe Studio. Amid the mishmash of flats and inter-war bungalows, it presents a crisp two-storey façade of white weatherboard. “One of my friends described it as a long, cool glass of water,” Tribe muses. “The palette is really refreshing in a street of heavy ornate textures.” The owners, too, find the house a refreshing counterpoint. “If you drive down the street, this is clearly post-2010,” one of them says. “This is a house of a new era, completely different to anything else in the street... It is a one-off and I love that about it.” The couple were committed to the unusual design from first sight. “Hannah came to us with three different ideas,” one of the owners recalls. “This one was a very basic idea of rooms in boxes and huge voids, and she said ‘It’s conceptually new and a gamble and I completely want to do it.’ My husband took one look and said ‘Let’s do it.’ ” Walking into the house from the brightness of a midsummers day in suburban Sydney, you have the strange sensation of entering a serene, totally private space, gently lit by initially unseen light sources. The ground floor is essentially one open plan space, with a concrete floor and a wall of Hoop Pine plywood wrapping up into a doubleheight ceiling. Most unexpected and visually arresting are the giant white boxes suspended in the space. These boxes, which alternate with double-height voids, are the upper floor bedrooms for the family of four. “The boxes are the private spaces and they also describe the extremities of the public space,” Tribe explains. “So the walls of the private spaces make up the public spaces in plan and section.” The owners describe the outside as “like a big tin shed. As soon as you walk in, it is very, very different. It is a surprise. It is a naughty house.” Sitting at the dining room table under a void hung with a giant pendant light chosen by the owner, who is also a designer, Tribe talks about how fortunate she was to have clients so committed to the original idea.
01 From the street, the house contrasts with its neighbours and conceals a poetic interior. The white weatherboard façade, punctuated by a barely visible garage door and two small windows, hints at the playful word inside. 02 White boxes, which house the private spaces, suspend into the ground floor living space, allowing the family to interact with each other. Kitchen features Tom Dixon Beat Light pendants from dedece and concrete kitchen bench. 03 A collection of Dinosaur Designs vases, timber ducks from Great Dane Furniture and a Balsa model of the house.
“The house is all about interesting sources of natural light,” she says. “The great thing, I think, is that it has real conceptual clarity. The clients were interested in the poetry of the architecture as much as the prosaics of their brief. From meeting one, we had this idea of boxes suspended in a larger volume.” One of the prosaics of the brief was the fact that the site was long and narrow, with overlooking neighbours. Tribe’s design addresses this, and, at the same time, delivers a home that plays with space and light in both a functional and aesthetically beautiful way. “We wanted to get northern light into the depths of the space. We wanted it to be an introverted house,” Tribe says, “and because it was inward looking, we wanted the spatial experience to be a real reward.” On the ground floor, light spills into the house from ankle-height windows and recessed windows in the western wall; most intriguingly, light also bounces down through the voids from hidden operable skylights, amplifying
01 Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin in Castlecrag, 1930. Photo by Jorma Pohjanpalo, courtesy of the National Library of Australia. 02 The entry to the Fishwick house from The Citadel in Castlecrag makes a dramatic statement in local sandstone.
Text Anne Watson
Photography Eric Sierins
walter burley griffin
fishwick, cheong & redstone houses — NSW, australia
Contemporary The influence of Walter Burley Griffin in Australia can’t be underestimated. He left his mark on Canberra and he successfully applied the principles of Frank Lloyd Wright to some remarkable homes in Sydney. Anne Watson looks at how three of these have been adapted to contemporary use. “It’s a special place, isn’t it?” says a neighbour, as I approach the Fishwick house in Sydney’s Castlecrag. Even on a dreary, wintry afternoon, I’d have to agree there’s a rugged magic about it. Behind me is the rocky outcrop that centres on the street’s narrow cul-de-sac. Ahead is a two-storey weathered sandstone house with dark red, painted door and window trim and an enveloping garden of native plants. Being Castlecrag, it can only mean that this is a Griffin house. Marion Mahony Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin met in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Chicago studio where they both worked; she from 1895 to 1909 and he from 1901 to 1906. In Wright, they encountered a reputedly difficult but kindred spirit who understood the importance of integrating house and landscape, of “building for nature”, as Griffin was to later articulate it.
From Wright they absorbed the fundamentals of the Prairie School aesthetic: the Japaneseinspired geometry of counterpoised horizontal and vertical forms, the dynamic contrast of natural and man-made materials, and the new interior configurations that open planning made possible. Mahony Griffin’s beautiful presentation drawings, reproduced in Wright’s Berlin-published Wasmuth portfolio in 1910, were to be crucial in establishing Wright’s reputation in Europe. Pursuing their own careers after leaving Wright’s office, they married in 1911 and together they created the winning design for the new far-away city of Canberra in 1912. If early 20th Century Chicago’s progressive milieu provided the foundation for the Griffins’ social, spiritual and design philosophies, Australia was to be a challenging testing
ground for them. Re-locating to Australia in 1914, they were entranced by the local landscape and its unique flora and fauna. Both the architects were to become highly knowledgeable about indigenous plants and saw the relatively unspoiled vastness of the Australian landscape as providing an opportunity for the achievement of a kind of balanced harmony between man and nature that was impossible in more populous societies. The Griffins’ vision of Canberra as both an aspiration to this harmony as well as the symbolic expression of their democratic ideals was, however, to be met with continuing resistance. By 1920, after a prolonged battle with endless bureaucratic committees to have his plans for Canberra implemented, Griffin resigned as Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction.
Prague â€“ The Theatre of Life Many regard it as the most beautiful city in the world. When Sol Walkling visited it for the first time, she thought so, too. But she also discovered a highly theatrical city.
Text and photography Sol Walkling
On my first day in Prague, a simple headline in bold letters ‘smrt ‘greets me from the newspaper a commuter is reading. As I make my way on the local tram from the derelict outskirts of the city, the grey suburbs, into the centre of the Golden City, I marvel at the simplicity of Czech words, many of which seem unpronounceable to my eyes, mouth and ears. No vowels, all consonants. Perhaps, the colourful vivacious people of the Czech Republic don’t need them to express their emotions. They’re born performers: divadlo, the word for theatre and one of the most used in the city, which was at times home to writer Franz Kafka, composer Gustav Mahler and lyrical poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Early in the day, when morning mist hangs over the city and the streets are still sleepy and deserted before the busy arrival of shopkeepers, tourists and entertainers, it’s easy to imagine yourself stepping back in time. Every inch you cover on the old cobblestone alleyways of the city’s centre is drenched in a mysterious
quality, passing by historic buildings, such as the Národní Divadlo (National Theatre), an embodiment of the Czech nation’s identity and spirit. Here, acting is just seen as another form of self-expression, a naturally musical and dramatic way of thinking. Even some of the country’s most respectable politicians are successful actors. Theatre has long played a major part in Prague’s daily life and includes variations hardly heard of elsewhere. Black light theatre, for example, is a Prague specialty, originating in Asia, and first entered Czech culture in the 1960s. Using a black stage and black lighting as a backdrop for fluorescent costumes, shows at the National Black Light Theatre keep with the illusionary and dreamy feel of the original concept. But the addition of computer animations and large projections have transported this spectacular art form into the 21st Century. Another permutation of theatre to develop in the 1960s were so-called fringe theatres.
Clockwise from top left: Impromptu performance by tour guide and group; poster; column and street lamp adorned with angel outside the Rudolfinum Concert Hall; the Hotel Rott’s neorenaissance façade; Prague’s sky is swarming with angels; guard at the Castle; decorative streetlamps; sign outside a puppet store; poster; Schuhplattler performance; typical store; statues on the rooftops.
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