Posts in Interiors
Heady Huntingtower

Agushi Construction founding director Bear Agushi’s new family home is a testament to his passion for contemporary architecture and design

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The result of a collaboration between Agushi and Workroom Director and architect John Bornas, Huntingtower is the most recent of several projects the duo has worked on together. ‘We’ve worked with Agushi on several projects now, so we know each other well when it comes to our design sensibilities,’ Bornas says of their ability to understand, interpret and compliment one another’s work.

Located in the Melbourne suburb of Armadale, the 3-storey box stands dramatically on the street cantilevering over glass rooms and surrounded by sunken gardens. The home’s uncomplicated street-facing exterior belies the lavish experience within.

Agushi is known for creating bespoke high-end homes, while Bornas is a specialist in contemporary design and interiors. As cocreators, they have designed Agushi and his wife’s ‘dream home,’ with facilities that include 4 bedrooms with individual bathrooms, chef’s kitchen, butler’s pantry, and an alfresco area featuring a swimming pool and outdoor kitchen, and gardens by esteemed landscape architect Jack Merlo. Bornas explains that their ‘approach to the house was very considered and transcends fashion. The connection between the building and the inhabitant is grounded through a rigorous exploration of scale, form, space and material. The delicate palette of materials and intricate detailing bestows elegance and luxury.’

Interior stylist Simone Haag’s judicious selection of outstanding furniture and design objects, which Bornas says ‘helped the home reach its full potential,’ completes the many-layered experience. ‘A narrative unfolds of stunning detail and tactile material, raw steel, dark panelled walls, concrete, bronze, timber and stone, elements that invite you to touch and feel,’ says Agushi.

The relationship between scale, space, material and decor is complex and engaging without being overwhelming. Upon entering, visitors are met with a sculptural steel staircase that sets the tone for the rest of the home, where Bornas explains, ‘each element is chosen to compliment or contrast with another and each is designed with the same level of rigour, down to the smallest detail. This gives the house a sense of consistency that adds to the depth of the experience.’

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Derek Swalwell

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A Family Affair

For most Thais, family is the foundation of social life, and multi-generational family homes are commonplace in Thai culture. This extended family home features a communal space that reflects community values, but thanks to the ample living areas never feels overcrowded

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The founders of Bangkok-based Anonym Studio, Phongphat Ueasangkhomset and Parnduangjai Roojnawate, are behind the architectural and interior design of this contemporary take on communal living.

Situated on the same 500-square-metre lot, the new house stands parallel to the owner’s original home. The two are separated by a swimming pool — an existing feature on the property — overlooked from picture windows and expansive sliding patio doors. The communal area and open view connect the homes and allow the family members to see and interact with each another, while also subtly separating public and private living spaces.

The verdant outdoor space offsets the angular structure of the new addition, designed to reflect the owner’s sleek and minimalist taste. Exposed concrete, glass and black aluminium panels effectively manage the tropical heat, create a natural flow of light and ensure privacy from outside view.

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Chaovarith Poonphol

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ICHU

The H Queen’s Building in Hong Kong’s Central district was custom designed by CL3 Architects to house art. Heavy-hitters in the art world like Hauser & Wirth, Pace, Pearl Lam and David Zwirner are all in residence on the upper levels. But the gleaming new tower is quickly becoming home to a number of fine dining destinations too.

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Case in point is the recently revealed ICHU, the brainchild of Peruvian chef and restaurateur Virgilio Martinez Véliz. Recognised internationally for his efforts in bringing a modern twist to his native cuisine via Central Restaurante in Peru — a frequent addition to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

In the new Hong Kong location Chef Martinez wanted to ‘replicate the atmosphere of Lima’s local cevicherias’, and ‘honour Peru’s no-fuss dining culture where the atmosphere is relaxed, the dishes are shared and the recipes highlight fresh ingredients and traditional flavours.’

The authentic, sophisticated flavours are enjoyed in equally sophisticated surrounds, courtesy of Joyce Wang Studio. Wang’s signature cinematic approach is evident in her studio’s latest project — a cleverly crafted narrative that creates a sense of discovery, an experience that unfolds throughout the course of the evening as a stunning backdrop to the highly inventive menu. The thoughtfully designed interiors were inspired by the unique mountainous terrain of Peru, which, explains Wang, ‘has one of the most varied ecosystems in the world, and we wanted to reflect that in our design.’ The dynamic colour palette and selection of richly textured materials ‘capture Martinez’s creative culinary style,’ she adds.

The studio collaborated with local artist Vivian Ho to create an art piece that takes centre stage. The mega-scale landscape vibrantly illustrates, as Wang points out, the ‘interdependent relationship of the various flora and fauna — an ecosystem that speaks to the unique network of flavours offered on the menu.’

The layers of richness are carefully tempered with a rawness that, like a good cerviche, is flavourful but not overwhelming. But don’t just take our word for it, go and see for yourself.

Text / Suzy Annetta
Images / Courtesy of ICHU

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Alone Together

Humans are social creatures, but we all need somewhere to retreat to — even more so in a metropolis where space is limited

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With this is mind, Shihhwa Hung and Phoebe Wen of PhoebeSaysWow Architects Ltd. set out to turn this 33-square-metre micro-apartment in Taipei into a prototype of minimalist, gender-neutral living.

When Hung and Wen imagine the individual who might call this apartment home, they imagine someone who appreciates the spatial quality — the niches that allow the individual to feel alone even when they’re not — and makes use of it for social gatherings, for which it’s surprisingly well-equipped despite its petite proportions.

The double-height space has been divided into three levels. From the entry level, a moveable staircase leads up to the mezzanine bedroom, while a set of bench steps leads down to the multipurpose kitchen and dining area and the bathroom. Aside from serving their obvious purpose, the ladder and stairs play an important function in the home’s social layout: they also act as multilevel seating areas. While not your average entertainment setup, according to the designers, ‘the three-dimensional levels of seating encourage a dynamic conversation within the apartment’.

The designers formulated an effective visual language by employing two contrasting and complementary materials: birch wood and glazed tiles with cherry-pink grout. ‘The idea is to minimise the use of material to create a wider and continuous view,’ they explain.

Birch features most prominently in the floor-to-ceiling shelving unit — set along the entire left side of the apartment — that consists of bookshelves, kitchen cabinets and, on the upper level, wardrobes.

The kitchen, dining and bathroom areas received a similar treatment, although here a delightful hue of cherry pink has been cross-hatched on the surfaces.

Staying true to the narrative of ‘sometimes solitary, sometimes social’, the birch was chosen to imbue a sense of warmth and comfort, while the pink and white tiling is intended to lift the spirits and declutter the mind.

This apartment, at once private and inviting, and playful yet understated, is an exciting indicator of what smart urban living could look like.

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Hey!Cheese

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Let the Sunshine In

A traditional home in Richmond, Victoria, is made over to welcome light (and potential new additions to the family)

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Hong Kong- and Melbourne-based building and interior design studio HOLA PROJECTS worked closely with their clients to re-imagine a modern home befitting a variety of evolving activities and a growing family, while paying homage to the building’s original structures and Victorian features.

The structure comprises a Victorian terrace and an upper-floor addition with bedrooms, an ensuite and a balcony, while downstairs a suite of living rooms includes the dining room and kitchen and extends into the courtyard. Though each space in the house has its own character, there’s an overarching contrast between rich tonality and the natural light that filters in through various apertures: the existing Victorian windows, sky views and slot windows allow light to stream in from all angles. To draw the elements of the home together, a ribbon of deep-green walls weaves through the home from front to back.

The designers incorporated the client’s collection of contemporary artworks and vintage furniture to add powerful bursts of colour and focus points in the home. In keeping with the ‘furnished’ approach, they favoured free-standing lighting as opposed to ceiling mounted fixtures. Of the latter there is only a small a selection of pendant lights, carefully chosen to add a sense of age and grace to the otherwise modern home, and to give a nod to the building’s original Victorian facade and preserved brick gables.

Metallic mesh, chosen for its transparency, levity, and ability to catch and reflect light, is incorporated throughout, and most prominently in the centrepiece of the home: the structural steel jungle gym staircase that spans the two storeys from floor to ceiling. The structure is as practical as it is striking, functioning as portal, hanger and sideboard. It creates the illusion of extended space by drawing the eye upward and allows filtered light to bounce down into the ground floor level.

By carefully considering the environment and the clients’ needs, HOLA PROJECTS has created a contemporary and characterful family home representative of the studio’s innovative approach to design.

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Daniel Aulsebrook

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A Cross Section of Australian Architecture

At the intersection of old and new, abstract and domestic, this Melbourne home received both a restoration and a modern addition

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Built on a 515-square-metre plot atop a hill in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond —where iconic terrace homes dot the streets and warehouse conversions are constant reminders of the area’s industrial history — this multi-generational family home gave the B.E Architecture team the opportunity to explore the past and imagine the future.

The completed building is now comprised of two distinct yet complementary elements: the pre-existing period house — one of the earliest examples of a kit home in Australia — that needed restoration, and a modern extension.

‘As with all heritage projects, the biggest challenge was convincing the local planning authorities that high contrast between old and new was an appropriate design response to the site,’ says Jonathon Boucher, a director at B.E. ‘The new extension is a two-storey sculptural form that twists and rotates from a single point to create setbacks and overhangs. These comply with practical planning requirements and track the sun to create shade for the ground level and courtyard space.’

Each component creates its own vernacular and reflects a different architectural language, generating a dialogue (and also a striking contrast) between light and dark. The existing light-grey timber cladding was reused for the facade of the original house, while vertical metal cladding and mirrored glass shape a sculptural black box that forms the new extension.  

‘This project is a complicated one-off design that is totally specific to the site and to the client’s needs and brief,’ explains Boucher. ‘We asked what architectural story might be told when you contrast the existing heritage values of the site with an exaggerated possibility of what the new, clear, precise and abstract form offers.’

Inside the original structure are a private master suite that opens onto the veranda and private garden, a guest bedroom, library, bathrooms and a laundry. A glazed link — symbolic of the transition from the 19th  to the 21st century — leads into the futuristic extension. Several sustainable design features are incorporated throughout the property: the external surfaces have been coated with low-VOC paint and feature double glazing, wall insulation, cross-flow ventilation and in-floor heating. Large underground rainwater tanks have also been installed.

Boucher believes that the extension ‘is a vibrant addition and a full stop on the existing streetscape’.  On the ground floor is an open-plan communal space with the kitchen, living room and dining area, while on the upper level, extensive windows offer views of the skyline. ‘The elevation that overlooks the city is a dynamic expression of modern sculptural form combined with effortless and precise detailing, and this is where the cantilever and twist is most prominent,’ Boucher points out.

Ultimately, this house is, according to the architect, ‘a literal cross section through Australian domestic architectural history, with two worlds colliding — the old and the new’.

Text / Karine Monié
Images / Peter Clarke

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The Panorama

Singaporean architect Goy Zhenru transformed this small condo into a sensory sanctuary

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When Goy Zhenru and her team were approached by a couple to renovate their 100-square-metre condominium in buzzing central Singapore, they were tasked with scaling up the living and dining areas while maximising natural light and ventilation.

After consulting with the pair, Goy conceptualised a calming and relaxed atmosphere that would be a sanctuary from the city life just outside. Inspired by scenography as the design strategy, the team set out to create a variety of engaging ‘scenes’ that the couple could retreat into.

In the narrow entrance corridor, the floor was reconstructed with a concrete pebble wash to introduce the sensory experience and enhance the transition from public to private space.

By doing away with the existing kitchen walls and the two bedrooms adjacent to the kitchen, the team expanded the living room space to segue into the now-open plan kitchen and newly created library and lounge room. Natural light flows from these areas into the corridor and kitchen, and interaction and communication are freer in the space that had been walled in and boxed off.

In the kitchen the ample countertop doubles as a preparation surface and a dining table, while the library desk can be slotted underneath it to extend the surface area and accommodate more guests.

With the addition of half-glazed sliding doors, what were once the bedroom spaces can still be divided off as a second guest bedroom, and when the doors are open the teak-textured shelves in the library offer an interesting juxtaposition with the soft linen curtains in the facing room.

For the living room, Goy selected a Lincak bamboo daybed by Santai, the design of which is inspired by the amben, a Javanese bamboo platform used for all manner of daily activities like crafting and trade. With flexible bamboo slats, it offers a ‘bounce’ that adds another layer to the sensory experience of the home. The bamboo and wooden pieces in the living room also create a visual passage between the indoor space and the undercover terrace overlooking the city below. A handwoven banana fibre carpet demarcates the lounging space from the kitchen and adds to the textural variations of the flooring.

In the master bedroom, fixed black woven rattan slats with timber frames have been fixed against a tea-coloured mirror wall. The effect of screening off the room from its own reflection at once creates a subtle illusion of space and adds a handmade sensory layer to the room.

By incorporating a variety of interesting textures and curating spatial consumption, Goy re-created the home as an immersive sensory experience that encourages the couple to slow down and feel at home in their sanctuary.

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Marc Tan

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Inkwood Restaurant & Bar

One of the first restaurants to open in Shanghai's Columbia Circle, INKWOOD Restaurant & Bar is chef Beichuan Yang’s first solo endeavour. Serving European dishes with a Chinese influence and designed by Shanghai-based multidisciplinary design studio STUDIO8, INKWOOD has become a destination for the city’s fans of contemporary dining.

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Yang approached Studio8 founders Andrea Maira and Shirley Dong to conceive and create the restaurant’s visual identity and interior after seeing of one of the firm’s earlier designs, the Caozitou bench, which appealed to him for its simplicity and playfulness.

INKWOOD, from the name to the design aesthetic and menu, reflects the symbiosis between two seemingly dissimilar concepts. Yang himself is a combination of Eastern and Western cultures, having spent his childhood in China and his later years training as a chef in Canada then working alongside renowned chefs in North America. Back in China, Yang now shares his passion for using local ingredients to create innovative international dishes.

It was only once Yang had settled on the name that Maira and Dong began to conceptualise the visual identity and interior design of INKWOOD. 'On one hand, wood represents nature and ink represents constant daily routine. On the other hand, wood represents the ingredients and ink represents the sauces that make ingredients more flavourful,' Yang explains. However, rather than focus on either ink or wood the designers were drawn to what would become the key concept: the connection between the two.

Material and colour combinations express the marriage of ink and wood without detracting from the food. This ‘stroke of symbiosis’ is expressed in the recurring motif of a brass stripe, which appears on the floor, walls and furniture, as well as in the custom-made light fixtures.

Perhaps the most striking design element is the colour combinations, which were inspired by the colours of wood, sauce and ink that invoke, for Maira, the colour palette used often by Italian painter Giorgio Morandi. Maira explains, 'I want guests to feel the intensity and temperatures of wood and ink, and to "taste" the sauce and ingredients with their eyes first.' The designers chose dark green boiserie for the bottom section of the walls, making it seem as if the entire restaurant has been dipped in dark green ink. The remaining wall space is mustard yellow and finished with a rough texture that absorbs and reflects light, creating a soft, warm ambience.

Yang conceived the menu of sharing dishes and the space (with a variety of seating combinations) as a place to bring people together. The chef’s table looks into the kitchen through a large window, allowing guests to observe the cooking process. Below the window is a bookshelf on which Yang and his partners have curated a selection of their favourite cookbooks.

Studio8 has made sure that the details, from the tableware to the carefully selected custom-made accessories and paintings, and even the flowers and plants, tell the story of INKWOOD’s design - 'like the chemistry created by food and sauce, delicate, warm and many-layered'.

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Rosu, Studio8

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Retro Stylin’

This 90-square-metre flat in Singapore is staged for mid-century modern design

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The owner of this apartment had a singular request of his designer. Mikael Teh, principal of The Monocot Studio, recalls, “Daryl came to me saying, ‘I’ve bought four retro pink dining chairs and a Karimoku 60 sofa. Can you incorporate them into my apartment?’” 

Teh understood that Daryl Foo was really asking for a home in which the beauty of midcentury industrial design could shine. Teh shares, “My approach is quite architectural. I wanted to clean up the space and give it a cohesive look with clean and straightforward layout with basic fixtures and fittings—nothing too fancy to let the carefully curated pieces of furniture stand out.”

Foo and Teh agreed to preserve as many existing elements of the 38-year-old flat as possible, including the terrazzo, the main gate, and louvred windows. The palette is then controlled, with new interior constructions rendered in basic and muted building materials of concrete, plywood, stainless steel and wired glass. As the flat is only 90 square metres, the plan was to gut the interior and create a flowing, open plan for the living spaces.

The living spaces segue into one another, transitioning only subtly as the flooring change from terrazzo (in the living room) to concrete (in the dining and kitchen area). The combined dining table and cooking unit stands anchor as a central island. Peripheral spaces are maximised, with the kitchen unit and the bookcase sharing a long wall. A sitting bench is also installed under the window, lit by the wall-mounted, limited edition Jean Prouvé Petite Potence lamp—itself a minimal design, reduced to its essential components. 

Another decision was to retain only one bedroom and keep it open to maximise light as well as a sense of spaciousness. Wired glass (paired with privacy blinds) allows the room to be enclosed for air-conditioning while letting light in.

For the compact bathroom, Teh proposed to relocate the sink outside so the shower area could be enlarged. He shares of that the choice of concrete for the custom-built sink stand is a nod to the concrete sinks of the past. In the area, again, the palette is controlled. Teh shares, “I wanted the retro element to be subtle therefore we both agreed to only use mosaic on the floor on the bathroom. The WC and shower area are tiled in basic 100x100 white tiles with green grouting.”

Other notable design features include the Louis Poulsen lamps (PH 4/3 over the dining table and PH 5 in the kitchen), Marko dining chairs (that eventually replaced the retro pink ones Foo bought), as well as vintage Danish side tables in the living room and the bedroom. 

Text / Yvonne Xu
Images / Marc Tan

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Fukuro!

A new spot for night owls in Hong Kong

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Japanophiles will know all too well that finding great food anywhere in the country is not difficult, particularly in the capital. Surrounding each eki (train station) is invariably a cluster of choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But where you’ll find weary salarymen at the end of a long day, and into the wee hours of the next morning, are izakaya. A casual style eatery offering beer, shochu and a menu consisting of mainly grilled items, essentially Japan’s version of a pub.

Until recently the offering of Japanese fare in Hong Kong has been mostly limited to one end of the scale, high-end sashimi and Kaiseki restaurants. Enter Fukuro (meaning owl, presumably of the night variety) - one of the latest establishments by the highly successful F&B Group Black Sheep.

Upon entering the mysterious facade on the bottom end of Elgin street, you’ll hear an enthusiastic greeting, ‘welcome to Fukuro’, much like the choral ‘irasshaimashe!’ you’d receive in Japan. The design of the subterranean interiors that lay beyond are by Maxime Dautresme and his team at multi-disciplinary studio Substance. The simplicity of the casual sharing menu is reflected in the interiors. Polished concrete floors are balanced with plenty of warmth in the timber-lined walls and the warm subtle glow of wall sconces. A mix of bar seating and group banquette tables contributes to the relaxed atmosphere.

Quite often a night out in Japan starts in an izakaya and concludes in a Karaoke club, so get your tonsils ready...

Text / Suzy Annetta
Images / Dennis Lo

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Less is More

Our world is in a constant state of flux. It’s only natural, then, that humanity would be drawn to spaces that are calm and soothing, a nurturing shelter from the outside world. That’s exactly what Shanghai-based Hip-Pop Design had in mind when they designed this private clubhouse in Nanjing, China.

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The spacious clubhouse has been divided into a series of generously-sized living and dining spaces, each with prominent windows that boast an almost panoramic perspective of the surrounding landscape. Designed with family-time, entertaining and relaxing in mind, the ample seating allows inhabitants a front-row view of the changing seasons.

The Japanese-inspired minimalist interiors have avoided any risk of feeling cold and sterile with the thoughtful selection of materials. Natural in their origin, reflecting the building’s setting, finishings and furnishings are made from silk, oak, leather and copper - and exude warmth.  Oversized artworks were carefully selected and arranged throughout to balance with the otherwise zen-like spaces. Proving the old adage, the less really is more.

Text / Suzy Annetta
Images / Zhang Jing

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Lap of Luxury

How Australian interior design studio Infinite Design gave a 1980s penthouse a modern revamp

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A stunning piece of architecture does not always make for a beautiful home. In the case of this 1980s penthouse in Sydney, the property may have offered a prime location surrounded by greenery, but its interior design left much to be desired. The space was split up into small rooms and offered very little in the manner of natural light. In order to transform the penthouse into a comfortable place to live, the homeowners — a couple who spend part of their time traveling abroad for both business and pleasure — brought Australian boutique interior design studio Infinite Design on board. 

Lead interior designer Michelle Macarounas' prioritised natural light and the surrounding views when redesigning the home. In order to open up the space and grant better interconnectivity between rooms, she removed a number of walls and rejigged the layout. She then filled the home with textured veneers and fine details to evoke the feeling of a luxury boutique hotel. 

The entryway is dark and moody, leading you on a journey through to the rest of the rooms, which in contrast are open and light-filled. Warm woods and neutral tones pervade the home, with metallic accents, sculptural accessories and lighting pieces, and statement artworks adding interest. Lines are clean and modern, with Macarounas taking ample inspiration from Japanese designs as well as the surrounding lush landscape.

Since the concept of having a small living space in Australia is an uncommon one, Macarounas ensured that the home would be clutter-free with a carefully planned layout and ingenious concealed storage spaces throughout. Design touches such as a smoked mirror grants the illusion of space. The end result is a compact yet comfortable base for when the couple is home in Sydney — a far cry from the penthouse's beginnings.

Text / Leanne Mirandilla
Images / Prue Ruscoe

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Mean Noodles

What do you get when a Cornell graduate architect is also a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef? You’d expect nothing less than this delectable hole-in-the-wall

Mean Noodles is the passion project of partners in life and work - Caroline Chou and Kevin Lim of OpenUU, The name is a riff on the phonetic pronunciation of the word noodles in Cantonese ‘mean’, and a play on the alternative, hipper meaning of the word, to have a ‘mean bowl of noodles’.

Tucked away in an alley in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan neighbourhood the casual noodle shop displays the couple’s love of good design and good food. Vintage-inspired elements are the main motif — starting with the metal window and door frames that compose the façade. The nostalgia continues inside with retro-looking glazed tiles that the designers sourced in Spain. Installed in a patchwork fashion, a mix of solid colour and groovy floral patterns are reminiscent of a Batik fabric. Entirely appropriate that both the fabric and the food have roots in South East Asia.

The comfort factor extends beyond the food too — with USB outlets easily accessible from the counter seats and ladies will rejoice at hooks provided for handbags!

Text / Suzy Annetta
Images / Nirut Benjabanpot

Lane House, Beijing

Finnish architect Alvar Aalto once said that architecture should be 'in harmony with the human being'. Extrapolate from this what you will, but Beijing-based architect Nolan Chao of ARCHISTRY design&research office has taken the literal route.

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When an adventurous young design-loving couple approached the architect to redesign the high-rise apartment they had purchased in the PRC capital they were looking for something different. Together with his clients Chao wanted to investigate a new typology for space planning within such a high density urban context, and break away from tired stereotypes of what a modern apartment might look like. Taking into consideration the client’s daily rituals and working from there, a new floorplan was created. The new layout contains contradictions between public and private space, not unlike the traditional alley homes, or ‘Hutongs’, that are an important part of Beijing’s architectural vernacular.

Chao says he removed many of the internal walls to create a significantly larger feeling space which allows the couple an enormous sense of flexibility and freedom. Moving curtains and partitions allow the homeowners more control over when and how they use their space, and its this movable, shape-shifting nature that Chao refers to when he says the plan is essentially ‘a block within a block, or ‘a lane within a lane’.

Efficiency is likely a word that Le Corbusier would have used when referring to his buildings, or ‘machines for living’, which seems to contradict Aalto’s theory entirely. But here, in one of China’s most expensive cities, the two sides coincide peacefully.

Text / Suzy Annetta
Images / Cai Yunpu

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Blue Jewel

This Hong Kong jewellery designer’s London penthouse has dazzling blue, bespoke, industrial-chic accents

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The pied-a-terre of a Kong Kong jewellery designer who splits her time between Hong Kong and the UK, a 1450-square-foot, two-level penthouse apartment in Covent Garden, received a full revamp that includes a striking blue anodized aluminium staircase and hypnotic neon sculptures by award-winning glass artist Jochen Holz.

As someone who engages in creative work, the owner is keenly aware of advantages of the creative benefits of a carte blanche. She sought out Eryk Ulanowski of London firm Studio Ulanowski and gave him free reign to remodel the interior of her penthouse. Her only requirements were that there be three bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, and spaces that are adaptable enough to be used for different purposes. 

The jewellery designer’s husband is a big fan of industrial aesthetics, so Ulanowski combine elements from jewellery design and industrial style to come up with the design concept. 

“The floor plan was completely re-designed. We took the apartment back to a raw concrete shell and started again from scratch. The goal was to make the apartment flow better, to blend the different functions, and to bring in more light,” says Ulanowski who envisions the bold, metallic blue staircase by Joe Faller Fabrications as the jewel of the apartment. “We wanted it to be precision made with industrial materials, but to have an ethereal iridescence that was soft to the touch. Through a long process of research and development with the fabricators, we created a finish that would do just this,” he adds.

In the main living area, Ulanowski removed the existing designated living room, dining room, and kitchen, and brought these areas together in a single, open-plan space. To fulfil the brief for adaptability, the kitchen cabinetry wraps around and extends into the living area, and the dining table can either be linked to this cabinetry or turned and extended to seat a party of 12. A modular sofa was used to enable endless configurations that can accommodate family movie nights, intimate interactions, or lively parties with many guests. 

The modern and simple bedrooms each have a desk, a wardrobe, and an ensuite bathroom. “In the children's bedrooms we kept a datum line, taken from the height of the living room floor, and ran it around the rooms to serve as a reminder of the main space and view out into Covent Garden Market and the Royal Opera House,” says Ulanowski. 

The bespoke, hand-lacquered bed in the master bedroom, and a number of soft furnishings used in the apartment were custom designed and produced by artisans at British furniture and craft company The New Craftsmen.

“The challenging part of the project was the lengthy research and development of all the be bespoke items. While we worked with talented fabricators and craftspeople who understood our vision, it was difficult to get the external suppliers – for instance the company who anodised the stairs – who were often not used to projects like ours, to align with our vision and go beyond their comfort zones. But with a great team and lots of determination, the project turned out beautifully,” says Ulanowski.

Text / Michele Koh Morollo
Images / Michelle Young Photography

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The Straits Club

A wave of entrepreneurs, creatives and social innovators — from new-age hawkers to upstart product designers — is shaking up the status quo in Singapore and creating demand for a new breed of private members’ clubs. Enter The Straits Clan. Housed in a heritage shophouse, the club provides an environment conducive to creative connections.

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Managed by lifestyle company The Lo & Behold Group under the direction of Wee Teng Wen, the clubhouse celebrates contemporary living in South East Asia while offering an update to the colonial- era hallmark. ‘We had a vision of creating a private members’ club that sought to challenge what that has traditionally stood for,’ explains Wee. ‘We wanted a club that is a modern representation of how we live, work and play in our part of the world.’

As guests enter the 2000-square-metre heritage building, they are immersed in homage to the city-state. With interiors deftly handled by local design duo Takenouchi Webb, references to Singapore’s architectural markers include Shanghai plaster adapted from neoclassical colonial buildings, ventilation blocks from public housing stairwells and Peranakan- inspired tilework. According to the designers, staying true to local culture was the cornerstone of the project brief.

And when it came to the historic structure, scrupulous attention was paid to period detailing. ‘A big part was to see what elements we could bring back to the original form,’ says Marc Webb. A second-level courtyard was thus restored,flanked by a bar and bistro on either side that evoke distinctive eras in Singapore’s history. The bar, decked in contrasting wooden and rattan furnishing, is reminiscent of a colonial taproom, while the bistro recalls 1970s coffee shops with its geometric floor tiles and onyx feature wall.

In the lobby lounge, Clan Café is open to members and the public alike, and offers a refined tea salon setting that transitions into a convivial bar in the evenings. During the day, sunlight streams in through the glass-panelled facade, highlighting a whimsical mural by Singaporean artists RIPPLE ROOT and a towering shelf of eclectic ceramics curated byflorist John Lim of This Humid House. At the same time, the uninterrupted view is reflective of Straits Clan’s ethos — extending a warm welcome to all who share in their appreciation for entrepreneurial zeal and ingenuity.

The community element of the club is key, cultivating conversation and collaboration. ‘Singapore has been pushing boundaries and driving change on so many fronts, but these have been for the most part led by individuals in their own silos,’ explains Wee. At The Straits Clan, he aims to change that.

Text / Joseph Koh
Images / Jovian Lim

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Precious Home

Bali has a lot of spectacular villas, but the one recently completed by French architect Maximilian Jencquel is particularly extraordinary

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It all started when a Polish woman knocked insistently on his front door. ‘She moved to Bali and was looking for a house when she stumbled on mine on the internet,’ he says. Designed in a Balinese vernacular style, it embodied all the reasons Jencquel had moved to the Indonesian island in 2011 — the skilled local craftsmanship, the tropical climate, the harmony between nature and the built environment. The woman wanted to buy it, but Jencquel didn’t want to sell.

So they reached a compromise: she rented Jencquel’s house for a year, enjoying her time so much that she bought land and asked him to design her a home. ‘She wanted something super modernist, but I wanted something timeless, something people here would know how to build,’ recalls Jencquel. ‘A modernist house needs people who know how to do concrete, you need to bring in people from Switzerland to do the windows.’ In the end they compromised on a blend of vernacular and modern.

The client flew in Dutch landscaper Menno Landstra to ease the transition between the dense jungle on the edge of the 4,000-square-metre property and the open living areas of the 400-square-metre house. ‘The jungle is very lush — it’s so rich it becomes part of the decor,’ says Jencquel. With that in mind, he designed many parts of the house without walls, to encourage a typically Balinese indoor-outdoor lifestyle. ‘We look at where the wind is coming from, what the sun is hitting, so the house is ventilated properly and there’s enough air flow.’

Working with local craftspeople, he used a limited array of materials to build the house, including Indonesian ironwood for the structure and roof. ‘We use it for aesthetics but mainly because it’s a wood that does extremely well outdoors in the humidity,’ he explains. ‘The termites don’t even like it.’ Inside, the floors and walls are richly hued teak, some of which was recycled from the site’s former home, including an entire log whose ends are riven with a century’s worth of rings. ‘It would be worth then thousand dollars if you bought it,’ says Jencquel. ‘The client said, “We’ve got to use this for something”, so we turned it into a vanity in the master bathroom. It’s become a bit of a sculptural piece.’

Paras stone also figures prominently. ‘It looks a little bit like concrete but if you look closely it has these patterns,’ he says. ‘It comes out of a river in Ubud — it’s volcanic ash that’s been compressed. It’s a very soft stone. You can literally break it apart in your hands but it does really well as a wall cladding.’ The one concession to foreign luxury was Carrara marble, which Jencquel used on the floor of the master bathroom. ‘It’s facing a garden that’s quite dark and we wanted something that would reflect the light,’ he says, noting that the veins also complement the teak.

The result is a villa that makes the most of its setting and context. ‘We managed to take a concept that I’d created for my own house and took it really far,’ says Jencquel. ‘The house has a humble feeling but at the same time it’s very luxurious. The quality of the materials in general was such a pleasure to work with. Some people might think it’s a cottage, but it’s not. It’s a precious home.’

Text / Christopher DeWolf
Images / Edmon Leong

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Coastal Zen

In Queensland’s Noosa National Park, a family retreat fully immersed in the surrounding treescapes and seascapes

The surfboards propped in the entryway of this peaceful 650-square-metre house set in the lush  rainforests of Queensland’s Noosa National Park set the tone for what’s in store. The spectacular location uniquely combines treescapes and seascapes, and left an immediate impression on its owners — two Australian sisters with young families looking for a coastal retreat.

Originally built in the early 80s, the three-storey house has been given a new lease on life by Melbourne-based Mim Design, which has instilled the interiors with a sense of natural luxury and homey comfort. ‘This is our fourth project with this client, and we’ve been able to immerse them in the feeling of living within a rainforest and the luxury of a unique, relaxing and authentic home,’ says principal designer Miriam Fanning. ‘We know each other well at this point, so it was a great collaboration.’

A planked boardwalk leads guests through the tropical rainforest surrounds to a small entry vestibule flanked by surf gear and other beach paraphernalia. The small space opens up to an airy extension bathed in natural sunlight, including an open kitchen, dining area and outdoor balcony. ‘The balcony is like a second living and dining space in the summer months’, says Fanning. Beyond the central island, a glass backsplash frames views of jungle palms, highlighting the integral indoor-outdoor design of the home.

‘The previous floor plan lacked connection to the rainforest and ocean, missing the sentiments of relaxation from nature’s surrounding abundance,’ says Fanning. ‘With planning and reconfiguration of each room, we’ve created a sanctuary. The new layout of the space creates a total sense of ease.’

The home’s relaxed holiday vibe is achieved through a mix of natural materials and a simple colour palette. Natural stone, timber flooring, concrete and charred timber cladding, and copper detailing contribute to a subdued environment for rest and relaxation. In the bathroom, subway tiles in a vertical formation echo the high-reaching palm branches visible through new black-framed windows.

‘Our inspiration came from the surroundings, making sure the home worked within the tropical rainforest, combined with the coastal surf environment,’ says Fanning. ‘This project is one I’ve always dreamed of working on. It’s an easy, beautiful home that transports the dwellers from their everyday routine with a sense of ease.’ Just steps away from the legendary breaks of Granite Bay, the owners enjoy active relaxation — or what Fanning calls ‘a calm coastal Zen’ — in their rainforest retreat. ‘Our clients have been holidaymakers in Noosa for more than fifteen years, and this home embodies everything Noosa is to them — pristine, coastal, forested, calm,
elegant, textured, casual and effortless.’

Text / Karine Monie
Images / Andrew Richey

Rock the Kasbah

A bespoke home in Hong Kong’s up-and-coming Tsueng Kwan O neighbourhood designed by JJ Acuna / Bespoke Studio

A romantic anniversary dinner for a recently repatriated couple at TATE Dining Room — a luminary on the Hong Kong dining scene — provided just the inspiration they needed for their home renovation. Reaching the end of their tether with the process of interviewing designers, they finally reached out to the man behind the venue’s sophisticated interiors — James ‘JJ’ Acuna of JJ Acuna / Bespoke Studio. Acuna has, in the short time since founding his studio, made a name for himself, designing Instagram-worthy projects across the city. Not typically a residential designer though, he and his new clients negotiated for several months to ensure their visions for the home aligned.

Once the agreement was made, no time was wasted. The five bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom 947-square-foot apartment in Hong Kong’s up-and-coming Tseung Kwan O neighbourhood was gutted and the space opened up by cutting it back to two bedrooms and one bathroom. The blank slate was just what Acuna needed to create something tailor-made for his well-travelled clients and their growing family.

Framing the compact entry is a patch of hand-made, glazed-clay mosaic tiles purchased directly from one of Morocco’s heady souks on a recent trip. These tiles became the impetus for the rest of the apartment’s colour palette and material choices, including the chevron oak plank floors, warm camel-coloured feature walls and textured, fabric-like wallpapers. An open-plan kitchen in a delicious shade of pistachio green accented by custom terrazzo countertops presents an unexpected and somewhat brave colour choice.  

The bespoke service didn’t stop at finishes, though. Acuna and his studio also custom designed several one-off pieces for the home including a light fixture that floats above the kitchen island and two Windsor-style chairs. By deputising a small team of talented craftspeople, Acuna has achieved what any homeowner working with a designer want — something personal and tailored, and perfectly set for making memories.

Words / Suzy Annetta
Images / Adam Kuehl

Domaine Chandon

Foolscap Studio delivers a high-luxe design for Domaine Chandon in Australia’s Yarra Valley

Victoria’s Yarra Valley is one of Australia’s premier wine regions, with Domaine Chandon one of its most highly regarded wineries. As an outpost of the global Moët Hennessey sparkling wine house, it has a strong French heritage to uphold and does this by using the time-honoured méthode traditionnelle to create its sparkling wines. When Foolscap Studio was tasked with renovating the premises, retaining the brand’s old-world charm within a renewed modern context was of utmost priority.

The brief called for the reconfiguration of the interior to deliver an immersive experience across bar, dining, tasting and retail spaces. ‘They were after a contemporary, more hospitality-focused approach to their service,’ explains Adele Winteridge, the Melbourne-based founder and director of Foolscap Studio. ‘So we brought the retail area out of the tasting room and centred it in a fully integrated environment that celebrates hospitality by offering wine by the glass.’     

It helped that Winteridge had a generous volume in which to work, with breathtaking views out over the natural surrounds. Domaine Chandon’s delicately nuanced pink, green and brown colour palette is inspired by the tonal shifts within the landscape, while natural light floods in via full-height glazing, highlighting the fit-out’s exquisite detailing.

The scheme’s driving concept very much takes its lead from the brand’s traditional winemaking method and uses the idea of alchemy to inform the interior’s spatial planning. Winteridge’s layout plays with the acts of compression and release, creating balance between large, open spaces and smaller, intimate zones. The concept is even realised within the central banquette unit’s curves, which in turn echo the undulating landscape outside — a considered move that adds to the design’s multi-layered expression.

 The alchemy idea is particularly well resolved in the material palette, too. For Winteridge, it was about exploring the way materials react to the passing of time and to various processes. ‘The result of our experimentation is reflected in the application of different metals and metal finishes and treatments. Woven and perforated materials, for instance, are juxtaposed with the solidity of opaque substances to allude to the duality of density and lightness in sparkling wine,’ she explains.

Velvet and aged leather upholstery, terracotta tile and timber flooring, and mesh and perforated steel panels are the perfect backdrop for Domaine Chandon’s product. The wine bottles are presented in various vignettes that echo installations within an art gallery, and the fit-out’s artistry is further reinforced by an oversized suspended kinetic sculpture in the main room. The showstopping piece was custom made by Melbourne-based metalworkers and craftspeople in a nod to local industry and manufacturing.

It’s an incredibly striking interior that invokes grandeur as much in its luxe finishes as it does in the bespoke details. After all, Chandon’s parent brand is French-based luxury goods company LVMH. While the overall aesthetic is definitely luxurious, the design’s ultimate success is to be found in its ability to be both welcoming and high-end, all at the same time.  

Text / Leanne Amodeo
Images / Tom Blachford