Sophisticated Minimalism

Shaped by clean lines, fine detailing and intriguing artworks, this Melbourne home designed by Flack Studio proves that a restrained materials palette can make a strong statement


David Flack’s passion for interior design is rooted in his childhood. At only five years old, he tried to convince his mother to repaint his cubby house and, despite her negative response, he decided to do it anyway. Originally from Bendigo, Australia, Flack’s family owns a construction company and growing up he frequently joined site visits. With such a background, studying interior design at Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology came naturally.

After being formally trained at Hecker Phelan Guthrie (now Hecker Guthrie), Flack began his professional career at Kerry Phelan Design Office (K.P.D.O) and then launched his eponymous studio in 2014. At just 33 years old, Flack has become one of the most promising interior designers in Australia, designing — with his team of eight — many residential and commercial projects in his own signature style.

Flack draws inspiration from his travels, but also from art, fashion, design, literature, films and music. Taking a contemporary design approach, Flack names Achille Castiglioni, Vincent Van Duysen and Joseph Dirand among those he admires. He describes himself as a modernist obsessed with the 1970s and 80s, placing importance on volumes, proportions and natural light in all his projects. He also focuses on the use of honest materials — such as stone, timber, steel, glass and concrete — while adding bold touches through accessories and art.

Originally designed by renowned architects Holgar & Holgar, this five-bedroom home in Elsternwick, an inner suburb of Melbourne, exemplifies Flack’s approach. ‘It was important to work with materiality that was empathetic to the existing architecture,’ the Australian designer says. ‘However, we wanted it to feel contemporary and like a further take on its origins.’

Remodeled for a family of four (a couple and their two daughters) who had already been living in the house for several years, the interior spaces now comprise two living areas and a central kitchen, providing high functionality and comfort. As the house is made of concrete, remodeling, flipping around the kitchen — a previously dark space — and connecting it to the dining room and living area required serious reworking of the ceilings, which was the biggest challenge for Flack Studio. ‘We also encountered asbestos within the concrete structure, which caused some delays and impacts onto the budget,’ adds Flack.

The owners — who work in the music and public relations industries — are passionate about art collecting and design, and it’s reflected in their home. A painting by Judith Wright (from Sophie Gannon Gallery) in the bedroom, a floor lamp by APPARATUS (from the CRITERIA COLLECTION), the Maralunga sofa by Vico Magistretti for Cassina and the Thin Black Table by nendo for Cappellini (both from Cult) in the living room adorn the home.

‘Throughout the process the client was extremely active, says Flack, ‘but at the same time, they also very much trusted our process.’

American oak veneer, white fantasy quartzite and oak flooring create a neutral palette, which also incorporates fresh whites, pale timbers and veneer stains. The original tiger-stripe carpeted staircase and colourful artworks bring personality and audacity to the interiors.  

‘It was important for the space to feel as if it belongs in the 1970s… but with a contemporary twist’, says Flack. ‘This house is an incredible mixture of forms and expressions.’

Text / Karine Monié
Images / Brooke Holm