Defining the character of Australian architecture and design

By Penny Craswell

Australia’s relaxed outdoor lifestyle, unique natural beauty, history and culture are reflected in our approach to architecture. Seven architects and interior designers reflect on the character of Australian design.

House at Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson. Photo: Trevor Mein. Read more on The Design Writer blog.
House at Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson. Photo: Trevor Mein

Australian architects are influenced, like all architects, by the context of their project – whether that’s a bush setting, an ocean view or an urban laneway. In Australia, this sometimes means taking account of proximity to the bush, potential floods and fires, access to fresh water. Our tendency to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors has also had a huge influence on our design choices. Architect Peter Stutchbury believes this has an impact on our architecture: “Recreation permeates our thinking. Verandahs, gardens, courtyards, swimming pools, ponds, clothes lines, tree swings and vegetable gardens were all, until recently, integral to the design brief.” Read more

Top 10: Ethical design gift guide

By Penny Craswell

Design isn’t just about aesthetics, and to prove it, this ethical gift guide lists a few of the many designers and brands now donating to charity or committed to ethical practices. So, read on, this is your chance to give back this holiday season – not just to families and friends, but also to those in need.

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The Pretty Fly pin by Annie Hamilton. Photo: supplied


1. Increasingly, community-minded makers and sellers are donating a portion of their profits to charities. Sydney-based multi-disciplinary designer Annie Hamilton donates 10% of sales from her pins and art prints to the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre to help support and empower people seeking asylum in Australia. With a focus on insects and patterns inspired by plants, including the Pretty Fly enamel pin set consisting of venus fly trap and matching fly, Hamilton’s work also includes clothing and scarves, made locally and ethically in Sydney by a small team of makers in Redfern. Read more

Review: Eat Burger interiors by Amber Road

By Penny Craswell

Cronulla’s latest destination is a casual burger bar that nevertheless boasts a sophisticated interior with bespoke detailing by Sydney interior design and landscape studio Amber Road. Eat Burger is the latest venture of chef Paul Camilleri who wanted to veer from previous highbrow dining and create a causal venue serving a sophisticated burger.

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The bar at Eat Burger, design by Amber Road. Photo: Cole Bennetts

The space, serving 40+ clients within 120sqm,  is a masterful combination of white and pastel elements, including a sandy colour used for the formed concrete bar and bar stools with pink cork seats and grey concrete bases. Read more

Object stories: Macadamia wood design by Quench

By Penny Craswell

Quench is a group of Queensland-based designers who have been coming together each year for five years to exhibit their work both in Australia and overseas. In 2015, for the first time, the designers of Quench decided to take a more unified approach, deciding on one material – macadamia wood – and one theme – objects relating to food. The result is a series of objects that are handcrafted and beautiful, creating a truly Australian collection that tells a story. The name of the exhibition, which was shown at Tokyo Designers Week in 2015, is “Table Stories”.

Dr Crunch by Marc Harrison for Table Stories. Image: Supplied
Dr Crunch by Marc Harrison for Table Stories. Image: Supplied

For Table Stories, each designer has created a different story to tell. Marc Harrison, known for his Husque tablewares made of processed macadamia shell, has designed a macadamia nut cracker called Dr Crunch. Alexander Lotersztain, an Argentinian-born multi-disciplinary designer working under his brand Derlot, handcrafted Sclpt, a series of four spoons; Jason Bird, who sells furniture and objects under his brand Luxxbox, designed three objects called Vessel; Surya Graf, whose work spans architecture and industrial design, created Hex, a mortal and pestle grinder for fresh spices; and David Shaw, who designs furniture and is founder / director of the Street and Garden Furniture Co, created Prop, a sculptural object for holding hot food as well as a tea candle. Read more

Video: Christmas with One Two Tree

This is such a nice design story. Lucy and Ant McNamara were looking for a sustainable, Australian option for a Christmas tree when they decided to just go ahead and make their own. It was such a success that they created One Two Tree – trees that are not only beautiful, but also eco-friendly and long lasting, making them an excellent alternative to other Christmas tree options. Please enjoy their story in the video below.

One Two Tree with spots
One Two Tree with spots
One Two Tree comes in two sizes: 85cm tall and 150cm tall
One Two Tree comes in two sizes: 85cm tall and 150cm tall
Ant and Lucy McNamara of One Two Tree
Ant and Lucy McNamara of One Two Tree

Design writings: Christopher Boots studio visit

“We visit Boots in his Fitzroy studio. The streets lined by large oaks and restored facades are a far cry from the suburb’s working working-class roots, when Boots’ studio would have been home to one of many factories that formed the beating heart of the area’s industrial past.

via Broadsheet

“From an outsider’s perspective, Boots is living the dream: a studio in a fashionable suburb—which also doubles as his house—and luxury brand Hermes calling to design the Christmas lights in their New York store.

“Inside, Boots’s studio is a flurry of activity flanked by the fixtures that have brought him acclaim the world over. By one wall, there are iterations of Boots’ signature crystal fixtures, the Prometheus series: handmade chandeliers embellished with quartz around a ring of bronze.”

Alan Weedon visits Christopher Boots in his studio for Broadsheet, a well written article that gives in insight into this hard-working, talented designer.

Read the full article here.

 

 

Review: Sydney Festival’s Inside There Falls

By Penny Craswell

Inside There Falls, on at Carriageworks as part of Sydney Festival this month, is the most inter-disciplinary art piece I have ever experienced, combining paper art, installation, sculpture, writing, spoken word, costume design, music and dance. The piece is an installation by UK-based artist Mira Calix, with dancers from the Sydney Dance Company and choreography by Rafaela Bonachela.

Dancers and installation as part of Inside There Falls. Photo: Penny Craswell
Dancers and installation as part of Inside There Falls. Photo: Penny Craswell

As an audience member, the experience begins by being led into a dark room and asked to wear white overalls or coat, and being given a scrunched up paper object to hold. The sound of a woman’s voice  starts to emanate from the object, reading poetry on the body and identity, written by Sydney-based writer Brett Clegg and read by actress Hayley Atwell. Already the mood is set. 

Read more

Reproduction, Replica or Rip Off? Launch sparks furniture debate

Reproduction, Replica or Rip Off? Launch sparks furniture debate

“Replica, reproduction or rip off? It’s likely what you call a fake piece of designer furniture depends on if you would have one in your house or not. Over the last few years designer fakes have been seen as big issue in the Australian interior design industry. For example Authentic Design Alli ance was set up a couple of years ago to petition government for change and educate both the design industry and consumers.

“The topic of fakes or copies came up last week I attended the launch of Penny Craswell’s The Design Writer blog at Stylecraft. The panel consisted of 3 Australian furniture designers – Keith Melbourne, Helen Kontouris and Greg Natale. The issue of copying was raised by Penny as part of the panel discussion and certainly dominated the audience comments at the end of the night. Whilst none of the designers present had yet had the (dubious) honour of having their pieces copied, all are aware of how prevalent cheap (and even not so cheap) reproductions are – and that they seem to be are comprising a growing segment of the furniture market in Australia.”

Interior designer and blogger Ceilidh Higgins has published a fantastic article sparked by the debate on replicas at the launch of this blog last week.

Thank you Ceilidh for the thought-provoking article from an interior designer’s perspective.

Read more here.

Australian furniture in the driver’s seat at Stylecraft

By Penny Craswell

Australian design is on the rise. Even though we will always have a soft spot for the classics from Denmark or Italy, growing numbers of Australian interior designers and consumers are seeing the value of supporting Australian designers, and Australian retailers are responding to this shift, investing more money in manufacturing collections by local talent.

Blue by Keith Melbourne at Stylecraft
Blue by Keith Melbourne at Stylecraft

Stylecraft is one of those retailers. As reported earlier in the year for Melbourne Indesign, the brand, originally an importer of product from Europe, now has an impressive number of collections created in conjunction with Australian designers. Melbourne-based designer Keith Melbourne is one. A former aerospace and automotive engineer, Keith prefers to work with Australian manufacturers, allowing him to be more involved in the process of production. This approach can be seen in his Blue collection for Stylecraft, a sofa, armchair and ottoman built on the foundations of an environmentally-certified timber and foam shell. Read more