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Monday, January 23, 2012




It seems that what we've now come to expect as 'English country charm' or 'Parisian glamour' or even the multi-patterned tile/layered floor carpets/ vivid-hued wall riad of the 'Morocco/Casbah style' could be the inventiveness of an observant writer or two, sympathetic critics, an ambitious editor, savvy business-types, dreamy creative types, gullible patrons, and presto--fast forward to a style/movement/genre/of the school of . . . .  Happens all the time in art, design, architecture, cinema, literature and fashion.  It was a bit of a surprise that a purview of homes and buildings around the world show a lot of similarity, a lack of individuality, and reveal a format that could be seen throughout many of the 'triumphs' featured in Moscow, London, or Brazil.  Image upon image have pressed themselves upon my roving eyes, and many without leaving a fragment worth remembering.  Blank walls, expansive floors, modular furniture meant to convey the 'hip' or 'cool' factor, the requisite decorator object (lone tree-branch, a branch of coral, a sheep, sheep-skin rug or throw, a bust, a ball, a circle (painting by Hirst), a squeegeed formation by Nares, soup-cans, Brillo-boxes, and the play-book seems to have been studied and re-studied (all around the world!).

You may search in vain for clues of 'aussie' within this sitting room, as I have done repeatedly.  Perhaps it required an Aboriginal dream painting above the fireplace or a couple of didgeridoos placed in the corner; maybe a photo of the famed Opera House (with its distinctive roofs evocative of ship sails) 'casually' leaning against the wall, or better yet, a bronzed Bondi Beach lifeguard in red swimming-briefs plopped on the velvet tufted settee.  Then there would be ambiguity, for we'd immediately realize that we're in the land down under, 'where the women glow and men plunder.'  I personally cannot vouch for either, but after twice watching Rabbit-proof Fence, I may have to agree with the latter claim*. 

After first seeing this image, I returned three days later and delved further.  Today's visual treat (by Australian design firm Hecker Phelan & Guthrie, is a Victorian mansion located in Melbourne.  The Alma Road house project involved stripping down the interiors, yet retaining original moldings, mantels, and other fixtures. A complete review of the project can be viewed at  In their handling of the project, the design firm has been lauded for their sensitivity to the character of the home and a very balanced and nuanced approach to the furnishings.  Of the many projects that they have completed (both large and small), I found this one particularly beautiful and warm; as well as welcoming.  Desirable characteristics of homes anywhere (in the world).


PS:  Tonight's soundtrack is Bent's Cyclons In Love (programmed to love).

*courtesy of Men At Work

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