Karen McCartney introduces our newest Object of Desire, the hammered copper Hex Bowl by Tom Dixon.

These hexagonal patterned bowls by uber designer Tom Dixon, hand-formed in copper, allow you to bring some designer style into your home in a way that is both beautiful and practical.

For award-winning British designer Tom Dixon, metal has always been at the heart of what he does best. From his early days with a welding torch, to applying industrial principles to domestic products, he has often favoured the timeless properties of metal. In recent years his range of Beat Lights with their matt exterior and beaten metal interior have been one of his great populist (and much copied) design success stories.

When it comes to his ever-expanding range of accessories, ‘eclectic by Tom Dixon’, it is to metal that he turns for many of the pieces. Looking at new applications for traditional materials, he exploits the properties of the metal by perforating it, giving it the high-shine treatment, or in the case of the Hex Bowl, a hammered, beaten finish. Hence it feels both timeless and modern.

Hand-formed in solid copper, the bowl has a hexagonal pattern –  the faceted surface attracting and reflecting light. This multi-functional bowl has been polished and then sealed with a clear lacquer to make it food safe ensuring this classic of British design is both beautiful to look at and practical to use.

The Hex bowl is 28.5 cms in diameter so it has a strong enough presence to hold its own at the centre of a table, and is functional enough to liven up a kitchen bench.

Own your own Hex Bowl today.

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Bring back cocktail hour, we say, and our Shaken, Not Stirred sale event does just that, with glamorous bar carts and all the accoutrements you need for a laid back cocktail lounge at home. Here are 4 recipes to try this summer, all from the Cocktail Bible (also available in today’s sale). 

Mint Julep

4 – 5 fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon castor sugar
60ml bourbon
soda water
sprig of mint for garnish

Use a muddler or wooden spoon to crush the mint leaves with the suga in a highball glass. Pour in bourbon and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add some ice cubes, top with soda water and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Singapore Sling

45ml gin
10ml cherry brandy
15ml lemon juice
1 teaspoon castor sugar
soda water
slice of lemon for garnish

Shake gin, brandy, juice and sugar well with ice. Strain into a tall glass, add an ice cube and top with soda water. Twist the lemon slice, skewer with a toothpick and then balance on the glass.

Kabuki

60ml sake
15ml Cointreau
15ml sugar syrup
30ml lime cordial
lime peel for a twist

Salt-frost a tall glass. Pour sake, Cointreau, sugar syrup and cordial into a blender. Blend well and pour into prepared glass. Add twist to the drink before serving.

Toblerone

Chocolate syrup, to coat glass
15ml Frangelico
15ml Kahlua
15ml Bailey’s Irish cream
30ml cream
Grated chocolate, for garnish

Pour some chocolate syrup into a cocktail glass and twirl the glass to partially coat the inside. Shake the liqueurs and cream with ice, then strain into prepared glass. Sprinkle a little grated chocolate on top.

Leave a comment with your favourite summer cocktail for the chance to win a copy of the Cocktail Bible (published by Penguin, $14.95) which features over 140 cocktail recipes as well as lots of useful advice on setting up and stocking your home bar, choosing glasses, and simple but clever garnishes. Entries close 5pm (AEDT) Friday 31st October 2014. If we cannot contact the winner via Facebook or email within 30 days we’ll choose another winner. Good luck!

Shop our Shaken, Not Stirred sale event for everything you need for cocktails at home this summer.

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Claire Bradley is the Editor of Inside Out magazine. With 9 weeks left before Christmas is upon us, she kicks off our festive series about Christmas style.

My Christmas style is: Pretty flexible. I change colours every year and mostly make a few new things. I’m definitely a card-carrying Christmas craft nerd.

This year I’ll be buying: Outdoor furniture to enjoy the weather.

My failsafe Christmas styling tip is: Keep your colour palette simple. Christmas can be just one bow away from a festive blow-out.

This Christmas I’ll be serving: Honey-baked ham. It’s my favourite part of Christmas lunch – all the rest is secondary. I use my dad’s recipe and it’s awesome.

An image from Inside Out’s Christmas edition. Styling – Heather Nette King. Photography – Armelle Habib.

My Christmas playlist includes: Ultra Lounge: Christmas cocktails. It’s a family tradition to listen to this while we open presents.

All I want for Christmas is: A new sofa, but I’ll make do with some cushions.

My biggest Christmas disaster was: Accidentally purchasing a frozen turkey and not having it defrost in time. Seven very disappointed people at my table…

After Christmas I’m planning to: Hang out in my new home, on my new outdoor furniture and shop for a new sofa. I’ll be all ready for the new year.

Inside Out’s Christmas issue is on sale now. Subscribe (or give a subscription as a gift) here.

Follow us on Pinterest for inspiring Christmas ideas.

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Karen McCartney introduces this year’s Take A Seat “reverse auction“. Our special “reverse auction” sale event is open now and concludes at 11pm on 30 October 2014. A reverse auction simply means the sale price of each item is reduced by a pre-determined value over the length of the reverse auction or until sold – so you’ll need to consider your timing of when to buy or you might miss out! Find out more on our Terms page.

Welcome to Temple & Webster’s Take a Seat for Legacy reverse auction. It is very inspiring to be amongst all this creative output.

There are three things in particular I love about this exercise. The first is that it has this great democratic starting point – everyone gets given the same classic bentwood chair, whether you are a sports star, a style guru, a tv presenter, a designer or a celebrity chef.

The second is the unique creative expression everyone finds for their own chair. Every day I would come into the office there to find a new, exciting interpretation. Some people choose to design the chair with the involvement of their family, some tapped into the talent of the Temple & Webster stylist, and some teamed up with others’ creative talents for a collaborative effort.

This year there is no doubt the creative bar has been raised. Chairs have been deconstructed, planted, clad in leather, dressed with porcelain, bedazzled and elevated to great heights. I would like to thank each and everyone who has designed a chair as the thoughtfulness, time, effort and materials used all speak of care taken.

And finally the third thing I love is that all this effort generates awareness, support, and a financial contribution to a very deserving charity -Legacy.

Each chair – we have a total of 37 – is up for sale right now. These are never to be repeated collector’s items so don’t miss out if you have your eye on anything.

I know I do.

‘Remember’ by Amanda Talbot

Amanda Talbot is a design consultant, stylist and author. Her new book Happy is about the ways in which architecture and interior design can help us live a happy life.

“The chair is called “Remember.” It was important for me that my starting point for inspiration was Legacy who are dedicated in caring for the families of deceased and incapacitated veterans. I have had family members who served in the 2nd World War and the impact on my family has been generational. I wanted to look at the fragility of life, our bodies and the physical, emotional state of mind soldiers and family face with war. I wanted to identify how war changes people and how Legacy are looking after tenuous people who need delicate, loving, thoughtful, empathetic care. I chose to keep the chair in its natural form and colour and add fragile ceramic in different shapes to tell this story. I chose to use toy soldiers in my design to represent the senselessness of war and include white perforated Rolls-Royce leather to demonstrate the value of life.”

 ’SEAt’ by James Gordon

For the second year in a row, artist and creative James Gordon has lent his support to a charity close to his heart.

“It’s a play on words “SEAt” and that’s about it! The fact that I love the ocean and things of the sea is probably something that influenced the end result, however it’s fairly much the word. My chair is made from French paper, perspex rod, watercolour, nylon thread and ‘unreal’ pearl.”

‘WARM’ by David Harrison and Gary Galego

David Harrison is a design writer and stylist, and the founder of Design Daily. Gary Galego is a Sydney-based furniture designer and the creator of the Leve chair.

“As friends who both have a passion for simple ideas delivered with a high degree of attention to detail, our chair is all about the beauty of the original chair shape but with the addition of a new but complementary material: leather. We chose Marrakesh leather in ‘saddle’ colour from NSW Leather for its perfect suitability to the pale colour of European beech and for its soft waxy sheen and pliable nature. We applied the leather using a special technique developed by Gary over a number of years for his own furniture pieces. Designed to enhance the beautiful bentwood shape of the chair, the leather is pressed and hand-stitched, while the timber frame is waxed to produce a gentle sheen.

We believe that Legacy provides the type of support armed service personnel deserve, whether it is recent service men and women or to the survivors of past wars and their families. We also believe that design has the capacity to make people appreciate their surroundings more and be more aware of the beauty of the life they lead – thanks in some part to the selfless sacrifices of our armed forces.

With special thanks to Amaro Mendes for his hand-stitching expertise.”

‘chAIR FORCE’ by Vince Frost

Vince Frost is the CEO and creative leader of Frost*, an interdisciplinary creative and design studio. His new book ‘Design your Life’ is about using design principles to make personal change for the better.

“The title of my piece is a salute to the country’s Air Force. My idea was to completely transform the basic chair model to create a new humorous perspective. I removed the seat base to reveal the outer ring which oddly resembled the same dimensions of a basketball hoop. The chair was then elevated using 4 lengths of copper 2metre plumbing pipes to take the hoop up to the regulation height. A net and ball from Rebel Sport completed the task. I love the reaction it creates when people look at it.”

Lisa Green – Editor, Australian House & Garden

“I liked the idea of introducing a decorative pattern to the curvy form of the bentwood chair, then hit on the idea of ‘tattooing’ or inking the raw wood. I looked up lacework vectors and spiderweb-like tattoos online to get a brief together and after we’d ruled out laser printing, H&G editorial assistant Lauren Barakat found henna artist Lubna Shehzad Pirani, who accepted the challenge. The result is beautiful – a decorative, and extremely female henna artwork applied to the timber chair. I love it!”

Lubna explains the process: “Traditionally called ‘Mehendi’, henna is an integral part of beautification and is generally used to decorate hands, arms, legs and feet for any occasion, and especially for big celebrations like weddings. Today it is considered a romantic and exotic art form for women as well as men all over the world. The paste, which is made up of natural leaves, cinnamon sticks, lemon, etc, is an all-natural product. For H&G we featured a floral design symbolising joy and happiness with the leaves describing longevity, devotion, perseverance, entwined lives and vitality. The squares on the rods symbolise magic, used to heal and protect the sick.”

‘Home Style Starter Kit’ by Megan Morton

Megan Morton is a stylist, author and ‘house whisperer’ as well as the founder of Sydney creative hub The School.

“Most of the time a stylist’s responsibility is to be ‘adding’ to. So this time I wanted to express the idea of what I think styling really is – a combination of reduction as well as addition. The bentwood chair is a personal favourite of mine – so much so it’s the logo to my business – so cutting it down was counter intuitive! But from this magnificently classic chair we have made a homeowner’s starter kit. We have worked collaboratively with Kaz Morton our favourite ceramicist and Phil Skelton, our set builder and put my secret love of jewellery making and beading to work to make a 14 part-series. The home starter kit includes: a mirror; a coat hook; a hanger with ceramic ends; two ceramic hooks; a set of penguin classics; salt cellar; three mobiles (I like to hang mine over ends of curtain rods); a series of bud vases; candle sticks; a keyring and three necklaces. Once you start with beautiful basics that are well made, your appreciation levels for a lot of things will increase – even the salt at your table!”

‘Sorbet Dream Time’ by Adam Powell and Jessica Bellef, Temple & Webster

 See all 37 chairs and snap up your favourite in our Take A Seat for Legacy Reverse Auction.

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Inspired by her colourful and creative bed linen, Karen McCartney talks to Rachel Castle about her passion for colour and her art, and discovers a surprising secret love…

Your world is a pretty cheery one. What do you do to keep the energy levels up?

For starters going to work means not cleaning/clearing/washing/drying/sorting/putting away a single thing at home, so I’m pretty damn keen to get there, and I do so as early as my parenting duties allow me! My studio is the place where everything is ‘out’; its my complete work in progress mess and I TOTALLY love being here. This really helps to get me to work early and motivated and ready to rock’n’roll. As a mother of two teenagers I have a window of opportunity that can’t be missed. I can’t be at the studio late or on weekends so my time at work needs to be very productive. This definitely keeps the pace going.   I also get great energy from the people I work with. Leni my production manager is one of the greatest human beings on the planet, no jokes, so being with her five days a week is a treat that I never take for granted.

Colour & whimsy are central to your brand. Has it always been the case with you and interior design?

I’ve watched my 15 year old daughter in the last year really develop an interior aesthetic very uniquely her own. It started when she was 14 and although she has ZERO interest in my business (OMG so borrrring mum) she loves all the pop culture that teenagers love these days, all intermingled together, fashion and graphic design and interiors and photography, all in one.

I definitely think being a teenager in the 80’s – remember Boy George ribbons and Stuart Membery Lake Tahoe windcheaters and yellow high top Connies and pink gingham bikinis and Dolly magazine – has defined my style. I don’t think I ever moved on from this basic aesthetic. This was the time that a framework for what I liked developed and it has never waned. It was about tons of colour and spots and cuteness, it was young and very fresh, and it has very much stuck with me ever since.  Maybe it was because I wasn’t ‘creative’ at this age that it sat dormant waiting to be accessed for over 30 years.

Tell us something of your creative background?

I studied PR at RMIT after leaving school, and landed a part-time job in the marketing department at Country Road which I loved. I then moved to the UK and worked at The Conran Shop, still in marketing, and then Alex Willcock, Russell Pinch and myself set up a branding agency called The Nest in London in the nineties, where we worked on clients including Michelin, British Airways, WHSmith and Lancome. For the first 15 years of my career I was always responsible for branding and marketing and project directing the creative vision set by others. I learnt how to ‘run’ a business, how to market and brand it, how to speak its visual language. Consistently throughout this time I would knit and sew in my home time, just little presents for friends and family. Then the babies came along and I stopped working and started, TOTALLY by accident, sewing little artworks as a means of doing something other than wiping the benches and putting the groceries away while the babies slept. I had no idea that a couple of little embroideries could turn into my third child, my business baby, but they have, and I am so UNBELIEVABLY grateful for it.

You balance product development and design with your own artworks. Does each discipline help the other creatively?

Absolutely.  Each is crucial to the total brand story but it’s also important that someone who buys a painting doesn’t see that same design rolled out for bed linen. The artwork and the bed linen are two different things that just happen to work well together. We try to keep the bed linen very ordered; there’s a lot of colour and spots but the patterns are very mathematical even in their randomness. The artwork on the other hand is always organically shaped and very free from order which I think is why the two work so well together.

You favour certain fabrics – cotton, velvet, a gold shimmer pillowcase. What attracts you to certain colours and materials?

The fabrics we choose must have a simplicity to them because the colours we use are so vibrant. The fabrics are like a white wall – simple and good and true, and the twist comes from the colour and pattern that we apply.  It’s really hard to design simple things, to keep bed linen ‘quiet’ enough to sleep with, yet just with a little twist of something whimsical. Thank God someone invented the spot all those years ago.  Whoever did, thank you, you win my Nobel prize of thanks to mankind.

The sense of the hand-made and the connection to you as the maker is very important in your work. Do you think that connection is something your customer is looking for? 

Absolutely. I respond to every customer email I receive the same day it comes in, its very important to me that customers are aware that it is Leni and myself here at the office, completely accessible and very much available to anyone who needs us. I look at every single order myself to make sure I know who is purchasing what and what each client requires. An extension of this is very much the handmade nature of the works we provide. Every artwork, from a major painting, to a printed teatowel has a handmark that I have personally made on the work. Its time consuming but to my brand, absolutely everything that it stands for. All the embroideries I hand cut and sew myself; they’ve often spent time everywhere from on the sofa with the kids, to the bed on a Sunday morning, to sometimes even in the car on a rainy day waiting for my husband. There is nowhere these little artworks haven’t been sewn, and I think this makes them really special.

What do you hope your customers feel when they receive a package from Castle & Things?

Firstly I want them to get a big whacking smack of colour. Selling everything online means that the digital colour we get in the photos NEVER truly tells the intense colour story that you get from paint or ink or the beautiful felts we use. I get so many emails telling me that the colour is just so much better in the flesh when an artwork arrives and so this colour story for the client is really important to me. I also want a customer to feel that we have given them time and energy, and as a complete and boring perfectionist, every stitch, every colour, every curved letter is EXACTLY the way I want it to be. There is no corner cutting, no ‘that’ll do because we’re busy’. At every stitch I am thinking of the client at the other end undoing the package. And so I hope that a package from us sings with a lot of love and a LOT of care.

Do you think in a creative business it helps to be a little BA BA BONKERS?

Always. Sometimes I get paralysed creatively by what I think the customer will want. Is it too colourful? Is it too the same? Is it too naughty? Is it just a bit dumb? Seven years down the track I’ve learnt that our customers want us to be a bit loose; the more bonkers the better.

QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS

If I were an animal I would be a flamingo. Well I wouldn’t be one but I would LOVE to be, they are so pretty and pink with a touch of blush and a little fluoro around the temple. They are my lifetime best ever, first thing I ever visit at the zoo, favourite animal.

My favourite forbidden food is a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.  That is so so so beyond bad, but the truth.

My idea of a fun night out is drinks with Leni and Fran at Freda’s in Chippendale.

My friends tell me my strongest personality trait is my loyalty.

My creative hero is Tracey Emin. Full stop by far the bravest and best, great boobs too. x

Images courtesy of Castle and Things. Follow Rachel on Instagram @rachelcastleandthings

 Shop for Rachel Castle’s bright bed linen today.

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T&W Senior Stylist Adam Powell (pictured above) travelled to Morocco and found snake charmers, souks and a peaceful retreat…

The moment you touch down in Marrakech there is an air of mysticism about the city. The air is thick, the smells are foreign and there is an energy unlike anywhere else on earth.

It’s fascinating to be in the foothills of the snowcapped Atlas Mountains whilst being on the edge of the Sahara desert at the same time. The market place or souk is where you really get a taste of what the city has to offer. It’s a bustling labyrinth of passageways full of artisans selling rugs, leather goods, glass tea cups and layer upon layer of trinkets and curiosities. You could quite literally spend hours wandering and immersing yourself in it all.

Just 2 hours west is Essaouira, an old port city with a peaceful anchorage and a more laid back vibe. It was love at first sight when London interior designer Emma Wilson walked through a tiny little front door barely 4ft high into what is now her pride and joy – Castles in the Sands.

Built in the 18th century and constructed in a traditional Moroccan style, Emma and her partner renovated the 4 storey apartment with a relaxed and retro aesthetic.

The whole interior has a neutral, raw palette with crisp white Tadelakt surfaces and sandstone columns supporting thuya wood ceilings. Tadelakt is a traditional application of a lime plaster rendering that can be applied internally or externally.

It’s this architectural feature that really steals the show, enveloping the whole interior of the building right through to the roof top terrace. You instantly notice a soft chalkiness with no hard lines and this curved aesthetic relates back to the choice of bespoke and designer 60’s retro furniture.

What makes this house super special is the fact that Emma has restored most of the 200 year old building’s iconic features.  The ornate columns and stone arches worked back with the pop art pieces of furniture like the Vernon Panton S Chair gives the whole home a really timeless and classic style. Old mixes with new, which really is the essence of Morocco itself.

What I really love about the Moroccan culture is that most traditional homes/ riads all face inwards onto an open garden or courtyard. This was a design feature that adhered to the Islamic notion of privacy. It is also a unique way of regulating temperatures in these homes in the harsh Moroccan heat.

As you snake your way down the labyrinth of passageways in the world heritage-listed Medina, past artisan store holders and snake charmers, sewage and stray cats you would have no idea that a tiny, dirty little door in the side of the wall would open up into such a clean, crisp and serene space.

And for me, that’s the beauty and the magic of Morocco.

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Anneka Manning is a writer and publisher with a career in food publishing spanning nearly 25 years. This decadently sweet recipe comes from her book Mastering the Art of Baking (published by Murdoch Books), thanks to eatlove.com.au. 

Balaklava is a common dessert in the Middle East, Greece and Turkey. Crisp, nutty and sweet this desert will leave you wanting more. If you have an extra sweet tooth why not add some ice cream alongside a serving?

Ingredients (makes approximately 18 pieces)

400 g (14 oz/3½ cups) walnut halves
155 g (5½ oz/1 cup) almonds
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon mixed (pumpkin pie) spice
1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar
16 sheets filo pastry
200 g (7 oz) butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

Syrup:

440 g (15½ oz/2 cups) sugar
330 ml (11¼ fl oz/1⅓ cups) water
3 whole cloves
3 teaspoons lemon juice

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Brush the base and sides of a shallow 18 × 28 cm (7 × 11¼ inch) tin with melted butter to grease.

Put the walnuts, almonds, spices and sugar in a medium bowl and mix well. Lay the filo pastry flat on a work surface and cover with a clean tea towel (dish towel), then a slightly damp tea towel to prevent it drying out. Combine the butter and oil. Take 1 sheet of pastry and place it flat on the work surface. Brush liberally with the butter mixture, then fold it in half crossways. Trim the edges to fit the greased tin and then place in the tin. Repeat with 3 more pastry sheets to cover the base, brushing liberally with the butter mixture and trimming edges as needed.

Sprinkle one-third of the nut mixture over the pastry in the tin. Repeat this process to make 2 more layers each of pastry and nut mixture, then finish with another pastry layer. Press the top down with your hands so that the pastry and nuts stick to each other.

Brush the top of the pastry with the remaining butter and oil mixture. Use a large sharp knife to cut the baklava lengthways into 4 even strips, then diagonally into diamonds. Bake the baklava for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp.

Meanwhile, to make the syrup, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, without stirring, for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Discard the cloves.

Pour the cooled syrup over the hot baklava, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool in the tin. Cut into diamonds to serve.

See more at eatlove.com.au where you can follow your favourite chefs, share their receipes and order their books. 

 

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T&W member Kirsty Visman is the lucky winner of our recent Pinterest competition to win a one-on-one design session with Kevin McCloud at Grand Designs Live in Sydney. We liked the clear vision her winning board conveyed, and were intrigued by the picture of her bush property. We asked Kirsty to share some of the ideas (and inspiring images) behind her own grand plans.

Tell us about your ‘Grand Design’?

As a couple, my partner Anthony and I have always been passionate about buildings and how a space can help or hinder your lifestyle. A year ago we purchased a 10 acre block of land in Samford, Qld and set about designing our ‘forever’ home.

Anthony is a carpenter so we will be building the house ourselves, a daunting, yet exciting prospect!

John Legend’s mid-century home in the Hollywood Hills. Image by Roger Davies for Architectural Digest

The house is modular, with buildings connected by decks. This is a style of building quite Balinese in layout, however we are also heavily borrowing from the mid-century modernist architectural style. In essence this is a 1950s ranch house that would sit comfortably in the Californian hills, very different to the high set Queenslanders that we have lived in in the past. The slab on ground, timber framed house features a lot of glass and louvers to maximize the mountain views and the breezes.

We have included a guest building because we love entertaining and also because we love our privacy. For most of the year we will live in a two bedroom building, however the additional ‘pods’ allow us to expand out when we need to.

A modern garden with bold forms by Roger’s Gardens (left) and a staircase by German firm MO Architekten found on Design Milk.

How far along the dreaming/planning/building process are you now?

Our plans are set and at the end of October, we will be moving on to the site in a caravan to get the build started. With Anthony over-seeing the trades and also doing all of the carpentry himself, we have not put a deadline on the project as we know it will be a labour of love.

Bathroom from House Boone Murray by Tribe Studio Architects. Image by Peter Bennetts.

Have you encountered any difficulties so far?

Despite Anthony being a qualified builder, there are a lot of hoops you need to jump through in order to build a home yourself. Being a semi-rural site, we don’t have water or sewage and we have also had to reconsider some of our materials in order to ensure that the house will be as safe as possible in a bush fire. These are all considerations that we wouldn’t need to worry about if we chose to build in a suburban estate, however we feel that the reward of living here will outweigh the challenges involved.

Image by Trevor Tondro for The New York Times.

What are you hoping to create – what is important to you about the design?

Above all, we want a house that is flexible. We don’t want to ever leave this house and therefore we have had to consider how our lives might change over the coming years and ensure that the design of the building can adapt to those life changes. We have never really liked overly large houses so we hope that this is a home that brings people together instead of separating them, whilst, at the same time, allowing ourselves and guests a private retreat.

Image via the Skona Hem blog.

What are you planning to ask Kevin?

We have been avid fans of Grand Designs for many years and in a lot of ways, the show has helped us shape the design for our own house. Being able to show Kevin our design and discuss the ways in which we might be able to make better use of natural materials and sustainable building methods will be fascinating.

Visit Grand Designs Live in Melbourne (17-19 October) or Sydney (24-26 October) for over 200 exhibitors and your favourite celebrity experts. Look out for Temple & Webster’s Karen McCartney, Jessica Bellef and Adam Powell on the Design Stage in Sydney at 3.30pm each day.

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Diane Bergeron’s crisp, American-influenced interior design projects have appeared in magazines and blogs both local and international over the past few years. Beginning her career in the US, she moved to Melbourne with her family in 2003 and her signature style and international outlook has impacted the industry ever since.  She recently organised the Design for Mirabel project, a benefit to showcase the work of leading local interior designers & decorators to raise money for The Mirabel Foundation and her brand new project is the Mercer School of Interior Design in Melbourne. With custom-designed premises currently under construction, it offers both long and short courses for those with professional aspirations as well as home decorators. We find out more.

Diane, what was your own path to a career in interior design?

It’s been intuitive for me, and it’s been a matter of always being connected to my passion. I was always moving around furniture when I was little, and as a teenager my parents’ friends would ask me to do their homes…the rest is history!

How would you describe the style you’ve developed over a 20 year career in both the US and Australia?

I would call it “Modern American classic”: clean but with traditional elements. Knowing how to finish an element and knowing when to stop – I pay attention to detail!

Did your style change as you transitioned from New York to Melbourne – and if so, how?

Because I have always looked to many different places for inspiration, I don’t think that moving country has drastically changed my style. However, my style is always evolving and always changing, while keeping the things that make it distinctively mine.

What are the things you love about “Australian” interiors style?

I love the way Australian style combines indoor /outdoor living. I personally love an outdoor room. You can dress up the space for comfort with an outdoor rug and oversized comfy furniture, layers of cushions. I mean is there anything better than alfresco dining?!

What do you think are the hardest elements of a space for home decorators to get right?

After all the large details are in place, the rug, the furniture, the art, it’s the small things that really give a space personality. Giving attention to detail and being able to select that perfect pieces that connects all the bigger items together is the hardest thing when decorating.

What prompted your decision to start the Mercer School of Interior Design?

I knew there were people looking for this type of course, and I saw there was a gap created by traditional education methods. We have designed our accredited courses to do things that no one else is doing. I’m very excited about sharing what I have learned over the last 20 years of my career. We have worked painstakingly hard to offer leading courses with an exclusive focus on Interior Styling, Design & Decoration.

The Design For Mirabel benefit.

Your tag line is “Education through inspiration”. What does this mean for your courses and your students?

Mercer is an interior design school that is truly different. We endeavour to help our students find their personal style, along with the necessary (and often overlooked) practical business skills. One of our goals is to disprove the misconception that you can’t teach a creative and industry-focused course online. We don’t teach everything by the book. Valuable hands on business experience, exposure to industry, combined with state of the art technology is how our students learn. We introduce our students to the leading designers and tastemakers, businesses and suppliers.

Along with teaching the new generation of designers, we’ve created Design For Mirabel, a fundraising event that is the philanthropic arm of Mercer. We have also committed to our lecture series, where we bring industry leaders from around the country and abroad to share their knowledge and to inspire. We kicked off in July with Mary McDonald and have an amazing line up to come, after our new school and lecture space is completed in March!

Some of your courses include a field trip to the US. How important is an international perspective?

As the world becomes increasingly connected, we are exposed to more visual content (not just interiors) giving us the opportunity to absorb what appeals to us and apply it to our work. I think the design industry as a whole is starting to demand a lot more variety in the products being offered locally and it’s nice to see Temple and Webster is filling those gaps!

Quickfire questions:

Local secret:
Gertrude Street Enoteca and Tarlo & Graham - they have a diverse mix of vintage things, and because they’re in my neighbourhood it’s easy to drop by and see what’s new.

Favourite colour combos:
Black, white and coral pink.
Camel and orange.
Sea-glass green and red.

Trend you love:
I don’t usually follow trends, but I like the direction decorating has taken moving away from minimalism.  I love a layered and rich decorating style.

Pet hate:
Trends! Design is personal and shouldn’t be dictated by what is popular season-to-season. I am led by my constant obsessions, when I’ll be really loving a particular thing. Right now I am infatuated with vintage Persian and Turkish rugs circa the 50’s or 70’s. I think designers go through phases where they have obsessions, which keeps things original and more diverse.

Design icon(s): DianaVreelandThe Duchess of Devonshire and IrisApfel.

Find out more at the Mercer School of Interior Design website or follow on Facebook or Instagram @mercerschoolid 

Image credits (from top):
1: Armelle Habib
2-6, 8-9: Peter Throsby
7: Marcel Aucar 

 

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We share 8 easy ideas for updating your bathroom –  whatever the budget – with help from Maria Schindlecker. The bathroom above is by Sydney interior designer Justine Hugh-Jones.

Do you dream of having a day spa permanently attached to your home for relaxation and serenity at the end of a long day? Or do you long to add colour and texture to a plain-Jane functional space? Whatever your style, and however bad things seem, we’re here to help with small style ideas that will have a big impact.

Image via Domaine Home.

Vanity fair

Replacing the handles of your vanity unit makes a big impact for a relatively small cost. If the unit is made of timber, a new coat of paint will dramatically change its look. You could consider decorating inset door panels with wallpaper, or line the drawers for a fresh feel.

Image by Roger Davies via Desire to Inspire

Reflected glory

If you have a plain mirror, switch it to one with a decorative frame to add character. Increasing the size of the mirror can also allow more light to bounce around and make the room feel larger.

Image via Lonny.

Wonder walls

Even bathroom walls deserve attention. Framed art, photographs or wall decals can make the space feel less clinical, but make sure you don’t hang them too close to a steamy shower. Go crazy in a powder room, where steam isn’t an issue – we love wallpaper in a small space, too.

 

Image by Nikole Ramsay for Inside Out.

Linen love

Make sure your towels are up to scratch, and consider updating to a new set. Don’t forget your bath mats and hand towels, which are often the first to wear out.  If a day spa is your dream, sticky to the fluffy white variety. Otherwise, try Aura’s vibrant colour and graphic designs or make the switch to lightweight Turkish (hammam) towels in sorbet stripes for Summer. Changing the colour and design of your towels can change the mood completely.

Image via Pinterest

Waxing lyrical

A beautiful scented candle is an indulgent treat for the bathroom, especially when it comes in a pretty container or glass jar. A stylish accessory with mood-lifting qualities is a win-win in our book.

Michael C Hall’s bathroom, via Lonny.

Form over function

Make sure any of the accessories you display in your bathroom are beautiful as well as functional. If not, transfer products to glass, ceramic or wooden vessels or bowls, or natural baskets to add a natural element and a hand-made feel.

Image via Pinterest

Blooming beautiful 

Beautiful flowers are a stylist’s greatest trick. Fresh cut flowers or foliage, a single bloom or branch, or an elegant potted orchid or fern. Nature is never wrong.

Image by Steven Carlisch for D Magazine

Vintage vibe

If you have the space, incorporate a freestanding piece of furniture to make your space unique. A rustic ladder, a small table or timber stool, or a weather cabinet will all add a sense of patina.

All images from our Bathrooms Pinterest board – follow us there to see over 100 beautiful bathrooms.

Posted in   Bathroom, How ToTags  1 comment