Melbourne’s Lyn Gardener is best known for her incredible eye for vintage, showcased through her Albert Park emporium Empire Vintage and her interior decorating firm Gardener and Marks. Her Daylesford property, The White House, is much in demand for holiday accommodation, and now she has opened The White Room in Fitzroy. We get to the bottom of her unique style…

How would you describe the style of the White Room?

It’s a mix of curated vintage items collected over many years, brought together in a pure white floor to ceiling space. A touch of industrial with a Scandinavian feel, perhaps? I am struggling to fit it under one heading to be honest.

The space is a mix of luxury (French linens) with vintage pieces, often worn and aged. Is this contrast something you strive for, and why?

I absolutely love the mix of old and new. The older vintage items always seem to shine even more with their tattered edges, peeling leather and faded old frames. I have always loved old for the character it brings – I love that age on furniture is more beautiful than the new because the character is there, it has a history and a past life. The crisp French linen adds to it all, and makes it casual but lushly extravagant at the same time.

The White Room has a very consistent look throughout. How important do you think consistency is in interiors?

I love and must have consistency throughout. I love a theme and if you were to walk through the White Room and then cross over to the main warehouse space (my home), you would see that it all ties in. White walls white floors, a beautiful mix of fabrics in hessian and raw calico, vintage pieces in natural timbers, faded rugs, a little bit of old French furniture tied in with some industrial pieces and so on. I think it’s common sense to make your home consistent – to me, it’s a must to walk through the front door and have a common theme flow through all the rooms.

You’ve worked with a very limited colour palette. What is the secret to making this look work?

I think because I have only chosen 2 to 3 colours – whites, greys, naturals and some blacks – it’s quite easy and I don’t think you can go wrong. If, for example, I added yellow somewhere, I would have to add a few different items in the same colour to make it all work and make sense of the room.

How do you hope people will feel in The White Room? What do you think is key to creating a feeling of comfort in a space?

I so far have been overwhelmed with the response to the White Room; every one has mentioned the cosy cosy, homely feeling and the attention to detail. The room features a central bed which is luxuriously covered in the best linen, heated concrete floors warm the room in winter and there are one-off pieces highlighting every corner. There is every comfort required, both beautiful and practical, in one small studio room in the heart of very cool Fitzroy. I guess I have thought of all the features that I personally look for when I stay somewhere special. 

You have honed your eye for (and collection of) vintage furniture and items over many years. What advice would you give to someone who wants to decorate in this style? 

Just be strong and use your items as a feature in the room.  Most vintage pieces have character and will be the first thing people will take notice of in a room. Have your own style by collecting what you love so you can show who you are through your collections.  You may start with a theme as I like to do – one portrait form the 1880’s turned into an entire wall of male portraits and now makes an amazing statement as soon as you walk in the door. Try not to have too many styles going on in every room; aim for a consistent style and make sure you put your personality into it all. Have fun!

Your collections, gathered over time, add personality and interest to the space. What are your top tips on displaying collections?

I love collections, and to me more than 3 of anything is the start of a collection. For example, I collected the glass domes displayed on a table in the centre of the room, and I feature even more collections within them, like old cutlery in bowls and gorgeous 100 year old books.  I have always loved paintings on walls and I group them in themes. In my bedroom it’s all old oil paintings of the sea or landscapes with old tainted, faded gold frames, featuring hints of blues to tie in with the bed linens and theme of the room.

My advice is to try and theme your collections and group like with like – that way it really is a statement.  If its glass bowls or milk glass or ceramic vases you love, for example, have shelves made and feature every single one of them in rows.  Every corner in my home seems to have some collection I’ve put together from my travels or markets around the world.  It makes me happy to have all these memories around me.

Does your personal style change over time, and how do you adapt your interiors to suit?

I have always collected old, from a very early age.  Over the years my style has changed, but I have never changed my habit of collecting old wares.  My first home was a rustic country house with old painted original furniture. I then moved to a large warehouse where I went for a very industrial and masculine look.  From there I moved to where I live now – a very white warehouse I decorated 15 years ago. It started out very feminine with lots of authentic French furniture whites, florals and pale colours.  Over the past 4 years I have changed to  a mix of old and a touch of new – I’ve taken all the florals away and have charcoal linen couches, a mix of rugs on the floor from a trip to Turkey with an overdyed mustard rug overlapped by a textured raw sisal rug.  Male dark portraits fill the wall as does industrial lighting that features in many corners of the rooms. I use tarnished silver wares and more muted tones and colours.

Are there any items or elements that you simply must have an every space you decorate?  

Yes, something collected and found that is old item with all its original character – always!  That will never change for me.

Quick fire questions:

I caught the collecting bug when:  I was 16
My first collection was: milliners’ hat blocks
My most treasured find is: I can’t pinpoint just one as I have so many!
Right now I’m inspired by: my new country house just purchased that will be transformed into a whole new look all over again!
The next place I want to travel to is: New York it is!

Images by Lisa Cohen.

Find out more about The White Room or follow Lynda on Instagram @empirevintagemelbourne

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Stylist and foodie Jono Fleming created an antipasto platter / charcuterie board for us a few months back (check it out here). Today he’s back with the 10 things you need for a tasty cheese platter. 

This time I’m working with cheese and vegetable options rather than meats, but the principles are the same – you want to hit a balance of salty, sweet, nutty, sour and spicy flavours, and include a range of textures. Your aim is to create a fantastic ride for the tastebuds by creating plenty of flavour combos.

I’d recommend about 8-10 options on the board. This isn’t the main meal, it’s a starter so you don’t want everyone to fill up before you even sit down to eat. Giving a few choices allows people to find one they love, or taste the whole lot. Here’s my take on the perfect antipasto & cheese platter…

1.  Salty – Caperberries

Caperberries, not to be confused with capers, are the immature buds of the caper bush. Bursting with flavour, these individual bites are often served straight from the jar where they are brined in vinegar. Olives could be used as a substitute for the salty element on your board.

2. Smoky/Spicy – Grilled peppers

I personally love a bit of heat when it comes to food. Adding a spicy element isn’t for the faint hearted, but if you can handle a bit of chilli, it’s the perfect kicker and a real flavour punch. Chase it with a creamy brie or camembert to cool your mouth down.

3. Sour – Pickled vegetables

Pickled vegetables are actually very easy to make yourself. But if in doubt, grab them from the deli section or a jar. The sourness of the pickled veg helps cleanse the palette between cheeses, and the crunch adds texture. I pickled some sliced radishes for this board using this recipe by Silvia Colloca.

4. Sweet – Fruits

Grapes, dates, figs – all these fruits have natural sugars to cut through the strong flavours of aged cheese. Sundried tomatoes also have a distinct sweetness to them, and add a little more depth of flavour to the board.

5. Smooth – Dip

This one is very easy; with such a wide variety of dips available nowadays, you have endless options for additions to your plate. I’ve chosen a simple hommous; its smooth texture and subtle flavour complements some of the stronger elements on the board.

6. Sharp cheese

A sharp, aged cheese like a cheddar is a must on any cheese board. It’s the classic cheese, strong in flavour but not so strong as to be offputting. Pair it with a quince paste or fig for the perfect combination.

7. Stinky cheese

This is the controversial one but for those who are into smelly cheeses (that’s me), the stinkier the better in my opinion! I’ve chosen an aged blue cheese which has quite a strong flavour. Again, pairing it with a sweeter fruit it helps to cut through the strong flavour without compromising the cheese itself.

8. Creamy cheese

A camembert or a brie is a lovely soft textural option to add to the board. Gooey and oozy, this cheese can vary in strength of flavour but it’s the smooth, creamy texture that is the draw card here.

9. Wild Card

Here’s where you let your deli do the work. Get them to choose out a wild card cheese for you, perhaps it’s something nutty like a Gouda or in this case, a milder Manchego cheese. It shakes it up a little and offers your guests something they (and you) may not have tried before.

10. Fresh cheese

A nice fresh cheese like a goats cheese or buffallo mozzarella gives a cooling lightness to the board. I’ve mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes with some torn up boccocini and basil leaves. Season with salt and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil for a simple fresh salad.

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Seven Walks is an inspiring new book by artist and writer Tom Carment, with photography by Michael Wee. The pair, pictured above, covered many miles around some of the wilder parts of Australia and documented their walks with beautiful photography and watercolours. Here Tom introduces the book, and we share a few favourite images. Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy – full details are below.

Three years ago, in the Belgenny Café, Sydney, my friend the photographer Michael Wee, announced that he had a ‘good idea’. A week earlier, over morning coffee, I had amused him with stories about the misadventures of our recently-completed family trek along the Overland Track in Tasmania.

Michael’s idea was this: that we do a book together, about walks, longer than just a day, in wild parts of Australia, quite different to a guide book. He would take photos, organise the business side of it, and I would write the essays and make drawings and watercolours of things I saw along the way. I was immediately enthused.

We approached this project as a pair of amateurs. Our previous experience of bushwalking had been day excursions, for family picnics, photography, and painting. I had done a fair bit of camping, on school holidays with our children, but mainly out of the boot of a car. For a city dweller I had also spent a lot of time in the bush, walking, painting and drawing, but felt myself in no way a bushman or naturalist. As a plein air landscape painter, my main concern was usually to find a good spot to sit and make a picture, rather than walking very far, or naming the plants and animals I saw.

The discipline of preparing for a three- or four-day walk, where you have to carry your own food and a tent, was new to me. An inn or guest house, lights twinkling, is an uncommon sight at the end of a day’s tramp in Australia. You have to plan carefully, allow enough time to arrive at each destination before dark, carry enough clean water, and tell people where you’ve gone.

We had a lot to learn.

Morning at Wilpena Pound, on the 1200km Heysen Trail in South Australia. Wilpena Pound is at the edge of a circular flat valley surrounded by sharp-edged hills, and is not, as is often assumed, the crater of an old volcano.

Scenes from The Coast Walk between Otford and Bundeena, NSW. Gymea lilies were ‘sticking out from the low heath like arrows shot randomly from the sky, into the ground’.

Evening at St Mary Peak, also on the Heysen Trail. Tom walked parts of the trail with his friend Tanya and her ten year old daughter Eloise. The distance they covered depended on how Eloise’s ‘walking legs’ felt.

Tom painting at Bobs Hollow, along the Cape to Cape walk from Cape Leeuwin to Cape Naturaliste in WA. Cape Leeuwin is the most southwestern place in Australia, a narrow windswept isthmus of granite. Many ships were wrecked off here before they built a lighthouse, completed in 1896.

Find out more and order your copy at

Leave a comment about your favourite Australian walk below before 5pm (AEDT) Monday 2 February 2015 for your chance to win Seven Walks by Tom Carment / Michael Wee. You must be a member of Temple & Webster to enter, and you may only enter once. We’ll pick our favourite comments and contact the winners via Facebook or email by Friday 6 February 2015. If we are unable to contact the winner(s) within 30 days we’ll pick an alternative winner(s). Good luck!

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Jono Fleming explores the ‘naked cake’ phenomenon and adds his own twist with the flavours of Morocco. 

When it comes to cakes, I know presentation can sometimes seem daunting, given all the perfection we see at boutique bakeries (and on Instagram). Don’t worry – you’ll love the new ‘naked cake’ trend. It’s all about delicious cake, simply topped with icing but leaving the ‘messy’ side of the cake free to showcase colour and texture. No more perfect icing, people – embrace the mess!

Our Moroccan Table sale event gave me an idea, and I added Moroccan flavours to basic cake and icing recipes to add a bit of cultural zing. The floral flavour of the orange blossom is balanced out by the nutty pistachio, and the cardamom kick cuts through the sweetness of the sugar. Top with a sprinkling of nuts and pomegranate and you have a perfectly imperfect ‘naked’ cake.

Orange Blossom Cake 

Ingredients (for a single layer of cake):

1 cup self raising flour
½ cup caster sugar
125g softened butter
½ tsp baking powder
3 tbs orange blossom water
zest of one orange
100ml natural yoghurt
2 eggs


Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put all the ingredients together in a large bowl and beat until smooth with an electric mixer. Pour the batter into a pregreased cake tin and place in the oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through (stick a knife through the centre and it should come out clean.) Set aside and allow to cool fully before icing.

Pistachio and Cardamom Buttercream

Ingredients (enough for one layer of cake)

3 tbs of raw pistachio nuts
1tsp cardamom
125g softened butter
1 ½ cups icing sugar
1 tbs milk
Handful of pomegranate and pistachios for decoration


In a blender or food processor blitz up the pistachio nuts to the consistency of a fine powder. Mix together the butter, icing sugar, milk, powdered nuts and cardamom with an electric mixer till the mixture is smooth.  The icing will soften in the mixing process so put it in the fridge for about 10 minutes to allow it to firm up just slightly before icing the cake.

When icing the cake, make sure it’s completely cooled otherwise the icing will just melt off. Being a ‘naked’ cake, you can just roughly spread the icing all over the top, and finish it off with a  sprinkle of pistachios and pomegranate for colour. If you want to, throw on a few edible flowers (available at good greengrocers) for an extra pretty touch!

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The creator of Aquabumps shares his love for Bondi with Karen McCartney – the winter solitude, the summer mayhem and the golden light all year round. If you love Eugene’s work, shop for A Day in Bondi, the book he created by drawing on images taken over the last decade

You have been photographing Bondi beach since 1999 and know it intimately as a photographer and a surfer. What has changed and what has stayed the same?

No two days are the same at Bondi Beach – the people, the light, the conditions – that’s what I love about it. I never really know what I’m going to get until I ride my bike over the hill.

Bondi as a whole has changed drastically over the past 15 years with new developments. There are more restaurants, fresh food providores and options for locals. Bondi is adapting to what people want living in a village – it’s a great thing.

The one thing that never changes is the transient assembly of people and yet at the core there’s a real community of likeminded positive people.

You photograph in the ‘wee’ hours, early in the morning. What is it that is special for you about that time?

The light is warm and golden, especially in August – you get some of the best sunrises in Bondi. In summer time the beach is packed by 6am with everyone fulfilling their morning rituals and in winter it can at times be just me and my camera.

I love the diversity of solitude versus mayhem which can be dictated purely by the sun. Capturing the contrast is creatively satisfying, for me anyway.

The combination of sky, water, light and people is one of infinite variety. What makes a great shot for you?

Warm golden light either sunrise or sunset, waves and stillness.

The book represents a selection from over ten years of work – what was the process of what to include and what to reject?

The book took 18 months to create and produce. I worked with an incredible art director and together we would go through the archives of images. It’s nice to have someone else’s perspective of my images and how they might work alongside another or be cropped for the book. He would often select images that I may have dismissed – a fresh perspective was key to the creative process and edit of my work for this book.

The device of  ‘A Day at Bondi’ with timeframes captured throughout the day allows for changing light and changing numbers of people. Do you have a favourite section?

I’ve gotta say because I shoot sunrise every morning it’s hands down my favourite time of day and favourite section of this book.

Hovering over a packed beach peak summer from a chopper comes a close second.

The book is beautifully designed with a dynamic change of pace from aerial shots to detailed close-ups, from busy images to calm, action to passive. Was this sense of contrast important to you?

The flow of the day and telling the story of a day in Bondi was super important. I wanted people to experience the Bondi that I see most days and love. The layout changed many times, and was very considered, to ensure that you are taken on the journey of Bondi in all its glory from sunrise to sunset.

The underwater photographs bring a different aesthetic – muted and soft – is that an aspect of the creative process you enjoy?

I love shooting in the water, the conditions have to be right but when they are there’s nothing better.

I particularly love the photograph of the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo and the Kookaburra. Does anything surprise you after all these years?

Not much. I’ve seen naked human pyramids, passed out backpackers and have been chased out of the water by a huge stingray.

You have also worked in Thailand and the Maldives as well as travelling around the Australian coast. Bondi aside, do you have a favourite destination and why?

I love Hawaii; the water is warm and the light is so warm and golden. It’s lush and mountainous and lapped by the rawest of coastline and beaches. I spend a month here every year, but I have to say there’s still nothing like coming home to Bondi.

You opened a gallery space in 2004 in Bondi (of course) so that people can see the images in real life. Do you have any advice as to how they are best displayed?

I always think bigger is better and our bespoke framing techniques are classic and contemporary. I have 2 big pieces side by side at home – I think art should tell a story and connect you to what you love. And hey, what’s not to love about the beach!

All images © Aquabumps. For a daily dose in your inbox, sign up at the Aquabumps website or follow on Instagram @aquabumps.

Buy your copy of A Day at Bondi today.

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Karen McCartney writes about the elements required for a beautifully styled sideboard or console, and finds 6 great ideas via Pinterest.

There are some things in life that are made for each other and, decoratively speaking, every console or sideboard needs to be paired with a great artwork. There is something about that large stretch of wall that requires an artful touch and this can be a single, statement-making photograph, a vintage artwork or a large-scale mirror. The trick is to place, or prop, the artwork for maximum effect, to consider the proportions of both the furniture and art, looking at frame material for visual links and a point of connection. The flat surface of the sideboard allows for a play of objects – books, lamps, clusters of ceramics and flowers. These elements help break the rigidity of the more structured components and provide an opportunity for creative expression. Play with symmetry and asymmetry, textures and a variety of heights until you find the combination that works perfectly.

Image via Splendid Avenue

This is such a successful colour combination with the honey-toned timber of aged office filing drawers combining with the more decorative lamps that are similar but intriguingly different. The soft, ethereal blue of the artwork is large enough to have a presence, but due to its gentle colour it works with, rather than against the arrangement. Books in small stacks give the sense that it is a used surface not just reserved for display purposes.

Image by Jeltje Fotografie

What appears at first to be a conflict of scale is in fact the very thing that makes this arrangement work. The table is slim, low and of simple construction whereas the artwork has a more decorative, assertive presence. In an even bolder move the black vessel is placed front and centre, dominating the arrangement, with smaller vessels supporting it and adding a sense of balance and intricacy.

Image by David Ross

The mid-century timber sideboard is designed for display. Long, slim and of warm-toned wood, the surface is perfect for a range of ceramics, propped artworks and an industrial light. The relationship with the artworks above it is particularly strong with the tonal play of the frame echoing the dominant timber of the cabinet.

Image via Afflante

When less is more, the items need to be chosen with great confidence. Here a few simple pieces speak volumes. An over-scale light is the only semi-spherical shape in a highly linear composition. The slim console becomes the surface to prop a large, moody photograph and the upholstered seat echoes the elongated shape while adding softness. A few decorative pieces are placed on the console to add a touch of decorative interest – but they are kept to a minimum.

Image via Tone-on-tone

This Swedish sideboard is a beautifully measured piece in soft grey tones which are elegantly echoed in the mirror. Note the proportions and the relationship between the two pieces in terms of colour and central placement. By keeping all the vessels showcased on top of it white and adding a white orchid for height the simplicity of the scheme is maintained.

Image via A Concept by Anna

The subtle play of white on white is broken only by the grey of a spherical vase and the aluminium of the Tolix chair at the table. The artworks placed side by side provide a soft backdrop hanging, as they do, over the wall-hung cabinet. The whole looks embodies ‘soft modern’ and is enlivened with a flash of greenery.


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A classic Australian dish with a twist, by a renowned Australian chef, thanks to Neil Perry is chef and restaurateur at the Rockpool group of restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, as well as the author of several books. This recipe comes from his book The Food I Love (Murdoch)

Growing up, the lamb cutlet was the star of the ‘meat and three veg’ plate that was so famous in the fifties and sixties. A lot has changed since then, but there is nothing I like more than a barbecued lamb cutlet.

Ingredients (serves 4)

12 good-quality lamb cutlets
2 garlic cloves
2 lemon grass stems
3 cm (1¼ inch) piece fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons coriander (cilantro) leaves
3 tablespoons mint
60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper
lemon wedges


Remove the cutlets from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. To make the marinade, put the garlic, lemon grass, ginger and sea salt in a mortar and pound into a rough paste with the pestle. Add the herbs and pound for a further minute, then stir in the extra virgin olive oil and mix together well.

Mix the chops with the marinade and leave for at least 1 hour to infuse. Preheat the barbecue and make sure the grill bars are clean. When hot, put the cutlets on the hottest part. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side for medium rare. Put on a plate and cover with foil. Rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

Place three lamb cutlets on each of four plates. Mix a little oil with the juices on the resting plate and pour over the cutlets. Give a good grind of fresh pepper, place a lemon wedge on each plate and serve immediately.

See more at where you can follow your favourite chefs, share their recipes and order their books

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Vince Frost is a highly successful graphic designer, and now runs his own creative ideas studio, Frost*collective. Karen McCartney introduces his new book, Design Your Life. Leave a comment below for your chance to win a copy – full details below.

Vince Frost practises what he preaches – and that is part of this book’s appeal: his honesty in remaking his life for a more balanced, more generous and giving existence. The book uses phrases and quotes that drive his narrative, all designed with his distinctive punch, hence you are never in doubt as to what he means. He intersperses the book with interviews, asking a series of people he admires, from his naturopath to a high flying entrepreneur,  a series of questions to draw out their personal story and what a successfully ‘designed’ life looks like to them. Here Vince Frost describes what he hopes the book can do for those that read it, and why it was so necessary for him.

“I spend my working life helping other people work smarter. Every day my team and I enter organisations, identify problems and find solutions. We redesign not just how an organisation looks but how it articulates, how it flows. For the past 25 years, I have always been designing. I’ve built a thriving practice, amassed an enviable number of accolades and earned the respect of my peers not to mention numerous repeat clients. By all measures, I am a success.

But for years my private life was a mess. I was helping people work smarter. But I did not know how to live smarter. I was designing and redesigning everything but me. It wasn’t a moment of revelation so much as evolution. I can’t say when it happened but it seems I hired me to help myself live better by living smarter. I began applying my principles of design to my own life. And I found my flow: I am more reflective, more alive to my senses, more in touch with the people in my life and more aware of my value. In short, I am happier.

This book is the next step in my evolution. If my design process can bring value to me as a person, perhaps it can bring value to others. Or, more radically, bring others to recognise their own value. This book will not solve your problems. You have to do that yourself. And it will take lots of hard work. But I believe this book will inspire you to work better at living better.

I am designer. I am a doer. My ultimate measure of success is achieving what I like to call doability. It’s not a real word. But its meaning is manifest. This book is more than words, more than images. It’s about inspiring ideas to life. It’s about proving the impossible possible.”

I always felt inadequate. That something was missing.

It took me a long time to see how the world worked – and I’m still learning now. I didn’t do well at college; I had no idea what my options were for the future. Design school seemed like a last resort, so for want of other options I applied to the West Sussex College of Design and did a year’s foundation course. That’s when I got the tingling feeling. Design wasn’t academic; sure, there were rules but they were more like boundaries on a field, a playground. I could use my intuition; I could be myself – whoever that was. Suddenly, I was surrounded by a lot of other people who were like me. After that foundation year, I had to choose a discipline. For the first time in my life, I had options. But there was only one choice, and it wasn’t mine to make. Graphics chose me. Every morning, I woke up with an adrenalin rush. I couldn’t wait to go to college and get a brief – I wanted to be challenged.

The tingle became a hummmm.

Explore the unknown

Comfort comes from the Latin “to strengthen”. When we think of a comfort zone, we think of the status quo, of a slackened mental state. When you’re in your comfort zone you don’t need to be on your toes. But seen from another perspective, our comfort zone is the place that gives us strength so that we can move outside of that zone. A home is not merely a refuge, a place to escape, but also a place to recharge. Each day has its natural challenges. Challenges that you cannot predict. You have to step outside your comfort zone. Expand your consciousness. Whether it’s your career or your life, it’s how you grow.

Don’t stop being a kid

As a designer you have a brief window to create an impression. People are going to work, passing a poster or a bus. When you’re taking things in for the first time going down Oxford Street – whether your Oxford Street is in Sydney or London or Tokyo – there’s a massive three-dimensional quilted collage of information demanding attention. But after you’ve gone down that road twice a day for a couple of weeks, the mind is only going to spot something new. The rest is back- ground. You need something that stands out. How do you design a book that will sit in a book- shop with 1000 other books all saying, “Look at me”? How does a café stick out on a streetscape? That’s the challenge: How do I take a brief in print and create an emotion? You have to look at it with fresh eyes. You have to think of that strip as a playground. You have  to have fun, remind yourself that you don’t know everything. However old you are. Never stop being a kid. Never stop growing up. But stop being a teenager – it’s a very unreasonable stage of life. And banish the phrase, “whatever” from your vocabulary.

Question everything

The humble question mark: A stroke and a dot creates a universe. A lightning strike. Over the centuries the symbol has taken on a life of its own. The Japanese and Chinese have now embraced it in their character set. In Arabic, which reads right to left, the question mark is the mirror image. It’s a universal symbol. ___? Fill in the blank. Who. What. Where. When. Easy to ask. Easy to answer. Why. A little word that asks so much. Three letters. So many possibilities. As a designer I question things constantly. ‘Why’ asks us to delve deep, to tap for answers. ‘Why’ is about getting information. We set out on a quest for an answer. The brief lays out the quest, and we begin to ask questions: what are the different ways to express the potential solutions? It’s simple. We do what any good designer does. We take an opportunity and turn it into something that is unique to the situation.

Why is a gateway to possibility. Why is the door to a solution. Turn it around. Q: What happens if you don’t ask why? A: Nothing. It’s human nature to question any situation. To question means to see everything around you. It means being open to and engaged with your environment. That’s how we find scenarios for making things better.

Extract from Design Your Life by Vince Frost, published by Lantern (RRP$49.99). Order your copy here.

What have you done to change your life in 2015? Leave a comment below before 5pm (AEDT) Friday 23 January 2015 to win a copy of Design Your Life by Vince Frost. You must be a member of Temple & Webster to enter, and you may only enter once. We’ll pick our favourite comments and contact the winners via Facebook or email by Friday 30 January 2015. If we are unable to contact the winner(s) within 30 days we’ll pick an alternative winner(s). Good luck!

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Karen McCartney visits Sibella Court’s new warehouse space for The Society Inc, her retail store and creative home.

Sibella Court wears many hats, literally and metaphorically – interior stylist, product designer, historian, globetrotter, creative director and, of course, retailer. She opened The Society Inc in Sydney after a 10 year stint in New York and she calls it her ‘home to hardware, haberdashery and a treasure trove of oddities and curiosities’.

Always ahead of the curve, Sibella has moved her headquarters from a terrace in Sydney’s Paddington to a sprawling warehouse complex in St Peters.

The terrace becomes an Airbnb which is decorated in her inimitable style and showcases Australian made furniture and products – all revealed to those that stay in a menu of product for sale.

The Society Inc moves to a generous space of classic warehouse construction – the worn timber floors, corrugated iron-clad walls and exposed ceiling structure providing the perfect backdrop to flourishes of carefully curated styling.

Victoria Baker and I paid Sibella a pre-Christmas visit and, overcome by a retail rush, longed to leave with one of her vintage velvet cushions, eye-painted timber chairs and a selection of ceramics under one arm. She advocates living life as a pirate and I wanted to behave like one – pillage and run away with the goods. Instead I quietly handed over my credit card for a beautiful ceramic bowl which will make its recipient very happy.

The space allows for a gratifying play of scale, from small objects to the luxury of a four poster bed (left), covered in exquisite leather that has been treated by Shibori Textiles to create a fascinating tactile finish. The eye motif (right) recurs throughout the space, both applied to surfaces and seating and in the creation of objects themselves.

Heavyweight vintage linens with the mark of heavy mending  are hung beside a Little Dandelion wool-covered chair and a Sibella designed feather-filled cushion (left). Dangerous slogans (right) incite one to become a pirate – not to be taken literally!

The hardware range becomes a wall display (left) and is shown alongside graphic industrial tools. (Right) A massive cuttlefish wall hanging sits in front of a chalkboard wall marked with crosses

(Left) A large open bookcase helps divide the retail space from her office where the business of being Sibella Court takes place. New hospitality projects are hatched, products designed and plans for expansion into the New York scene are cooked up in an atmosphere of unbridled creativity. (Right) The eye motif recurs in small objects in timber and painted onto ceramic spoons – the theme of protection runs through the space via the symbol of the eye.

Sibella’s range with Murobond paints is applied directly to the painted brick wall and its muted shades provide a backdrop to a Balinese boat filled with cushions – the floral ones by New York based photographer and textile designer Martyn Thompson.(Left) A sketchily applied paint swatch looks like it has been there for ever, adding to the patina of the newly occupied space.

The Society Inc is open Monday – Saturday 10am – 4pm at Precinct 75, 75 Mary St, St Peters, Sydney. Follow Sibella on Instagram @sibellacourt

Posted in   Styling, T&W VisitsTags  2 comments

Rob and Sophia Palmer are the the couple behind Colour of Maroc, a book billed as a celebration of food and life in Morocco. It’s a delicious combination of food and travel, made richer by Sophia’s Moroccan roots and Rob’s photography. As Sophia explains, no self respecting Moroccan cook works from a recipe, so they spent many hours watching her mother and friends cooking to capture the spice combinations of these dishes, and learned much more about Moroccan life on the way. We picked two salads and a pilaf to share here – just add your own meat or fish dish for a Moroccan feast. We have 4 copies to give away – full details are below – or you can order a copy in today’s sale event. 

Roasted cauliflower salad with saffron & currant dressing

My aunty Cherifa is a painter. She loves mixing colours and textures and, as it turns out, she is creative in the kitchen too. We were already impressed by her spiced cauliflower gratin but then she decided to compose from scratch a salad based on the same ingredients and ended up creating this wonderful saffron currant dressing. That’s how it works here – no recipe, just inspiration and creativity.

Ingredients (serves 6)

700g/1lb9oz cauliflower, broken into small florets
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt flakes and black pepper, to season
1 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup unsalted almonds, roasted and chopped

Saffron currant dressing
1/2 tsp saffron thread
1 tbsp boiling water
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp currants
Sea salt flakes and black pepper, to season


For the saffron currant dressing, place the saffron and boiling water in a small bowl and stand for 5 minutes. Whisk in the oil and vinegar until well combined, then stir in the currants. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Stir well before using.

Preheat an overn to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Place the cauliflower and oil in a large bowl, toss well to combine. Transfer the cauliflower mixture to a baking tray and spread to a single layer. Bake in oven for 15-20 minute or until tender and golden.

Place the warm cauliflower in a shallow serving dish, pour over the saffron currant dressing and toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with the onion, parsley and almonds. Serve immediately, drizzled with more olive oil.

Pickled beetroot salad with feta & walnuts

Overlooking Volubilis and the surrounding Moroccan plains, we’d eaten with a local family perched high in Moulay Idriss, the hillside holy town named after the man who in the 8th century brought Islam and established Morocco’s first dynasty. Assia welcomed us into her home and produced a picked beetroot salad that Rob talked about for days afterwards, inspiring us to create this twist on the same recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)

3 cups.750ml/26fl oz water
1 cup/250ml/9fl oz malt vinegar
1 cup white sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp coriander (cilantro) seeds
2 whole star anise
500g/1lb 2oz baby beetroot (beets), trimmed
1/2 cup/50g/1 3/4oz walnut halves, toasted
1/3 cup/65g/2 1/2oz feta, crumbled

Honey mustard dressing 
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
Sea salt flakes and black pepper, to season


Place the water, vinegar, sugar and spices in a medium saucepan over a low heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolved. Add the beetroot and cook, partially covered, for 1 hour or until the beetroot is tender when tested with a skewer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beetroot to a heatproof bowl and reserve the pickling liquid. Cool the beetroot to room temperature, then peel and discard the skins. Return the beetroot to the reserved pickling liquid. You can serve the pickled beetroot immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

For the honey mustard dressing, whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the beetroot from the pickling liquid and halve them lengthways. Transfer the beetroot to a serving plate and drizzle with the honey mustard dressing, tossing gently to coat. Sprinkle over the walnuts and the feta. Serve immediately.

Barley & vegetable pilaf with cumin dressing

Moroccans love pumpkins as Australians do so we thought we’d use it along with chickpeas and herbs to create this earthy yet refreshing pilaf, which can either be served with roasted or grilled meats, or as a vegetarian dish on its own.

Ingredients (serves 6 as an accompaniment)

1/2 cup/100g/3 1/2oz dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 1/2 cups/300g/10 1/2oz pearl barley, rinsed and drained
1 cup/50g/1 3/4pz flat leaf parsley leaves
3 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
4 red capsicums (peppers), cut into 2cm/3/4in wide strips
800g/1lb 12oz butternut pumpkin (squash), skin removed and cut into 2cm/3/4in pieces
1/4 cup/60ml/2fl oz olive oil
sea salt flakes and black pepper, to season

Cumin dressing
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup/12kml/4fl oz lemon juice
1/2 cup/12kml/4fl oz olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp sea salt flakes


For the cumin dressing, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside and whisk again before using.

Drain the soaked chickpeas and rinse well under cold running water. Discard any skins that have fallen off or are loose. Cook the chickpeas in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 50-55 minutes or until tender. Set aside.

Cook the barley in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain, then while still hot combine with the chickpeas and half of the cumin dressing. Toss together to combine. Set aside to cool to room temperature and allow flavours to develop. Once cooled, toss through the parsley and spring onion.

Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Place the capsicum, pumpkin and oil together in a large bowl. Season with salt and peper. Toss well to coat then transfer to a large baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender and golden. Remove tray from oven and add the remaining cumin dressing, toss gently to coat.

Spoon the chickpea mixture into a large shallow bowl and top with the vegetables. Serve immediately.

Recipes from Colour of Maroc by Rob & Sophie Palmer, published by Murdoch Books ($59.99)

Order your copy today or find out more at the Colour of Maroc website

Leave a comment below before 5pm (AEDT) Friday 16 January 2015 to win one of four copies of Colour of Maroc by Rob & Sophia Palmer. You must be a member of Temple & Webster to enter, and you may only enter once. We’ll pick our favourite comments and contact the winners via Facebook or email by Friday 23 January 2015. If we are unable to contact the winner(s) within 30 days we’ll pick an alternative winner(s). Good luck!


Posted in   EntertainingTags  29 comments