October 30, 2013

Springtime in Sydney means Sculpture by the Sea. Tobias Partners Associate Aubrey Chan took an evening stroll from Bondi to Tamarama and had this to say:

“I decided to check out this year’s installation the evening before the official launch, a fantastic way to really experience the artworks in their solitude. And it was one of those glorious summertime evenings the make you feel so smug about being a Sydneysider, having such easy access to such a spectacular natural setting. There’s definitely a little for everyone this year. Symbolic, strong sculptural pieces, playful kitchy Pop art, bigger-is-better splashes of colour, sensory pieces playing off the movement and energy of the coast, and some really interesting interactive work. (If only I could climb up David McCraken’s monolithic Diminish and Ascend, a concrete stairway to heaven that provides a perfect platform from which to check out the progress on our Ben Buckler site.) My personal favourites: …

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October 28, 2013

What amazing night it was, gathered at the ‘skirts’ of the Opera House with a few thousand of Sydney’s glitterati (and the Danish Royal Family) to officially ring in the 40th anniversary of the greatest Australian icon. It was so moving to hear the speakers evoke the pride – in a nation, in a culture, in a practice, in a family – that Jørn Utzon’s masterpiece incarnates. The Utzon family feel like our own, and they were in attendance to celebrate a very grand member of theirs. Jørn’s son, Jan Utzon who worked closely alongside his father until his death in 2008 gave a rousing speech, addressing the Opera House as he would a member of his clan. “Since your conception you have dominated our lives.” he said. And I am proud to know that she will always be a part of mine.


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September 30, 2013

George Nelson is one of those ingenious designers who managed to infiltrate, almost surreptitiously, our lives. Especially impressive, when you consider that he was more interested in a career as a journalist and theorist than as an industrial designer. After graduating Harvard School of Architecture he traveled throughout Europe, interviewing the Modernists – Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Co – and the profiles and think pieces he published in Architectural Forum magazine totally shaped the nature of mid-Century American design. The chairman of Herman Miller was so impressed that he offered Nelson the top job of Director of Design, and it was under that manufacturer’s aegis that iconic pieces like the Ball clock (1948), the Marshmallow sofa (1956) and the Coconut chair (also 1956) were produced. Targeting mass market and a new breed of post-War affluent consumer, he imbued his designs with a kind of Jetsons, Space Age allure. Unlike the …

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September 27, 2013

It was quite emotional for me, getting up at the crack of dawn yesterday to watch the America’s cup final with my two boys, Samson and Griffin. As those majestic craft glided toward the finish line, we were jumping up and down on the back of the couch in front of the TV – and I had a flashback to the very same scenario, with my dad, when Australia had an unprecedented win back in 1983. Of course, Australia didn’t win the world’s most prestigious yachting event this year. Not technically, anyway. But under Australian captain James Spithill, it was a crew of Australian, New Zealish and English sailors who navigated the American’s craft to victory. Sure, one of the most noble of sports has become a more cynical game today, with teams brought and sold and millions of dollars being poured into legal battles over technicalities. But for my boys, it’s still a marvelous …

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September 21, 2013

Day 1 at the Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, I chose to wear a pair of reissued high-performance Nike circa 87 – from the days when they were more an athletic- than a fashion-accessory. Just as well: I walked much more than a mile in them! First thing I did was head into Bay 20, where Paul Yore’s censored artwork was still being sequestered behind a dense black curtain and a couple of burly security guards. Even my super-Nikes couldn’t wing me past either of these forces of evil. Chances are this work may never be seen by the public, a very sad state of affairs but one that still couldn’t dampen the general fun of the Fair. Opening night’s impression of a super-slick, high-cred operation wasn’t in the least diminished by the light of day. If anything, it was enhanced by being able to see the almost symbiotic interaction of C19th architecture and very contemporary …

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September 17, 2013

The MCA’s 22nd annual Primavera show opened last week and it’s a fantastic sampling of what’s going on in Australian art right now. A capsule group show of Australia-born artists under-35, the Level 1 North Gallery is a hot box of cool ideas. On the left double-height wall, Thomas Jeppe’s X-ray vision renders the internal structure of the MCA building with graphic black lines tracing the transitional struts from old to new. A colourful, decorative element pays homage to Italian architect, Gae Aulenti. Very excellent. Diagonally opposite, Juz Kitson has populated the corner with her kinky memento mori, nets of goat hair, alpaca and various animal hides strung together and enmeshing porcelain and PVC objects in strange, almost totemic ways. I was particularly struck by the very poignant Better Half (2007-2013) series of photographs by Jackson Eaton: firstly a suite of images, an ode to the artist’s departed lover, the woman he never married; …

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August 30, 2013

We’ve just inked the deal on a fantastic new mixed-use project – a ground floor retail space and two rooftop apartments –adjacent to one of Sydney’s signature, heritage-listed terrace rows on leafy Roslyn Gardens, Elizabeth Bay. It’s an exciting challenge to come up with a modern idiom to sit seamlessly alongside such vigorous Victorian architecture.

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August 22, 2013

Japanese packaging has long fascinated us, here in the West. Most of us being unable to read it, the Kunji lettering acts effectively as a bold, almost decorative graphic element. The acid-pastel colouring, too, is often quite foreign to our eyes. All a delight. But then, there’s something about the way the Japanese order the things that surround them that I find truly compelling, too. Packaging, of course, is neatly arranged by colour code and sizes and types on rigorous shelving. But even less symmetrical things are moved into alignment: carts at the market, slabs of sashimi tuna, industrial machinery. It’s so easy to make the mental leap from street to gallery setting. Grids, repetition, mass produced consumer goods – it all looks like pro to-Pop Art!

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