June 27, 2012

The 18th Biennale of Sydney opens today! Artistic Directors Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster have brought together more than 100 artists from some 44 countries under the banner of “all our relations”. At its core a collaboration between two top-class curators, this biennale explores issues so close to my heart; issues of unity, inclusivity, connectedness – these are the emotions and modus operandi I gravitate to and enjoy most in life. I’m very excited to see new work by the techno-tactile Dutch man, Daan Roosegaarde, the visceral Swriwhana Spong and the sublimely diligent Shachiko Abe (respectively, from New Zealand and Japan). And I’m most keen to renew the long flirtation I have enjoyed with Jess MacNeill. Spread across various venues throughout Sydney, and most impressively on Cockatoo Island, this is one event absolutely not to be missed!

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Windows. Don’t we all sometimes wish they would just go away? The closest we get to that is in a tropical resort setting, where they are simply not necessary. But few of us live at Amankila. At least, not full-time anyway.

In recent years our greatest find has been the Vitrocsa glazing system – only the Swiss could create something so beautiful, so restrained, yet of such high performance. Custom made sliding doors and window systems are of only 15 millimetre width and there is no need for either a top or bottom rail! When ordered in a dark colour they are nearly unseen. The head and footer tracks are beautifully detailed and able to be superbly flush into floor and ceiling. Vitrocsa also produce a fabulous guillotine frame, a floor-to-ceiling 3-panel sliding system that is as sharp as its namesake, and somewhat more graceful.

These have to (not) be seen to be believed.

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June 21, 2012

On the first leg of our annual European vacation, Miranda, the boys and I were driving along the banks of Lake Zurich, near the town of Kusnacht (home to the Carl Jung Institute and the Seeclub Kusnacht – the oldest boating club in the world, dating from the early thirteenth century) when we decided to pull into a roadside picnic stop. Appropriately, these rest stations are known as “aire” in French, and a great big fresh breath of it immediately filled our lungs.

In design terms, it was also a breath of fresh air to see how the Swiss – that notoriously rigorous race – kitted out the lush green rest zone. In the most elegantly rudimentary manner, in fact. Benches were constructed from trees felled in the neighbouring forest. Tables made from simple concrete slabs. And, the pièce de résistance, the barbeque, was an elementary, wrought metal device with a ringed hearth and a two-height …

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June 20, 2012

“Mingling 2012” was commissioned of video artist Grant Stevens, to acknowledge the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art’s Building Donors, and is now on display in the new MCA foyer. As a family, Miranda, my sons Samson and Griffin and I are all really chuffed to see our names appear in the work. Especially since supporting the MCA feels like a family tradition – Miranda, her parents’ and siblings’ names figure in a 1991 piece by Imants Tillers, installed in the foyer of the old MCA/Maritime Services Building.

Grant’s new work is delightful! In a typically simple, graphic manner “Mingling” incites an incredible sense of anticipation, inclusion and intrigue as the narrator leads the listener through an imaginary event that ultimately includes the names of all building donors. Like much of Grant’s digital work, there is a strong sense of the constant voice of our own inner-monologue and how it leads, excites, confuses and sometimes …

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June 14, 2012

Maybe it’s because in a few weeks’ time I’ll be hiking through the Swedish countryside, then popping over to Val Fex in Switzerland (Peter Zumthor’s stomping ground) for a look around. Maybe it’s because, as we speak, Sydney is slipping as far into the depths of Winter as it will ever really get. (Have you seen this light? Amazing!) Either way, it seems saunas are on my mind.

The Swedes, of course, excel at the art of relaxing à la vapeur, their Nordic nation dotted with spa baths and sauna-centred healing hotspots. Zumthor – as you blogsters have no doubt understood, my absolute idol – shot to fame with his Spa in Vals (built 1996).

At Tobias Partners we share the essential Modernist preoccupation with wellbeing (from the inside, as well as out) and as often as is feasible, build saunas into the plans for our client’s residential programs. Said clients may sometimes, …

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