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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August 20, 2013

Of course, Japan is most famous for its ‘dry’ rock gardens, and none are more famous than the extremely pared down example at the Temple of the Dragon at Peace at Ryoan-ji, in Kyoto. Its raked pebbles and poetically placed boulders are an exercise in perfect restraint. But on my most recent visit, what I was even more struck by was the subtle complexity of the ‘wet’ gardens around the same temple. Towering bamboo that fluttered in the breeze, massive elms and majestic weeping cherry trees create this almost magical environment. Subtle shifts in perspective, gradated foregrounds to background, shifts in density of foliage and texture of plants creates a series of framed ‘vignettes’. Mossy ground cover and circular accumulations of lily pads add a sculptural dimension, as well. While you’re most definitely in nature, it’s nature curated to the max. The effect is beguiling, the desire to rest a while and contemplate, compelling. …

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August 2, 2013

On a recent trip to Tokyo, Miranda and I made a pilgrimmage to the famous Okura Hotel. Not so much because it’s a sensational example of mid-century interior architecture (though it certainly is) but because one of our best friends insists he was conceived there. Designed by Yoshiro Taniguchi and opened for business in 1962, the austere, slightly cleft rectangular exterior belies an interior that is as sumptuous as it is sparse. In a city in which space is at a premium, the elegant expanse of the lobby is an early expression of what would later become known in the fashion world as “stealth wealth”. It’s like a Zen rock garden – each grouping of low tables and bucket chairs is a microcosm, the space between them as significant as the snappy styling of the furniture itself. As for the Orchid Bar – it’s the essence of international chic, the mother-of-pearl …

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