March 19, 2014

After a few weeks skiing in Europe it was fantastic to be back on the harbour yesterday, ferrying across to Cockatoo Island for the first installment of the 19th Biennale of Sydney. Under the banner ‘You Imagine What You Desire’ Artistic Director Juliana Engberg has done a terrific job of assembling a top-notch roster of international artists – the gaggle of accents on the crossing was testimony enough to that! And after a tough, controversial lead-up it was a relief to finally get out there amongst the art – where it counts. Callum Morton’s majestically tongue-in-cheek Google Ghost Train makes a big splash at the entrance, and kind of sets the tone for a biennale that is upbeat, iconoclastic and quite frankly, fun. I loved Swiss fitness fanatics, Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger’s ‘Meanwhile in the bush’ installation using redundant pieces of gym equipment, reconfiguring them with flowers, skeletons, branches and other ephemera – a great …

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March 12, 2014

The Alpine ski chalet is probably one of the most reconizable architectural tropes around. The steep pitch of the roof, the pronounced rafter overhang, the use of insulating massive stone blocks and roughly hewn timber. It’s also one of the most ecologically sound structures: everything is sourced locally – hence the change in material from region to region. Skiing Lech, Zürs and St Anton, I noticed that the traditional genre is being quite skillfully adapted to a more modern aesthetic. A more refined pitch, a more horizontal plan, timber shingles in place of rustic logs. One of the most inspiring of these featured a structural supporting wall extending beyond the plumb line – and filled with logs to be used in the open fireplaces. As the season continues, the log supply would become depleted, creating an ever-evolving sculpture. Those clever Austrians!

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February 28, 2014

It’s shaping up to be a bumper year, here at Tobias Partners. The practice is a tight army of top-notch architects and designers and 2014 is going to stretch our skills – diplomatic as well as technical – to the max. We’ve got private house projects up and down the coast, from Roseville to Lavender Bay. Like Fran Lebovitz in Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, we cover the waterfront!

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February 11, 2014

There’s something about an Air France hostess that just screams, Chic! Is it the sweep of her chignon, or her Christian Lacroix-designed uniform? Either way, there’s the same je ne sais quoi quality to the carrier’s inflight magazine, Air France Madame. For years now, it’s won awards for its excellent coverage of French and international culture. Like the reportage in the latest issue on Sydney, by resident journalist Marie Le Fort. In a beautifully laid-out three page spread, mademoiselle Le Fort covers some of my personal favourite food spots, including The Sailors Club at Rose Bay, The Boathouse at Palm Beach, and that terrific Greek restaurant, Apollo at Potts Point. But of course, the thing I’m particularly chuffed about is her mention of “the plush, imaginative spaces created by Nick Tobias for The Bridge Room.” The Bridge Room, Sunny and Ross Lusted’s fantastic CBD eatery, really is one of the finest dining experiences in …

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January 24, 2014

It’s been Daniel Boyd’s week! On Tuesday night, the thirty-something artist was part of an epic sight and sound collaboration with electro duo Canyons at the Opera House. Titled HIVE, it was a truly moving and at times frankly thrilling multimedia performance in which the Aboriginal artist’s nouveau dottilism was not just the backdrop, but the very essence of the piece. Major! Then, at Rosyln Oxley’s gallery last night, he unveiled ‘Pineapples in the Pacific’, a very excellent collection of wall works. I became aware of Boyd’s work just over a year ago, and have been following him with interest ever since. He’s part of the next generation of ‘indigenous’ artists, a loose posse of artists who explore their aboriginality beyond notions of national identity or defeatists politics. Born in Cairns, his great-great-grandfather was from Pentecost Island, part of what is now Vanuatu, and this international otherness underscores much of his work. Yes, he …

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December 18, 2013

This just landed on my desk – and instantly my holiday reading is sorted! Almost 450 pages of interviews with some of the world’s stellar architects and other related creatives: Rem Koolhaas, Jacques Herzog, Hedi Slimane, Zaha Hadid, Simon Fuljiwara, Ettore Sottsass, Shigeru Ban… Fifty-six international identities in all. Pin-Up magazine is a biannual compendium tagging itself ‘Architectural Entertainment for Adults’ – and since its launch in New York in 2006 it’s never failed to deliver on its promise of irreverent, insider insight into the worlds of architecture and design. Helmed by wunderkind Felix Burrichter (with a Masters in Architecture from Columbia, Felix cut his editorial teeth at the likes of Numéro and Fantastic Man magazines), the contributor list is also peppered with luminaries from the cultural sector. (I note my friend Stephen Todd has scribed a rather juicy looking profile on the Paris home of Rik Owens and Michelle Lamy…) All this, and not one …

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December 11, 2013

The annual Tobias Partners staff Christmas lunch is always a fun filled, casual-chic affair – and a great opportunity to sit back, relax and simply chat as a team. And what is more quintessentially a Sydney Noël, than a long leisurely lunch on a classic wooden craft? Nothing really – except perhaps catering by Guillaume Brahini, the former chef of the Opera House restaurant that traded under his first name. (Guillaume will open his new restaurant, in Paddington in April next year.)It was Guillaume and is partners who lent us their extremely elegant 1960s Rybovich fishing trawler – and kept the festive fare circulating; so a big Thank You to Guillaume! Boarding at Rose Bay jetties, we ambled up the Paramatta River then out towards the Heads, passing (purely by coincidence, promise!) cruised past Tobias Partners houses at Double Bay, Rose Bay, Vaucluse… and of course, the landmark Altona property, where we shall break ground early next …

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December 5, 2013

To be commissioned to refurbish and extend the Woolhara Chevra Kadisha is an extraordinary honour. In the Jewish tradition, what could be loosely translated as the ‘funeral home’ is a key site and symbol of the faith, the place where the human body gives up the ghost and the spirit ascends to its rightful place. Architecturally speaking, the red brick monolith sitting opposite Centennial Park is impressive, if somewhat time-worn. We will extend the lofty, Classical chapel through it tri-archway into a pared down volume that will echo the original in a tone of monastic simplicity. Here, the Shomer will sit Shiva in a space for reflection on eternal truths. The administrative functions will be rehoused in new digs, and the basement preparation chambers will be given a streamlined allure. As for that imposing exterior, we will in all humility add a cube brick volume along the Oxford Street axis, a loose knitting of …

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