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!

read more


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. …

read more


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 …

read more


April 3, 2013

It was great to open the London Financial Times last weekend and read food critic Nicholas Lander’s review of Sunny and Ross Lusted’s Bridge Room. Quite rightly, he traces their Asian-inspired cuisine and sense of service to their extensive experience at the Aman resorts. And, like Lander, we are huge fans of Ross’ sake-marinated John Dory! But it’d be falsely modest of us if I didn’t ‘fess up: the bit about the “gorgeously simple, attractive dining room” really put a smile on our face.

read more


December 4, 2012

A handful of artists transcend the parameters of the gallery to operate in the culture at large. To my mind, Indian-born Anish Kapoor is one of these chosen few. Leviathan in both the physical and psychological senses, his monumental installations engage the macro of public space and the micro of the viewer’s most intimate sense of self. I remember walking into the Tate Modern’s cavernous Turbine Hall and being dumbstruck, even gob-smacked by the sheer impact of his visceral red Marsyas sculpture, in 2002.

So, you can imagine how excited I am about the upcoming exhibition of Anish Kapoor’s work – the first of its kind – at the MCA (opening December 20th). So excited, in fact, that I actually couldn’t wait and had to get a sneak peak at the works in progress. Here are some shots of his site-specific piece. It, and several other key works including the very early powder-pigmented 1000 …

read more


November 21, 2012

Me, I’ve done my list, checked it twice. Have I been naughty or nice? Over to you…


1. Sound Decision

With two speakers in each can, and lush colours worthy of a Stateside sedan, these Beats Solo HD headphones get the stamp of approval from none other than Dr Dre. Yo ho, ho!


2. Slim Pickings

The fourth volume in Slim Aarons’ tireless recording of the good life in Europe and North America in the 1950s and 60s, is a visual homage to timeless chic. Marcello Mastroianni, Ursula Andress, Tyrone Power all play bit parts in the Aarons own Divine Comedy. Lush.


3. Neo Geo

For the inner armchair tourist in each of us. Award-winning photography, never-before-seen vistas, all the magic of our planet Earth. Since 1888 this impeccable periodical has been “inspiring people who care about the planet”. And who doesn’t do that?


4. Beach Blanket Babylon

read more


November 7, 2012

Edmund Spencer, one of our architects and the guy in charge of interiors here at Tobias Partners, has been working really intensely on an office project for Partridge, one of the country’s most innovative structural engineering firms. When Ed comes back from Partridge he is always stoked by the collaboration. You see, Partridge aren’t your everyday structural engineers, they have also done unique work on film sets like Mad Max and Wolverine, installations for Sculpture by the Sea and a truckload of other inspiring projects. Actually, Ed, this is your post. Take it away…

“Thanks Nick. Okay, so the office we completed for Partridge was very much part of their branding strategy; it was about creating a dynamic, collaborative studio workspace. Actually we took a lot of cues from our own office here in Paddington and adapted them to a suit a multi-storey office space. One of the great moments during the project was …

read more


November 2, 2012

Wow! I was flicking through this month’s issue of The Australian newspaper’s monthly colour supplement, WISH magazine and was surprised and delighted to find a four-page story on Tobias Partners. Of course, I knew Wish magazine’s super chic editor-in-chief David Meagher had commissioned culture critic Luke Slattery to write a piece on me and the practice for this month’s Design issue of WISH, but I wasn’t expecting such a strong presence in the mag. Other architects featured in the issue include Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry and RIchard Rogers, so I’m thrilled to be in such esteemed company. Also, there’s a terrific story on Dior Homme designer, Kris Van Assche. What more could I wish for?

read more