A VISUAL LIFE | Creative Direction + Design

Category: Design

HOUSE CALL // the ideal home

Douglas Snelling chair and foot stool, 1957 (timber and synthetic webbing); Douglas Snelling cabinet, 1949 (timber); George Nelson ‘Bubble’ lamp, 1947-70s (plastic and metal)

Robin Boyd ‘House of Tomorrow’, designed 1949 (model made 1992)

Wolfgang Sievers ‘House of Tomorrow’ photographs, 1949 (printed 1990)

Grant and Mary Featherston ‘Numero IV’ lounge suite, 1973-74 (polyurethane foam, ABS plastic and wool); Grant and Mary Featherston dining setting, 1969 (stem, plastic, timber, metal, rubber and fabric); Korban/Flaubert ‘Swaylamp’ floor lamp, 2002 (background); Marc Newson ‘Helice’ floor lamp, 1993 (foreground)

Catherine O’Donnell ‘Sirius Topography (series)’, 2018 (3M vinyl tape 471)

Mid century modern style made a comeback years ago and it’s not going away any time soon and for good reason – great design. I recently saw The Ideal Home exhibition and although it’s very small, it’s worth it if you’re in the area (there’s a larger second site at MAAS Powerhouse in Ultimo). The exhibit shows a slice of history with examples of what a 20th century Australian home looked like with furnishings and household items from the MAAS Collection.

In this era Australia had one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world and suburbs grew quickly. Modern technology and mass manufacturing made goods readily available to consumers and time saving products allowed more leisure. While modernist designers created trends in architecture, interiors and design internationally, Australian pioneers made their own mark. Architect Robin Boyd’s creations are featured as well as iconic furniture designers Grant and Mary Featherston.

Another interesting and unexpected element was the installation of drawings of the Sirius brutalist apartment block. I’ve written before about the threat of redevelopment that the iconic building is facing in my Save Our Sirius post. Catherine O’Donnell has covered the walls with tape outlines of the Sirius footprint, floor plans and elevations to showcase this treasure in a fresh way.

Australians embraced mid century modern as it represented comfort, style and function. 100 years later it is a lifestyle that we still aspire to today.

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STREETSCAPES // give me a sign

It’s obvious from my posts that I love architecture, typography and anything vintage so these old finds are right up my alley. This bar in Rozelle is new but the clever retro design of the sign in a weathered style gives it an old world look. The empty shopfront in Bondi features original signwriting in the window with a pretty pink and white tile facade probably dating back to the 1950’s. The Royal in Bondi has just been revamped and I’m glad to see that the character of the pub has been retained. Sadly the tile words outside have been removed so I’m glad I captured it before they disappeared. I’ve shown examples of tiled signage in a previous post and it would be great to salvage them but I know tiles are difficult to remove successfully. These letters would have been so cool reinstalled by a swimming pool – fancy a dip?

TYPE-RIGHTER // modern love

I mentioned in an earlier post how I kept seeing the word LOVE everywhere, which gave me the idea to use this as a theme for a project. Making a start on this concept has stalled with the usual restraints we all have with work, family, friends and life admin. I’ve also been working on other business and product developments, which I’m still yet to finalise and launch. So I thought I’d keep adding to the LOVE series here in the meantime since I’m still coming across examples.

This window decal at Ziggy’s Barber Salon in Darlinghurst is fun but also supporting the LGBT community using the symbolic rainbow colours. Metal 3D letters highlighted with moody lighting and placed artfully on the wall at Gowings Bar in the city is also a stylish design. Two different treatments but these signs are still popping up to ‘show me love’ and it’s also a nice reminder for us all to believe that ‘you’ve got the love’.

TYPE-RIGHTER // vintage pub art

Pubs in Australia are part of the suburban landscape and iconic to our culture. It’s a shame that so many are disappearing and being redeveloped into high rise apartment blocks due to the land size and good locations. Luckily there are some that are bought and revamped but it’s a fine balance of keeping the heritage while bringing them to the modern age. The architectural styles of the buildings can vary like Federation or Art Deco but I also find the signage used at the time interesting.

Vintage posters and beer branded signs were commonly displayed because the breweries had major influence over pubs by controlling the choice of beers they sold. Tooth & Co dominated in Sydney and eventually bought out Resch’s, which led to them owning the majority of city pubs. Tooth’s branding is still seen around such as this painted mural at Terminus Hotel in Pyrmont. Posters advertising beer brands were also popular and can still be spotted in older areas like The Rocks. I particularly like this Victoria Bitter one at the Royal Hotel in Bondi as the surfer represents the beach area and the graphic style is reflective of the era.

TYPE-RIGHTER // retro meets exotic

Stanbuli is a modern Turkish restaurant in Enmore established by the Porteno team and chef Ibrahim Kasif. Delicious food is obviously the focus but the architecture and history that abounds in this space is intriguing. Classic interiors with beautiful details such as lights, signs and eclectic photos salvaged from ancient marketplaces in Istanbul.

However it’s the juxtaposition of the famous exterior that adds even more interest. The heritage-listed pastel facade shows the shop was previously the Marie-Louise Salon. Locals say it was left in a time warp with hair products, newspapers and hand written appointment cards. The former owners were George and Nola Mezher, who later opened a soup kitchen in Pitt Street for the homeless after they won the lottery. Their philosophy was that everyone should have a great dining experience and their old salon also pays homage to food.

In this age where so many historic places are being lost to developers, it’s a relief this iconic spot has been left intact and lovingly restored. The vintage typography of the former salon signage complements the retro lines and colours of the shopfront. While the current restaurant logo on the door hints at the exotic fusion that awaits inside.

TYPE-RIGHTER // message in a tile

ANFM_Design-tilesign01

ANFM_Design-tilesign02

The design trends of all things genuine and handcrafted has also seen the resurgence of the traditional art of signwriting. I love historic shop fronts with faded hand-painted signs or gold leaf typography, but they are fast disappearing. Another clever signage method is using tiles to mosaic the message which gives a fun and whimsical result. There’s not many around so I’m on the hunt…

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