A VISUAL LIFE | Creative Direction + Design

Tag: retro

HOUSE CALL // harry seidler, vaucluse waters

Soaring above the rugged coastline on the Diamond Bay cliff walk and balancing on the edge, is the 1960’s apartment block Vaucluse Waters. True to the modernist era, it is constructed predominantly of concrete and glass. It stands out in the area due to its vast height compared to the surrounding buildings as well as the prime position on the coast. Designed by renowned architect Harry Seidler, it is possibly one of his less famous projects in comparison to many other landmarks around Sydney.

In typical Seidler fashion, the style is very linear and angular with windows taking advantage of the vista. In old photos it seems there may have been balconies when it was first built, which have been closed in at some stage. The sweeping ocean views are breathtaking but have also subjected the apartments to the harsh weather elements. Unfortunately it is damaged and in need of major repairs, but hopefully the upgrades will be undertaken with respect to the original design. Many of these gems are constantly at risk, either lost completely in demolition or being redeveloped so much that the true architectural character disappears.

TYPE-RIGHTER // vintage branding

Discovering and documenting historic signage has become a hobby of mine. I’m always on the lookout for faded signwriting, vintage advertising and retro posters. With so much redevelopment in Sydney I am finding that many of these treasures from our past are being lost. Even looking back at my Instagram, it’s shocking to see how many of the images I’ve posted don’t exist anymore. These signs were taken on Devonshire Street which is being overhauled thanks to the new light rail route, so I’m just hoping they won’t disappear too. In particular, my love for classic Australian brands with a long heritage are my favourite finds. Even though Tooth’s brewery no longer goes by that name, some old signs are still on display which I’ve discussed before in a previous post about pub art. Bushells is instantly recognisable as it’s a national icon that has been around since 1883. Working in design, I enjoy seeing how these brands have evolved and how these examples remind us of our childhood and the culture of our country.

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.

INSTA-JAM // 2018 flew

        

Usually I post a visual diary and show a snapshot from each month at the end of the year, but 2018 flew by and before you know it we’re at the end of January 2019. It’s a little late but here are some highlights from my Instagram that I hope you enjoy and feel free to browse my feed. I have to say that I used to be much more consistent and I think we all go through that social media fatigue at some stage. It is still a great medium to express yourself and connect with people but I’m taking Marie Kondo’s ‘KonMari’ approach – only if it sparks joy!

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 // 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.

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