Of all the amazing and challenging projects KWD has worked on over the last four years – residential, multi-density and commercial – our latest project in Templestowe is one of our most memorable. It’s not just because of the beautiful clients who pushed us to be the best we could be, or the visionary architecture and working with builders of excellence, we had the unique opportunity to work on the interior furnishings for a home that was a completely blank interior canvas. Designing the furniture and soft furnishings for this visionary home was such an exciting and rewarding experience.
The owners of this property had been searching for the perfect block of land to build their dream home, one that was flat enough to avoid too much excavation and one that offered some visual aspect (like a view across treetops) and had just the right feel. They weren’t in a hurry, they were prepared to wait for the ideal spot which they found on a hilltop in Templestowe.
They then searched for the right architect for the project and spoke to a number of professionals in the field. “We had seen Bojan Simic’s ‘Orb House’ in Kew and we also knew him through colleagues in the building industry, and decided he was the right person to deliver what we wanted. We didn’t have a particular style in mind but we liked his work, so he gave us a number of design options based on our brief of something that was quite modern but that also facilitated our growing family of a variety of ages. We wanted a space that would offer individual privacy for a family of five whilst enabling us to keep an eye on things too. And we love to entertain so we needed the design to facilitate it.”
Bojan Simic of Bojan Simic Architecture is a visionary artist. His work is both futuristic and grounded, melding sculptural forms with open plan spaces to design homes that are significant and purposeful. Bojan’s association with the owners evolved through mutual colleagues, they liked his approach to his work and that it was quality design. “There was no formal brief as such,” says Bojan. “We were hired because there was an understanding between us, something within our general approach and personal aesthetic. The owner had a high reputation within the industry, so it was a huge vote of confidence that he felt we were suitable for his own project.”
Says Bojan, “Architectural designs evolve. We’re not precious about what we do, it’s ultimately about what is right for our client. We prepared a number of different proposals to see what opportunities existed for the site and how best to address the accommodation needs of the client. We reviewed planning restrictions, the geo-technical constraints and adopted passive solar design principles that maximised the amount of sunlight the house would absorb. The orientation of the site was very important in determining the layout of the building and strategic location of windows. The streetscape is a mix of buildings that are slowly but surely being demolished and replaced with larger houses of a variety of styles, creating a real patchwork quilt. So we wanted to create something that was timeless and paid homage to the location’s proximity to the Yarra River and capture the feel of the riverside setting. Our client’s decided on a style that’s not formal and robust like other houses in the street. This design is more playful. While it does present as being quite solid and somewhat fortified externally, internally it’s much softer and full of natural light with floor to ceiling windows that slide open to create a feeling more reminiscent of a beach house or country retreat. The natural light and shadows of tree foliage play so beautifully throughout the home.”
The owner’s building journey started four years ago once the council approval setbacks were overcome and the architectural design was finalised. As patient people who are in the building industry themselves, they have a solid knowledge of how councils work and they could see the architect’s vision quite clearly and understood the challenges the builders would face. They were in a position where they could take the time to get it right.
The builders for the project had to be talented and experienced enough to take on the structural scope of design. The owners engaged Frank Pty Ltd. Wes and his team always strive for the best possible outcome. Says Wes, “As builders we are like drummers who play to the architect’s and client’s beat. We follow their music and we bring to life the architect’s dream as best we can in a 3-D building.”
He continues, “I am personally involved in every project we take on, along with Tyson who is my young prodigy and who’s been with me for 15 years or so. He has the same passion and ethos to get the perfect finish in every aspect of the build. We had open conversations with the owners and Bojan where we discussed various design aspects and how they could be tweaked to achieve the best result. Areas of this build were very difficult. The concrete forms were without doubt the hardest part. Concrete mix is like baking a cake in an oven – the heat of the oven will have such an effect on the result of the concrete. We had to judge the conditions, change the mixture to suit the ambient temperature, consider how long it would take to get the structures to site and how the curves would sit – horizontally or vertically or upside down. We had to change the vibration techniques and take into account all the variants. The rest of design was also a challenge, minimalising glass and glass intersections takes knowledge, patience and expertise. It’s easy to put a quad and a skirt everywhere and some cornice and architraves to hide everything. Our tolerances are very tight so that we can achieve outstanding outcomes. We take great pride in the outcome and we know we will be a part of the owner’s lives for years to come, they have been a real pleasure to work with.”
In terms of the interior, Bojan gave the owners design options for each room in the home. He says, “There’s a certain language that architects have. What the exterior of the building promises the interior has to deliver. Our approach to high end residential projects is to intricately design the internal and external form and fabric, that’s where our passion is and that’s what we are recognised for. The furniture and soft furnishings that were installed throughout the home by KWD perfectly captured the essence of the architectural design, and the end result is one of synergy and symmetry that also provides a comfortable home for the family.”
Says the owner, “Bojan had a vision in his head and a really strong view of what would work in the home. We believed in him and entrusted him. We chose experts for every facet of our home, so it made sense to entrust them to do what they thought was right. When it came time to move into our dream home I thought it was best to get everything from scratch. I knew that we needed furniture that would suit the spatial design and the finishes in our new home.”
And that’s where KWD stepped into the project. We were engaged by this amazing family to create the interior feel of their home. Kate worked closely with James Buddle who was head of design for this project. Says James, “The first step for the interior design for this project was to establish the purpose for each area within the architecturally designed house. Creating a relaxed family home was important, with zoned areas for each use.”
Every piece of furniture and the soft furnishings were curated or crafted specifically for the home. We worked solidly for weeks researching, studying and forming the ideal layout for the home. We specified or designed the furniture for each area which was both imported and sourced locally, working closely with local manufacturers to develop custom made designs. We wanted to create bespoke pieces for the property that married perfectly with the architect’s vision. Says James, “We created a formal retreat for the parents at the base of the stairs between the internal moat and central fireplace, and on the other side of the fireplace we positioned a large rug and an extra long extendable dining table with 16 chairs – they love entertaining and often with large groups, so creating easy entertaining zones was vital. We also set up a theatre room with big comfy chairs and the large family room has relaxed, stylish seating for groups of guests.”
Says the owner, “KWD had a blank canvas to work with, as we literally didn’t bring any furniture with us. With such a big and unique space we needed the right furniture with the right fabrics and tones that were also functional. I really left it up to the experts at KWD – they asked me what I definitely didn’t like and used that as a basis to show me a selection of colours, finishes, furniture and furnishings that they believed would suit the space. I would never normally have gone for the shades of blues in the formal lounge or some of the striped fabrics, it wouldn’t have entered my mind. That’s why it was so important for me to choose to work with experts whose work I admired and who I trusted. I know what I like, so when they presented me with ideas I was able to make decision about what to go with. I’m pretty good with colours and I’m quite decisive but I didn’t know how to bring everything together. With KWD’s research, knowledge of what we wanted to create and what would work with the architectural aesthetic of the home, they made the whole process of selection simple, smooth and straight forward.”
One of the key elements with the interior furnishings was to pay tribute to the curves throughout the architecture. We emulated the beautiful shapes in the home with gently curved bed heads, a curved formal lounge and furniture throughout the home that was void of sharp edges. The dining table is made from sustainably grown Austrian walnut with smooth rounded corners. Working with the tremendous amount of light was a challenge. We needed to dress the windows appropriately to allow for the spaciousness to be maintained whilst shading the interior when required. The ceiling to floor sheer curtains work beautifully, as do the block out blinds strategically positioned in the bedrooms. We softened the polished concrete floors downstairs with beautiful large rugs sourced locally, and upstairs we installed a magnificent handmade 100% wool carpet that is cosy and comfortable and so luxurious underfoot.
Each area in the home has its own character and functionality so the custom designed furniture had to complement the space and highlight the architectural features. KWD also supplied the Calacatta, Nero Marquina and Super White marble throughout the interior including the bathroom bench, kitchen island and fireplace, and the tiles for the pool and the internal moat were selected as part of the soothing, calming palette.
Bold yet serene, the colours, tones and textures of the hard and soft furnishings all came together to create balance and symmetry as well as a warm and comfortable feel. The natural shades and textures throughout the property turn this incredible structural house into a warm family home. The play of light in every space is spectacular.
Says Bojan, “The journey we have had with our clients on this project has been immensely rewarding. We have worked closely with them for over four years, from conception to completion. To get such positive feedback from them at the end of the journey is immeasurable. We aimed to deliver a house that exceeded all expectations, and now the home has become so much more than it’s form and fabric. The well considered and appointed kitchen overlooking the pool inspires ambient family meals, entertaining and healthy eating. And the pool and half basketball court set amongst relaxing gardens inspire and active lifestyle. What more can you possibly ask of concrete, steel and glass?”
Adds Kate, “It was an honour to oversee this incredible project and I admire James’s dedication to ensuring every detail was perfect. The end result makes all the work, the late night phone calls and early hour meetings worthwhile. Move in day was fantastic, working with the whole team to set up every facet of the interior ready for the owners to settle in and enjoy what they have worked so hard to create.”
As for the owners, they couldn’t be happier that their dream house is now a reality. “Our home is working beautifully, and just how we imagined it would. We make use of every single space, every nook and cranny, and every piece of furniture is lovingly used and we enjoy every architectural aspect throughout our home. The vision has come to life in the best possible way.”
Photography: Brent Lukey