Tak­ing a spin of the colour wheel

This UK de­signer says it’s time to ditch ideas of good taste and have some fun, writes

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - GARDENING - Robyn.wil­lis@news.com.au More

Lau­rence Llewe­lyn-Bowen must get in­vited to a lot of par­ties. Re­ally, it’s a no-brainer to ask along some­one who is this much fun to hang out with.

The UK in­te­rior de­signer and lat­est judge to join Chan­nel 7’s House Rules team has built his rep­u­ta­tion on, not just toss­ing out the rule book, but tear­ing it up into small pieces and burn­ing it. But to pull off the kind of flam­boy­ant style he is known for, you need to know what you’re throw­ing aside first.

“That’s the tra­di­tion I come from, that univer­sal sense of good taste, that is what I am trained in,” he says. “I am Jedi in that shit.

“So it al­lows me to be en­tirely com­fort­able in sub­vert­ing it.”

Liv­ing la vida lo­cal

This is Lau­rence’s first visit to Aus­tralia, and he’s in love. Hav­ing worked with celebrity land­scaper Jamie Durie on The Apart­ment, an Asian re­al­ity TV show based on de­sign chal­lenges, he is em­brac­ing the unique en­vi­ron­ment that is Aus­tralian de­sign.

“One of the things no one warned me about was that Syd­ney has such beau­ti­ful 19th cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture,” he says.

“The An­zac memo­rial at Hyde Park is a mov­ing and beau­ti­ful mon­u­ment. My jaded Euro­pean eyes now see Gothic ar­chi­tec­ture un­der an azure sky, not un­der the grey skies of Manch­ester.

“I am re­ally ir­ri­tat­ing my wife Jackie be­cause I’ve started look­ing at real es­tate.”

Per­haps not sur­pris­ingly, he is a fan of the work of Aus­tralian tex­tiles de­signer Florence Broad­hurst, whose vivid colours and pat­terns first came to promi­nence in the 1970s.

“Peo­ple tend to look back at the ’60s and ’70s as the hey­day of Aus­tralian de­sign and when you do your re­search you see some ex­tra­or­di­nary things from that era.

“There was a confidence and a con­vivi­al­ity to Aus­tralian home de­sign which has been miss­ing in re­cent years.”

In­stead, he says, we have be­come shack­led to con­cepts of good taste.

“A tastemaker like Florence Broad­hurst would drive a mul­ti­coloured dumper truck through that at­ti­tude,” Lau­rence says.

And while some Euro­pean de­sign lovers might laugh off our rel­a­tively brief ar­chi­tec­tural his­tory, Lau­rence says we’ve cer­tainly made up for the late start, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to our legacy of mid-cen­tury de­sign.

“Where Aus­tralia scores is in its mid-cen­tury de­sign her­itage,” he says.

“The big shock in a Ge­or­gian ter­race is that most own­ers want it fur­nished in mid-cen­tury fur­ni­ture. And Aus­tralia is top of the heap.”

Make it your own

Lau­rence ar­gues that our homes should be a re­flec­tion of our own tastes and per­son­al­i­ties, rather than be­ing driven by the whims of the real es­tate mar­ket.

“When the value of your home in­creases, peo­ple be­come un­be­liev­ably bor­ing as a way of safe­guard­ing the value,” he says. “Who cares how much a house is worth? “It’s up to you to ex­press who you are.” Just as im­por­tantly, he says, don’t be afraid of danc­ing to the beat of your own drum.

“Your home should be as crazy and ghastly as you are,” he says.

Lau­rence plays with tra­di­tion, choos­ing rich hues of or­ange and pink wall­pa­per in a clas­sic toile de­sign.

UK in­te­rior de­signer Lau­rence Llewe­lyn-Bowen says good taste should never get in the way of per­son­al­is­ing your home.

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