VIC­TO­RIAN RE­VIVAL

Cel­e­brated ar­chi­tec­tural firm Hecker Guthrie have cap­tured the as­pi­ra­tions of an era with their mod­ern ode to high or­na­men­ta­tion.

VOGUE Living Australia - - In Store - By AN­NEMARIE KIELY Pho­tographed by SHAN­NON McGRATH

Asa de­signer of a beau­ti­fully mea­sured ‘emo­tion­al­ism’ that elic­its end­less me­dia, Hecker Guthrie has had its style dis­sected with a fre­quency and foren­sic en­thu­si­asm that ren­der its di­rec­tors bored. “Style is mean­ing­less,” says Paul Hecker. “More and more, we try not to de­fine our­selves aes­thet­i­cally. But I don’t know what you can say about our work that hasn’t al­ready been said, darl’? Maybe men­tion longevity?” Al­lud­ing to a work­ing re­la­tion­ship with his col­league and stu­dio found­ing di­rec­tor, Hamish Guthrie, that stretches back to the late 1980s and to the Mel­bourne of­fice of Daryl Jack­son Ar­chi­tects, Hecker de­fines this meet­ing place as the hatch­ing point of their “ab­stemious” de­sign. “Daryl’s was the first ar­chi­tec­tural of­fice to em­ploy in­te­rior de­sign­ers in a re­ally se­ri­ous way,” he re­calls. “Rigour, prag­ma­tism and good cake in­formed ev­ery de­sign de­ci­sion.” On cue, Guthrie ap­pears from a con­cealed back of­fice to de­clare him­self the of­fice ju­nior of this his­tory — “the print boy who made the tea at 11 o’clock and served it with proper cake”. He is the ‘hypo’ yang to Hecker’s ‘hy­per’ yin: Guthrie is a by-the-book ra­tio­nal­ist whose me­thod­i­cal man­ner now reveals in the flip-through of his­tor­i­cal de­tails that dis­sect the firm’s revamp of a pe­riod house in Mel­bourne’s Prahran. And his busi­ness part­ner is the big kid, whose wildly di­gres­sive na­ture shows in the quick-flick of iPhone snaps from his re­cent hol­i­day in Amer­ica. “Oh my God, the Broad,” says Hecker, thrust­ing for­ward photos of the new mu­seum in down­town Los An­ge­les. “Just look at those gi­ant Jeff Koons’ tulips.” The re­spec­tive spiels seem un­re­lated, but both seek to ex­plain the syn­ergy that is sought be­tween an ex­pres­sive struc­ture and their in­ser­tion of new ideas. “One, her­itage ar­chi­tec­ture; two, sym­pa­thetic new ad­di­tions; and three, join­ery as fur­ni­ture,” says Guthrie, enu­mer­at­ing the big ideas that were made into di­gestible bites for the ed­i­fi­ca­tion of the Prahran project’s clients and de­sign staff. “When we first walked through the house, we could feel its im­por­tance. But we wanted our foot­print to be as min­i­mal as pos­si­ble, so we re­in­stated ab­so­lutely ››

‹‹ every­thing — columned arch­ways, elab­o­rate skirt­ings, ar­chi­traves, cor­nices, ceil­ing roses — and rather than fill­ing in the gaps with join­ery, we de­signed stor­age as fur­ni­ture.” Th­ese free­stand­ing units, ab­stract­ing the or­na­men­tal dec­o­ra­tion of the high Vic­to­rian house, were placed in pris­tine spa­ces that had been spared the usual gut­ting and gloss-over. The de­sign team, in­clud­ing Mar­i­jne Vo­gel, can­nily re­solved the is­sues of flow (in plan, acous­tics and light) with their short-hand­ing of the Vic­to­rian con­ser­va­tory — steel-framed glass doors sub­sti­tut­ing for solid coun­ter­parts. “Ev­ery room should have its own feel­ing and us­age,” says Guthrie, turn­ing pages to pic­tures of the ‘blue room’ — a cen­tral liv­ing space with a but­ton-backed deco­rum and steely hue that was de­ter­mined by the pre-Raphaelite-style stained-glass win­dow dat­ing to the 1880s. “This is the coloured punc­tu­a­tion point that we propped with sim­ple fur­nish­ings, so as not to de­tract from the orig­i­nal de­tail.” Their ap­proach to floor­ing was sim­i­larly def­er­en­tial — pale tim­ber boards butting up against ser­vice ar­eas tiled in Op Art geo­met­ric grids, the en­caus­tic colours of which could have been taken from late Vic­to­rian pat­tern books. This mod­ern ode to late Vic­to­rian liv­ing con­tin­ues in the master bed­room’s en­suite bath­room where an ‘Ot­to­cento’ tub — Agape’s ab­strac­tion of the clas­sic claw-foot prece­dent — floats on a sea of mar­ble that re­peats in the fire­place and van­i­ties. It is a serene com­men­tary on the Vic­to­rian era’s pro­vi­sion for clean­li­ness — fix­tures that were mo­bile be­fore the com­mon­place of plumb­ing — and it screams Hecker Guthrie. But the de­sign­ers get antsy over im­pli­ca­tions of a de­sign legacy or look, af­firm­ing their mis­sion as one of re­main­ing sen­si­tive to a project’s over-arch­ing ar­chi­tec­ture and at­mos­phere. If so, how does one brief for per­son­ally res­o­nant drama within th­ese pre­scripts? “Don’t tell us what you want it to look like,” says Hecker, show­ing more snaps of cre­ated syn­er­gies be­tween art and ar­chi­tec­ture that en­com­pass their ta­lent. “Tell us how you want it to feel.”

this page: in the liv­ing room, Bax­ter ‘Ch­ester Moon’ sofa by PAOLA NAVONE from Cri­te­ria; rug from Hal­cyon Lake; MAT­TERMADE ‘Range Life II’ ta­ble from Cri­te­ria; shelv­ing unit and ta­ble from Po­liform. op­po­site page: NORM AR­CHI­TECTS ‘Mass Light NA5’ from Great Dane; NIKARI din­ing ta­ble by from Kfive. De­tails, last pages.

this page, from top: in the bath­room, OMVIVO ‘Latis’ basin; IZÉ light fit­tings; and YOKATO tap­ware. Handmade shower tiles from Stonetile In­dus­try. op­po­site page: AGAPE ‘ Ot­to­cento’ bath by from Arte­do­mus. De­tails, last pages.

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