She may favour the dark side, but Heart of Bone jeweller Emma Abrahams renovated her Melbourne home to be a study in light and colour.
Emma Abrahams’s flawlessly renovated home.
Emma Abrahams on her vintage B&B Italia sofa in her sitting room, below a painting she did in 2001 and a lightbox artwork by P.S Light. She wears Comme des Garçons jacket, from Harrolds; rag & bone T-shirt; Kenzo skirt; Vetements boots; Heart of Bone jewellery (worn throughout). Flowers throughout by Flowers Vasette.
Emma Abrahams, the designer behind cult jewellery label Heart of Bone, makes you do a double-take when you spot her; a quick Who is that? over your shoulder as you pass in the street. I saw it myself during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival when her outfit served as an homage to Cruella de Vil. It was easy to overlook her Alaïa and Dolce & Gabbana ensemble and get caught up with the kooky dalmatian print echoed in her shoes and gloves — a slice of madness against the crowd’s slightly aloof elitism. During a suburban Halloween trickor-treat trek, I tried to snap a photo without realising it was her, so committed to her vampire costume was she. She’d even dressed her newborn daughter as vampire spawn, telling me later that her baby’s reflux and vomiting only added to the gruesome masquerade. Humour, it turns out, is very much a part of her style.
Abrahams’s Melbourne home, which is reminiscent of a Palm Springs abode in all its retro, sunny detail, seems a little incongruous when you first visit. She favours a lot of black in her wardrobe (although she’s not colour-averse if the outfit is fabulous enough), so it’s startling to be greeted by so much white and bright and light. But the further you travel through the rooms, the more you understand the creative heart that beats beneath.abrahams lives here with her property developer husband, Justin, son, Ajax, 11, and daughter, Azzedine, five, and it was their dream house from the beginning. “When Justin and I met in 2001, we fell so deeply in love. He asked me where in Melbourne I’d like to live and I said Studley Park, which is renowned for its ’50s and ’60s architecture,” she recalls. “We started driving around there on the weekends and passed a massive red-brick house with a tennis court that hadn’t been touched since 1970. It had three-and-a-half-metre ceilings, purple shagpile carpet and all the wallpapers were bespoke.we renovated it in 2014 with Coyyiontis Architects, and even though Justin is quite a minimalist and I like a lot of black and using antique furniture, we
met somewhere in the middle. We’ve been able to create this extraordinary mix of new and old. It’s never been much of a fight with style.and it’s aged very well — it still feels incredibly fresh.”
Everywhere you look, there’s something unusual to marvel over. Furnishings you would never expect to see together — the sitting room’s tangerine 1970s B&B Italia ‘Camaleonda’ sofa by Mario Bellini accompanied by an antique Samoan rice pot turned coffee table, for example — make perfect sense in this context. Also on display is a pair of brightly coloured, hand-beaded African chieftain chairs (a 30th birthday present from Justin), one of Abrahams’s own artworks and two giant corn-on-the-cob stools, sitting there like a sly punchline. It’s a carefully considered approach Abrahams also brings to her wardrobe and to her jewellery line, with pieces including a snake ring that winds around your fingers, a David Bowie skull ring and a charm bracelet collection that features spider and tattoo-rose trinkets.
“I’ve got this term I use for my style: Lady Rock,” Abrahams explains.“it’s sophisticated with a rock edge, but I don’t think of it as gothic. I’ve always had a dark side and my art reflects that, but I also see the humour in things. My skull jewellery and art is a commentary on darkness and death, but I see it even more as a commentary on pop culture.the skull is about living life every moment. Everyone will die, but it’s about the way you choose to make your way in the world. I create brave pieces that are humorous as well. Mixing couture pieces with rock jewellery — it’s saying, Don’t take yourself so seriously. Jewellery shouldn’t necessarily be a status symbol. It should be something you love.”
There’s some serious love out there. Abrahams’s jewellery has found its way to more than a few celebrities: Karl Lagerfeld, Bob Dylan, Marc Jacobs, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj … the list goes on. One of these A-listers has a dedicated space in the family’s home: on the wall of the music room is a collection of rare black-and-white Bob Dylan photographs that Abrahams found
“Justin had the idea that anything I collected had to be white. It was a joke we had because I’m such a hoarder and he’s such a minimalist.”
scouring record stores.that same room also houses about 200 pieces from her milk glass collection, something that came about when “very early on, Justin had the idea that anything I collected had to be white. It was a joke we had because I’m such a hoarder and he’s such a minimalist. But he has definitely softened up on that!”
Before he worked as a property developer, Justin co-founded Husk boutiques and Emma came on as a buyer and creative director. they’ve since sold the business, but the experience of collaborating with each other has given the couple a unique approach to designing their home, from occasionally “remerchandising” what they put on display to coming up with inventive solutions such as copper-clad sliding doorframes (which they had used in a commercial setting) and custom-built acrylic boxes to house Abrahams’s vast collection of shoes. But the real priority in their home is opening its doors to their friends and loved ones, a task made easier due to Abrahams’s brief stint as a chef during university.“we entertain a lot,” she says.“one of the best things I did was put in a commercial cool room so that I can cook for 20 people at the drop of a hat. The stove isviking, and we had that sent over from America.and our dining table seats 18.I made it with [bespoke furniture designer] Kim Moir out of huge planks of oak. It’s a copy of a 5th-century English monastery table.”that’s another notch from her CV that’s come in handy:abrahams once worked as an antiques restorer.
And even though her résumé is ripe for cherry-picking various skills, these days Abrahams is less about fluttering, more about nesting. She’s come home in more than one sense. “As you get older, you take stuff from the inside, rather than the outside,” she muses. “Life’s experience has shaped me more than any particular influence.as an artist, you have to keep looking inside to find your own personal style, and there’s so much that can be derivative. I really try not to look at other people’s styles. I don’t seem to look as much outside as I used to. I look from a pretty deep place, internally.”
See Emma Abrahams’s jewellery at heartofbone.com; Heart of Bone is stocked at Christine Accessories, Harrolds and The Residency Experience, LA.
Jewellery designer Emma Abrahams in her Coy Yiontis Architects-designed house in Melbourne, wearing Balmain cardigan, from Harrolds; rag & bone T-shirt; Stella Mccartney pants; Alexander Mcqueen shoes; Heart of Bone Charm Studio bracelet; Heart of Bone rings. Flowers by Flowers Vasette. by ELIZA O’HARE
An airy hallway features a framed vintage Hermès scarf and a colourful abstract work Abrahams painted in 2003. Above: a sitting area with a 1970s Danish chair and a 2016 painting by Abrahams in tribute to Oscar de la Renta, titled Oscar Does the Best Green.
Some of Abrahams’s milk glass collection displayed atop a restored 1970s cabinet, a B&B Italia coffee table on a rug from Space and an antique Italian side table from Justin’s grandparents in the entertaining room. Below: the sitting room, with its antique Samoan rice pot, Third Drawer Down corn-on-the-cob stool and acrylic light from her grandparents’ collection. The painting above the fireplace is by Abrahams, from 2006.