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2019 Australian Interior Design Award: Residential Decoration

Under the Tree by Arent and Pyke

Jury comment

There’s been considered reflection on the project’s original architecture and this has driven Arent and Pyke’s decisions. Every corner of every room displays a layering of lush colours and textures and the connection to the garden and natural light is what makes the interior so striking. The jury was impressed by the scheme’s quiet restraint on one hand and dramatic choices on the other, all of which have been carefully balanced.

It’s a beautiful, welcoming and well-curated home that appears like everything in it was given intense scrutiny for a harmonious result. Most importantly, it feels like it was designed for the one family, not just anyone. In this respect, the project is not generic – it’s a highly personalized interior that’s a unique expression of both the client and designers. The combination of artwork, a strong tonal palette and clear connection to the outdoors particularly speaks to the soul of the space.

Design statement

From a bed of soil inside the open living space of an industrial-style renovation at the back of a tiny weatherboard cottage, a ficus lyrata tree grows up the stairwell toward a skylit and retractable roof. The open plan encompasses the building’s majority – a hub for living and eating that opens to the garden – and although the wow-factor was architecturally established, this raw but refined aesthetic required warmth and ambience. Much of the interior design was already in place when we joined the project, but the furniture and lighting was yet to be resolved. A soft glow was introduced via several washi paper Noguchi light sculptures; colours are earthy and warm (from mustard and chartreuse to forest green) and textures range from abaca rugs, woolen blankets and boucle to Belgian linen and a smattering of cowhide. The clients were involved at every stage of what became a very fluid collaboration. Furniture pieces and rugs were trialled and replaced, conversations were had about the handling of the bagged brick and its opposing wall. It was a slow and unfolding process with a trailing end for the much-deliberated selection of art.

The Award for Residential Decoration is supported by Smeg. The Australian Interior Design Awards are presented by the Design Institute of Australia and Artichoke magazine. For more images of this project, see the Australian Interior Design Awards gallery.

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