“Winning at life” is a phrase that seems particularly voguish at present. While its sentiment may indeed be ancient, its expression is truly anything but. Contemporary in grammatical form, vigorous in tone and optimistic in register, it’s a phrase more commonly heard from the younger amongst us – those for whom emerging into the world necessitates confidence, fortitude and an irrepressibly can-do attitude.
But can a design firm “win at life”? Well, Alexander & Co – one of Australia’s most-promising emerging design practices – appears to be doing just that. As I write these very words, the studio has received fifteen of the international design industry’s highest accolades in this year alone. Granted for landmark institutions like the Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel (Sydney), to the gloriously pearlescent high-end brasserie Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera (UAE), Alexander & Co’s incredible slew of annual awards represents a crowning moment for Australian design on the global stage. This has no doubt significantly contributed to Jeremy Bull, Alexander & Co’s principal and founder, being recognised by the Belle Coco Republic Design Awards as Australia’s Interior Designer of the Year (2018). Also taking home this year’s Belle Coco Republic Design Awards for Best Hospitality Interior and the Best Residential Interior, it would seem that Alexander & Co have rewritten the rulebook on a winning streak.
It’s not hard to see why, exactly, the studio so inspired juries this year. With its aforementioned Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera also catching the eye of the Australia’s Interior Design Awards, America’s Surface Awards, Europe’s FRAME Awards and the Restaurant And Bar Design Awards, the UAE’s Harper’s Bazaar Interior Awards and the UK’s Dezeen Awards, it is evident that Alexander & Co have helped turn the world’s most discerning eyes toward Australia. Similarly, as the minds behind this year’s best residential interior – Palm Beach House – Alexander & Co had better start reinforcing the proverbial mantle shelf to take the weight of more than seven of the design industry’s most craved trophies.
“We love to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary,” said Bull earlier this year to Belle’s editors. Commenting on Palm Beach House’s use of “often simple and authentic materials delivered with masterful craft,” Bull is certainly not wrong in saying that “our interest is in alchemy.” The alchemical – part magic, part chemistry – defines so much of Palm Beach House’s quintessential admixture of design approaches.
Part English homestead, part Continental villa (and every bit a contemporary Australian home) the structure of Palm Beach House expresses our desire for a more intimate connection to nature – whether that be through artisan furnishings that celebrate raw, organic material, or whether that be through large-scale design that allows residents the opportunity for external living and dining.
Maximising the potential of the home’s surrounds – which just so happens to be a stretch of some of Australia’s most breathtaking coastline – is considered from every square inch. Windows at seemingly every turn frame coastal views and provide vital connections between building and waterfront. But to support this generous use of framing windows, Alexander & Co has also reimagined the pre-existing structure’s master planning to cater to the distinct needs of a holiday home. The open plan living space and garden have become the core foci of the property for entertaining guests. This succession of thresholds, balconies and courtyards allow the house to further unfold into exterior spaces, the small rolling green and garden surrounds.
Up on the balcony attached to the master bedroom, the home pays homage to the Mediterranean, with a constellation of ferns against tiles and a pure white washed portico redolent of long summer afternoons spent soaking in the Greek sunshine.
Throughout, further nods to this Grecian inspiration caps off the home’s pan-European sensibilities. Here, a tonal scheme of white, blues, terracotta and grey-greens evokes the Mediterranean. There, communal dining spaces and outdoor areas remind one of bustling atriums of Italian homes, and quiet siestas of Spain and Southern France. And everywhere, heritage architectural details such as the omnipresent wainscoting tell the secret of this home’s former Federation life – lending the property a sense of grandeur that doesn’t slip into grandiosity.
This article originally appeared in Boilingpoint Magazine #24 by Zip Water.
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