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Alexandria – Glamour amid industrial grit in Sydney’s new design hot spot

This inner-south interiors hub may appear to be a raw industrial landscape, but it’s also an up-and-coming quarter full of surprises. Sophia Davies reports on all Alexandria’s highlights at Sydney Indesign 2015.



BY

August 20th, 2015


Alexandria is where Surry Hills design brands relocate when they want a fresh start. Within factories, business parks and malls you’ll find alluring commercial showrooms offering footprints their city-centre brethren can only dream of. With its mix of local food producers, creative studios and pioneering high-rise residents, affordable Alexandria is set to overtake the eastern suburbs as Sydney’s coolest design precinct.

Australian brand Jardan launched its new ‘Apartment Collection’ of furniture sized for compact spaces. It also hosted a Habitus LiveLife talk covering issues such as renting in super-pricy Sydney, and the furniture solutions required for these more insecure habitats, inspiring its style-aware young customers to personalise their living spaces. Bar staff served up sangria, while outside Cantina Movil’s food truck kept the tacos coming.

Think Dzine

For the ultimate wow factor, Living Edge’s gorgeous, two-level new flagship nestles inside a seemingly innocuous business zone. Once inside, guests were beguiled by stellar pieces, including UK architect David Chipperfield’s minimal wooden ‘Fayland’ table for E15, pendant lights by Buster + Punch, and new work by Made in Ratio, Walter Knoll, PROOFF and Caon Studio. Sculptures by Sydney-based Morgan Shimeld added an arty touch, as did the spot-lit table of luscious food, which resembled a Dutch master painting. Australian artist Ken Done proved a star guest at a LiveLife talk on design icons, in which a mock-up visual of Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry shown as religious icon paintings illustrated concern about starchitects hired as marketing tools. Visitors sipped coffee outside at The Little Hopper van, and fine wine inside at a buzzy Saturday party.

Living Edge

Sand sculpture in a contemporary design showroom? Tick! At design hub 69 O’Riordan Street at Level 1, Cosentino presented its Dekton Ultra Compact Surface material at its Alexandria showroom, with Blue Mountains sand artist Jino van Bruinessen carving a homage to Daniel Liebeskind’s Dekton-formed ‘Beyond the Wall’ sculpture and announced UTS student David Hamilton as the local winner of the Cosentino Design Challenge for 2015. A LiveLife talk saw architects Isabelle Toland from Aileen Sage, Koichi Takada and Lucy Humphrey discuss the importance of experiencing tactile materials in the visually dominated Instagram age. Cocktails, from Dekton Martinis to the Silestone Smurf, kept the well-heeled audience animated.

Cosentino

At the 69 O’Riordan Street Level 1 building, furniture supplier KE-ZU collaborated with Other Architects and otherothers to riff on seminal French filmmaker Jacques Tati’s movies Mon Oncle and Play Time for The Project, creating a lifesize cardboard model house, topped by a radically angled reflective surface mirroring the interior. Each cubicle celebrated a key domestic area, from The Reading Room to The Courtyard, picking up on everyday routines. Different coffee and chocolates were served throughout the day in another nod to comforting daily rituals. A LiveLife Design Hunter talk on longevity and icons at KE-ZU suited the Tati theme.

Ke-Zu

69 O’Riordan Level 1 neighbour Blu Dot, a Minneapolis-based firm known for hip homes designs, brought its co-founder John Christakos over for several talks for DQ Magazine. Christakos attributed Blu Dot’s success to the need for affordable items in independent stores with customers shopping up and down the price spectrum more, perhaps teaming a B&B Italia sofa with affordable Blu Dot pieces and IKEA kit for kids’ rooms.

Blu Dot

A WorkLife Seminar explored Big Data and Smart Buildings next door at TCW’s expanded showroom, which also launched three new global brands, including the ‘Rhyme’ sofa by the UK’s talented naughtone, vibrant ottomans from Finnish label LoOok Industries and work stations from Canada’s Teknion. Street-art-style wall decorations and interactive activities by PTID for The Project helped visitors rethink the workplace experience. The doughnut stand was a particular hit!

TCW

Collaboration between brands was evident throughout Alexandria, with many sharing showrooms or presentations. Coco Republic teamed with Smeg to bring glam international guests to town for workshops, including vintage expert Timothy Oulton and Benjamin Brougham, Director of Interior Design at quirky-retro US homewares brand Jonathan Adler. The spectacular showroom was humming with punters pecking at parmesan and sipping Aperol Spritz.

Smeg

Typifying Alexandria’s industrial quirkiness, CDK Stone and showroom partner Thinkdzine created an urban beach party in their car park forecourt. Deckchairs, inflatable flamingos and a barbecue pleased punters, while indoors CDK showed off new smart surface material Neolith (eco-friendly, it can take any punishment you throw at it), and Thinkdzine’s swish kitchens (the newly launched Maxima 2.2 series drew admiring glances). Only the hard-hearted could resist the little carved heart Neolith samples.

CDK Stone

Nearby Euro Natural Stone showcased grainy new marble launches Atlas, Ananke and Laverna. Backdropped by a huge photo of a snow-white marble quarry in Tuscany and vast slabs of stone, guests feasted on Turkish delights, from burek to baklava, celebrating one of the brand’s eastern source countries.

Euro Natural Stone

Photography by Fiona Susanto Photography
fionasusanto.com


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