Purple living room – check; modern Art Deco furniture – check; perfectly on-trend accessories – check. Finding a fault with this recently completed Brendan Wong Design project is nigh on impossible. With a successful twenty year career under his belt (working throughout Australia, London and Paris), a portfolio of edgy yet sophisticated projects to his name and a new appointment to the Fellowship to the Design Institute of Australia, the designer was an obvious choice for the owner of this pied-à-terre – an international client looking for an elegant Sydney base.
Drawing on the heritage of one of last century’s most sophisticated styles, the apartment – which was completed in the second half of 2014 – makes an impact courtesy of unexpected contrasts. Whether it’s colour combinations or furniture styles, the aim of this game appears to be opposites attract with a sophisticated sensibility.
“The inspiration was to create an apartment interior akin to a luxury hotel suite,” explains Brendan of the home on the edge of one of the city’s premier parks, “The client was seeking [something]… welcoming, calm and elegant.”
It was this desire for a truly luxurious hotel experience at home that led Brendan to the living room’s calming yet subtly invigorating grey and purple colour palette. Its case goods and seating are predominantly monochromatic with the room’s accents making the colour statement. Coming in a pale lilac hue which is far from sickly sweet, the pieces pop against the chicness of the modern grey-on-black-on-grey canvas.
“Purple has an interesting quality in that it can be deep and moody or light and fresh depending on the intensity used.” One could argue that this room is simultaneously both. With a wall of windows – draped with white chevron sheers which maximises the natural light and views of the park-side apartment – and a perfect ratio of colour to neutrals, the room is airy and refreshing. Come evening, the ebonised oak consoles, black framing and onyx rug come into their own. Light and airy is then traded for deep and moody to stunning effect.
“The client really embraced the purple accent in the living room,” Brendan says before revealing, “As a collector of fine Japanese textiles, they sourced the delightful pale purple kimono during a visit to Japan half way through the project.” A sure indication of the client’s absolute trust in this designer’s ideas.
However, colour alone can’t recreate a luxury hotel look with the square footage of an inner-city apartment. For Brendan, that was achieved with a careful understanding of the room’s fundamental components. “Each piece of furniture in the room has some relationship to the other by either colour, form or finish,” he reveals of his admirable design process, “With this approach, there is no one piece that forms the focal point of the room – rather it encourages your eye to keep moving across the room to explore the linked elements.”
But perfection can be bland and even the most harmonious arrangement needs to be shaken up a little. “There is an intentional contrast between the sharp monochromatic forms and the more fluid shapes in varying shades of purple,” Brendan says of the room’s lines. This contrast creates a sense of dynamic tension by juxtaposing clean-lined angles with softer curves – perhaps an subtle nod to the 1920s, replete with its contrasting Industrial Age and Art Nouveau inspirations. Minimalist console tables and a marble and brass coffee table – a bespoke piece – sit side by side with the fluid lines of two Art Deco armchairs and the soft quilting of two occasional chairs. This intentional contrast and a near-symmetrical-but-not-quite furniture arrangement affirms the room’s undeniable intrigue. It’s true that “each piece has a sense of belonging whilst still having individual integrity.”
Individual integrity is a common thread in all of the interior choices of this apartment, furniture or otherwise. A quick survey of the project’s accessories reveals the individual confidence of each. Elegant lucite candlesticks trimmed with brass, mineral bookends and sculptural metal urchins are each interesting in their own right and create a gallery-like impeccability.
And finishes are just as unique. The living room’s eye-catching centrepiece – a Cubist-inspired cabinet – sports a facade of grey faceted resin, creating an aesthetic which is as magnetic as it is sophisticated. A combination of linen and silk velvet upholstery results in a living room which is luxurious yet brilliantly functional. Brass hardware and framing features throughout, including in the master bedroom, where shagreen-panelled, bespoke-made bedside cabinets and chest of drawers add a subtly textured finish.
Itself a bright space of muted golden upholstery and crisp white bedding, you’d never quite expect what lies just beyond this bedroom. Taking a slight diversion from the style of the rest of the apartment, the home office is a pleasant surprise. “The darker palette of the study was in response to the client’s desire to have a study that was completely different to a normal place of work,” the Principal says. The darker palette in question is an unabashedly dramatic duo of golden yellow and black with warm brass accents – just the kind of thing that would never make it past the red tape of facility management but, in a private space, is absolutely perfect. Like the living room, this was a space in which contrast was key but without interfering with the room’s primary function.
“The tonality of the room allows focused concentration on work tasks,” Brendan clarifies for those who might be concerned about its deeply saturated decor, “with artwork and customised accessories curated for visual delight.” And “visual delight” is just the way to describe this room. It’s decadent upholstery, curtained doorway and lattice-like carpet all offer a sense of envelopment and privacy, much in the way that a boutique hotel would.
Home to some unique furniture pieces (including a modern klismos chair), the room houses a hybrid desk made up of a simply designed lucite desk which rests on a chevron-inlaid smoke grey timber and ebonised oak sideboard – a conceptual design of Brendan’s making. The desk’s moodiness is positively suited to an Art Deco environment whilst the lucite element is both a smart and fitting addition to a piece inspired by such a revolutionary design movement. It’s inspiring to see, in fact, not in the least because Brendan’s brave design choices work. Combinations of past and present don’t jar and apparent contradictions prove to be just the opposite.
An undeniable masterclass in contrasts, the carefully-styled home strikes a beautiful balance “between elegant simplicity and more decorative elements”. It proves that contrasting needn’t feel eclectic but that it can be as neat as a pin; that updating classic looks results in equally classic modern ones; and that a little bit of colour is always a good idea.