My Favourite Sydney Design destinations
I love visiting art galleries & design shops to see what’s new and happening with up & coming artists. When it comes to viewing the artist’s work in a gallery, I get carried away with the colours and techniques the artists have used and can quickly imagine this inspiring a wonderful room story for a future project! Many painters are switched on intrinsically to colour and blend their palette expertly to produce a wonderful outcome. The brush strokes, whether they are rough or smooth, also tell another story and can be influence how I may apply texture in the design development of a home’s furnishing scheme. Let me tell you about one of my favourite galleries of the moment.
The Rochfort Gallery
This gallery is gorgeously restored with a sense of feeling quite regal. Opening in late 2017, The Rochfort Gallery features an expansive 200 square-metre entry level gallery as well as an upstairs space. There is a jewellery store as well as gift shop close by that sells associated homewares and additional artwork.
Exhibitions change almost monthly, and the gallery has an enticing series of Sunday discussions by the artists explaining their inspirations and process. The Sunday sessions [normally held at 11am] are a fun and informative affair and normally accompanied by a complimentary glass of champagne! Below are a couple of the gallery’s artists that I adore and have have recently exhibited their stunning works at The Rochfort.
Gitte Backhausen's paintings are Influenced by the abstract expressionist movement. While that’s as far as I go with theory, what I love is the not only the colour ways that Gitte creates but the overall story behind how her work eventuates. Recently I asked her if she uses photographs or live scenery to inspire a new piece, but I was quickly informed that this is not the case! Gitte has no real idea what is going to evolve as she puts the first paint strokes on a new canvas. The story is developed over time, and the final result is not known from the outset. Gitte regularly transfers the excess paint from a previous work to a new canvas to signify commencing a start on the new piece. Her spontaneous and uncontrived approach was refreshing to me, with my initial assumption that many artists start with a muse in mind. How wrong i was!
Gitte’s ‘Where The Wind Blows’ inspired my below mood board. I could easily develop a furniture and accessories scheme from the bright, expressive colours used in the piece. Below is Gitte's piece matched with a velvet black & white cushion by Kelly Hoppen, a felt yellow Utrecht Chair from Space Furniture, and a Cypress Sofa by Molmic in ‘Mammoth Ink’ fabric.
Marika Varady is an exceptionally skilled painter. Marika uses raw pigments and various oil-based binders to make her own paints, and the outcome is truly enjoyable to view. I had the pleasure of meeting Marika in the gallery as well as at a couple of recent design events. I was particularly attracted to the below painting, Marika’s ‘Coral Sea’, which showcases a stunning array of rosy coral reds with deep sea blues and teals. I can imagine painting the wall [that the piece may eventually be hung on] in a teal colour lifted from the piece.
The Rochfort Gallery
Address: 317 Pacific Highway. North Sydney NSW.
Phone: 0438 700 712
Contents International Design
Contents ID have one of the chicest shop floors in Australian furniture retail. This higher-end furniture, art and accessories outlet is situated in Sydney’s Moore Park Supa Centre, taking a well curated stance amongst its neighbours in the surrounding complex. Director Andrew Algar and team source expertly selected furniture and furnishings from here and abroad, with just the right mix of accessible modern pieces. Contents ID represent local distributors such as Globe West, as well as showcase International pieces from USA’s Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, as well as many others. The way the team put together their room ‘stories’ is done with exceptional flair. It’s a fabulous experience for the customer, as the guesswork on how to put together a layered, complete look is taken out of the equation for the buyer.
I love that the way the room schemes are put together in a collected sense. There is a distinct separation from any one style, with the team managing to represent the wares in a collected way, much like someone who has already collected pieces from abroad and put them together over time.
Contents International Design
Address: L105/2a Todman Ave, Kensington NSW
Phone:  9662-2443
This is almost an institution for anyone wanting authentic ethnic pieces hand selected thoughtfully by the stores owners. Owner Jenny Liebson regularly tells of her latest international ventures sourcing product that’s about to hit the showroom floor. Feel free to ask Jenny any question you have in regards to where the piece was sourced, what is actually is [It’s true I need to ask this at times] and what It represents culturally. Unlike other retail stores who ‘call in’ their stock, Orient House is 100% involved in the curation of every piece that hits the floor, ready to be coveted by their beloved and loyal clientele.
Orient House sources stock from Africa, China, Indonesia, India, Bali and Burma, allowing the buyer “a mix of unparalleled offerings, texture and quality”.
To me , the shop is like a treasure chest that keeps unveiling itself as you move from the expansive floor to another. If you are a fan of blue & white Chinese Ginger Jars, you won’t be disappointed once you get upstairs. They have blue & whites in abundance and in many shapes and sizes.
There is a great deal of available stock here to take in, and it helps if you have an idea of what you are looking for before you start shopping. It can be overwhelming, especially when Jenny announces the arrival of another new shipment.
Besides sourcing wonderfully authentic, hand picked finds, the other thing the team at Orient House do exceptionally well is provide excellent customer service. This never waivers and the teams passion for their finely tuned craft is always evident in the way they communicate cheerfully with each and every visitor entering the showroom.
Also available is product by International fabric house Schumacher, with multiple ranges available including fabrics, wallpapers and trims. As well as countless others, Schumacher produce lines for US designers Mary McDonald, Trina Turk and Martyn Lawrence Bullard [Martyn’s design pictured below].
Address: 45 Bridge Rd, Glebe NSW
Phone:  9660-3895
If you get a chance to visit any of the above destinations, email me and let me know your thoughts post visit!