Jamie Durie's outdoor living area
This weekend marked Sydney’s Grand Designs Live, a home/landscape design exhibition that features products from some of Australia’s most noteworthy designers (think Dinosaur Design, top3 by design) and appearances by television hosts/contributors such as Peter Maddison and Andrew Winter. On Friday, I was given a run-through of the outdoor section by noted landscape architect Jamie Durie and interior designer Shaynna Blaze. There was also an awesome breakfast offering. So it was good times all ’round, really.
Blaze, Durie and the umbrella that features in Durie's Big W range
The pictures here are primarily from Durie’s outdoor setting, which he ran the other bloggers and me through. Unfortunately, I had to run off before Blaze took the other bloggers (and my amazing dad who stuck around to take photos, which will be posted in a separate post as there is so much content for this event that I wouldn’t want to overload anyone) around the displays, some of which were still being constructed.
As an aside, Blaze mentioned she knows of The House Hunter – very cool! – and also agreed with me that the seriously sexy Victorian home sold on Selling Houses Australia was a total bargain. I was drooling over that place for the money…
The first feature Durie focused on was the outdoor-kitchen-on-steroids, which is currently available to the Australian market. “It’s not just about cooking,” he said, emphasising the precedence social interaction has in his designs. “I designed this kitchen with Electrolux and we’ve sold our first few into Germany this year. It’s got the Electrolux integrated barbecue. The technology’s really sort of coming up – salt’s fine as it’s all marine-grade stainless steel. In fact, this is going into my house, which is on the ocean at the northern beaches …” That’s particularly impressive; when we were living on the beach, everything rusted – barbecue, guitar strings, the cover of Public Image Ltd’s Metal Box album…
I appreciated his focus on synthesising nature and outdoor elements with architecture and the built environment, which is something he addressed a number of times, noting that “The idea of growing plants out of furniture is something we’re doing a lot now so that we’re integrating architecture and the plant.”
Durie showing the quality of the fake turf
The artificial grass was more natural than your average variety (particularly in colour and sheen). While you can still tell it’s faux grass, it’s a far, far superior alternative to traditional forms of fake turf. “This artificial turf … has actually got a lot of dead blades in it as well. That’s how grass grows naturally. … It works like carpet, so it keeps the pile upright. … Years ago, artificial turf had a really tacky bad name -”
“- Well, there was a reason for that!” Blaze interrupted to exclaim, to everyone’s agreement.
“Technology’s advanced to a point now we’re using this on their soccer courts in Milan,” Durie concluded, pulling the pile over to demonstrate its natural form of movement.
Durie, a rose and a bucket of Coronas at half past 8 in the morning
The pièce de résistance of Durie’s work was the dome, which we sat in for some further detail. “The dome is basically our lounge room,” he explained.
“When you get lower to the earth, it kind of knocks the arrogance out of the room and you relax. … It becomes much more casual, and much more free-spirited.
“It’s about learning from all those social interactions inside the house and bringing them outdoors. We never take inspiration from outdoors, always from indoors.
“We believe in democratic design.”
“We’ve been able to pull all the personal domestic design … into commercial design.”
The space was complemented by plantlife. “We’re using an industrial product to create a very feminine, soft, evocative space. … The trick to this is not to build it on site, but to pre-fab the beams.” To me, it felt like a space that suited both genders – but evocative, definitely.
Much to the excitement of any engineers out there, I’m sure, Durie mentioned that “Nothing we do these days isn’t on CAD.”
Also, prepare yourself for disappointment if you were planning for him to make-over your yard. “One hundred per cent of our work is commercial, we don’t do any domestic gardens any more … We got to a point where we simply couldn’t do everyone’s garden.”
He also pointed out that he has a long-running outdoor range that sells in Big W. “We believe in democratic design.”
When I asked about the price point, I was told that ”The price point you will not beat anywhere in the country. .. We started this nine years ago and our price points have not changed.” This may actually give me a reason to walk into Big W. Miracles happen!
There will be another post documenting some of the other displays at Grand Designs with plenty more images, so watch out for part two!
The breakfast. Brioche? Total win!