SHANTI MEANS PEACE in ancient Indian Sanskrit. In the Melbourne suburb of Caulfield, the aptly named Shanti House is home to Debra Kiven, a yoga practitioner, and her husband Ron. It is also a base for their three adult children when they are not studying or travelling overseas, or living in share houses with friends.
Over the past two years, the family home has undergone an extensive renovation, including an addition to the rear of the property that culminates in a light-filled living space. This set-back family room is enhanced by clerestory windows, high ceilings and a clever garden design that visually brings the outside in.
Interior designer Jean-Pierre Biasol – founding director of design practice Biasol, which was responsible for the renovation – was first briefed for the project in late 2016. “Flow and connectivity to every space” were the key requirements that came out of that initial chat with the clients, he tells Art Edit.
“We wanted to capture the essence of yoga, relating to an open light feel with flowing spaces and an atmosphere energised by light and air. The result is timeless, minimalistic and tranquil, and at heart shows the client’s yoga practice,” says Jean-Pierre. “It was all about having layers of diverse design, so that as you moved further and further, deeper and deeper into the home it continues to open up. When you get to the larger space at the back of the house, the ceiling height is around four metres, which really embraces the energy from the sunlight and brings the landscaping aspects into the living area.”
The minimalism Jean-Pierre speaks of was a deliberate device; the Biasol design team created a blank canvas on which the owners could tell their story. “All the fabrics in the home are pared back and subtle. Deb and Ron travel a great deal for both work and yoga retreats. They like to purchase and collect new pieces of art and their collection is constantly evolving. All the strength, mood and colour is through their artwork and pieces of sculpture.” The collection is diverse; it includes works by top Australian artists and pieces that mark their travels, such as the two floral paintings in the kitchen that were purchased in Mumbai.
A vibrant blue work by Matthew Johnson is spectacularly positioned in the sitting room. The work is given centre stage position, flanked by two full-height windows that reveal deep green hedges. The otherwise white room, decorated with pale furnishings, is given a further colour splash with Missoni cushions. In the dining room, a hyper-real work by Darren Wardle in ‘day-glo’ pink and bright aqua is similarly centred between two large windows. A recent addition to the collection is a piece by Sydney artist Brooklyn Whelan, known for gradated pastel cloudscapes, confirming the couple’s love for colourful art.
Biasol’s decision to give their clients a fresh palette on which to paint their story has clearly been a good one. Jean-Pierre says the two-year project has been accomplished at a considered pace; he says it has been like a “journey with Ron and Deb, and that is because they really wanted to love every piece that went in. It wasn’t a case of filling rooms just to have something. It was always about them being happy to have negative space for the moment and then work in things that they can adore.”