Project Sheet: New Horizons

Rich with memories of adventure, the art in this penthouse home is as diverse and eclectic as the couple who lives there. Erin Irwin writes. Photography by Prue Ruscoe.

A painting by Warlimpirrnga Tjapaljarri hangs in the kitchen space with Amelie dining chairs by Poltrona Frau. Courtesy: YSG Studio

The problem with travelling to wondrous places is that, eventually, you have to return home. However, a couple from Walsh Bay in Sydney have overcome this with the help of YSG Studio, who brought together their past adventures to prepare for a new one.

Transitioning a space from a family home to a residence suited to just two people can be a difficult task, but these empty nesters have embraced the change with aplomb. After hearing about YSG Studio’s recent design awards, including several wins at the Australian Interior Design Awards, the couple selected the studio to totally redesign their penthouse apartment. YSG Studio, self-described as providing interiors which are “charged with a rebellious spark”, was a perfect fit to transform the once-dated 1990s corporate cavern.

The first port of call was to take advantage of the newly available space in the apartment. Deepened thresholds and oversized pivot doors enable light to ripple and pool throughout the home, and the kitchen bar seems to almost levitate with the inventive use of a sculpted travertine base. The couple were emphatic that no furniture was to be white or beige – they wanted modern but not clinical. Natural stone and marble abound, their delicate veins softly shift, bringing the space to life. This unique space is populated by organically shaped furniture, which delineates separate areas, without constricting them with rigid silhouettes.

The defining feature of this home however is not the impeccable design, but rather the art it was built around. The couple had a beloved collection from around the world and wanted a home to showcase it, rather than to merely be decorated by it. The attitude of YSG Studio perfectly suited their desires.

“There aren’t any rules when selecting art,” says Yasmine Ghoniem, director of YSG Studio. “It should make you feel something. If it doesn’t, then walk away.” This attitude was overtly apparent in their approach to curating the Walsh Bay home, filling it with bright pops of colour and dramatic patterns to compliment the collection.

“The art really informed our furniture selections and pairings”, says Yasmine, as can be seen in the conversation between the candy-striped balls atop their dining table alongside a work by Warlimpirrnga Tjapaljarri. Similarly, the Sussie Heymans piece Plant Planet in the master bedroom interplays with the pointillistic textures of the Raf Simmons textile selections. The only addition to their already expansive collection was a Ken Done piece, which found its home in the hallway, and draws the eye from one room to the next. In this space, art and design come together to enhance and compliment each other, and each speak louder for it.

Alongside these pieces sit the rewards of a life of travel. The couple’s fascination with foreign cultures is apparent throughout the space, which is populated with exotic objects from throughout the world, carefully selected to remind them of adventures past. These pieces act in dialogue with the most commanding aspect of the entire penthouse: a hand-painted ceiling inspired by ancient Chinese folding screens. Here, a deep, luscious blue is surrounded by a walnut timber batten bracing and populated with whorls of gold and coloured cranes. The harbour views of home interact and interconnect with memories of exotic adventures, as the couple readies their home for new horizons.

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