Project Sheet: Welcome Home

Perched high in a Harry Seidler building, Avian Apartment’s art collection pays homage to its cloud-top home. Pilar Mitchell takes us inside.

Featured image: On left wall hangs a Daevid Anderson. On the denHolm table (from left): a bowl by A Ceramics; a Jaime Hayon centerpiece; ceramic figures by Guido Deleu; and a Guy Maestri sculpture. Courtesy: Alicia Holgar Photos: Shannon McGrath.

The Avian Apartment is a demanding canvas for a designer. Perched above the Brisbane skyline in a building by iconic Australian architect, Harry Seidler, the space requires a sympathetic creativity to respect the building’s status while uniting a redesign with the clients’ vision.

“The clients wanted to completely reimagine the apartment, transforming it into a luxurious residence with a warm and welcoming atmosphere,” says Alicia Holgar, interior designer of the Avian Apartment.

“The architecture is modern and minimal, which was a sensibility I wanted to carry through the refurbishment. However, more softness, warmth and materiality were required,” continues Alicia.

“Because of the large expanses of floor and wall space, a lighter, tonal approach felt like the most fitting response, as strong colours and forms would have overpowered the cohesive ambience we were hoping to achieve.”

The clients began their art collection with the refurbishment, allowing Alicia to select sculptural furniture, design and art pieces from a mix of local and international artists and designers.

To one side of the loungeroom is the Frank Gehry Wiggle Chair, reminiscent of a pale grey, folded length of taffy. The leaning silhouette of Walter Auer’s white ceramic sculpture of crookedly stacked half-spheres balances out its companions on the bookshelf: a black bust by Shelly Witters and a curved vase by Rose Jensen-Holm.

Ryan Hoffman’s dramatic mixed media work, RH 254 Downtown, presides over the lounge room behind the sofa, adding a midnight blue anchor to the otherwise light space, and echoing the elegant curves of the furniture and light fixtures.

Raw materials of the fittings and furnishings dominate the apartment’s colour palette. The floors are marbled white tile, the furniture pieces are stone, natural wood and cane. Combined with the cement grey and powder blue of the curved sofa and ball cushions, and the collection of neutral-toned artworks, the result is a space that’s restful and opulent.

Accents of indigo flow into the bedroom giving a peaceful weight to the sleeping space, while shades of blue are accented by James King’s hauntingly beautiful oil painting, Mr Tallmadge.

But the most dramatic artwork is a mural by LA artist, Jessalyn Brooks. Brooks embraced the curved line of the vast wall, creating a black, pale blue and terracotta work rich with movement and dance. The mural, titled The Avians, references Greek mythology and pays homage to the cloud-top apartment.

The curved lines of the home inevitably lead visitors back to where they started, next to the organic entryway table by denHolm. The piece that greeted you to the space also bids you farewell.

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