A formerly dark and dull coastal apartment joins its owner on a journey for ‘new beginnings’ with the work of Sydney-based design collective Amber Road.
It’s been a little while since we featured the work of Sydney sister-duo Katy Svalbe and Yasmine Ghoniem, founders of Amber Road. While we’ve missed their est presence, they’ve been flat out quietly expanding on their portfolio with an array of eccentric local work.
The Pacific Bondi Apartment is one such residential project designed for a recent male divorcee seeking a new beginning. Supporting the owner’s journey, memoirs of early life in Papua New Guinea and their passion of burgeoning artists, Amber Road have steered far away from the traditional and predictable coastal aesthetic, toward a more unique, character-centric design (with plenty of curios).
The Pacific Bondi Apartment lies in the old Swisse Grande Hotel. Surprising for its location and orientation, it lacked in natural light partially due to the low ceilings. To combat this and capture the often dull east facing light, Amber Road applied luminous Marmarino render, letting light gently dance deep into the living space from the balcony. For striking contrast and to mark a transition into the private spaces, the white polished plaster turns into a deep black. Another design challenge Amber Road faced was an obtrusive bulkhead down the entire left-hand side of the apartment that wasn’t allowed to be removed. So it didn’t stick out like an eyesore, the design team have softened its boxy shape with the addition of floating steel shelves.
Fostering a connection to the beach views was something that unfolded naturally with Amber Road’s intervention. While being mindful of the client’s objects, the inside and out blend through the heavily textured materials such as the pitted limestone and handmade ceramic tiles. The textural wallpaper on the ceiling of the master bedroom also pays homage to the client’s upbringing in Papua New Guinea. Certain elements of the interior have been chosen to move inside and out, such as the Den Holm sculpture and coffee table.
Unlike the usual processes, the design journey began with key furniture pieces instead of leading with the overall spatial plan. One of those integral objects was the impromptu purchase of the Saporiti Dining Table. The firm credited the dining table for leading the design charge as “The perfect antiphony to the existing lacklustre base build and a gateway to the way we chose to play with the surfaces of the entire apartment; juxtaposing smooth with rugged textural finishes”. The table is in great company with the Zig Zag pair tucked underneath and the E15 Shiraz Modular Sofa nearby for flexible seating arrangements.
Winning the client’s trust with the furniture selection and direction of the overall project, Amber Road could unleash the essential component to all of their work: custom design. When we sat down for a chat with Amber Road about a recurring theme in their work, they were quick to point out their passion for custom joinery or custom elements such as seats, ledges or nooks. In this sense, they see their spaces as sculptural, functional, welcoming and specific to their client and site and Pacific Bondi Apartment is no exception to the Amber Road rule, where curves are referenced throughout in a true celebration of sculpture and form.
Custom solutions became the norm in the Pacific Bondi Apartment as Amber Road were often unable to source the perfect off-the-shelf pieces. The long custom joinery in the living and dining areas was designed by Amber Road and finished in polished plaster render to resemble the walls. Another custom piece in this open plan area is the custom banquette that “hugs the perimeter, casually adorned with layered leather seat pads of subtle tonal variances between olive greens and burnished golds and paired with soft grey linens”. In the master bedroom, custom drawer units are lined in black leather, with brass handle detail and the disc wall light was handcrafted specifically for this project.
The Pacific Bondi Apartment reflects Amber Road’s commitment to the custom-made, their client’s personality and a precious collection of found objects. Out of this dedication the firm has created a new start for all – and a character-filled abode to return to.