After living in California for 11 years, Adelaide-born Armadillo director and co-Founder Jodie Fried and her husband, cinematographer Greig Fraser turned to Sydney-based Studio Tribe to redesign a Venice home that celebrates antipodean design.
When Jodie established Armadillo in 2009, it was with a commitment to ‘quiet living’ and a slow design philosophy that advocates for a deeper engagement with the spaces we occupy. Echoing this sentiment, Sydney architecture practice Tribe Studio is underpinned by a sense of responsibility to produce built environments that sustain balanced lifestyles. The similarities between architect and client have made way for a light-drenched family home of enduring simplicity.
As part of our My Space series, we spoke with Jodie about realising a home that can be “fearlessly lived in and truly enjoyed”. The home sees a convergence between mid-century design and contemporary living patterns through a constant connection between inside and out.
Building a family home can be a cathartic experience that allows for reflection and celebration. For Jodie and Grieg, creating a pocket in the world for their tribe meant finding an accord between the nostalgia of their Australian upbringing and a vision for their future lives in America. Design acted as the perfect mediator.“Greig and I love Australian design,” Jodie says of the decision to entrust Tribe Studio with the task of instilling antipodean influences, “we were determined to bring that Australian architectural culture, which we missed so much, into our life and home in Venice.”
Through long, trans-continental conversations between architect and client, a deep understanding was formed of how the home would feel to inhabit before the design response could address that. How each person who lives there would come to connect physically and sensorially to a home that would become another generation’s nostalgic touchstone.
The kitchen is defined by clean, integrated design with warm timber tones from kitchen cabinets reflecting the outside garden which it wholeheartedly connects with via 10-foot cavity sliding doors.
The dining area features artwork by Belynda Henry as well as a Log dining table from Hem, Siro chairs from Woodnotes, an Acorn pendant light from Northern and Bramble rug from Armadillo.
An Ord Sofa in linen from Eco Outdoor draws the family together in the living room.
Soaring raked ceilings, torrents of natural light and framed aspects of the garden beyond create an atmosphere of composed calm throughout.
The deep inquiry into living patterns manifested as a home of generous scale and airy openness. Across two levels, an open public space downstairs draws the family together while connecting at every opportunity with the garden. At the same time, upstairs, an intimacy conducive to rest and privacy has been coaxed.
Jodie describes the lower level as “a confident space designed to be full of people,” perfect for her love of hosting friends and their children, while upstairs “feels more like a sanctuary with its long spine-like corridor with exposed ceiling beams inspired by those found in Australian barns, and an iconic pitched roof which concertina’s down the hallway like a set of Russian dolls.”
This notion of privacy and togetherness gently negotiate between the whims of children and adults alike to play into an Australian way of life that has always been anchored by social rhythms and a strong link between inside and out. For Jodie and Greig, robust materials and a seamless transition from the home’s interior to the garden were paramount.
“The garden gives us immense joy,” Jodie says which she describes as having a “gravitational pull” towards the majesty of a beautiful Ficus Tree which everything else has come to orbit. Framed interior views amplify its presence while its limbs host swings and rope ladders, beckoning play and bestowing a sense of idyllic childlike whimsy.
Inside, the home is a homage to natural light and uncomplicated, resilient materiality chosen for its capacity to withstand the tumult of growing children, retaining its visual and physical integrity or bearing a patina that will map a life well-lived. Caesarstone kitchen benchtops, unsealed decking and a natural Belgian linen sofa coated for outdoor use nurture and support life without compromising aesthetic refinement. Jodie’s dedication to sourcing materials that will grow with her family has forged “the perfect harmony between aesthetic and ergonomic joy and sensible practicality.”
“The house has truly become a love letter to our Australian roots,” acknowledges Jodie. With both Australia and California sharing a temperate climate, the high ceilings, open spaces and indoor/outdoor living concepts work equally well in both contexts while holding a strong sense of nostalgia for Jodie.
Bolstering the antipodean dialogue are myriad pieces from Australia designers and makers. Jodie worked with friend and design consultant Arabella Macintosh (also an Aussie ex-pat residing in Venice) to curate pieces that would “bring that exact magic, that casual yet discerning spirit so typical of our country into our California world.”
The master bedroom features an Oak Air Bed from Ethnicraft, bedside table from Eco Outdoor and Cultiver bed linen.
Outside, Eco Outdoor pool coping, crazy paving and bluestone steppers bring resilience and beauty. An Ord sofa in the living room and oak seating, also part of the Eco Outdoor outdoor furniture collection, continue the sense of robust refinement. In the main bedroom, sumptuously soft linen bedding from Australian brand Cultiver brings understated luxury. Throughout the home, artworks from Australian artists including Belynda Henry, Rachel Castle and Marnie Gilder unify the atmosphere while introducing moments of visual joy. “Being surrounded by these beautiful Aussie tones and textures resonates with us and our aesthetic.”
Despite collaborating on many professional creative projects, their family home was the first big personal project Jodie and Greig worked on together. This venture demonstrated that the two made a great team. “What was so special about the Venice House is that it is completely tailored to our family, giving us permission to make what some might see as unconventional decisions.” For two busy creatives, this meant ensuring a visual tempering and the intentional limiting of bold colours so that home is a place for unwinding, giving the senses a moment of respite and allowing for a creative reset.
In a home designed for slow living and quiet comfort, Jodie’s favourite room has come to be the main bedroom for its atmosphere and outlook onto the garden. “I adore how the late afternoon sun streams into the main bedroom. It is so private, tranquil and calm, and this room also has the most beautiful connection to the natural surroundings, with the view out the large square window full of foliage from our olive and ficus trees.”
Jodie and Greig’s Venice home has come through a colourful journey. Originally relocated as a charming 1920s Californian bungalow from the canals to its current plot of land, the new home has been rebuilt in the shadow of the old to acknowledge its characterful predecessor while orienting the new iteration towards the creative and pragmatic needs of its current family. A new pitched rook echoes the original while bearing a visual language woven through Tribe Studio’s portfolio. The essence of old and new is evident while ensuring that the new home sets its sights on enduring throughout the next hundred years.