Jae-Hyo Lee

As many if you are are I am a traditionalist when it comes to design. It has even been said that I'm 'anti modern'! However, from time to time a contemporary artist comes along who's work I find instantly appealing. Such is the case with the work of  Jae-Hyo Lee.

South Korean artist Jae-Hyo Lee is a master of manipulation. He turns discarded pieces of wood into attention-grabbing pieces of art that are both elegant and functional.

These incredibly sleek sculptures are the result of Jae-Hyo Lee’s meticulous work: having assembled various chunks of wood, he burns and then carefully polishes them to create visual contrast and a smooth surface.

“I want to express the wood’s natural characteristics without adding my intentions,” says Lee. “I like to make the most out of the material’s inherent feeling. Little things add up to transmit a stronger power, greater energy. That is why I have quite a lot of large pieces."

Below is a selection of Lee's recent work.



I often speak of Monticello. From the moment I saw it, in an interiors magazine years ago, I was drawn to its grand Paladian presence. Its style, its symmetry and its classic sophistication have been a consent source of inspiration for me, throughout my carreer.

Monticello was the primary plantation of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States. Jefferson began his work on Monticello when he was twenty-six years old, drawing from knowledge gleaned from various books as there were no schools of architecture in colonial Virginia.  Originally styled as a plantation, the first Monticello was slightly more modest — built in 1768, it was two stories high with a total of eight rooms. As the years went by, and especially after his tenure in Europe, he continued to add rooms, and make inspired changes. By the end of its construction Monticello was a grand villa, comprising 11,000 square feet.

Influenced by Andrea Palladio, the Renaissance architect, Jefferson put his own spin on neoclassical architecture, incorporating octagonal forms in his designs which were often constructed in red brick. He created a style of architecture befitting a new nation – original, but drawing elements from European Classical tradition. Monticello contains a few ingenious innovations by Jefferson including a “turning machine” for holding clothing, a spherical sundial, and a revolving bookstand for his ever-expanding collection.

It’s probably one of the most fascinating homes in the United States, if not the world. Not for it’s lavish decorations or its grandiosity, but more so for its perfectly symmetrical design and the intricate details that can be found in every room inside the house. 

Just like George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello sits on a hill with amazing views of the surrounding farmland, valley, and mountainous region. On a clear day, you can see for miles and gaze at the hilltops of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park. 

There are only a handful of locations in the United States that are selected by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites and Monticello is one of them. It’s the only presidential home with such designation, and it certainly deserves it.


An afternoon with Stuart Membery

Walking down a quiet back lane, off one of Bali's busiest streets, at the invitation of Australian design icon, Stuart Membery, I had a sense that I was walking into something special.

A discrete louvred doorway, in a high ivy covered wall, opened into a magical oasis, and I instantly felt at home.  Two colonial dwellings, sitting amongst manicured gardens, are the heroes of the estate, and a showcase to Mr. Memberys classic design style. 

I have long admired Stuart Membery, his career and his work; undeniably classed amongst other great Australian style icons including the sophisticated Trent Nathan and the timelessly elegant Maggie Tabberer.

The man himself, tall, distinguished, and instantly likeable, strolled out from his office to greet me. Geographically miles apart, we had exchanged pleasantries via email but today I had come to meet him in person, to talk about life, style and to see his stunning furniture range first hand.

Sitting with him in his beautiful surroundings, everything perfectly styled, it was impossible not to feel inspired. We discussed design; local and international. Mr Memberys mind, as sharp as a tack, referencing classic design icons as he spoke. From Dorothy Draper to Ralph Lauren, and the styles of chinoiserie, art deco and mid century modern. 

We admired his current projects, including his international resort designs and perused his elegant furniture and home collections, which are distinctive in their style yet utterly timeless and sophisticated. A beautiful blend of east meets west, both traditional and contemporary. I certainly had my favourites and I can see many pieces falling seamlessly into my own work. 

He graciously allowed me free reign of his home to snap away. Below are some of the results.


Top Australian Interior Designers

Interviews, Tips and Advice from Australia's top Interior Designers. A recent feature for Australian Open Colleges Featuring:

Greg Natale, Bespoke Design - Brendan Wong, High End Residential - Darren Palmer, The Block - Justin Bishop, Traditional & Enduring - Sian Macphearson, Est Magazine Editor - Jen Bishop, Interior Design Publishing - Andrew Loader, Residential and Boutique

Justin Bishop is passionate about timeless, traditional style design. Throughout his design career he has worked in a variety of creative fields, developing a passion for the creative process; and always demonstrating an absolute sense of style.

Justin founded his interior design company over ten years ago and has designed a number of versatile projects throughout the country, from the most elegant urban residences to casual weekend retreats and innovative commercial interiors.

As an interior designer he is known for his classically sophisticated interiors, which blend old and new harmoniously. His work has appeared in many leading magazines and interior publications including Belle, Country Style, the Melbourne Age and the Grand Designs magazine. Australian House & Garden recently listed him as one of the 'best of the best' interior specialists in the country.

1 What's the secret to running a successful interior design company?

I think the core of running a successful business is a belief in your product and a passion for what you do. I live and breathe classic style and design, it's ingrained in me. I genuinely enjoy assisting my clients and I'm always excited about working on new properties with them. Of course, a good business head is also a must but primarily in design, it's so important to love what you do.

2 What is the Australian industry like? How is it unique?

I suppose we have our own niche. Of course, we are influenced by overseas trends and styles, both current and past, but there is definitely a fresh, Australian pared-back and slightly rustic style that is truly our own. We have more and more access to international products but we are also fortunate to have a growing supply of brilliant designers and manufacturers right here on our doorstep.

3 What's required to work on heritage design projects?

Working on heritage projects requires a sympathetic and controlled approach to design. It's not an avenue to be too clever and creative, rather it's about showing restraint, being true to a particular design style and executing a coherent, well thought out scheme. I love working on heritage projects as my personal style leans towards a more traditional aesthetic.

4 What are the biggest challenges you face in your daily work and how do you overcome them?

Organisation! As a creative type, this is not my strongest point. It's SO important to be organised when making decisions and passing on information. The slightest mistake can have an enormous impact on the outcome of a project. I make lists and I cross check everything; I force myself to be diligent with my diary and I make sure that I have covered everything on a daily basis.

5 What advice would you offer students looking to build their portfolio?

Get out there and start designing! Offer your services to friends and family. As well as a good education, experience is so important. Record what you do. Photograph your work, whether it's at design stage or completion. You can edit your portfolio at any stage but initially, it's important to create a large body of work. You will gain experience and start to develop your own personal design style.


Living minimally

While I am known for creating rich, layered textural interiors, I try to use restraint with certain design elements. Colour, for example.  A richly layered room can be sublime if a sense of order, and control is applied by using a simple monochromatic colour scheme. Similarly, a harmonious result can be achieved in an interior when, a commonality is observed between collections of objects, using style, texture or tone.

The extreme of this aesthetic, of course, is minimalist design and there is a true art to creating the perfect minimal, yet warm and visually interesting interior. It takes skill to create a flawless balance between what is not enough and what is way too much, aka, clutter. We often use the term “less is more” in design, but it isn’t necessarily about going cheap on your furnishings and accessories, it is about attaining better design through simplicity. It is about how you can get the most impact through careful editing and restraint. The less is more theory is more about how the eye visualizes a space, which is all a personal preference.

Most people forget when designing a space to add personality through texture, color, materials and patterns when attempting to add less to a space, which ultimately gives the room an unfinished appearance. It is also about harmonizing and creating a perfect balance of leaving certain spaces in a room void of furnishings and accessories. The key to creating the perfect minimal room is to create a serene and uncluttered atmosphere, not cold and sterile. Be sure to let objects have some breathing room so they are more appreciated. There is an art to creating spaces that do not have excess, but rather exude warmth and attractiveness.

Wolfgang Behnken, the creative director of Young & Rubican, has recently renovated his appartment in Hamburg, using a mix of historical pieces, a perfect off white and authentic timber tones. We love the result.


Ralph Lauren "RL Vintage"

Its no secret that we love Ralph Lauren.

The RL collections have been inspiring us for years. Fashion collectors scour eBay, vintage stores, secondhand stores and more for vintage Ralph Lauren pieces. Interior designers, too, can feel the rush of a decorator high when they find pristine pieces from Lauren’s past collections out of their natural habitat of department stores and perfectly curated Ralph Lauren boutiques. But whether you get more of a thrill from the hunt or the find, a visit to Ralph Lauren’s new online concept, RL Vintage, will sate the itch for the designer’s archival duds.

RL Vintage is a response by the company to fans’ nearly insatiable need for one-of-a-kind Ralph Lauren pieces. David, Ralph’s son, discovered Japanese magazines dedicated to his father’s work in the ’80s and ’90s as well as Reflex, a boutique in Tokyo that specializes solely in finding pristine pieces of vintage Ralph and selling to collectors. Upon his return to the states, David found over 300,000 eBay listings for Ralph items and discovered a whole culture revolving around the pure American design that his father built an empire around. With the launch of RL Vintage, David brings together a collector’s dream of merchandise as well as all the details that a history buff lives for (whether its fashion history or American history is up to interpretation).

The RL Vintage site will change seasonally, and for its debut, the Web site’s first batch of 50 pieces highlight Ralph’s obsession with the American West. Native American influences, cowboy culture and the patina of bygone rodeos and cattle drives are pervade the pieces, which run the gamut from military-inspired tailoring to fringed jackets and sarape-printed blanket coats.



I have always admired the style of the fashion designer Bill Blass - his work was classic and simple - with beautiful detailing and classic tailoring. His apartment in New York, which he designed with the help of Chessy Rayner and Mica Ertugun of the interior design firm MAC II, reflects the same aesthetic. 

Situated at No. 1 Sutton Place, Manhattan, I was fascinated by the interior. I remember the first time I saw it, perhaps twenty years ago. It was timeless, gracious and and it oozed the most exquisite classic style that I had ever seen.

The furniture was very Regency in style and the decorative details were wonderfully quirky, featuring globes, architectural models, and columns. The apartment was masculine, monotone and to me it was... perfection!

I love this quote from the man himself...

"There is a sense of dignity, a simplicity and a classicism in my clothes which can be read into the apartment. As I am surrounded with colours and fabric all day I look forward to a monochromatic home. I work in fashion - I don't want to live somewhere that looks fashionable." - Bill Blass

bill blass sutton place new york.jpg

Sheila Scotter 1920 - 2012

I was saddened today to learn of the passing of Sheila Scotter, a true style doyenne, affectionately known as the "Silver Duchess"

The formidable former editor of Vogue Australia, and founder of Vogue Living, died at her home in Albert Park, Melbourne, on Good Friday, aged 91.

Miss Scotter took over as editor of the fledgling Vogue Australia in 1962 and ruled the local fashion scene for almost a decade.

Miss Scotter's forthright manner and generosity with opinions became as much a part of her persona as her impeccably styled silver mane and signature black-and-white ensembles.

I admired her style and individuality, she was one of a kind. There will never be another like her.