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Articles on this Page
- 09/22/14--23:04: _Flourless hazelnut ...
- 09/22/14--23:22: _Shopping at home
- 09/22/14--23:30: _Collections
- 09/22/14--23:35: _Surprising uses of ...
- 09/22/14--23:36: _My first day on the...
- 09/23/14--00:18: _Made in Italy
- 09/23/14--00:19: _Fragrant tea-smoked...
- 09/23/14--21:36: _Superhouse
- 09/23/14--22:19: _Solo House
- 09/23/14--22:35: _Galanthus beds and ...
- 09/23/14--22:57: _Goulding Summerhouse
- 09/23/14--22:59: _Vince Frost
- 09/23/14--23:29: _Design Your Life
- 09/23/14--23:44: _Preface
- 09/24/14--00:04: _Explore the unknown
- 09/24/14--00:11: _Designing is about ...
- 09/24/14--00:33: _House at Toro Canyon
- 09/24/14--21:46: _The Whole Pantry
- 09/24/14--21:55: _Introduction
- 09/24/14--22:04: _Paleo Bread
- 09/22/14--23:04: Flourless hazelnut and ricotta cake
- Preheat the oven to 110°C and grease a round 25 cm springform cake tin with butter.
- Place the egg, sugar and vanilla seeds in a food processor and process for 5 minutes or until light and creamy. Add the ricotta, lemon and orange zests and Frangelico. Process just to combine, then transfer to a bowl and fold in the hazelnuts.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes or until the sides pull away from the tin and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the tin.
- To make the mascarpone cream, use an electric mixer to beat the egg and sugar until thick and pale. Add the mascarpone and beat until smooth.
- When the cake is cool, cover with the mascarpone cream and sprinkle the chocolate shavings over the top. Chop the extra hazelnuts and press onto the side of the cake, then scatter a few over the top and serve.
- 09/22/14--23:22: Shopping at home
- 09/22/14--23:30: Collections
- 09/22/14--23:35: Surprising uses of furniture
- 09/22/14--23:36: My first day on the restaurant floor
- 09/23/14--00:18: Made in Italy
- 09/23/14--00:19: Fragrant tea-smoked Salmon with Wasabi Butter and Asian Salad
- To make the brine, pour the salt, sugar and water into a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved, then remove the brine from the heat. Let it cool a little, then pour it into a jug and pop it in the fridge.
- Once the brine is cold, line a container (with a tight-fitting lid) with a plastic bag. Sit the salmon in it and pour in the brine, then knot the bag tightly, squeezing out as much air as possible before you do. Seal the container and put it in the fridge for 1½ hours – any longer and the salmon will become too salty. Just before smoking, drain the salmon and pat it dry.
- While the salmon is chilling in the brine, make the salad. Use a vegetable peeler to shave ribbon-like strips from the cucumbers (when you get to the seeds, start on the other side of the cucumber as the seedy part is too watery to use). Put these into a bowl with the remaining salad ingredients and gently mix them together. Cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge.
- For the lime dressing, put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together until the sugar has dissolved. Taste it and adjust the flavour – it should have a good sweet/sour/salty balance. Pour the dressing into a jar and put it in the fridge too.
- To smoke the salmon, preheat your barbecue to mid-way between low and medium heat. Thoroughly mix together the smoking mixture and spread it evenly into a medium-sized foil barbecue tray. Sit the foil tray on the barbecue rack and balance a sturdy wire rack on top, then close the barbecue lid. Check after a few minutes to see if the tea mixture is smoking; when it is, rub the salmon fillets with a little oil, then sit them, skin-side down, on the barbecue around the smoking mixture. Cover and cook for 3 minutes to crisp the skin. Now carefully transfer them to the rack over the smoking tea mixture, still skin-side down, close the barbecue lid and smoke them for 10–15 minutes, depending on their thickness. When they’re done, they should look beautifully burnished, and when gently prodded in the thickest part should feel slightly resilient but not soft (undercooked) or bouncy (overcooked).
- While the salmon is smoking, make the wasabi butter. Dollop the butter into a bowl and beat it briefly with a wooden spoon to loosen it up. Add the wasabi, coriander and salt and mix them all together. Taste it and adjust the flavours to suit you, as wasabi varies considerably in strength from brand to brand. Cover the butter and put it in a cool spot. (You can make the butter a day or two beforehand if you like and pop it in the fridge – just remember to return it to cool room temperature when you’re ready to use it.)
- When the salmon is ready, remove it from the barbecue. (Let the smoking mix cool, then wrap the tray in newspaper and discard it.) Mix the salad and dressing and spoon some onto each plate, then nestle a fillet into it. Gloss a little wasabi butter over each fillet and serve.
- 09/23/14--21:36: Superhouse
- 09/23/14--22:19: Solo House
- 09/23/14--22:35: Galanthus beds and tank garden
- 09/23/14--22:57: Goulding Summerhouse
- 09/23/14--22:59: Vince Frost
- 09/23/14--23:29: Design Your Life
- 09/23/14--23:44: Preface
- 09/24/14--00:04: Explore the unknown
- 09/24/14--00:11: Designing is about re-designing, creating a new way to see
- 09/24/14--00:33: House at Toro Canyon
- 09/24/14--21:46: The Whole Pantry
- 09/24/14--21:55: Introduction
- 09/24/14--22:04: Paleo Bread
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Line a 21 cm × 11 cm loaf tin with non-stick baking paper.
- Place the almond meal, arrowroot, linseed meal, chia seeds and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Whisk together the eggs, oil, rice malt syrup, vinegar and almond milk in a bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
- Spoon the mixture into the lined tin and bake for 30–40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and set aside to cool completely.
This fantastic combination of ricotta and hazelnuts topped with mascarpone and grated chocolate is absolutely delicious, and so easy to make that even reluctant cooks can achieve excellent results. It can be eaten for breakfast with a cappuccino – what a lovely way to start the day! – and of course, it also makes an excellent dessert and morning or afternoon tea. We started making it in our restaurant in the late 1980s and whenever we have it on special we get lots of offers to buy the whole cake to take away.
75 g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped
500 g fresh ricotta
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
30 ml Frangelico
75 g toasted and skinned hazelnuts, plus extra for decorating
60 g dark chocolate, grated or shaved, to serve
45 g caster sugar
400 g mascarpone
This is the very best place to start when you are redecorating. Often you can underestimate what you already have, so take a metaphorical step back and reassess the pieces you own. Move things around, or pull out those items you may have stored away in a cupboard or in the back shed. Using this approach can be a breath of fresh air throughout your home. A small table or chest of drawers may just need an update with a coat of paint. The shape of your sofa might still work well but would look totally different re-covered in new fabric. Alternatively, have it professionally cleaned and inject some colour with some new cushions. Maybe you have a vast collection of jugs or platters hidden away in a top cupboard that might look wonderful displayed on top of an armoire or hung on the wall in your kitchen. You will be so surprised at what a bit of thought and a fresh eye can do to uplift and reinvigorate the rooms within your home. If you shake things up a little, you will provide some much-needed spark. I recently redecorated a room at home on a tight budget using lots of old pieces of furniture I already owned. The only new things I added were some cushions, a lamp with a gorgeous patterned lampshade, a sisal rug and a couple of paintings. All the other pieces, such as the sofas, the chest of drawers, the sofa table and armchair, were things I already had. The room now looks like a completely different space as a result of the few new additions and new layout.
If a stranger came into my home, they would probably see lots of meaningless things. But I see special pieces which hold memories from places I have been, people I love and experiences I have had. Any vignette in my home features treasures I cherish; every piece must hold a special memory or be of personal value and significance. These treasures can be easily moved or stored, and it’s exciting to rediscover special things you haven’t seen in a while, and handle them and reminisce and consider where next to display them. Instead of throwing out or giving away things you might be tired of, pack them up and store them so you don’t miss out on the joy they can give you all over again in a few years’ time.
It’s so interesting to see what other people surround themselves with; I am constantly intrigued by the collections they have in their homes. Home to me is the most important and special place on earth, where I find solace, rest and happiness, and where I surround myself with only the things I love. It’s not about having the latest and greatest; it’s about filling your home with things you absolutely adore, cherish and hold close to your heart. Photographer Oberto Gili once quoted a landscape architect friend of his to explain how decor reflects the inhabitant: ‘Unless a home becomes a love affair, it is not a success.’ He continued, ‘You have to love every single little thing – if it doesn’t have a memory, a story, it doesn’t count.’
Collections of things on display within a house add the owner’s personality to what is otherwise a blank canvas. Don’t be afraid to pull out your grandmother’s old china or your mother’s cherished vase as it is special and should be used and not hidden away forever. Why have beautiful things if they are stored away, not to be seen and enjoyed?
If you don’t have a collection, think about what you love and what you would like to collect one day. Some things you might consider are old plates, shells, vases, Depression glass, silverware, Christmas ornaments, botanical prints, maps, blue and white china or antique textiles. I have started to collect old blue and white dinner plates in varying patterns and designs, and old, mismatched silver cutlery to add variety when setting the table for special dinners.
Starting a collection is fantastic for family and friends as it makes it much easier for them at Christmas and birthdays. It’s lovely for you, too, as you will receive gifts you love rather than things that might go into the back of a cupboard! My sister-in-law Pip recently started collecting old copperware. Her collection is growing quite rapidly as family and friends give her special pieces. It will be lovely for her in time to look back and remember who gave her which piece and for what particular occasion in her life.
As well as blue and white china, my collections include decorative boxes, silverware, shells, antique jugs, textiles, old timber millinery hat blocks, old garden pots, table linens and books, just to name a few. I don’t tend to display them all together in a glass cabinet but, instead, they are placed on tables and shelving, mixed up with other bits and pieces I have collected over time. I have also inherited my mother’s love of collecting beach hats. In a similar way to using baskets as decoration, stacks of hats can also be a great look in a beach house. Stack them on old hat blocks on tables and sideboards. By incorporating usable, everyday things like hats and baskets into the decoration of our homes, whether they are at the beach, in the country or in the city, we are able to achieve a very personal, simple, cost-effective yet stylish look.
A mismatched group of blue and white ginger jars placed in an armoire with glass doors or a few placed into a vignette on a table or sideboard look so beautiful. They also look wonderful filled with peonies, lilies, frangipani branches and even Australian native flowers. My mother has been collecting ginger jars for as long as I can remember and I seem to have caught her blue and white ginger jar bug. When selecting them, look for ones of varying size and pattern; this way your collection will be unique and more interesting.
When selecting furniture, consider alternative uses for pieces. Creativity in the use of items allows pieces to be interchangeable and flexible. In kitchens, use old pieces of furniture in place of cabinetry. It gives the space a more lived-in, individual look and, if planned properly, you can incorporate new cabinetry and old furniture pieces together in a kitchen to create a very workable and attractive space.
In my own kitchen I have an antique chest of drawers, which houses my napery collection, and an old French armoire put to use as our pantry. I love the mix-up ratio of furniture to cabinetry and feel as though my kitchen belongs to me and shows my love of thinking outside the square.
I always keep an eye out for old butcher’s blocks. Whenever I’ve had them in the shop, they’ve sold within days. They went to new homes to be used as sidetables, placed bedside or between sofas with a lamp placed on top. This is a perfect example of creative upcycling of a piece of furniture that in this day and age has now been replaced with a modern-day alternative.
A great storage idea is to cover an old table with a piece of fabric, reaching right down to the floor on all sides. You can hide the DVD player and any number of other things under there, and nobody would have a clue!
Don’t be set in your ways when looking for possible furniture options. For example, you may fall in love with an antique chest of drawers, so why not consider putting it on one side of your bed as a bedside table and then placing a smaller piece on the other side? You don’t have to have perfect, matching bedside tables. Or use a chair as a bedside table. With this solution, it creates a less contrived, interesting look in your bedroom and you get to buy the pieces you love which you initially didn’t think you would be able to fit anywhere. Think outside of the box and consider different uses for pieces of furniture you stumble across and fall in love with.
I was thirteen the first time I was asked to help in my family’s restaurant for a busy Sunday lunch. I had to wear black trousers, a white shirt, black bow tie and white jacket. I didn’t want any of my friends to see me dressed like that, so I locked myself in the toilet and wouldn’t come out, no matter who was knocking on the door or how busy it was.
Then, my mother knocked. She was busy in the kitchen, she was the queen of tempura, she was frying like an angel, what could I do? I gave in. I stepped into the dining room and after just a few minutes I felt so comfortable that I decided this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
'I was lucky enough to grow up in a family of foodies: my brother is a chef, my mum is a great cook, and my dad is a wonderful eater! No wonder I have such a passion for the food of my homeland.'
In her second cookbook, Italian-born Silvia Colloca returns to the villages where she spent her childhood, in the regions of Abruzzo, Marche and Molise. Reuniting with family and close friends, Silvia celebrates the incredible array of fresh produce, its marked regional variations, and how this affects the local cuisine. With her trademark warmth and good humour, Silvia shares family stories and recipes that are close to her heart, and shows how simply a handful of seasonal ingredients can be transformed into something truly exceptional, including homemade ricotta, roast potatoes with bay leaves and cured pork cheek, handmade noodles with monkfish ragu, wine-drenched peaches with mascarpone cream and the intriguing-sounding 'bear's cake'!
Fragrant tea-smoked Salmon with Wasabi Butter and Asian Salad from Utterly Delicious Simple Food– Photo by Rodney Weidland
This is such a terrific dish, yet it’s surprisingly simple to make. However, I must admit the first time I cooked it was somewhat alarming – I smoked the salmon in a wok in my kitchen and managed to set off the fire alarm, and although the salmon tasted wonderful, all in all it was an extremely stressful experience! Fortunately, I’ve since worked out a much better, less angst-inducing way to smoke the fish in a covered barbecue.
I feel I should particularly mention brining the fillets as it may seem a rather unusual thing to do, however it’s a really important step and results in more flavourful, moister fillets that tend not to stick to the barbecue. Don’t be tempted to overdo it or the salmon will be too salty . . . says she who did just that not so long ago, and ended up with a tableful of guests gulping down copious amounts of water to slake their salt-induced thirst!
Fragrant tea-smoked salmon with wasabi butter and Asian salad
4 × 200 g salmon fillets, skin on
1–2 teaspoons light olive oil
1 cup (290 g) fine salt
½ cup (110 g) caster sugar
2½ cups (625 ml) cool water
4 smallish Lebanese cucumbers
4 small spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 medium-sized bunch watercress, washed and broken into sprigs
40 small mint leaves
1–1½ small red chillies, very finely chopped
8 paper-thin discs of ginger, very finely shredded
1/3 cup (75 g) caster sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup (80 ml) rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce, or more to taste
½ cup (100 g) uncooked jasmine rice
½ cup (110 g) brown sugar
½ cup (45 g) large leaf black tea leaves, such as Assam
4 × 5 cm strips orange or mandarin zest
80 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons wasabi paste, or more or less to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
sea salt, to taste
To Karen, the super house has nothing to do with size; instead, it is one that has a strong connection with nature, that goes well beyond the everyday, and that, through the sensitivity of both architect and client, is imbued with mindfulness. From Australia to Ireland, Italy to Morocco, she's found such spiritually uplifting places. Following interviews with many of the architects and owners, she discusses each house in detail; her informed and engaging text is matched by Richard Powers' striking photography. A must for anyone interested in architecture and design.
‘There will never be great architects or great architecture without great patrons,’ said Edwin Lutyens and, indeed, the Solo House is a case in point. In this instance, the role of patron is taken by Frenchman Christian Bourdais of the Solo Houses project. Not only has he acquired a remarkable 50-hectare site of great geographical beauty near Cretas, in the northeast Spanish province of Teruel, but he is commissioning a cross-section of the world’s best young architects to realise his vision. It is ostensibly a development, but not as we know it. Chilean architects Pezo von Ellrichshausen (Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen) are the first practice to complete a project, but as I toured the house, a planning meeting was underway for the second building by celebrated Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto.
‘What we want to do,’ says Bourdais, ‘is reinvent the way of living in a secondary (holiday) house.’ The commissioning process is a gift for any architect. ‘The only thing I give them is the land and the budget, and ask them to imagine who will live here. And then I give them the freedom to create something noteworthy and special. They have carte blanche.’ He admits choosing the architects to work with is his ‘little pleasure’ and acknowledges he was drawn to Pezo von Ellrichshausen (PVE) for two reasons. Not only was the Poli House (2002–2005) in Coliumo, Chile, the best construction he had ever seen, but its physicality was matched by the quality of the intellect applied to its design.
There is a sense that it is not just houses that Bourdais is commissioning, but that he is determined to capture new approaches to residential architecture. ‘I don’t want just objects, the thinking is important – how they imagine the spaces matters,’ he says.
PVE immediately knew something unique had come their way. ‘This is one of those rare occasions when you meet with singular circumstances,’ says Pezo. ‘In this case not only were the physical conditions for the project incredible, but so too was the optimistic and generous disposition of the client.’
At the very heart of the design is the notion that this is a temporary residence with the experiences of arriving and staying as central to its concept. ‘This is a house to be occupied in an informal manner,’ says von Ellrichshausen. ‘It is for holidays, for those days that break your routine, that allow you to dress differently, to eat differently, to enjoy small details, to be detached from what you consider to be a responsibility.’
And, in true holiday mode, the location is one that is far from the everyday. The practice is no stranger to dramatic landscapes; the Poli House, a sculptural concrete cube, sits on the edge of an isolated cliff, and their Rivo House (2002–03), clad in pine boards treated with burnt oil, is all but submerged in the foliage of a southern Chilean forest. Hence their first and fundamental act was to determine the positioning of the Solo House on the land. Aware that ‘the experience of discovering the magnificent panorama was already there’, they toured the land, walking up the hill until they found the optimum setting for the house.
The approach to the house is via a discreet turn from a small local road and onto a track that cuts through scrub. After a couple of kilometres, a low metal bar that pivots to admit entry is the only sign you are on the right approach. The house, sited on a vantage point, is always visible, its monumentality giving it a quiet, assertive power.
In the winter of 2005, after protracted negotiations to buy back the covenant-encumbered tennis court resulted in a sale, Stuart started on the Tank Garden – his idealised version of an Edwardian tank garden, replete with an 18-metre stretch of ornamental pond edged in Boxleaf honeysuckle, sky-reaching pencil pines and walls of flowering climbers (a heady mix of Toni Thompson’s Musk, Wedding Day, Edna Walling, and Lamarque roses).
‘He really loved Lutyens,’ says Paul Bangay of the classical structure of a trellis-walled room overflowing with hardy shrubbery and herbaceous borders. ‘That tank [pond] and pavilion are very Lutyens.’
Filling the space of the former tennis court, the Tank Garden was positioned longitudinally along the main axis line (drawn from front gates to far perimeter pavilion) to preserve the property’s enfilade sequencing and sight lines. Stuart managed the experience of this garden ‘suite’ with all the deftness of a theatre designer – a small ‘decompressing’ ante-chamber edged with tiny white snowdrops to subdue the senses before a walk through latticed screens, laced with rambling roses (Wedding Day, Edna Walling and Kifsgate), lands one in a room of repeating reflections, sweeping horizontals and teasing textures.
The nineteenth-century German zinc-cast statue of a young boy – in seated pose, pulling a thorn from his foot – was formerly a feature of the late florist Kevin O’Neill’s garden in Mt Macedon. When O’Neill died and his property was sold, the statue was given to Stuart by O’Neill’s partner, John Graham. Stuart positioned this piece as the focal centre of the hedge-protected Galanthus beds. The statue has now been donated to the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens in Daylesford, where a memorial to Stuart is being created.
‘The house and garden cannot be divorced from one another. Each is dependent on the other. The house is like nature itself, like a tree branching out . . . it has its own structural validity just as nature has its structural validity,’ said Ronald Tallon of the remarkable house he designed, which seemingly defies gravity as it cantilevers audaciously over the Dargle River.
The Goulding Summerhouse was designed and built in the early Seventies, the very period in Ireland in which I grew up. When I saw images of the house, I was astounded that it was located in County Wicklow, for this was not an architecture I associated with Ireland. My visual memory is of low-lying, white, thick-walled cottages, of Victorian-era Belfast and Georgian Dublin but not of a pared-back pavilion, paying homage to Mies van der Rohe, spare both in its concept and materials.
The Goulding Summerhouse came about as a result of a perfect creative storm – an enlightened client, a friendship, a dynamic architectural firm, a picturesque site, a challenging brief and world-class engineering expertise.
Vince Frost is a globally recognised and awarded designer. He commenced his career in graphic design in London in the 1990s, and achieved a global reputation by his late twenties. He now runs an internationally focused creative ideas business called Frost* Collective from Sydney, Australia. He has been an international ambassador for the design industry and the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Sydney Opera House, and has art directed and designed notable books and magazines and worked with leading arts and cultural organisations, governments and blue-chip businesses to help them bring visionary ideas to life. After forging a career out of designing success, he has come to believe design is fundamental to every aspect of life. If harnessed properly, it has the power to positively transform not just business, but the way we live. It can maximise your potential and help you be the best you can be.
Design plays an essential role in our daily lives. You don't have to be a designer to design your life. But it doesn't hurt to have some professional help. It took designer Vince Frost more than 25 years as a professional to appreciate the power of the design process as a means for improving his life. 'If my design process brings value to me, perhaps it can bring value to others. Or, more radically, bring others to recognise their own value.' This book will not solve your problems. You have to do that yourself. But this book will inspire you to work better at living better.
Design: has always been in my life. I have been designing for the past twenty-five years. I spend my working life helping other people solve their problems and design successful outcomes. I’ve built a thriving practice, amassed an enviable number of accolades and earned the respect of my peers. By all measures, I am a success. But for years my private life was a mess. Living life at full speed, I periodically reached rock bottom and felt like I was about to die. Mental and physical exhaustion would force me to stop and rest (which I hate). I’d become overwhelmed by the lack of balance and my unsustainable lifestyle. Overweight, overstressed, drinking and eating too much of the wrong foods, I fell into the depths of self-pity and panic, only to recharge insufficiently and head back into this battle against myself. I was designing and redesigning everything but myself.
I didn’t have a moment of revelation but somewhere along the way I began to evolve. I can’t say when it happened, but it seems I hired myself to help design a better life. I began applying principles from my work life to my personal life. And I found my flow: I am more reflective, more alive to my senses, more in touch with the people around me and more aware of my value. In short, I am happier.
This book is the next step in my evolution. If my design principles are valuable to me, perhaps they will be valuable to others. Or, more radically, help others to recognise their own value. By looking at the colourful and complicated landscape of my life and work, using my own wrong turns as points of reference, I hope to put each principle in context. Analysing the past is the easy part; it’s designing the future that’s hard. But it’s never too late to start.
I have also included interviews with people who inspire me and whose insights have helped shape my approach to designing my life.
This book will not solve your problems. You have to do that yourself. And it will take lots of hard work. But I believe this book is more than words and images. It shows problems as opportunities, proves the impossible possible and hopefully, it will inspire you to work better at living better...
Comfort comes from the Latin “to strengthen”. When we think of a comfort zone, we think of the status quo, of a slackened mental state. When you’re in your comfort zone you don’t need to be on your toes. But seen from another perspective, our comfort zone is the place that gives us strength so that we can move outside of that zone. A home is not merely a refuge, a place to escape, but also a place to recharge. Each day has its natural challenges. Challenges that you cannot predict. You have to step outside your comfort zone. Expand your consciousness. Whether it’s your career or your life, it’s how you grow.
I was designing my surroundings from an early age. If I had coloured walls I would paint them white. I loved the change in the light. The blank slate. A starting point. The chance to design a space around yourself, an environment that creates a positive reaction in you.
And then I moved. And moved again. I was a nomad. They say moving is one of the most stressful things you can do. I’ve moved forty times in my forty-nine years. That’s some people’s idea of hell. But each time, the disruption makes me more aware of who I am and what’s around me. Changing homes is mental as well as physical. Whether you’re moving up a floor, down the block, or to the other side of the world, the transition is exhilarating. And exciting. And phenomenally stressful.
Moving countries is moving on steroids. When I moved to Australia, I was overwhelmed, again. New house, new light, new sounds, new neighbourhood, new energy. All the usual stuff but there was also something very deep. I love the smell of Australia. I love the feel. I love feeling what it’s like instead of thinking what it’s like. I experienced everything as if for the first time, even the aroma of coffee.
Moving is an opportunity to shed. Like a snake shedding a skin. Humans accumulate like crazy, like magpies hoarding shiny objects. The stress for me in moving is not the finding of the new place, but the reflection on the recent past, looking at my life and the soon-to-be-ex-houseful of acquisitions, of objects. You’re forced to let it go – at least some of it.
That’s what I love about design. Any new brief is a fresh injection, it’s an opportunity to move mental house. It’s critical to repositioning, reorganizing and re-casting an identity. Designing is about redesigning. Creating a new way to see. Just because it’s always been this way doesn’t mean it has to stay this way
‘We wanted to do something that seemed more Californian, more agrarian, preserving as much of the site as possible,’ said Myers.
And what a site. Even Myers couldn’t believe his luck when he found it. Protected by a dramatic mountain range to the north and enjoying a magnificent view of the ocean to the south, here was 16 hectares of land, including a virgin Californian creek, with two building platforms already rough cut into the land. He has since named one of the mountains Bart’s Peak.
Yet he was mindful that the area was prone to severe fires and erosion, and that he would have to solve not only the aesthetic issues but also the broader considerations of safety and stability. His consummate skill as an architect was the act of holding both in equal balance.
The first major design decision was to break down the living requirements into four components – a garage, guesthouse, main residence and studio – to avoid the mass and height of a large structure. As Myers points out, ‘The pavilion idea allowed me to get the houses within the oak trees and not take any out.’ It also meant that the pavilions, with their massive opening doors and simple structure, could disappear into the landscape rather than dominate it. ‘When the studio has all its doors open and you are standing below, the only thing you see is the floating roof,’ he said. He sited the studio at the top of the slope and the garage and guest pavilion at the bottom, leaving the main residence to sit comfortably, and logically, in the middle.
The main house is a single-storey building with an internal ceiling height of 4.5 metres, which imparts an impressive sense of scale, rendered unpretentious by the choice of materials. Using off-the-shelf steel components for the structure (‘It’s basically a catalogue house – modified,’ says Myers), a plaster skim over blueboard, left uncoloured, for the walls, and natural concrete for the floors. The shell of the house is muted and natural.
It has been described as an ‘elegant warehouse’ and, indeed, the visibility of the mechanics and construction detailing add to the sense of utility and honesty of the space. It is without pretence, both in its structure and in its furnishings, with artworks, thousands of books (6000 to be precise), oriental rugs and family heirlooms warming up the interior with character and layers of meaning.
Sited to face the sun and the view over the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands, the entire face of the house opens up as the enormous garage-style doors are rolled up by hand with a pulley system. Electrics are avoided in case of a power cut. This allows the broad concrete platform to become a seamless extension of the living space. The line between inside and out becomes completely irrelevant, and this blurring of demarcation is, to Myers, one of the defining aspects of modernism in southern California.
As well as the more standard devices such as sprinklers and smoke detectors, what really gives the house a serious chance of survival is the fact that it is made of steel. ‘Two years ago we had a fire in a neighbouring canyon and Vicki was here on her own,’ says Myers. ‘Within 30 minutes, she was able to pull down the roll-down steel shutters and protect all the buildings on the site.’ He has become something of a global expert on the subject: In 2009, when bushfires swept Victoria, Myers was interviewed on Australian radio to discuss his architectural approach to fire prevention.
The black-lined reflecting pools of water on the roof of the guesthouse and the main residence are key features of the house and solve the aesthetic problem of one pavilion looking down upon the roof of the other. Practically, they provide insulation, and there is also a lap pool sunken into the roof of the guesthouse, for cooling down on hot days.
Water is recirculated from uphill storage tanks and is permanently at hand so a pump can be hooked up in case of emergency. Other fireproofing strategies include reducing the combustible nature of the site and changing the vegetation through the introduction of walls of cacti which hold water and act as a barrier against local deer (and possibly coyote but, unfortunately, not the rattlesnakes). To help stabilise the land and minimise erosion, hedges of vetiver, a type of grass, have been planted on the advice of a landscape consultant, D.G. Richardson. Terraces of olive trees, blood oranges and grapes have also been introduced. All the gardening is done, or supervised, by Vicki. Paradise takes work.
‘I have always wanted a house that was integrated with the landscape,’ said Myers. ‘This is it.’ As glass walls disappear, the intrinsic qualities of the site become part of the experience of the house. The oaks, the Noguchi-style rock formations, the dappled light, the sea breezes and the murmur of water combine to give a sense of oneness with nature. It feels as if the house has always been there. And, hopefully, with Myers’ fire strategies, it always will be.
Social media sensation Belle Gibson is the creator of the world's first health, wellness and lifestyle app, The Whole Pantry – chosen by Apple as Best App of 2013 in the Food and Drink category.
Now Belle brings us her first book, with more than 80 new, delicious and nourishing plant-based recipes (gluten, dairy and corn free) aimed at nurturing the body, including healthy versions of old favourites such as lasagne, burgers and black forest cake. As part of Belle's 'whole life' philosophy, she passes on a wealth of information on how to live a healthier life, with support on everything from natural beauty and superfoods to detoxing.
Here's to living your whole life.
When were you diagnosed with cancer?
In June 2009, at the age of twenty. I had known for a while that something didn’t feel right, but when I saw the doctor, he told me to ignore what I was experiencing and to trial anti-depressants. I tried them but they made no difference, so I went off them and went back to the doctor. I told him, ‘I’m having trouble reading and seeing; sometimes walking is hard and remembering has become difficult.’ All he said was, ‘You work too hard, you’re looking at a computer all day and you’re socially isolated. Let’s get your eyes tested and start that medication I gave you again’. At this point I could have taken control of my own life and got a second opinion, but instead of listening to my body and trusting my intuition, I put my faith in one ‘professional’. I felt like I had hit a brick wall.
Soon afterwards I had a stroke at work – I will never forget sitting alone in the doctor’s office three weeks later, waiting for my test results. He called me in and said ‘You have malignant brain cancer, Belle. You’re dying. You have six weeks. Four months, tops.’ I remember a suffocating, choking feeling and then not much else.
When and why did you decide to try to heal yourself?
I tried chemotherapy and radiotherapy for two months, and one day I woke up in the middle of a city park just opposite the hospital, hours after falling asleep there. I had thrown up and passed out. When I got home I stayed up all night at the computer, reading everything I could about brain cancer and alternative treatment. One thing that really stayed with me was reading about the detoxification properties of lemons – that made me think about the importance of diet. It sounds naïve, but it all just clicked. I decided then that if all I had was between one hour and a month to live, I was not going to spend it passed out on the hospital lawn, knee-deep in nausea and other side effects.
I pulled myself out of chemo and radiotherapy – my doctors freaked out, but they couldn’t stop me. I started travelling around the country, speaking to anyone who might help me and treating myself through nutrition and holistic medicine. Meanwhile, I just kept reading, educating myself – everything I now know is gleaned from reading, and speaking with as many people as possible.
I was empowering myself to save my own life, through nutrition, patience, determination and love – as well as salt, vitamin and Ayurvedic treatments, craniosacral therapy, oxygen therapy, colonics, and a whole lot of other treatments.
How and why did you start posting on Instagram?
I realised there must be other people out there, feeling just as unsupported as I was, so I started posting on Instagram – I wanted to share what I had learnt about health and nutrition on my journey with cancer.
What made you decide to create an app, and how did you do it?
I realised that I had tapped into this whole world of unsupported, unmotivated, uninspired people and for anyone to feel like that just wasn’t okay for me. I wanted to share what I had learnt on my journey with as many people as possible, so I decided to create the world’s first health and wellness lifestyle app.
What response did you get to the release of the app?
The response was overwhelming. Thousands of people were taking screen shots and sharing photos, hash-tagging The Whole Pantry pictures. Even more incredibly, about ten days after the launch, I received an email from a senior manager at Apple congratulating me on the successful launch of the app. Then, in December, I unexpectedly received an email from Apple, telling me that The Whole Pantry App had been voted the best Food and Drink App of 2013, and had come runner-up as best iPhone App overall for 2013.
Do you have any advice for people who are converting to a healthier life and being judged or criticised for it?
My favourite quote on this is from Eleanor Roosevelt: ‘Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticised anyway.’ Though the criticism can be painful and isolating, it is important to remember that we change our journeys, diets and life choices for ourselves, not for the approval or satisfaction of others. They’ll come round and if they don’t, it’s the law of the universe that like-minded people on a similar journey will find each other anyway. You’ll attract the ones that matter.
When I became vegetarian I often found that people saw it as an attack on their own diets – people get defensive when something isn’t their own ‘normal’. It is the same with parenting and health treatment. What works for me won’t always work for you, and vice versa. We are all different and respecting this is fundamental.
What are the non-negotiables in your diet?
GMO-free foods: For the earth, for the next generation, but also for my health. Food shouldn’t be a science experiment and neither should my body or health.
Clean water: It’s so basic, but the foundation is often where we let ourselves down the most. Clean water is fluoride-free, and purified of hormones, chlorine and other toxins.
Gluten-, dairy-, preservative- and refined-sugar-free: A handful of things that cause inflammation – the start of all crankiness and illness.
This is my daily bread and I absolutely love it! It’s crunchy on the outside, but light and fluffy on the inside. The dough is based on ground nuts and seeds instead of flour, so it ticks all the boxes for paleo and gluten-free diets. I use it for everything and anything, including French toast, breakfast eggs, toast with home-made jam or as a quick snack with avocado and a sprinkling of seeds. While it might cost more to make than flour-based breads, one slice is deeply satisfying, so the loaf goes a long way.
Tip: This bread freezes really well – cut into slices, wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze.
200 g almond meal
65 g arrowroot
2 tablespoons linseed meal
1 tablespoon white chia seeds
1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
3 organic eggs
¼ cup (60 ml) macadamia oil
2 teaspoons rice malt syrup
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
¼ cup (60 ml) almond milk