In recent years, we’ve seen architecture and design trends largely stripped back by the minimalism zeitgeist, leaving those with a love for lavish patterns, colours and fabrics in the lurch.
Interior designer Tigger Hall is a big fan of vibrancy and exuberance in design, something she feels a generation of people – in particular today’s design students – has missed out on. In response, she created Como by Design, a radical takeover of South Yarra’s historical Como House later this month.
Over four days, 25 designers will each commandeer a section of the estate, transforming it into something completely new. Unusually, considering Como House is managed by the National Trust, the designers have been given free rein to do whatever they want within the space. The only rules are that they can’t alter anything structural, or touch the walls or light fittings.
“They have to work within the shell of the building,” says Hall. “I wanted them to be completely autonomous, although I encouraged them to use some of the antiques in the rooms and to promote artisans working locally in Melbourne.”
One designer involved is Aaron Wong, founder of design firm Alexander Pollock (Benjamin’s Kitchen), which is known for colour: loud wallpaper prints, dramatic artworks and statement armchairs band together with lavish materials such as marble and mirror. Another designer is Adelaide Bragg of eponymous studio Adelaide Bragg & Associates. Bragg’s style is classic Australiana, favouring raw natural materials, earthy tones and decorative antique elements.
Each designer will have help from a student from the Mercer School of Interior Design. Last year, Hall joined the advisory board for the school and found a lot of young designers who’d seen a more-is-more approach to design in magazines but hadn’t had the opportunity to physically experience it.
Hall says the event is for “anyone who’s interested in design or interiors”, and that as each designer comes equipped with a unique vision, visitors can expect a mixed bag of looks. One room – a former conservatory – is being covered in large-scale pineapple print wallpaper and filled with palm trees. Another has been tiled over from top to bottom, fitted with a remarkable chandelier designed by modern Australian lighting designer Christopher Boots. Hall is most excited though about reconnecting the public with Como House itself, and letting them see another side of it.
“It’s one of Melbourne’s iconic houses,” she says. “And I think it’s really fabulous to bring places like that back into the vision of people.”
Como by Design will take over Como House and Gardens, corner Williams Road and Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra, from October 18 to 21. More information and tickets here.