Madison Lansdowne is a Murrumbateman local and the founder of Country Haven Beauty, Canberra and…
In this edition of Home Stories, Ashley Feraude goes inside the home of designers Isobel Trundle and John Richardson.
I’ve always liked meeting designers, whether they are of the industrial, graphic, interior, fashion, landscape, exhibition or digital variety. Did I leave any out?
I like the way designers see the world with an appreciation for the details many take for granted. I love the way they project their own understanding of design into the world as something that should be cherished and celebrated. So, as you could imagine, I was pretty excited to meet not one but two designers at once—and it would have been three if their son was there too.
Isobel Trundle and John Richardson are very experienced designers, having worked mostly in the cultural space across the National Museum of Australia, the National Library of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), the Australian War Memorial and Questacon, as well as at the Maritime Museum in Sydney. I was introduced to the couple via another digital designer, Andrew Powrie, who I had the pleasure of working with during my time as the Head of Marketing & Comms at the NGA. I get the feeling that designer types are like magnets and find each other either through an unspoken attraction or quirky clothing aesthetic.
Isobel and John have lived in their Yarralumla home for 15 years. Only one other owner was has lived there since the complex of 11 ‘executive’ suites was designed and built in the early eighties by iconic Australian architect Harry Seidler. I’m not sure what ‘executive’ really meant at that time, but considering it was the eighties, perhaps the owners had to have brick mobile phones and Miami Vice-style pink power suit and white t-shirt combos? Probably not. However, judging from the care taken to create living spaces that really stand out from the norm, I would say it meant ‘distinctive’.
At first glance, the townhouse welcomes you with both intimacy and grandeur. Tight corridors, a cosy dining room, and split-level living spaces are contrasted with a vast open-air loft space, floor-to-ceiling glass windows and uninterrupted views of the lemon tree garden and park outside. It’s as if Harry didn’t want you to ever feel lonely in his spaces, yet gave you the freedom to breathe.
After you become accustomed to the space, you start to notice the complications. By that, I mean the details that start in the apartment and are then extended to the entire complex. For example, take a look at the balustrades dividing the living spaces—some with long teardrop-shaped curves, some with more angular cuts.
These patterns are repeated in the gardens, the pathways, the pool and the open roofline of the garage under the complex. Even the chimney is interesting, with a cylindrical Bauhaus-inspired look.
Isobel and John have such an appreciation for their home and the original intention of the architect that they have not messed with it—despite the temptations that come with the passing of time. Instead, they settled on updating the kitchen—and even then, they didn’t knock out walls to make the kitchen a central part of the house, but enlisted the help of Harry’s firm to ensure that the compact Sydney terrace influence lived on. And it did, with the kitchen given a modern vibe while maintaining the separation from the rest of the living spaces that the architect envisaged.
Of course, it’s not the house that makes a home, but the people in it. The décor that Isobel and John have curated over a lifetime of travel and experiences complement the ‘distinctive’ element I mentioned before. From amazing art to family heirlooms and salvaged vintage pieces, there are just too many stories to tell without turning this story into a hardback novel.
Instead, I’ll let Cass’ photos do the talking so you can see for yourself how designers project their aesthetic onto the world. You can love it, like it or it may not be your cup of Limoncello. Either way, it’s about sharing different perspectives and enriching our world.
What’s with that Limoncello reference, you may ask? Well, Isobel and John didn’t let us leave without taking a bag of lemons along with a recipe for home-made Limoncello. It was such a sweet gesture, though I did leave with a sour taste in my mouth that my place was not designed by someone like Harry Seidler.
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Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here.
Home Stories is brought to you in partnership with Canberra Outlet Centre.
Photography: Cass Atkinson