Tomfoolery & Hooligans

I have been researching Sydney in the early part of the century. I have always been naturally fascinated by Australian history (I have a history degree from Sydney University) and this goes in hand with researching the area for a bar I have been co-designing with the talented Kelvin Ho of Akin Creative.

The bar is located in a brick vaulted basement that would have been constructed around the 1850s. On a visit to the Caroline Simpson Library to see librarians, Michael & Matt, I was shown Henry Percy Dove’s ‘Plans of Sydney’ which revealed the businesses, workshops, housing & building that existed at the time. Oyster saloons, taverns, yards, tinkers, smiths, merchants & traders, lawyers, surveyors, milliners and other old fashioned trades are listed & sited.

I have written about Mr G Rice before, but another shop on Pitt St, called Mrs Palmer & co., taxidermist & furrier holds just as much curios.

I have named this new bar, Palmer & co. and lined its walls with photographs of the small time crooks, petty thieves & peoples of interest found at the Police & Justice Museum (often very well dressed & quite good looking):

Pickpockets, confidence tricksters, peeping toms, midnight rovers, rogues, vagabonds, professional shape-shifters, fly-by-merchants, fraudster, hooligans, brawlers, cardsharpers, ruffians & troublemakers.

If this is as fascinating to you as it is to me, the below have provided me endless enjoyment and information:

Crooks Like Us by Peter Doyle – an archive of mug shots from the Justice & Police Museum outlining all the mischief the crooks got up to.

Small Trades by Irving Penn – a book of portraits by the amazing Irving Penn, capturing people who practice small trades. This book is beautiful.

Caroline Simpson Library – it is so resource rich I know that CSL will have something for me irrelevant of whether I’m hunting for seaweed albums for my next book, Bowerbird or pictures of Mrs Palmer’s husband.

Macleay Museum – I cannot count the number of hours I have spent here wandering and inspecting whatever is on show. This is where I found a tag, attached to a taxidermied animal foot inscribed with ‘Mrs Palmer & co’ and what started my knowledge hunt.



A favourite product of mine. I never tire of rope in any of its incarnations. I was pleased to see others feel the same. You can often see my stamp through the entanglement of rope hanging through beams and holding up mirrors, in my shop or commercial interiors, props swing through the space, ships sail from the bannisters and you may even come across a couch hanging mid-air.

Although it is by no means a new fad, with the likes of The Ace installation in Palm Springs and the range by Christien Meindertsma for Thomas Eyck, it still rocks my world.

These are some new rope-y products hitting the scene ready to make your pirate ship or lighthouse keepers quarters all the more authentic! Some of my favs are: Missoni lights & rug, Christine Rackel ‘big bond’ rope light,  Tafarkitektkontor version of a fishermans float and Lindsey Adelman’s knotty bubble.


Beach Shack

I planned a southbound roadtrip to scour the vintage & junk shop I had spotted down the south coast from Sydney. A nice combination of work & fun! I took the scenic turnoff from the highway toward Stanwell park which revealed some naïve ships in a bottle & other bits & bobs. Although not packed with shops, the road & scenery are easy on the eye and a stop at the Berry sourdough bakery off the main road for a lunch break (or coffee) is a must. The other main stops are Ulladulla & Milton with a highlight at Turnball Bros.

After a hard day of driving & shopping, the reward at the end was my very good friends beach shack to stay at for the night. His thriving fruit & vegetable patch rewarded us with tomatoes, basil, parsley, figs, passionfruit, cucumber and peppers.

The shack is the perfect combo of casual laid back sand-on-your-feet attitude, and sink-yourself-into lounges, put-your-feet-up furniture, pull-the-indoors-out style. Wicker, linen, oversized knits, shells, stripe-y terry towelling, coir, cane, painted wood and easy sweep wooden floors made for the most enjoyable stay- Thanks JH.

Look out  for my nautical fish-y props at The Fish Shop & Amateur Fishing Club at 22 Challis Ave Potts Point.


Haymarket Hotel

I have long admired the fabulous Kit Kemp and am now lucky enough to know her. I photographed her for a Harper’s Bazaar shoot at her home in London some years ago & then included Crosby Street Hotel as the must stay in The Stylist’s Guide to NYC. Kit Kemp is the genius behind Firmdale Hotels and their amazing interiors.

For my brief stop (less than 24 hours ) in London en route to the Milan Furniture Fair, I was guest at the gorgeous Haymarket Hotel.

In signature Kit style, the colours are bold & the fabrics are in print, surrounded by craft meets art, naïve, sculpture & contemporary art. She mixes the natural (driftwood, stones, faux bois, palm tree stumps), textiles of ikat, suzani, paisley, vintage & new furniture, incredible light fittings and overscaled & subtle art pieces both wallmounted & sculptural, with a sense of humour.

If you love interiors, she is at the forefront of fabrics, finishes, art & furniture. This is interior consideration, knowledge & comfort at its best. Thanks Kit & Craig!

N.B. Don’t miss the shooting gallery covered in De Gournay wallpaper mural or the underground indoor pool and surrounds.


Still-life case study #2 Persimmons

On preparing for my last workshop, Styling vs Decorating, I picked up these glorious persimmons on the branch from Mr Cook, they begged to be photographed. We had just picked up these beautiful Australian cedar doors from auction – that do not as yet have a doorway – so are the backdrop for my e-shop pictures for now!


10 Corso Como

Two very happy things happened this morning. I visited 10 Corso Como and I saw Ilse Crawford. Although too shy (hard to believe) to introduce myself, she is one of the reasons I am the stylist I am today. I have every copy of Elle Decoration that she edited in the 90s. She was a huge influence on how I looked at design, products, photographs and other greats, like stylist/artist Sue Skeen, photographers, James Merrell & Martin Morel amongst many others. All these people continue to inspire & mould me as their greatness changes with the times.