Interiorssneak peeks

Graphic Modernism in Melbourne

by Maxwell Tielman

In her mission statement published on our site last week, Grace touched upon one of my biggest beliefs when it comes to home design: no rules. There are a number of reasons why this particular principle rings true to me, but the strongest rationale I can think of for it is the simple fact that no two people see the world in the same way. Here at Design*Sponge, the homes we feature typically belong to creatives in a variety of fields, each one with different impulses, different passions, and different ways of looking at their surroundings. As with all forms of art and aesthetics, it is a matter of interpretation.

When it came to decorating their Melbourne house, graphic designers Suzy Tuxen and Shane Loorham applied their own unique vision and expertise to create a home that, in many ways, is an extension of the aesthetics and principles that guide their own work. Like a piece of printed graphic design, items within this 1970s single-story home read as punctuations, pieces of a larger puzzle that are informed by the spaces between them and the rooms they inhabit. In the kitchen, a polyhedric sculpture interrupts an expanse of white; in the living room, thoughtfully placed elements of vibrant color catch the eye and guide it throughout the space. Everyday objects become design and decor elements—a vintage Olivetti typewriter hangs on the wall above a desk; a row of espresso makers provides rhythm on a shelf.

The four years that the couple have occupied the home have been filled with experimentation and self-exploration, things that have allowed them to arrive at this point. Colors have been tested, motifs have been taken for a spin. Suzy’s company, A Friend of Mine, touts itself as a holistic design practice, something that seems to carry through to this living space. Each element of the home seems to inform the other, their relationships creating a cohesive, personalized whole. “We’ve painted walls and repainted over them again,” Suzy notes, “Owning a home is great as you can be as playful as you like with it!” —Max

Photographs by Sarah Anderson.

Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham, Photograph by Sarah Anderson
Suzy and Shane in the living room with their dog, Cotton. When the couple purchased their home, they made a decision to invest mainly in long-term pieces that they would love. The leather sofa was a wedding present, chipped in for by various friends. Lamp from Jielde. Cushions made by Suzy, sculpture above the couch by Shane.
Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham, Photograph by Sarah Anderson
"We found this beautiful wall unit in a vintage furniture shop, measured it and found that it fit perfectly into a little alcove in our living room!" Suzy says. "We had set aside a budget when moving into our home and I'm afraid to say that we spent it all on this piece! No regrets, we think this will be a piece that we'll keep for a long time." The shelves feature ceramics by local ceramist Lene Kuhl Jakobsen and a toy airplane from United Measures Toy Co.
Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham
Another view of the living room.
Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham, Photograph by Sarah Anderson
"Our kitchen is our favourite room of the house," Suzy says. "I wish we could take the credit for the renovation, alas, it was the previous owner! We love the natural light and space to spread out when cooking. Plus, the kitchen leads out to our decked backyard, so it's perfect for having people over. The shelves are filled with my strange obsession with coffee pots bought from opp-shops over the years, other collected timber bits and bobs and cookbooks." The utensil holder was crafted by local ceramist Bridget Bodenham. The yellow tea canister, a gift from Suzy's sister, is from Established & Sons. Vintage fruit bowl manufactured by Cathrineholm.
Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham, Photograph by Sarah Anderson
"We were completely chuffed when some good friends gave us these beautiful Grant Featherstone 'Scape' chairs which they inherited, which weren't their style," Suzy says. "We loved them and had them reupholstered by a friend. They go perfectly with the table legs which we inherited from my own grandmother (paired with an IKEA table top)."
Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham, Photograph by Sarah Anderson
"We have a nice nook by a large window in the kitchen, it's a great spot for reading and chatting when somebody else is cooking," Suzy notes. "I love this saucer chair, as it was my late grandmother's and she loved sitting on it on her porch where she would chat to passersby." Art by Kirra Jamison, framing by Ryan Ward of United Measures.
Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham, Photograph by Sarah Anderson
The bedroom. Bedspread by Scholten & Baijings, blanket by Melin Tregwynt.
Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham, Photograph by Sarah Anderson
The bedroom features a set of vintage bedside tables, inherited from Shane's grandparents. Laundry basket from Husk.
Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham, Photograph by Sarah Anderson
The study. A vintage "Valentine" Olivetti typewriter was a Valentine's Day gift from Shane. The New York City poster is a souvenir from a visit to the United States. The grey artwork is a sketch by the couple's friend Matlok Griffiths, drawn over their wedding invitation. Large zigzag artwork from Significant Others. The desk was a roadside find; the chair inherited from Suzy's grandparents.
Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham, Photograph by Sarah Anderson
A Paulistano chair from Hub Furniture, a 30th birthday present from Shane's friends, sits in the study's corner.
Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham, Photograph by Sarah Anderson
The home's front doorway. "We had one huge catastrophe when we decided to get the house painted," Suzy says. "We originally had a really unattractive dark brown brick which we were keen to give an update. The painter was able to come one weekend when we were interstate, and we'd planned to get the house painted a dark grey with a hint of blue. We came back to a blue house and just hated it! We bit the bullet and decided to go black (which we were tempted to do all along), rented a spray gun and painted the place ourselves the following weekend. The moral of the story is always get a test pot!" The tiling job was done by Suzy and Shane over the course of two weekends.
Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham, Photograph by Sarah Anderson
Suzy and Shane in their study.

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  • I love the “no rules” philosophy, because in the end it should be an expression of yourself. I think design guidelines help to take what’s in your mind and put it out there, in the same way drawing techniques help, but I prefer looks that are personal. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful space.

  • I love the blanket in the bedroom, it’s so unique! Plus, their dogs name is Cotton. I’ve always wanted to name a big fluffy white dog Cotton, so I’m already counting these people as friends even if they don’t know me :)

  • I couldn’t agree more with Tara. I love this “modernist” movement because to me it is just about whatever you like and speaks to you, whether it clashes or not. Awesome article, keep up the great work.


  • This is one beautiful home. That dining set is wonderful, wish I had friends giving me something like that. Love all the furniture and the history behind each choice.