Indigo Slam by Smart Design Studio | Yellowtrace

Indigo Slam by Smart Design Studio | Yellowtrace

Indigo Slam by Smart Design Studio | Yellowtrace
Photography by Sharrin Rees.

 

I wish I could tell you my life was cooler than it actually is, but these days I typically spend my Saturday nights either in my PJs watching Netflix or tapping away on the laptop after our son has gone to bed. This one particular Saturday night in early July was just a little bit different, as I had accepted a swishy drinks invitation in honour of Jaime Hayon, who was in town for a couple of days. Of course, when the time came to leave the house, I was incredibly tempted to slip into my PJs rather than get dressed to go out, but Husband was firm and insisted I stopped acting like a child. (How dare he?) He even made it super easy for me by giving me a ride, saying – “You’ll have a great time! I won’t wait up, so make sure you get an Uber etc”. I reassured him I’d only have a quick drink, say my hellos, and be home by 9pm. “No you won’t be – you never are. Just have a good time.” Pfft, whatevs. What does he know, anyway?

Well, as it turns out, he knows a thing or two. Let’s just say the night was bags of fun on so many levels, and to top if off – the evening progressed from one seriously spectacular home to yes, you guessed it – Indigo Slam.

Ummm… Dude. ***Bites Own Fist. Hard.***

Most of us in the design & architecture game in Australia would have had some level awareness of this high profile home in Sydney’s Chippendale, designed by the inimitable Smart Design Studio. Indigo Slam was completed earlier this year, and even observing this extraordinary sculptural concrete building from the outside is evidence enough that something very special lies within. The honest truth is that I was completely oblivious to the fact this was the house we were walking to that night, at around 10:30pm. Blame it on a few drinks, blame it on me almost always being caught up in some random all-consuming conversation – I was kind of walking blindly and not paying attention, making a joke and having a laugh… And as our group arrived and we walked into the house, I was somehow still unaware, although I quickly realised.

Blimey.

 

Indigo Slam by Smart Design Studio | Yellowtrace

Indigo Slam Section | Yellowtrace
Indigo Slam: Section.

 

There are simply no words to describe the first impact of entering this extraordinary house. A patterned steel screen leads into an intimate coved vestibule with 2.2m ceiling, receiving you with gentle ease. There is a distinct calming sense of ‘cleansing’ that happens here – a feeling I liken to entering a luxury spa, whereby you are instantly transported into a different world. Or in this case, a parallel universe. From here, the space compresses as a low and narrow corridor, before suddenly opening into a spectacular stair hall.

Holy M@ther F#cking $hit!

Let’s just say I was completely overwhelmed by the epicness of the central void – the soaring 12m ceiling, the majestic staircase, the sheer scale of… well, everything really, balanced so beautifully with a highly restrained, John Pawson-esque approach to materials and detailing. In that moment, my mind instantly went back to our visit to the Grundtvig’s Church where I spent the first few minutes with one hand placed firmly on my mouth, while the other one was diligently wiping the tears. Similarly to that experience, the initial impact of being inside Indigo Slam was overwhelming – you could say that the monastic quality of the interior gave an equally powerful religious experience. Except, let’s not forget that – unlike Grundtvig’s, this was someone’s home. Not a church. A HOME!

Sweet Baby Jesus.

 

Indigo Slam by Smart Design Studio | Yellowtrace

Indigo Slam by Smart Design Studio | Yellowtrace

Indigo Slam by Smart Design Studio | Yellowtrace
Photography by Sharrin Rees.

 

Taking it’s name from a crime novel, Indigo Slam transforms the former Simona warehouse site in Chippendale into an inspiring residence for Australia’s most prominent art collector and philanthropist, Judith Neilson. The Client’s brief called for something extraordinary – a piece of sculpture to be lived in.

William Smart and his team established a unique language of cutting, folding and stitching together for designing the building skin – something once flat becomes three dimensional and something once blank creates and enfolds space. This language is carried throughout each aspect of the design – from the concrete facades, to how the marble in the kitchen is sculpted and shaped, light switch or tap installed, to the planes and curves of the vaulted ceilings.

The sculpted concrete facades of Indigo Slam are alive to the changes brought by light, shade, sun and cloud, providing the new urban park across the road with a lively backdrop to public life. The serene living spaces and monumental halls within create a dynamic spatial interplay of spare interiors in which the main decorative element is light.

 

Indigo Slam by Smart Design Studio | Yellowtrace

Indigo Slam by Smart Design Studio | Yellowtrace

Indigo Slam by Smart Design Studio | Yellowtrace

Indigo Slam by Smart Design Studio | Yellowtrace
Photography by Sharrin Rees.

 

The central cavernous stair hall, lit from concealed roof lights overhead, may be grand and austere in its size and sparseness, but inviting and exciting as it leads you upwards through the building. As a counterpoint to this dramatic spatial sequence, the living areas leading from the stair hall are informal and intimate. Bedroom suites occupy the first floor, overlooking the public park to the north. On the second floor, sitting and dining rooms are divided by screens and overlook the park. A sky-lit kitchen and study look back into the building, creating views across the stair hall. Internal finishes are modest and pared-back: floors are brick-paved, walls are set render, fittings are simple.

The brief was for Indigo Slam to last 100 years. Materials are selected to wear and endure, with each fitting designed or selected to continue the language of overall design concept, occasionally adding a small element of surprise to the finely grained interior.

In the initial meeting, Neilson asked for the best house in Sydney. In the next meeting she said it had to be the best house in Australia. In the third meeting she said, “I think we should aim for the best house in the world.” The jury is out on this one, with this project currently shortlisted for the World Interior of The Year, although – for my money – Indigo Slam has already won. Hands down.

***Deep bow of respect to everyone involved.***

 

p.s. If you are so inclined, you can read a fantastic article titled ‘Designed From The Inside Out’: a conversation between William Smart and Heidi Dokulil, giving further insight into this fascinating project.

 

 


[Images & drawings courtesy of Smart Design Studio and INSIDE World Festival of Interiors 2016. Photography by Sharrin Rees.]

 

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor
Google+

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

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