Nothing epitornises the urban lifestyle more than a city aglow at night.
Part peaceful, part vibrant, it is rebelliously alive as its individual lights defy the darkness and provide a common thread across a city skyline of different architectural shapes and sizes. Whether admired from a distance or laid out at your feet there's a certain something that makes cities look sleeker and more sophisticated at night.
It was exactly this essence of city living that Sydney-based design firm Burley Katon Halliday was asked to capture by its country-dwelling clients, who wanted their apartment in Sydney's landmark apartment building - Harry Seidler's Horizon - to be remodelled in a way that celebrated the city.
"Because they only planned on using the apartment three nights a week, they wanted it imbued with an urban ambience that constantly reminded them they were in the city," says lain Halliday. "They were after a permanently night-time place."
Having previously gained the client's confidence by outfitting two of their boats, Halliday was not only familiar with their taste but also had insight into their lifestyle. This made him well placed to ensure the difference between the drab apartment he began with, and the chic window on the world he handed back, was like night and day.
Capturing the city meant first inviting it into the space so, as a result, the apartment's north-facing panoramic view of Sydney's city skyline to its harbour became the focal point for the largely cosmetic renovation.
Two walls were draped in floor to ceiling mirrors; one along the narrow hallway to immediately connect the entrance to what was otherwise a blocked view of the skyline and the other, the main wall of the living/dining room, in effect doubling the intensity of the city view in the lounge.
The kitchen wall - the only structural change - was softened, its right angles curved instead to a half-wall that cupped three-quarters of the kitchen. From the entrance, the gently curving wall also provides a natural progression from the hallway into the lounge delivering guests to the view as quickly and graciously as possible.
To ensure nothing distracted from the spectacular aspect, the interior was kept dark, even sombre, The new wall was clad in Indonesian macassar ebony with down lit spots used to dramatic effect to highlight the rich grain. Complemented by black granite floor tiles, the overall effect is to ground the space as the city lights dance around the apartment.
While the curved wall resulted in a more compact kitchen this was compensated for by completely exposing the living room to the oversized balcony making the -whole apartment immediately feel more expansive. The kitchen sink, which previously sat against the outside wall and monopolized the view of one window, was secreted into the now open kitchen and in its place a cocktail bar and low cabinet installed.
Inspired by American designers such as Bray-Schaible and Patino Wolf, Halliday adopted a very 1980s Wall Street glamour for the finishing touches on the apartment. "It is evocative of New York interiors of the 1970s and 1980.s. before they became fashionable again in the 1990s," he notes. "It has a real power broker feel; this is a very grown-up interior."
To that end, an Eero Saarinen table joined by six Eames Eiffel Tower base chairs, defines the dining room, while an ebony credenza backing onto a white Florence Knoll lounge separates the living room.
Perhaps the boldest stroke is the two large photographs by Melbourne-based artist Bill Henson known for his love of the nocturnal, hung on the living mirrored wall. The portrait of two heavily shadowed people adds to the intrigue of the apartment. The young woman pictured is straining to look over the shoulder of her fellow subject. Perhaps she too wants to enjoy the city night time view.
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