At this time of year, the two main strands of Donald Campbell's working life converge in his Darling Point apartment. On the one hand, there's the interior design business, based from his home office in the monumental Glenhurst Gardens, built in the late 1950s. On the other, there is evidence of his annual stint creating a speciallydesigned collection of scarves for the Bayreuth opera festival in Germany.
Campbell moved into the Sydney building seven years ago and within seven weeks (with some help from Burley Katon Halliday's David Katon) had shifted and demolished walls and removed wobbly fake Corinthian columns, shag pile carpet, security bars ("it was like a big lion's cage," he says) and layers of window covering to transform it into the generous living/working place it is today.
Now the apartment has symmetry, a sense of light and a logical flow of space where none existed previously. It's an apartment that appears to have evolved naturally, with furniture from different eras and parts of the world, including Rietveld chairs, Chinese table and stools, Norman Foster dining table and Kay Korbing chairs, sitting comfortably with Aboriginal payback spears, works by Bill Henson, Rosalie Gascoigne and Andy Warhol, and a fragment of an antique tapestry. "Pieces come and go," says Campbell, who finds much of the furniture in secondhand shops. "With clients, I prefer if they're prepared to work overtime than have everything finished in an instant - it's the same here."
Look in his office, which opens off the entrance hall and, alongside signs of his interior design work, there are hints of his other business: bolts of vibrant silk stand in the comer, file boxes marked 'silk and georgette lengths' and 'silk and velvet offcuts' sit on the shelf behind his desk. He opens one of the boxes and stacked neatly inside are extravagant sari lengths, sculptural silks, heavy beaded fabrics and a delicate ribbon-embroidered net. Some fabrics he's bought recently; others he's had for years.