An 8AM meeting with architect Emilio Fuscaldo of Nest Architects had me reeling this morning, but the chill in the early spring was nearly enough of a wake up for me. I met Emilio at my hotel and we hopped the tram to get breakfast at the wonderful cafe The Europeans (no Henry James in sight, sadly). The interior so effortlessly evokes any charming Parisian cafe that one nearly fails to see the spot for what it is: a deftly made grab at an imagined European history in a land that was a prison colony when this brand of restaurant was springing up back on the continent. The major revelation, though: Vegemite. Who knew this black, yeasty paste was so damned good on toast?
From the Europeans Emilio and I trammed to the rather cool inner suburb Fitzroy to visit a house he designed for fashion designer Lisa Gorman and mid-century furniture maven Dean Angelucci. The renovation of an 19th-century house is lovely, utterly lovely, and I don't want to give too much away about it, but keep an eye out for it in an upcoming issue of the mag. Here's a sneak peak thanks to a few photos Emilio snapped:
Just off one of Fitzroy's main drags, Gertrude Street, much of the historic facade of the house has been preserved. Oddly the man who built it named the house Boston Villa. Henry James crops up again!
Lisa and Dean's daughter peeks out of the front door, the spot where the very tasteful modern renovation really picks up steam.
This is just a modest snap of a guest room upstairs, but I love the wooden headboard, faced with Mess Mate (a hodgepodge of local hardwoods) and kitted out with one of Dean's amazing finds.
After hanging out at the house for a while, and getting something of a tutorial on punching and kicking an Australian Rules football, Emilio and I headed out for a stroll around Fitzroy. The nip had left the air and the weather was splendid. Our first stop, utterly by chance, was at Third Drawer Down, a linens and design-y knickknack shop that we feature in the magazine from time to time. Very nice folk, and well worth a stop on your Fitzroy rambles.
From there it was a good wander about town. Fitzroy is buzzing with shops and cafes, to the point where Emilio quipped that he could start selling coffee off of some nearby rock and turn a profit in two weeks' time. He was also a canny architectural tour guide. One of the most interesting details that I've noticed here in Melbourne is the proliferation of wrought-iron fences and gates. Here's a picture, at left, so you take what I mean, but these railings are everywhere and make me think a bit of New Orleans.
We also happened into Thonet's flagship shop for a browse, and here you can see a blurry Emilio amidst the chairs.
We stopped for a coffee, met up with his partner Anna, who is furiously writing a book on forestry practices in Tasmania. Then we had a walk around the city, ending at Melbourne University. By 4 o'clock I was bushed, though, and had to head back to the hotel. I was still holding out hope of meeting back up with Emilio and Anna at Lisa and Dean's house for a party, but knew that some proper rest was in order.
I got as far has having dinner with Dwell Managing Editor Michele Posner's good pal and writer Jane Rawson at a bustling Thai joint called Cookie. Though the food was great at the Curtin House Building restaurant, I was flagging. So hotel-ward I went, passing up fun on all fronts in favor of sleep. The time change had finally caught up with me, and I need to be bright and bushy for another house visit tomorrow. Off to bed. More tomorrow.
Aaron writes the men's style column "The Pocket Square" for the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for the New York Times, the Times Magazine, Newsweek, National Geographic and others.