Australian Homes

Janne Faulkner AM of Nexus Designs

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 19th December 2012

The Melbourne home of interior designer Janne Faulkner of Nexus Designs and her husband Bill.  Above – lounge room.  Zanotta Lea chairs in cream leather, ‘Model Taccia’ table lamp by Flos, African beaded hanging.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production –  Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Hallway view from entrance.  Anthony Pryor Sculpture. Burial figures from Thursday Island – Mimi figures by Guningbal (Arnhemland, purchased 1984).  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen.  Colin Lanceley Collage, ceramic jug by Janne’s daughter, artist Sarah Faulkner, blue painting on right wall by Sam Atyeo, purchased from Sophie Gannon Gallery.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Janne Faulkner in the courtyard of her South Yarra home.  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Janne Faulkner / Nexus Designs press scrapbook!  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

I had the great pleasure recently of meeting a woman who is nothing short of an Australian design legend.  Janne Faulkner has spent 44 years working at the forefront of Australian interior design, in her role as founding director of Nexus Designs – one of Melbourne’s first ever dedicated interior design consultancies, launched by Janne in 1967!  When we met recently, Janne recounted incredible tales from the early days of her career – when friends and family would be entertained and somewhat bemused by Janne’s interest in running her own business, as a married woman!  Oh Lord.  How things have changed!

When Janne first launched her business back in the 60’s, her primary focus was a partnership with the iconic Australian property developer Merchant Builders.  Janne was brought in to work on all Merchant Builders’ interior design projects, alongside revered architects and designers including David Yencken, Graeme Gunn and Daryl Jackson.  At this time Merchant Builders gained an impressive reputation for designing and building uniquely ‘Australian’ houses – that is, houses designed specifically for the Australian landscape and climate, using Australian timbers and materials.

Janne was an integral part of the success of Merchant Builders.  She was responsible for designing and providing joinery and finishes, and furnishing the Merchant Builders display houses.  Janne’s emphasis was always on simple, functional design, the use of artwork in the home, and using local materials and craftmanship.   Janne also initiated a policy of purchasing Australian contemporary art for all her projects, thereby supporting emerging Australian art and design talent. It’s a philosophy still inherent at Nexus Designs today – though these days Nexus has grown immensely!  The company now employs a team of talented staff, and has expanded to offer services in graphic design and product development.  Nexus is now run by four directors, including Janne, who still maintains a very active role within the company.

By all accounts, Janne has been an incredible force in interior design in Australia, and especially in the development of a uniquely ‘Australian’ style of design.  She was even appointed a member of the Order of Australia for her contribution as a designer in 1982 – hence the ‘AM’ after her name!

For a more personal introduction to the wonderful Janne Faulkner I highly recommend checking out this excellent little film, which succinctly captures Janne’s incredible wisdom, energy and passion for Australian design!

Anyway – on to the house!

Janne and husband Bill have lived in their South Yarra home for twenty five years!  They renovated the home when they purchased the property, keen to maximise the use of space and natural light. ‘As we had moved from a much larger house, and this house was so much smaller, our first decision was to limit the finishes’ recalls Janne.  Custom terrazzo tiles were specially made (‘so they didn’t look like sausage meat’ says Janne!) and carried through the home to every room including bathrooms and exterior paving.

Quality of light was important also, so skylights were installed where possible, and Janne was keen to open up the entire home to the outside, with double doors in every room facing North into the courtyard.  The result is a very functional outdoor space which has become a seamless extension of the living areas, and spills warm light into every room throughout the day.

The open plan layout remains one of Janne’s most treasures aspects of this home – ‘I love the fact that when you walk in the front door you can virtually see the whole house and the courtyard’ she says, adding – ‘I always like kitchens in the front of the house, as to me they are the hub, and I enjoy people congregating there, and then being able to step straight from there to the courtyard’.

Much of what you see here has remained more or less unchanged since Janne and Bill originally renovated their home 25 years ago.  The only alterations since then have been a renovation to the second bathroom, and a new kitchen bench!  Paint colours remain the same (‘I like a muted palette so artworks and furniture can sing’ says Janne), whilst furniture choices are also largely unchanged. ‘The fact that the design of the interior and furniture have remained intact for virtually twenty five years epitomes the philosophy of our design studio, and is continued today by our very talented young designers’ says Janne.

Massive thanks to Janne and Bill for sharing their home and story with us today!  Talk about Australian design royalty.

Loungeroom – Gareth Samson painting, Gus d’Alava sculpture and three sculptures by Giles Ryder.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Gus d’Alava sculpture.  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Loungeroom – ‘the early ship paintings on the far wall were given to my husband by the family shipping Co. Huddard Parker’ says Janne.  Zanotta Lea chairs in cream leather and antique fruitwood dining table.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Drawings by Janne’s daughter Sarah Faulkner.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Loungeroom / TV room.  Zanotta lounge furniture and John Firth Smith painting. Burial figures from Thursday Island – Mimi figures by Guningbal (Arnhemland, purchased 1984).  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Lounge / TV room.  Sahar Rug from Behruz.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Water colour of Janne’s mother on her 80th birthday by Sarah Faulkner, Janne’s daughter.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bedroom details – group of paintings Yvonne Audette, Sarah Faulkner, Denise Green, Primo Conti, Renoir water colour. On chair -Russian Chapan (Traditional silk garment from Ubekestan).  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen details – African Beaded Radio, little Greek papier-mache boats, Picasso jug. One of Janne’s most treasured possessions is the Picasso jug, bottom right – ‘brought back under our seat in the plane over 30 years ago’.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

 John Nicholson sculpture at front door, commissioned from Sophie Gannon Gallery.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Sculpture in the courtyard by Peter Cole.  ‘We knew the courtyard would be vital in such a small space, so Peter Cole was commissioned to view the space before renovations commenced and to design the courtyard sculpture’ says Janne.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

 


by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 19th December 2012

19 comments

  • Jane 2 years ago

    Amazing!
    What is growing on the trellis in the courtyard shot?

  • Barbara Fisher 2 years ago

    What an amazing woman! And such a stylish home. I love that she didn’t want her tiles to look like sausage meat!

  • Jessamy 2 years ago

    Oh wow! Thanks for sharing!

  • Gaz 2 years ago

    Inspiring designer. Goes to show that good design and art is a worthwhile and long term investment.

  • Poppy 2 years ago

    So clean, classic and personal – a beautiful balance of style and homely. Thank you :)

  • janne Blacker 2 years ago

    Fond memories of my 1970s Merchant Builder Toorak town house with the interior decorated by Janne in preparation for sale. We loved her style so much that we even oragnised to purchase some of the display furniture. Still love her work and peaceful palette

  • Barbara 2 years ago

    What an inspiration, and the longevity of her career gives me hope.

  • Leah 2 years ago

    Love this feature, so many interesting pieces in the house and beautiful things put together

  • African beaded radio: YES PLEASE!

  • Debbie Giacomi 2 years ago

    Beautiful! Simple! And oh so classy!

  • whiting 2 years ago

    yes it is sweet, i was privileged to be the architect on this for Janne 25 years ago (at Nexus), then trusted to go back and redo Bills bathroom a couple of years ago. The last time i saw this house in print was ‘Belle Collectors Edition’ 1987 ‘ish & here it is .. Nexus curates eclectic possessions, furniture & the ‘art object’ so well; in fact, so much so that without all the objet’ the building pales somewhat.. its all Nexus and a great example of their work. Janne you are a legend..Thank you so much for the trust.xx
    steven whiting / whiting architects

  • The Hometrotter 2 years ago

    What a stylish home ! Very original, I like the colours of the paintings and sculptures !

  • Elegant simplicity, with stunning artwork….Beautiful

  • The People Stories 2 years ago

    Wow, what a beautiful home. Makes me think if Dieter Rams’ wife had a country home. So gorgeous
    TPS x

  • display home for sale 2 years ago

    Thanks for the share of useful information and i liked your blog design.

  • Hi,
    I liked your blog design and thanks for the share of useful information.

  • cool post. very informative. Thanks and keep posting

  • Peter 1 year ago

    Style and class endure all passage of time. After more than 35 years we continue to enjoy Janne’s timeless pieces and concepts of design. As Merchant Builders clients, we are honoured to continue as keepers of such style.

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