Mark and Christine Baxter and Family

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
30th of October 2013
The incredible mid-century WA home of Mark and Christine Baxter and Family, designed by legendary architect Iwan Iwanoff!   The Parker dining table extends to three metres and seats up to 12 for their family get-togethers. The dining chairs are Chiswell, the rug is a Versace pattern, the Italian-designed pendant above is an original fixture and on the table are three Fuga bowls by Sven Palmqvist. Far right, one Mark’s favourite chairs in green - the rare Featherston Cone chair 1955, bought for $25 from a garage sale around the corner. (OMG!!) The artworks on the wall are - left, 'Carousel of Love' by Cedric Baxter, top right - Bryant McDiven 1968; bottom centre - a Stormie Mills commission piece painted on back of a drawer, and bottom right - a painting by Alan Baker.  The console in the dining room features (from left) a sculpture cut from a steel girder by Albert Wilson 1974, a Gregory Bonasera piece in black; a white porcelain piece by a WA ceramicist, a Becky Blair work called 'Night Vision', an Oiva Toikka Raven, a black and white vase by Paloma Picasso for Villeroy & Boch, a figure sculpture bought for $5 at swap meet.  Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
Painting on console, Night Vision by Becky Blair. An Oiva Toikka Raven ('bought cheaply at an antique auction because the auctioneer had no idea of its value!' says Mark). Black and white vase by Paloma Picasso for Villeroy & Boch, a figure sculpture bought for $5 at swap meet.  Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
The formal living room - a homage to Mark’s chair collection! Clockwise from back left - the Elda chair in leather and fibreglass by Joe Colombo 1963, the Rondo chair designed by Gordon Andrews 1956 (famous for being used in Star Wars the movie, while the designer is also famous for designing the Australian currency, says Mark!), Contour Featherston upholstered chairs. The coffee table was designed by a  local WA craftsman in Walliston in the 1970's. Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
Incredible original decorative brickwork in the TV room.  Plycraft recliner with matching footstool. The artwork above is by Mark’s father, Cedric Baxter and was gifted to his wife Christine by his father as it is her favourite work. The Danish standard lamp was found through the Quokka pages, and the occasional table has an inlay depiction of indigenous Australians and was a unique find in Old Wares in East Fremantle. On the table are a Gambone vase (tall), a Unu vase by Marc Pascal and an Asian tribal head piece of horses. Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
Mark Baxter in his front doorway.  The door is designed specifically for the house - each Ivan Iwanoff house had an individually door designed by the architect. The cabinetry and shelving separates the entrance and the tv room, and stores pieces from Bertil Vallien’s Artist Collection on the top level.  Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
Today we have another seriously incredible mid-century home in WA to share, courtesy of our amazing Perth-based team, Anna Flanders and Angelita Bonetti, who we work with closely to ensure TDF gets its fair share of WA homes!  AMAZING work ladies! This very special family home belongs to design enthusiasts and avid collectors Mark and Christine Baxter and their thirteen year old daughter Aisha, who bought the property in November 1999.  'I’m not sure if it was wonderful luck or destiny' says Mark of their good fortune in finding this unique modernist home, designed in 1969 by revered Bulgarian architect Iwan Iwanoff, who was responsible for a number of incredible homes in Perth at that time.  'We had been wandering the area, looking for a larger home to start a family, and happened upon this house. We drove past it early in the morning and loved it, and when we arrived for the opening later in the day, we bought it within 15 minutes'. After moving in, Mark and Christine initially had plans to make some minor changes. 'We planned to remove a raised section between the breakfast bar and kitchen, to gain more bench space, and remove the overhead cupboards' says Mark.  However, after living in the house for several months it quickly became apparent why Iwanoff had designed the kitchen in the way that he had.  'What was I thinking!?' says Mark! In fact, after living in the house for several months it became more than apparent to Mark and Christine just how clever Iwanoff was. In 1969, Iwanoff designed the house with air flow vent panels that open in both the front and back. This, along with the open layout of the home allows for constant air flow which keeps the house cool in summer. The house also utilises ceilings made of 'Stramit' panels, a pressed fibre material. 'In 1969 these were used only for commercial sound proofing, but Iwanoff used them as a decorative ceiling finish, as well as efficient insulation - all this in 1969!' says Mark. Now retired, Mark is (clearly!) an avid collector of all manner of beautiful things, including Australian furniture/chairs, 60 - 70’s art, Scandinavian glass, stylised bulls and horses, kokeshi dolls and many other objects as you see here! 'The house is the perfect gallery to display my collection' says Mark. 'The only drawback is I run out of wall space to hang my paintings, because of the open plan design of the house!'. Born into a highly creative family, it seems Mark was always destined for a life surrounded by art and design.  'My father is an artist/cartoonist, my mother is a dressmaker and incredible cook' explains Mark. 'I grew up in the '60s and '70s surrounded by Featherston chairs, art, sculpture and pottery. My father drove interesting cars like a Renault Dauphine to the iconic Holden Monaro. I believe that the period between 1955 -1975 produced the most stylish architecture, cars and art'. Inspired by his creative surroundings and family life, Mark's collecting started in his early years - he would scour second hand / antique stores every weekend, and rummage thru Swapmeets and garage sales. Then came the dedicated 'Quokka' publication (an online trading post similar to Craig's List), and these days Mark is a regular browser of eBay and Gumtree.  'I must admit I have slowed down a lot - I've run out of room and the cupboards are full to the brim! Most of my time is now spent sourcing items for other people' he says. Unsurprisingly for a collector of this caibre (!), Mark has too many favourite pieces to list succinctly!  His chair collection is particularly treasured, and includes his much loved Featherston cone chair, fortuitously found at a garage sale he was passing one Sunday morning.  He's also very fond of the Kral Australia plywood and chrome chairs in the TV room, and matching sofa, found as three separate elements over several years, and united by Mark, now a complete set!  (Mark is currently restoring the sofa, its not pictured here). Mark is also a passionate art collector, with an extensive art and sculpture collection.  His early George Kosturkov sculptures are greatly treasured, significant, he says, because Kosturkov and architect Iwan Iwanoff were great mates. 'I bought my house from the original owner who was also one of Iwanoff’s Bulgarian friends, and in fact the electrician on all his homes' says Mark. It's stories like this that keep Iwanoff's memory alive in WA, and continue to inspire mid century architecture enthusiasts Australia-wide.  Much like Renee Coleman, whose Iwan Iwanoff home we featured back in July, through living in this beautiful, efficiently designed family home, Mark has developed a deep affection for the complex design elements at play here, and the rich history of Iwanoff's work.  It's great to see Iwanoff's legacy so perfectly preserved here, and layered with the Baxter's own incredible collection of mid century furniture and design - it couldn't be in better hands! HUGE THANKS to Mark, Christina and Aisha for sharing their amazing home with us today!
Formal Loungeroom details.  Amazing Elda chair, artwork above is 'Thunderbirds' by Marjorie Bussey (a friend of Mark’s family). The floorstanding lamp is Italian, bought at a market.  Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
The carpet throughout the formal living area is original, installed in 1969! 'It’s due for replacement' says Mark, 'Our dog Gypsy actually gets lost in it! We can’t find her when she lays down into it because they are the same colour!'. The console is an Australian design and features artworks by West Australian artist Guy Grey Smith and Brian McKay, a collection of blue glass pieces are by Bertil Vallien, a blue bird by Oiva Toikka for Iitala; and bottles by Kel Engman for Kosta Boda. The artwork above is 'Kangaroo Paws' by English artist Becky Blair from Gadfly Gallery, and a work by Renis Zusters. On the coffee table is John Russell’s Black Velvet coffee set and a low vessel by Melbourne ceramicist Gregory Bonasera.  Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
The red display unit, sitting between the TV Room and formal lounge is a 1928 Bauhaus typewriters desk B21 by Marcel Bruer for Thonet that Mark bought at auction for $5 - he really is the king of second-hand designer finds! The artwork above is an interpretation of a boab tree by Charlene Carrington. 'I love the boab tree' says Mark. 'I also love horses and bulls, so collect the more stylised interpretations of those animals'. The green horse here is Fantoni, and the glass one is by Kosta Boda. The wooden figure Mark found at auction, the Krenit bowls are part of a collection of different colours and the lamp was found at a swap meet. Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
These two chairs are the mirror image of two that Mark’s parents bought when first married. 'When I was young, I loved them. My parents still have them and one has been bequeathed to me and one to my brother' says Mark. In the meantime, he collected two for himself, which started his own chair collection. The chairs are both Featherstons - a R152 Contour chair 1951 (left) and TV Chair 1953 (right). Mark made the sidetable - he found the base, then used the end of a wine barrel for the top. In the cabinetry is a collection of Kosta Boda bottles, while the demi-tasse cups and saucers are his wife Christine’s collection.  On the cabinetry, a work by WA sculptor Tony Jones, and a collection of Fantoni ceramic bulls.  Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
Formal lounge looking to TV room.  R152 Contour chair 1951 and TV Chair 1953.  It may come as a surprise to hear that the sofa is from IKEA. True!  However, it is temporary, whilst Mark restores a Kral lounge that will eventually replace it.  Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
A corner in the TV room, situated at the front of the house. The bookcase, filled with Mark’s favourite magazines and auction catalogues, is from IKEA ('Good design is good design, no matter where it comes from' says Mark, 'and IKEA has some great designers working for them'. Also in the bookcase are different coloured Carnaby vases by Holmgaard, and above is a starburst clock found at a garage sale. The chair is by Kral of Melbourne and has a matching sofa that Mark is restoring. The fan on the Danish sidetable is the “Otto” by Sunbeam. Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
The red chair is the Featherston Scape chair. 'A friend was on holiday in Albany about 12 years ago and he saw it. He knew I wanted one, so bought it for me and delivered it all the way back to me in the back of his car' laughs Mark.  Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
Gypsy the dog strikes a post in Mark's home office!  Teak panelling and views over the front garden define Mark’s home office. The desk is by Fred Ward and was originally designed for the National Library in Canberra - Mark found it listed on Gumtree and bought it cheaply. The Danish desk lamp was secured through a swap of some Scandinavian pottery with a good friend, and the Vitra chair was bought at an office furniture auction. Mark started collecting Barbie dolls for his daughter, but couldn’t resist collecting some favourite toys of his own, such as Mario, Captain America, Andy Capp and Astro Boy, which now surround him in the office. He also loves motor racing so collects models of cars driven by his favourite drivers! Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
This hallway leads to the private areas of the home - three bedrooms and a bathroom. A rare Featherston bedroom stool sits against the wall. Artwork above by Majorie Bussey. The hallway is also lined with Mark’s art collection.  Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
George Kosturkov sculpture on the wall of the outdoor seating area.  'This hung in the back of a second-hand shop for 20 years, then Mark swapped it for a table he no longer wanted.  Many years later, the owner of the shop saw Mark and said he now realised what a great deal Mark got with the swap! However, at the time, George Kosturkov was not readily known.  It pays to do your research!  Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.
The garden is a whirl of green, Mark says he is currently redesigning it,so it’s in reconstruction mode!  Mark’s fabulous big sputnik pots line the verandah. Photo - Angelita Bonetti, Styling / Production - Anna Flanders.

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