Mid Century

A Photographer + Stylist's Vibrant Family Home

If you spend your life photographing the most spectacular architecture from around the globe, how do you then decide on design of your own home? How do you even begin to sift through ALL of those influences, options and trends bubbling away!?

For Derek Swalwell, one of Australia’s most respected architectural photographers, and his partner, stylist Georgia Young, designing a dream family home was all about placing trust in the right people. Rather than being overwhelmed by a 20-year career of architectural inspiration, the couple enlisted Melbourne architecture practice Kennedy Nolan to create a bright, personal and playful Elsternwick home they share with daughter Mia.

Lucy Feagins

The bright, breezy Elsternwick home of photographer Derek Swalwell, stylist Georgia Young and their daughter, Mia. House of Orange round dining table and pendant lights. Pierre + Charlotte stools. Over kitchen island bench are Muuto pendant lights. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

The family engaged architects Kennedy Nolan for the addition and interior redesign of the house. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Ample windows in this cosy family home ushers the outside, inside. Toro sling lounge chair. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

The creative couple have a refined yet laid-back sense of interior style. Family Love Tree blue planter pot, tray and  macrame hanger. Table from House of Orange. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

It’s just so cosy, and feels solid’, Derek says of the Kennedy Nolan addition. Photographic print in background, ‘Mexico ‘by Jack Shelton. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

‘We love the kitchen island and its benchtop… nice and solid, and BIG,’ Derek enthuses! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Derek Swalwell, Georgia Young and their daughter Mia in their chic Melbourne home. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Artwork (top), sketch by Moofus. Artwork (lower) , COAST by Tim Sutherland (StudioBrave). Shelving by String System from Great Dane. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Coming from creative careers, both Derek and Georgia have acquired many special pieces of art and design objects, including much Derek’s own photography work (he’s kind of famous in the design scene!). Artwork (top left) Jeremy Geddes. Artwork (top right, bottom left) prints from Derek’s Hotel Okura Series in Tokyo. Artwork (bottom right) ‘Las Vegas’ from Derek’s WEST series. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Living room detail. Jardan ‘Rufus’ sofa and cushion. Photographic print by Ben ReynoldsBen Mendanski ceramic cups. ‘Sunny’ by FLOS ceiling lighting on tracks. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Mia’s bedroom, featuring an amazing pendant shade by Family Love Tree. Smaller lamp shades by HK Living (stocked by House of Orange). Bedding and stool from IKEA. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Bedroom details, which are mostly collected and vintage. Pendant light and drawers from Grandfather’s Axe. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Bath fabricated by and from NuPride. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

The tonal master bedroom. Photographic print is ‘Hotel Springs Motel’ from Derek’s WEST series. Bed linen and side table from House of Orange. Ruark radio from Klapp AudioPhoto – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Front exterior. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Office goals! Artwork (top left) A print from Derek’s ‘Hotel Okura’ series in Tokyo. Artwork (top centre) Moofus illustration. Artwork (top left) Ben Reynolds. Artwork (on floor) Derek Henderson. Mark Tuckey table. Cult red chair. SuperTuft carpet.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Backyard details. Cult green chair. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Rear exterior. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
23rd of May 2018

With a career spanning 20 years, Derek Swalwell is one of Australia’s most esteemed photographers. Admired for capturing some of the world’s most spectacular architecturally designed buildings, Derek is fascinated by architecture and the built environment, both in Australia and abroad.

It stands to reason then, that Derek and his wife Georgia Young would collaborate with recognised Australian architecture firm (and long-term clients) Kennedy Nolan to renovate their own 1960s bungalow in Elsternwick.

After purchasing the property four years ago, the original ‘orange brick veneer’ house has been updated to reflect the lives and aesthetics of the new owners. Derek explains ‘I guess it’s a representation of us and our tastes – retro, as well as modern, and very functional for our family.’

The renovations included a new concrete slab being poured to extend the footprint of the home, which allowed for the addition of an expansive contemporary kitchen and dining space. With a versatile L-shaped layout, the new floorplan envelops the garden, ensuring leafy views from every room.

The bright openness of this home feels particularly appropriate for a photographer who has been consistently engaged in capturing the quality of light in his work, and Georgia’s styling talents are apparent in every room. The house balances robust, solid materials – bricks, concrete and solid timber – with a playful, bright colour plate. ‘It feels cosy, but solid,’ Derek concludes, which sounds like a perfect family home to us!

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