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A Home Tailored To Fit


Architect Le Corbusier famously stated that ‘a house is a machine for living in’ . But for architects and furniture designers Polly Bastow and Tony Stuart of FORM architecture furniture, their home is less of a machine, and more a perfectly tailored garment – or large scale piece of furniture!

This self-designed and built Coburg home balances sustainable design principles with fun, quirky details. This functional, playful family house is home to Polly and Tony, their son Henry, and Rosie the fox terrier.

6th June, 2018

The purpose-built, sustainable home of Polly Bastow and Tony Stuart of FORM architecture furniture. Pictured here is the garden – the pond is full of Murray River rainbow fish to eat mosquito larvae! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

A carefully considered gardens space was just as important to Polly and Stuart as the house itself. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

A corner of the living room. Painting by Rick Amor. Bronze sculpture by Polly Bastow. Silver chair by Tony Stuart. Green chair by Vico Magistretti. Mantelpiece and hearth are glazed bricks from the stables of a Coburg Mansion. Fan by Big Ass Fans (…!). Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Big painting by Patrick Grieve. Magpie sculpture by Tony Stuart. Filing cabinet designed by Polly Bastow and built by Tony Stuart (which is how the couple met!). Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Polly Bastow and Tony Stuart, who have been working as the design team for FORM architecture furniture for 19 years. Pictured here with their tower of CDs given to them by their television reviewer friend Melinda Houston. ‘It is a time capsule of early 21st century televisual entertainment, and they have an art deco feel to them when the sun twinkles through their silvery, glassy edges’, the couple muse. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Kitchen designed and built by Tony and Polly. Stools designed and built by Tony Stuart. Pepper and salt mills designed by Tony Stuart. Light shades by Mathmos.  Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The standing light was made from salvaged surveyors stand, cleverly shaped to form a cylinder when closed and is stamped with a 19th century Vic rail insignia. Box chairs by Tony Stuart in the mid-1980s. Cupboards made by Tony Stuart from Oregon timber salvaged from the Melbourne Townhall organ structure. Clock (on top of the cupboard) using the geometry of an oval tube cut at an angle to create a circular clock face by Tony Stuart. Light shade by Coco Flip. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Pepper and salt mills designed by Tony Stuart. Oven by Miele. Light shades by Mathmos. Overhead shelves ‘displaying the many delightful shapes of coffee makers over the years’. The shallow, full-height cupboards provide generous, easily accessible storage. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The main bedroom, featuring ‘Rifle Birds’ print by John Wolseley. The bed head upholstery is inspired by vintage Citroen chairs and can flip forward (using hinges from an old fridge) to provide space for extra reading pillows. Reading lights by Artemide. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The bathroom. Japanese bath designed and built Tony Stuart – ‘Cedar really insulates baths well’, he says, ‘and no, it doesn’t leak!’. Copper plumbing pipe used for towel rails develop a ‘great patina over time for extra texture’. Painting by Michael Bastow, Polly’s uncle who paints in France. Towels by Ninnho. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The study and music room. A 12+ metre- long ongoing watercolour frieze of the Merri Creek by Polly Bastow on a specially designed shelf allowing sections of painting to be slotted in and out as the continuous drawing expands. ‘The images are inspired by things real and imagined from daily trips to the creek. There’s no reason why it couldn’t go on forever,’ says Polly, who used to be a cartoonist for various magazines in the 1990s and still illustrates and paints in her spare time. Owl sculpture by Henry Bastow Stuart. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Light Shades by Kasia Zygmuntowicz, woven from native climbing vines. Painting by Norma Stephenson. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Slot car track designed and built by Tony Stuart and Henry Bastow Stuart. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 6th June 2018

The development of Polly Bastow and Tony Stuart‘s home is a little unusual, and shows some serious long term commitment to their vision! After designing and building a ‘perfect studio/workshop and office’ in their backyard 18 years ago, the creative couple were faced with a dilemma. How to build a new home on a contained suburban block, without losing their beloved workspace? The solution was all about playing the long game.  Over 15 years, the pair seized opportunities to purchase the two neighbouring properties on either side of their home – eventually creating a new home, without having to move. (We warned you in was a long-term  plan!)

The new house took Tony two and a half years to build. The bespoke home was ‘designed to fit our lifestyle like a tailored garment fits the body’ he explains. As might be expected from a collaboratoin between a furniture designer and architect, the materiality of the house is inextricably interwoven with the overall design. Tony crafted the doors, windows, stairs and joinery by hand, creating a sense of the home as a ‘large piece of furniture.’

Warm timber, recycled bricks and an avoidance of plasterboard creates a strong aesthetic vocabulary, while also allowing the couple to honour their principles of energy efficiency and passive solar energy. This is both an ethical and financial win, as Tony and Polly describe the thrill of ‘feeling the passive solar design working, and knowing that through good design, power bills can be minimised and our environmental footprint reduced.’

The couple’s passion for sophisticated sustainable design solutions is evident in every room of the house. ‘We designed it knowing where the sun would come in, where the furniture would be, where the arts works would sit and expand into’ they describe. This thoughtful approach has also ensured the provision of reflective spaces and sunny nooks for Sunday activities such as ‘drawing, and listening to music while drinking wine.’ Very important!

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