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A Creative Family's Eclectic Apartment in Melbourne’s CBD

Homes

If you told a younger Michael Chazan he’d raise his future family in an off-the-plan CBD apartment, he probably wouldn’t believe you… but funnily enough, it’s now his dream home. 

The furniture designer and creative director of Le Space, which he founded with his partner, photographer/curator/educator Ying Ang, live here with their almost-three-year-old son, Oska Shübi, and have found that apartment living is the life for them. 

Over the past three years, the couple have placed their own maximalist stamp on the Melbourne apartment, with plenty of personal touches, plants, self-made furniture, and soft lighting. It’s a home that really feels lived in – we love it! 

14th October, 2020

The lounge room faces north up Spring Street towards Carlton Gardens. Falcon Armchair from Radar, Fitzroy. Artwork by Shübi (left) and David Chazan (right). Arancini Floor Lamp by Moda Piera. Brass sculpture by Gidon Bing from Curatorial + Co. Memphis-style side table from Smith Street Bazaar. Photo – Ying Ang.

A different corner of the lounge room. A collection of vintage furniture and collected artworks by unknown painters. A vintage Persian rug. Photo – Ying Ang.

Another corner of the lounge room! Vintage Dutch armchair by Rudolf Wolf from Modern Times. Photo – Ying Ang.

A maximalist salon wall is the main feature of the lounge room. Vintage Dutch armchair on the right by Rudolf Wolf from Modern Times. Photo – Ying Ang.

Here is one of the two study nooks in the lounge room. Photography from David Schulze‘s exhibition ‘Heads’ at Le Space Gallery. Quattra Desk in Blackwood & NY Marble by Moda Piera. Photo – Ying Ang.

A family portrait! Ying, Oska Shübi (who goes by Shübi) and Michael. Photo – Ying Ang.

The dining room is filled with rattan steel chairs from CCSS. Marble Dining Table by Moda Piera. Photography left to right: David Schulze and Ying Ang, both represented by Le Space Gallery. Flowers from The Green Room in Albert Park, arranged by Ying! Photo – Ying Ang.

Flowers from The Green Room in Albert Park arranged by Ying. Sculpture on dining table by Nikola Vrljic. Photo – Ying Ang.

Rattan steel chairs from CCSS. Marble Dining Table by Moda Piera. Photography left to right: David Schulze and Ying Ang, both represented by Le Space Gallery. Persian rug gifted from a friend. Photo – Ying Ang.

An incredible flower arrangement with blooms sourced from The Green Room in Albert Park. This arrangement was made by Ying! Photo – Ying Ang.

Photography in the dining room from left to right: David Schulze and Ying Ang, both represented by Le Space Gallery. Quattra Desk by Moda Piera. Photo – Ying Ang.

Shübi’s play area! Photo – Ying Ang.

Shübi’s trains and toys fit the colour scheme of the rest of the house! Photo – Ying Ang.

Shübi’s bedroom featuring assorted artworks and vintage furniture. Photo – Ying Ang.

‘Suffice to say I need to make some bookshelves!’ says Michael. Photo – Ying Ang.

The outdoor terrace. ‘This is our main outdoor space the overlooks Treasury Gardens and beyond over East Melbourne, Richmond and out to the Dandenong Ranges. A good spot for a morning coffee,’ says Michael. On the left is a work in progress by Shübi. On the right: a collection of plants outside the main bedroom. Photo – Ying Ang.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 14th October 2020

‘Sometimes you just need to have an anonymous dance when you’re stuck at home the majority of the time.’ – Michael Chazan

Designer and director at Moda Piera Michael Chazan never really considered apartment living until meeting Ying Ang, a documentary photographer; curator, writer and educator at ICP in New York; and director of Le Space Gallery in Collingwood (massive shout out to Ying for taking these beautiful pictures for us!). 

While Michael had always lived in houses throughout Melbourne, Ying spent most of her adult life flying around the world for work, and loved the ability to lock up and leave at a moment’s notice.

When the couple decided to make a home together in Melbourne in 2017, apartment living made the most sense for their busy work schedules, but Michael was hesitant. ‘I was initially skeptical about many other aspects of the apartment lifestyle, and as such aspired to get a house somewhere as our family grew,’ he says. ‘Somewhat ironically, it was only with the birth of our son that I really became an inner-city apartment convert.’ 

Following Oska Shübi’s birth, Michael and Ying began taking full advantage of the location of their Bates Smartdesigned apartment on Spring Street via spontaneous cafe visits and people-watching in Treasury Gardens. ‘The ability to walk out our front door and ‘dip into life’ – albeit briefly – really aided in keeping us sane,’ Michael says. 

The couple also started indulging in the occasional ‘nocturnal stimulation’ at Angel Music Bar, and dancing at nearby nightclubs! ‘Sometimes you just need to have an anonymous dance when you’re stuck at home the majority of the time,’ Michael says. 

Michael and Ying’s love for their city location remains the same, but their actual home has evolved significantly over the past three years. Originally a relatively stark shell, Michael has filled the three-bedroom apartment with furniture prototypes designed for his own collection, plants, rugs sourced overseas, $2 art prints, and vintage store finds. 

One small but impactful change has been replacing all the original bright downlights with lamps and soft pendant lighting. ‘To this day, the only time the down lights get put on is if we have lost something tiny on a rug and require blindingly bright light to find it (or when Ying is doing her nails in the bathroom)!’ Michael says. This change has also better highlighted the apartment’s natural light, which guides the family from the breakfast table, to the reading nook, and lounge room as the day progresses.

Even now, this apartment remains in a constant state of flux, with Michael always adding or moving pieces around. ‘I am always wanting to create a new environment or am lusting after some notion of how the place could be. This often involves some crazy piece of furniture that is wildly expensive and not at all needed,’ he says. ‘Ying on the other hand is much more balanced in her approach to our home. She loves what we have, and would be happy for it to stay the way it is… until such time as it changes, and then she is equally as happy with that.’

Michael’s apartment end goal is to create a disparate structure containing all of the couple’s design loves and flights of fancy. He says, ‘It would probably end up looking like some kind of “only a mother could love” monstrosity, but it would be our monstrosity, and would talk to all of the weird things we have liked over a long period of time as our tastes change and evolve.’

Watch this space! 

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First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net