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This New York-Style Warehouse Apartment Is The Dream Melbourne Rental!

Homes

There aren’t many Melburnians who’ve rented the same inner-city property for eight years, but when your place is this good… you do everything you can to hold onto it!

Writer and founder of beauty brand Fluff, Erika Geraerts, is the proud long-term renter of this converted warehouse in Collingwood. The apartment is part of the old Foy & Gibson complex – a circa 1887 factory that provided goods to the Foy & Gibson department stores, and employed over 2000 people at its peak.

Today it’s a close-knit residential community, and one of the few true ‘New York-style’ warehouse conversions in town. Take a look inside!

31st March, 2021

Three-seater curved sofa crafted in Italy in the 1950s and newly upholstered in aged brown Italian leather by Nicholas & Alistair. Mid-century adjustable arc floor lamp from Modern Times. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Circa 1960s blackwood chair with rattan (‘possibly by Jakob Rudowski!’). Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The small line drawing of two figures is by James Watkins. Blue sky painting by Andy Murray of Aster Studio. Fritz Hansen Tray Table. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The large, yellow artwork is by Melbourne artist Doug Bennett. ‘The rug was sourced by Erika’s good friend Olivia via her friends in Istanbul. ‘The singing bowl is from Nepal when I travelled to Everest basecamp,’ says Erika. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The island bench in the kitchen is a French antique from Erika’s stepmum. Battery Vase by Tarlo & Graham.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘My dad has restored several of my dining room chairs, which he found during neighbourhood hard rubbish collections – they have a significant sentimentality,’ says Erika. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Dog bed is by Toby & Co. Melbourne Metro artwork by an unknown artist. Bright artwork by Mysterious Al. Illustrations by Andy Murray of Aster Studio. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘Most of the art in my house is by my close friend, Andy Murray of Aster Studio,’ says Erika. ‘We wrote a children’s book together with my friend Charl, and the original illustrations are the main frames in my house.
The black and white forest photograph is by Hartwig Klappert, I stayed in his house in Berlin in 2014 or 2015 and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, his work was so inspiring and this was a memento.’ 1950s Aloha Chair by Kjell Grant. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Barcelona daybed from Modern Times. Easel mirror from Nook Vintage in Collingwood. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Float lamp bought in France. Wooden bedside table made by Erika’s friend, Matthew Carmody. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Corduroy bedding is from The Sheet Society. 1950s Aloha chair by Kjell Grant. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Working from home set-up goals! Most plants from Loose Leaf Studio and Brunswick Street Nursery – they’ve gotten this tall from eight years of sun. The architect’s desk was left behind at Erika’s old apartment in Cremorne, and has travelled with her for the last 10 years. Vintage red and white table lamp by Mazzega, Italy c1970s. ‘Be Here Now’ by Ram Dass and Moleskine diary. Fluff Bronzing Powder & Lip Oil refillable compacts. ‘I’m obsessed with clouds, and three people have gifted me this Cloud Weather Station, including my twin sister in Japan,’ says Erika. Small, round handmade pottery vase made by a friend. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘I have purchased most of my furniture from Smith St Bazaar, including the Edra Spiral Tatlin black velvet sofa . ‘Their selection is incredible and I highly recommend people consider places like theirs before bigger, commercial brands or retailers’ says Erika of the store. See the owners’ home here! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘This section of the apartment became our Fluff office after we moved out of our Gertrude Street Store during Covid, so it’s a little different aesthetically from the rest of my apartment,’ says Erika. Oblique Red Bookshelf by Moooi. Fluff products including face oils, cleanser, face mask, kabuki brush, bronzing powder and lip oil metal compacts. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 31st March 2021

‘Everything tells a story, everything means something to me – even the salt and pepper shakers.’ – Erika Geraerts

The converted warehouse apartment of Erika Geraerts is essentially just one large room, and that’s exactly the way she likes it! 

The writer and founder of beauty brand Fluff has been living here since 2013, and slowly furnishing the space ever since. The apartment is part of the former Foy & Gibson complex –  reportedly the largest factory in the Southern Hemisphere at one stage in the early 1900s. The factory was converted into apartments in the 1990s, representing some of Collingwood’s most sought-after real estate for renters and homeowners alike. ‘I’ve never experienced a neighbour community like this, and I don’t think I’d have it any other way,’ Erika says. 

Erika loves the building’s large industrial windows and the ‘blank canvas’ nature of the interiors. ‘Waking with the morning light and seeing it fill the room is my favourite way to start the day,’ she says. 

Ask some people where they bought their furniture or homewares and they won’t remember – but not Erika. Point to anything in this home and she’ll happily tell you where she found it, and why it’s the perfect piece for the space. ‘Everything tells a story, everything means something to me – even the salt and pepper shakers,’ she says. ‘There was a point where I wanted to challenge myself to find pieces that I liked, not because anyone else did, but because I felt something when I looked at it or sat in it,’ she says.

It’s not just aesthetics Erika is concerned with, but also the experiences her home offers. ‘I want my space to feel comfortable, but speak to my personality, and the people who come over for dinner. That’s why every chair is different; I started with one around the dining table, and slowly found different ones over the years.’

Soft lighting, local art, vintage Italian furniture, and plants bring warmth and texture to the space, tying everything together. Erika has purchased most of her vintage furniture from Smith St Bazaar, including her cherished Edra Spiral Tatlin black velvet sofa. ‘I consider [the owners of Smith Street Bazaar] Eddie and especially Eryca close friends; they understand my style and my apartment and have been so amazing in showing me pieces and introducing me to designers’ work that I would never have imagined, but have fallen in love with over time’ Erika explains. 

Eight years is a long time by Melbourne renting standards, but Erika hopes she’ll be living here for another eight years and beyond. ‘This space has been my saving grace over the years. I can’t imagine ever not being here in some capacity.’

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

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