This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

The Magic Of City Living, With Dean Bryant and Mathew Frank

The Urbanists

Inner city living feels surprisingly uncommon for Australians, and yet those who choose to dwell in the CBD are passionate about doing so. Dean Bryant and Mathew Frank are two of those people!

The pair of theatre professionals (a writer/director, and composer/music director respectively) have lived in their beautiful art deco apartment in a 100-year-old building for the last ten years. In our new series, The Urbanists, in partnership with the City of Melbourne with support from the Victorian Government – we picked the couple’s brains about the places they frequent in the city, the activities they spend the day doing and why they love living right in the thick of things.

And Melbourne? More like Manhattan! Those city views are giving us Big Apple vibes – but better.

8th February, 2022

Mathew Frank (left) and Dean Bryant (right) in their beautiful art deco apartment in the historic Temple Court building. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘Over the ten years we’ve completely altered the apartment – the floors, the kitchen, the bathroom – to match it to the aesthetic the original ceiling and windows have always had,’ says Dean. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The view from their balcony looks right down Market Street, with views over the treetops onto the heritage building facades. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Dean and Matt renovated their apartment recently to update the spaces while still retaining the art deco bones. Gorgeous! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Both being in the theatre, Dean and Matt start the day with a coffee and meditation. If it’s a rehearsal day then they walk over to the arts precinct, if it’s a writing day then it’s time to open the laptops! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Shortstop is their favourite spot for coffee (and doughnuts!). Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The view down Collins Street from Matt and Dean’s apartment. ‘Design is important to us – it’s a huge part of my job as a director – so we wanted a building that was beautiful to look at as well as be in,’ says Dean. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Coffee and cake outside Shortstop in Sutherland Street. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Guildford Lane is a quintessential Melbourne laneway packed with plants. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Dean and Matt strolling down Guildford Lane on their way to a favourite cafe, Krimper. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

An essential CBD destination is the Queen Victoria Markets, and one of Matt and Dean’s favourite local spots! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Walking down the outside of Queen Vic Markets, which is lined with shops and cafes. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Matt and Dean stock up on fruit and veg here for the week. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Perusing the offering at bookshop, Hill of Content. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The boatsheds on the Yarra are an early morning and evening destination for the couple, who walk along the Yarra practically every day. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A peaceful walk along the Yarra is a staple of the couple’s day. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Sasha Gattermayr
Tuesday 8th February 2022

‘The city is both comforting and surprising. You find a cafe or shop, or even just a sight you love, and go back there constantly, and then you stumble across something you’ve never seen before.’ – Dean Bryant

Matt Frank and Dean Bryant were country kids who both grew up loving Broadway, so their move to a glittering big city for their adult life was always imminent.

‘When we moved to Melbourne after drama school in Perth, we were drawn to the sort of city life that Manhattan represents – a place where there’s always something down every street, where it always feels alive,’ explains Dean. ‘The CBD is so beautiful, especially the blocks around us on Collins Street, with their late 1800s buildings mixed with a new glory like Collins Arch.’

The pair landed their apartment in the heritage Temple Court building a decade ago, which affords breathtaking views down historic Collins Street. Above the treeline, Melbourne’s architecture unfolds towards the sky – offering new perspectives on a place so many locals often disregard.

The pair’s passion for inner city living is evident not just in their words, but in their actions. Rather than explaining why they live in the middle of the city, they bring friends to their apartment to let the building speak for itself.

‘We truly got lucky in finding a 100-year-old building that retained the art deco features, has lots of space, and a view across a new park and down to the Yarra,’ says Dean. ‘We renovated last year and it’s like an oasis in the middle of this incredible city. You can have friends for drinks then walk a few minutes to an endless series of incredible restaurants and bars, to stunning theatres and galleries, or to parks in every direction. And when you’re done? Five minutes and you’re home on the couch.’

These two make such a compelling case for living in the city, we followed them around for a day to pick their brains on the best spots and local haunts. (If you’re curious about inner-city dwelling, find out how you could save big on stamp duty here.)

First Thing

I wake up at 6am each day and meditate on the daybed before making a short black, sitting at the island and reading the local and NYC papers online. Then I’ll go to the gym two blocks away, grab a flat white at Mork in Equitable Place on the way back, then shower.

Matt wakes up a little later and goes directly to yoga at a great studio located inside our building called Yoga Corner. He’ll grab a soy flat white at Two Conversations, which is also in Equitable Place.

If it’s a rehearsal day, we’ll head off to that. We’re both working on the musical Fun Home for Melbourne Theatre Company, myself as director, Matt as music director.

If we’re writing (we’ve written five musicals together, which have played here, London and in NYC) I’ll go to City Library to work, and Matt has a music studio in our apartment.

During the lockdowns, we’d walk along the Yarra every morning before Matt had to Zoom into class (he also teaches students). It was critical to make sure we got out of the house early in the day.

Morning

If we’re in rehearsal, that starts invariably at 10am. MTC is 20 minutes walk from our apartment, just over the Yarra and through the Arts Precinct. That part of Melbourne has recently had an amazing revamp, with a series of parks being finished near the Southbank Theatre and ABC headquarters.

If it’s a writing day, there is a lot more procrastinating going on! We might grab a donut at Shortstop, which truly makes the best donuts in the world. It sounds hyperbolic, but they can’t be beat. My favourite there is Coconut Lemon Meringue.

We get our groceries at the Queen Vic Market, a few blocks away, so will stock up on fruit, veggies and cheese down there.

Lunchtime

I’ve always loved cooking (and especially so since we renovated the kitchen), but we also live in the centre of one of the great food cities in the world, so we like to get out into it. We often meet for lunch at Soi 38, which is a Thai restaurant in the middle of a car park, which does incredible boat noodles.

Another favourite is Krimper on Guildford Lane, which is a converted wooden warehouse in a street lined with huge plants. And our favourite dumplings in the city are the fried zucchini ones from ShanDong Mama.

Afternoon

I’m supposed to do a second meditation in the afternoon – I trained in Transcendental Meditation last year – and after that (if not in rehearsal) I’ll put off the afternoon writing by browsing at Melbourne’s most beautiful bookshop, Hill of Content. Our apartment is overflowing with books, so I have brought in a one-in one-out rule.

Matt sits on a piano stool almost every day for hours, so relies on massage to get out the kinks – he’ll go for one at Sense of 5 in Russell Street.

Evening

Rehearsals finish at 6pm. Matt often does a night class back at the yoga studio while I cook, but if it’s been a tough day, or I’m being lazy, we’ll go out to Kirk’s Wine Bar on Hardware Lane or pick up the best pizza in the CBD from 11 Inch Pizza.

We see a lot of theatre and cabaret at night, which is usually up the Parliament end of the CBD. If we’re going to a cabaret at fortyfivedownstairs (a great performance space from a similar vintage to our apartment) then we’ll eat at Cumulus in the same building.

Last Thing

Our favourite thing to do after dinner in summer is get ice cream from Pidapipo in Degraves Street and then walk the Yarra. The flavours are always changing and never disappointing.

The walks beside the Yarra to the east of the Flinders Street Station are like nothing I’ve seen that close to a major city. It’s so peaceful, with trees and grass everywhere. That walk kept us grounded last year!

We’ll get into bed by 10pm, unless we’ve been at the theatre. Even though we’re on the main street of Melbourne, and live opposite a nightclub, we don’t really hear anything through the double glazing.

You get so much more when you live in the city. Find out how you could pay $0 stamp duty on your next home purchase in the City of Melbourne here. Supported by the Victorian Government.

This Week

Stays

A Serene Architectural Getaway Overlooking Vineyards In Central Victoria

Barfold Estate's new boutique accommodation is the best kept secret in the Heathcote / Kyneton region – for now!

On The Market

For Sale: An Ultimate Sydney Dream Home, With Waterfront Views

This new Balmain family home has it all - a resort-style backyard, swimming pool, gym, steam room, home theatre, and it's for sale!
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Shop Luxurious Outdoor Essentials For Dad With 20% Off The Grampians Goods Co.

This one is for the dads who love camping, picnics, and a hot cocoa by the fire! We've got 20% off The Grampian Goods Co.!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Majestic Garden House That Transcends Aesthetics

The landscape is the mesmerising star of the show in Garden House by Arent&Pyke and Polly Harbison Design.

Interiors

How This First-Time Renovator Transformed Her Pint-Sized Melbourne Apartment

A tiny renovation (34 square metres, to be precise) – that packs a big punch!

Father's Day Favourites

Find The Perfect Book For Dad With 20% Off From Hardie Grant Publishing!

From the best barbecuing recipes to epic travel inspiration, you'll find the perfect book for dad in our edit of Hardie Grant Publishing's f...
Christina Karras
  17 hours ago

Studio Visit

Inside Elena Strohfelft's Beautifully Therapeutic Ceramics Practice

How the self taught artist started making ceramics as a way to work through a painful trauma, channeling it into whimsical and organic vesse...
Christina Karras
  1 hour ago

News

Shop Dreamy Pastel Landscapes In Collection III From ‘Palette by Jono Fleming’

Introducing interior stylist Jono Fleming’s third art collaboration with Sicilian-Australian artist Chanel Sohier.
Christina Karras

News

Nicole Lawrence Studio And Curio Practice Pop Up In Sydney

The two rising design stars open the doors to their week-long shop and showroom in Paddington.

Father's Day Favourites

Announcing The Design Files Father's Day Favourites 2022!

Find the best gifts for dad and score special deals with our Father's Day Favourites online shopping event!

Shopping

Kip&Co Team Up With Robert Gordon For A Fun-Filled Ceramic Range

The loveable local brands have created a new playful ceramics collection, bringing prints and colour to range of hand-crafted vases!
Christina Karras

At Home With Sheridan

The Minimalist Inner-City Sanctuary Of Skincare Guru James Vivian + Ben Esakoff

A Prahran Edwardian cottage meets a minimalist architectural addition, with exposed materials, an impressive art collection, and textured Sh...

Homes

A Historic Melbourne Apartment With Artful, Lived-In Interiors

Interior designer Leigh Ellwood invites us inside her 1930s Beverley Hills apartment in South Yarra.

Father's Day Favourites

Give Dad A Dose Of (Stylish) Wanderlust With Bespoke Luggage From July!

Gift dad bespoke luggage from our favourite travel brand July and receive a complimentary personalised luggage tag worth $85!

News

Local Chef Ella Mittas' First Cookbook Brings Us A Taste Of The Mediterranean

The Greek-Australian chef shares her most delicious recipes and personal essays in Ela! Ela! – To Turkey and Greece, Then Home.
Christina Karras

Dean and Matt, with their beloved Melbourne skyline behind them. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Similar Stories

Homes

A Perfectly Personalised Art Deco Rental

The colourful, art deco South Yarra apartment of Skinny Wolf owner and florist Leila Sanderson, and sound engineer Tony Espie.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Trailblazing Curator, Shonae Hobson

Inside the day of Kaantju woman and curator of Indigenous art at the NGV, Shonae Hobson!

Homes

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

Designer Michael Chazan and photographer Ying Ang have made this new Melbourne CBD apartment their character-filled family home.

This Week

Interiors

How This First-Time Renovator Transformed Her Pint-Sized Melbourne Apartment

A tiny renovation (34 square metres, to be precise) – that packs a big punch!

News

Local Chef Ella Mittas' First Cookbook Brings Us A Taste Of The Mediterranean

The Greek-Australian chef shares her most delicious recipes and personal essays in Ela! Ela! – To Turkey and Greece, Then Home.
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Inside Elena Strohfelft's Beautifully Therapeutic Ceramics Practice

How the self taught artist started making ceramics as a way to work through a painful trauma, channeling it into whimsical and organic vesse...
Christina Karras
  1 hour ago

News

Nicole Lawrence Studio And Curio Practice Pop Up In Sydney

The two rising design stars open the doors to their week-long shop and showroom in Paddington.

News

Shop Dreamy Pastel Landscapes In Collection III From ‘Palette by Jono Fleming’

Introducing interior stylist Jono Fleming’s third art collaboration with Sicilian-Australian artist Chanel Sohier.
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Announcing The Design Files Father's Day Favourites 2022!

Find the best gifts for dad and score special deals with our Father's Day Favourites online shopping event!

On The Market

For Sale: An Ultimate Sydney Dream Home, With Waterfront Views

This new Balmain family home has it all - a resort-style backyard, swimming pool, gym, steam room, home theatre, and it's for sale!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Majestic Garden House That Transcends Aesthetics

The landscape is the mesmerising star of the show in Garden House by Arent&Pyke and Polly Harbison Design.

Father's Day Favourites

Find The Perfect Book For Dad With 20% Off From Hardie Grant Publishing!

From the best barbecuing recipes to epic travel inspiration, you'll find the perfect book for dad in our edit of Hardie Grant Publishing's f...
Christina Karras
  17 hours ago

Stays

A Serene Architectural Getaway Overlooking Vineyards In Central Victoria

Barfold Estate's new boutique accommodation is the best kept secret in the Heathcote / Kyneton region – for now!

Father's Day Favourites

Give Dad A Dose Of (Stylish) Wanderlust With Bespoke Luggage From July!

Gift dad bespoke luggage from our favourite travel brand July and receive a complimentary personalised luggage tag worth $85!

Shopping

Kip&Co Team Up With Robert Gordon For A Fun-Filled Ceramic Range

The loveable local brands have created a new playful ceramics collection, bringing prints and colour to range of hand-crafted vases!
Christina Karras

At Home With Sheridan

The Minimalist Inner-City Sanctuary Of Skincare Guru James Vivian + Ben Esakoff

A Prahran Edwardian cottage meets a minimalist architectural addition, with exposed materials, an impressive art collection, and textured Sh...

Homes

A Historic Melbourne Apartment With Artful, Lived-In Interiors

Interior designer Leigh Ellwood invites us inside her 1930s Beverley Hills apartment in South Yarra.

Father's Day Favourites

Shop Luxurious Outdoor Essentials For Dad With 20% Off The Grampians Goods Co.

This one is for the dads who love camping, picnics, and a hot cocoa by the fire! We've got 20% off The Grampian Goods Co.!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Homes

A Perfectly Personalised Art Deco Rental

The South Yarra art deco apartment of Skinny Wolf owner and florist Leila Sanderson, and sound engineer Tony Espie.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Trailblazing Curator, Shonae Hobson

Inside the day of Kaantju woman and curator of Indigenous art at the NGV, Shonae Hobson!

Homes

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

Designer Michael Chazan and photographer Ying Ang have made this new Melbourne CBD apartment their character-filled family home.

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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net