‘Bold concepts and resourceful detailing. A mixture of high and low octane colours plus a tapestry of discordant textures and patterns would be my summation’. This is how YSG founder Yasmine Ghoniem describes her design aesthetic, and her studio’s unique approach.
It’s a way of working that feels intuitive and multi referential — weaving together layers of inspiration from a myriad of places, eras and cultures. Much of this is driven by Yasmine’s own life story, and her distinctly global outlook.
‘At its very core, my outlook is nourished by the layers of my culture and travels’ Yasmine says. ‘Like all YSG spaces, everything’s inter-connected and there’s no hierarchy regarding materials or furnishings. A home should never feel like a showroom’.
Having spent her formative years in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, it’s no surprise that the Middle East is a rich source of inspiration for Yasmine and her studio. YSG is currently undertaking a substantial residential project in the region, and architectural details — from ziggurat patterns in Njad villages through to intricate metal motifs on painted doors in Saudi — are inspiring the designs.
Other recently completed projects look further afield for inspiration. ‘La Palma‘ — a stunning residential project in NSW’s Palm Beach — channels rustic Ibiza beach clubs and Mexican resorts.
‘The clients wanted to tap into a dreamy resort vibe that opened the house up to easy entertaining,’ Yasmine explains.
The mood here is both playful and practical, with robust materials reimagined in new ways. For instance, tumbled marble pavers arranged in checkerboard patterns inside and out artfully balance practicality, with a sense of fun.
Layers of pattern
On a completely different scale, ‘Bait‘ in Bondi is a small apartment refurb with a similar use of bold pattern, and hand-made details that cohesively weave a myriad of global influences into a tiny 55square metre footprint.
Here the kitchen floor ‘tiles’ are actually hand-painted on the original timber boards (by Sydney mural artists Creative Finish), giving the kitchen a unique patina, where scuff marks are welcomed.
‘I didn’t want anything that looked brand new,’ says Yasmine, reflecting on this space (which was her own former apartment). Layers of rugs and textiles give the space an inviting, lived in feeling and a sense of history. ‘The rugs spread tales of faraway lands and remind me of all my travels,’ Yasmine explains.
Texture is a significant feature of all YSG projects. We’re especially drawn to their use of rattan furniture and lighting in La Palma, and other projects. ‘The organic nature of these elements instantly give off a relaxed, worn-in vibe that’s far from precious,’ Yasmine muses.
‘Believe it or not, our clients at La Palma inherited some of the furniture with the purchase of the property… including the sun room’s wicker sofas,’ Yasmine explains. These existing pieces were revamped with paint, and re-upholstered with fun summer prints and pattern.
Balance and diplomacy!
All YSG projects share a richly layered materials palette, where shiny surfaces meet textural rattan and woven elements, natural stone complements timber details, and somehow, everything comes together cohesively. The rationale for this approach is surprising. It’s less about an affection for maximalism and more about balance, and diplomacy!
‘I often pair opposites so no one element dominates a room,’ Yasmine explains.
‘In La Palma’s kitchen, the island bench features a waterfall marble surface that looks like dripping caramel. So I balanced the sweetness with a strip of red paint to accentuate its pairing with a more neutral stone beneath’.
‘We also need to be more accepting of worn patinas and even crinkles,’ Yasmine advises. ‘Every space I design always looks better six to twelve months after I hand over the keys, because humans leave the most incredible scents and traces. You can’t buy that’.
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