There is a period in Perth’s architectural history that is characterised by a sudden mania for expansion and investment. We have these mavericks and mavens to thank for Perth’s skyline suddenly springing to form in the early half of the Twentieth Century. Throughout the city, a recurring meditation on particular design features (the sometimes poised or sometimes reckless proportions of Art Deco, or the stately symmetries of the Federation aesthetic) colours residential, municipal and commercial buildings to forge a seamless story of Perth’s developing taste and identity.
Perth’s design scene is pointedly idiosyncratic for blurring the line between the retrospective and the retroactive. The redevelopment of COMO The Treasury represents a distinct moment in this movement for Perth’s A+D community. Here, this trend on the West Coast for preserving and reinterpreting Perth’s history with nostalgia, humour and unerring confidence for the future has placed this city at the vanguard of Australia’s design revolution. Where suddenly everything old is new again, the bold and the beautiful is definitely ‘in’ and here to stay.
One place Perth’s design-hunters have looked to is James Said, supplier of interior design furnishings that reinvigorate an aesthetic of over-exaggeration, frivolity, and bawdy elegance that champions the Regency Moderne. Bethany James-Best, James Said’s Founder and Curator, sits down with ContemporaryAU to talk all things design, all things inspiring, and all things Perth.
What was your latest project?
Budget! And trying to create a clean template from old ceilings, uneven floors and old exposed brick.
The triumph was the end result. Cladding everything we could in either black or white glass gave us the clean and quality look we were craving, and [gave] us the clean template we needed to display the furniture.
Where do you find inspiration?
Mostly when I travel. I am always attending international trade fairs; however, I usually find my inspiration comes from the city itself more than the fairs. I can find inspiration anywhere: from the pattern on some balustrading, to the font used on a logo for a sign.
I love staying in boutique hotels where they are more adventurous with design. It’s great when a designer takes a risk and nails it. Great interiors just make me feel at home.
For the exterior [of the new James Said showroom] we love our black awnings. I was inspired by this look when on holiday in Paris. I loved the charm of the awnings there.
Honesty. I always tell it how it is.
Favourite decorative item:
Flowers, flowers and more flowers. The joy they bring when first arranged and the disappointment of having to throw them out when they die.
Favourite functional item:
Favourite mass-produced item:
Target’s homewares department constantly has me thinking… can I? Will anyone really know it’s from Target?
Favourite handmade item:
If I can relate that to food … Il Lido in Cottesloe makes the best handmade pasta in town!
Speaking of Perth, what do you think is its best-kept secret?
Dirty Dowager in Mount Lawley for the cocktails, the food and the cute waiters.
What is your favourite building in Perth?
COMO The Treasury. It has been completely restored and is now the home to an amazing hotel with incredible restaurants and bars all in the one venue.
What is an absolute ‘must-see’?
You must sit on the grass in Kings Park. Just take in the view and appreciate Perth at its best.
What does being a lover of design mean to you?
A design lover is someone who just craves the inspiration. For me, I am constantly seeking to improve anything aesthetic. It goes past being vain or caring what people think. I just want to make everything as beautiful as possible. From my outfits, to my showroom, to my garden, to my fruitbowl. It crosses over everywhere. Making things beautiful feeds the soul and I think it is similar for all design lovers.
You can visit the new James Said showroom at 2/158 Stirling Hwy, Nedlands, WA.
Words by David Congram.