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International Style

International Style | Style Stories

Darren PalmerDarren has a broad portfolio, having studied fine art & graphic design, originally working in advertising and owning his own graphic design company. After succumbing to his true passion, Darren now operates his own interior design studio and has been a judge on numerous seasons of The Block.


1.   Please state which cities you greatly admire for their interior style and how can people bring in a little of these design flavours into their homes?

Cape Town is unique as it is full of beautiful homes overlooking vast blue ocean. They have mountainous landscapes with homes clinging to the cliff faces that makes the city feel like a blend of Rio, Sydney and the riviera with a super contemporary approach to design. They also have the richness that comes with the culture of the land and history of Africa, blended too with Afrikaans culture. The mix is unique, providing space for ultra-modern buildings, Cape Dutch architecture and hand-crafted pieces that all exist with or next to each other. Uniquely African furniture, such as the Malawi chair or Bamileke tables work so well in modern interiors. You can integrate furniture, textiles, art, sculpture, artefacts and influences from South Africa and the African content easily and effectively into modern homes, adding
interest and authenticity.

Parisian style is diverse. You have the beautiful grace of Haussmannian apartments with their glorious high ceilings, wall panelling and parquetry flooring and the older, lower ceiled apartments that the Haussmann era replaced, full of charm, exposed beams and a beautifully rustic appeal. You can have stylised, monochromatic and refined interiors, or colourful reinterpretations of the traditional details. Modern interiors sing in these historical buildings, as too do modern reinterpretations of the old. There are different styles that apply to different areas of Paris, but the one unifying trait of Parisian style is that when it’s done well it’s chic.

Milan really comes into its own each year for Salone Del Mobile, which is the epicentre of interior design style worldwide, showcasing the best of furniture and décor. If you want to see what is going to be coming to homes and stores in Australia, look to Milan for style directions and trends. You’ll find something to suit no matter your desires for your home.

Byron Bay has something for everyone. There is the backpacker lifestyle at one end and the palatial homes of the wealthy at the other, with some beautiful homes squeezed in at different price points and style notes in between. There’s beach style, resort style and boho style. There are country homes, federation homes, new apartments and modern and modernist homes. There is such a diverse array of self-expression in Byron Bay that it’s really a very exciting place for interiors in Australia.

In some sense, my career started in the Hamptons. I visited with a friend at his renovation project in East Hampton in 2004. I experienced the home in a state somewhere between what he purchased and what he was going to transform it into and was shown some of the homes around the area that made his huge five-bedroom house look like a pool cabana. The homes almost uniformly are clad in greyed cedar shingles, whether they were old homes or new, and the scale of the houses and the luxury that they contained was enough to blow my mind at the time, and still does to this day. Like Byron, there is a huge array of architecture and interior design style, from modern to rustic, traditional Hamptons luxury and Hamptons beach chic. The “look” of the Hamptons we know here in Australia is simply one facet of a very diverse and rich design style, which is worth seeing in the flesh.

2.   Are there any key designers you follow from each of these cities/countries?

Gregory Mellor – Being a friend of mine I loved his work in Australia but when I was able to see the homes he created in his home country of South Africa - from Cape Town to the Karoo - I was able to fully appreciate the finesse and refinement of his traditional, crafted and artisan approach to interiors. He has a beautiful understanding of colour, material and natural elements, with a comfortable and relaxed nature that is incredibly hard to produce.

Marcio Kogan – Studio MK is a Brazilian studio so not in any of my favourite interior design places at all, though the style of homes they create would be at home in Byron, the Hamptons or Cape Town. Studio MK has a mid-century modern feeling, reminiscent of the Modernism of the Barcelona Pavilion. They use beautiful, block like forms that open with timber slatting to reveal expansive openings to the environment outside.

Woha – My favourite resort is Alila Uluwatu, designed by Woha Architects in Singapore. Alila has a palette of aged brass and limestone that is as simple as it is effective in conveying all the cues that you would hope to experience in a luxury environment. No surface is left untreated, no detail left unconsidered. The luxury of Alila isn’t the glaring and brash type but a simple, moderated and contemplative kind, that for me is the most coveted of all.

International Style | Style Stories

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