Alexander & Co.'s headquarters in Sydney’s Bondi Junction was designed as a living area as much as a workplace. Nestled along a “gorgeous fig lined avenue”, Alexander House is an urban sanctuary ensconced halfway between the rush of the city and the relief of the beach - a location reflected in the property’s design philosophy. Part thesis and part prototype, Alexander House embodies this new way of creatively facilitating all the functions required for the studio’s team to thrive.
The base was a Victorian, two-story, semi-detached terrace house next door to Alexander & Co.’s principal Jeremy Bull and partner and marketing director Tess Glasson’s homes. Today, Alexander House has become a sublime example of the firm's design ethos.
For years, the studio has restored historic homes to their former glory while preserving their architectural history. Now, intending to challenge preconceived notions about house and family life, the project is also a prototype for researching sustainability and carbon sequestration. As Tess describes it,
“Alexander House is our new way of practising our craft. [It is a] courageous space to foster leadership, creativity and learning. Designed as a safe space for reflection, experimentation and to nurture the creative spirit, AH is our thesis, prototype and a place for our team and community to test out and challenge ideas.”
It took a lot of imagination to create a modern, creativity-driven workplace that featured collaboration and meeting places, private rooms and social areas in a compact location with limited space. An indoor/outdoor space sequence is created, with a range of different materials and scales of lighting and volume, that operates in harmony as both a flexible working environment for the team and an experientially dense display for clients.
Overall, the interior breathes openness and brightness, reflecting the property’s expansive district views. This feeling is achieved by the interiors' inherent sculptural sensibility. Using recycled materials, salvaged wood and rammed earth brick generated a material palette based on concrete, polished plaster, steel, brass, and stone. Such a simple palette became the cornerstone of the property, intending to foster a feeling of ‘foundness’, simplicity, and belonging throughout.
Alexander & Co’s long-running exploration of materials and technologies, including the use of reclaimed and recycled materials, is reflected in a variety of custom-designed pieces, including ceramic tableware made from recycled porcelain and a leather curtain inspired by Jeremy Bull and Tess Glasson's visit to Peter Zumthor's Vals Therme. Overall, the studio navigated towards an inherently imperfect aesthetic: the materials’ age was on full display, especially with the sandblasted timber and brass allowed to darken over time.
Other bespoke pieces, large and small, were also created in conjunction with local artisans and suppliers. For example, a half-ton pink concrete kitchen counter made by Concrete Bespoke, a custom credenza crafted by local furniture maker Hugh McCarthy, and a custom pink oxide outdoor furniture series made from recycled building waste are among the highlights.
Thanks to unique objects, the artisanal sensibility helps provide the spaces with a subtle, refined, and minimalist design. This is especially present in the ground level’s open-plan living space, which contains a relaxed lounge and kitchen that allow subtle colours to dance with the sun’s changing position. Variegated windows and wide folding patio doors bring the exposed terrace into a constant exchange with the interior that leads to it, making the floor light, spacious, and airy.
Working with furniture maker Athol Wright at CDF Studio, a walnut banquette for coffee and lunch breaks extends six metres through the kitchen. Its expansive size accommodates all of the 23 Alexander & Co. team. It is unquestionably the grounding point for Alexander House, acting as the hub and the safe space to transition between work and play.
As you ascend the staircase, you realise that each space regales a single chapter of one coherent narrative. Alexander House aligns the richness and heritage of each floor whilst diverging into idiosyncratic displays of materials, lighting, volume, and scale that allows varied ways of living to coexist in the same spatial experience.
Emotions and goals become embedded in the furnishings. For example, Shaun Dudley from The Lighting Guild designed and created a 7-metre-long pendant light that delicately dangles from the stairway’s skylight. Speaking of refinement, weightlessness, extension, and coherence all at once, the chandelier provides a narrative strand that empowers the team to explore the areas that call to them, depending on their focus and aims.
Another level contains a library and conference room, linked not solely through the staircase but by the coherence of the materials, such as the library's walnut joinery calling to the walnut banquette below. A second meeting room is located on the upper level, along with a bedroom for interstate team members. You'll also find on-site health options such as a steam room, an outdoor shower, an ice bath, and a pool.
Alexander House's unique interior design is rounded off by vintage antiques and family treasures, further establishing the project's credentials as a “true residential showcase experience” whilst also behaving as “a flexible working environment” for the Alexander & Co’s team. The studio’s attitude to work and life will no doubt be recorded as a triumph of design and philosophy for decades to come.
Photography by Anson Smart
Editorial Stylist by Claire Delmar