Find inspiration in the cabinet of curiosities

Rural Australian Homes Text: Leta Keens Photos: Simon Griffiths

Murdoch Books, hardback, rrp $89.99

We love a sunburnt country, but few of us get to live in it day in and day out, drawn as we are to city conveniences or coastal cool. Redressing this, Sydney-based writer Leta Keens turns her eye inland to 18 abodes set on the parched, harsh and resoundingly romantic landscape that is Australian country to tell the stories of how each came into being.

In so doing, she also draws on the historical and geographical context on which they are set. Keens’ choices run the gamut of cottage to converted shed to the architectural ingenuity of Permanent Camping near Mudgee, NSW, a tiny timber and copper tower that borrows from the concept of a tent. And here’s how she stumbled upon a homestead in Licola, Victoria: ”It took one photo of Glenfalloch Station in an email to make me want to go there. A picture of a three-storey brick tower that looked as it it was built for Rapunzel.”

This vibrant, well-written book, coupled with the stunning photography of Simon Griffiths, will go a long way towards reigniting our love affair with the bush.Bowerbird: Creating beautiful interiors with the things you collect By Sibella Court

ABC Books, hardback, rrp $59.99

It’s a rare stylist who doesn’t get inspired by a thing less ordinary. Sibella Court has been an avid collector all her life; since the age of three or four she has fossicked for simple objects that, to her, tell a story. She still has her first collection of shells, sequins, beads and ribbons.

It’s such everyday and inexpensive odds and sorts that make up the basis of Bowerbird, Court’s new book of personal collections and ideas for creating a unique decorative statement. Eschewing organised for organic, the stylist – who has worked for the likes of Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Vogue Living – has put together a ”cabinet of curiosities” (lusciously photographed by brother Chris) that reflects her whimsical style, while encouraging the reader to evolve their own.

Court takes you through the ”hows” in a wonderfully revealing way that is at once haphazard and practical. As she says, collecting is dynamic, emotive and highly personal.Italian Home Photos: Massimo Listri Text: Nicoletta del Buono

Thames & Hudson, hardback, rrp $55

What makes an Italian home? Through the lens of architecture photographer Massimo Listri, the answers are myriad and magical. Travelling through the Italian countryside, Listri uncovers a sweeping landscape that melds tradition with innovation.

Each of the 21 homes he visits retains a character untouched by time, yet bears the indelible stamp of its current owner. Original features live alongside modern transformation in abodes framed by grand stone masonry and surrounded by imposing courtyards. In the baroque ”palace” of Il Castelluccio in Noto, Syracuse, Sicily, fashion designer Luisa Beccaria and husband Lucio Bonaccorsi have undertaken both restoration and decoration – while the original olive press and cellar stay intact, an old farm shed has been refashioned into a relaxation area.

Listri attempts to resurrect the spirit of writer Guido Piovene’s 1957 work, Journey Through Italy. Listri’s approach is less methodical, more intimate; less textual, more visual. But the artful way his photographs capture the spirit of modern Italian sensibility makes his effort no less laudable.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.


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