“It seems like we didn’t really do that much, when in fact there was a lot of heavy lifting. Simplicity is hard to achieve. It takes serious rigor and discipline,” Flack insists. “It was important to both of us that you can still feel the origins of the house despite the work we put in,” he adds.
Sivan’s aesthetic predilections were honed during his travels across the globe, in particular his pre-pandemic years in Los Angeles, where he still maintains a home. “There’s a strong affinity between Melbourne and L.A. in terms of climate and architecture. That strain of classic California midcentury modernism has been a big influence,” he explains. “I also love the time I’ve spent in Japan. The idea of wabi-sabi, the perfectly imperfect, really resonates with me.”
Embracing imperfection as a means of safeguarding the soul of a home is a concept perhaps too abstruse for many homeowners and designers, but Sivan and Flack clearly get it. “We left the original cork ceilings as they were, stains and all. If we wanted to preserve the germ of what this house was originally, everything had to feel effortless and real,” Flack avers. “It’s like the yellowing Scarpa lamps over the dining table. They look like they were sitting in a house in Milan for 30 years with a bunch of Italians smoking under them,” he says, further touting the power of patina.
Despite the polyglot brio of the decor, Sivan ensured that the essence of the house remains, in his words, “unquestionably Australian, from the plantings in the garden to the art on the walls.” The singer’s collection of paintings and sculpture encompasses work by Australian masters such as the late Sydney Ball, influential talents on the order of Karen Black and Nell, and an intriguing array of young, contemporary artists including Gregory Hodge, Tom Polo, and Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran.
“I was living in the States for about five years, longing to be in Australia, before the pandemic brought me home. As much as I’ve missed touring and seeing people, it’s been cool to be forced to stay still for a second. I wake up every day excited to make something new, in a house that tells the story of my life and the places I’ve loved,” Sivan concludes. And for any old-guard aesthetes concerned about young celebrities becoming standard-bearers for good design and idiosyncratic taste, Sivan’s seductive Melbourne sanctuary should put their minds at ease—the kids are alright.