Fashion designer turned interior designer Collette Dinnigan is transforming a Sydney icon

28th May , 2016
Image Credit Collette Dinnigan with architect Peter Israel Hugh Stewart

Fashion designer turned interior designer Collette Dinnigan is transforming a Sydney icon

  • Featured on The Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph Sydney and Sunday Sun Herald Melbourne
  • 28th Mar, 2016
  • By: Neale Whitaker

JUST like Melbourne’s famous Skipping Girl, the Sharpies Golf House sign became a Sydney icon, its perfect hole-in-one tracing a neon arc above the store in Surry Hills.

The store is long gone and the sign has moved to new digs at the Powerhouse Museum but the memory of both will be preserved at Golf House, a new residential development on the Elizabeth St site.

Fashion designer-turned-interior designer Collette Dinnigan has created the interiors while the seven-storey building, which begins construction later this year, has been designed by Peter Israel of PTI Architects.

As a hard-nosed Surry Hills resident myself, and one who knows that particularly gritty corner quite intimately, I was unprepared for the warmth and sophistication — the humanity — of Dinnigan’s interior. Where was the concrete and graffiti? That’s exactly the response developer Richard Spanos wants.

“I love the fact the building will present in a certain way, but it will be a very different experience for the people that live there.’’ he laughs.

“The outside will be brash and bold and urban but then there’s something soft and sensitive inside.’’

Image Credit Hugh Stewart Collette Dinnigan among the interiors of Golf House

The site has been in Spanos’s family for decades.

His father Bill arrived in Sydney as a migrant in 1928, aged just 16. He found a job at the Station Cafe (now a tattoo parlour) and eventually bought the business and property before establishing himself as a successful meat exporter. The Elizabeth St site has remained in the Spanos family ever since, while the Sharpies side of the block was acquired by Richard more recently. So how did he get Dinnigan involved?

This is the bit I like.

“My wife is an avid reader of Vogue Living,’’ says Spanos.

“She saw Collette’s project at Bannisters (in Mollymook, NSW) in there and said ‘That’s who you need for Golf House!’ A few phone calls later Collette was on board.’’

Dinnigan is no stranger to Surry Hills. Her fashion business was based there for many years. But she wanted to bring a softer, less predictably urban feel to Golf House: “I wanted the apartments to feel elegant with a strong aesthetic and, as always, inspiration is drawn from Europe. I love the way Europeans mix old and new but I also draw inspiration from Australia, the light in particular.’’

Image Credit Hugh Stewart Bannisters Mollymook with interiors styled by Collette Dinnigan

Dinnigan’s Golf House palette includes Carrara marble bench tops and splash backs, Miele appliances and recycled wooden floors.

“Fashion was all about fit, colour, texture and attention to detail,’’ she explains.

“I’ve always had a passion for interiors and to me they have similar parallels. Proportion and layout are paramount, with quality finishes, colour and the mix of textiles and furnishings.’’

So, has the transition from fashion to interiors been easy?

“Nothing’s easy,’’ she says, “I just hope it appears effortless!”

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