The luxury end of the real estate market might be softening but international fashion designer Collette Dinnigan is forging a new career in property — setting her sights on winning commissions to design the interiors of opulent hotels, smart city apartments and even individual mansions.
Australia’s most famous couturier, who stepped away from her fashion empire three years ago, may also develop a house on her 16 hectare holding at Milton on the NSW South Coast that she purchased for just $830,000 a decade ago.
“In future I will end up building my own house because I get so frustrated with renovations,” Dinnigan says. “I guess we have Milton. I think I will build something on the NSW South Coast, with rustic recycled floors.”
Dinnigan pulled the pin on her high-end label in late 2013, and has since won work designing the interiors of the new Bannisters by the Sea, luxury accommodation on the NSW South Coast.
Much closer to Sydney’s CBD, Dinnigan has spent the past nine months developing the interiors of Golf House, a 45-unit apartment block being developed on the site of the former Sharpie’s Golf House in Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills.
The site is owned by Richard Spanos, who is developing the apartment complex designed by Peter Israel of PTI Architecture in collaboration with Dinnigan.
Five of the 45 apartments have already been sold before next week’s marketing launch through real estate agency Savills.
One bedroom apartments covering about 67sqm are priced from $1.15m to $1.39m; two bedders of up to 104.5sqm are on the market for $1.75m to $2.7m; and lavish three bedroom apartments are priced from $2.7m to $2.8m and cover 127 sqm.
“The architect (for Golf House) approached me and the whole ethos of the development was quality and luxury. They did not want mainstream interiors,” Dinnigan says.
Golf House’s backers were impressed with Dinnigan’s work at Bannisters. “They wanted feminine, well designed interiors. I am very respected for the quality of furnishings I use and for my design work. After seeing what I have done they realised I could add something to this Golf House development.”
“(But) it’s a lot of work sometimes. It can be underestimated to get the balance of the room working so it’s simpatico and it has an easy feel.”
At Golf House Dinnigan designed the finishes, the bathrooms, the kitchens and the soft furnishings, using milky white walls and dark wooden floorboards, combining them with pale grey bathrooms lined with carrara marble.
She insisted that the Golf House avoid engineered flooring and has instead opted for 30mm recycled blackbutt.
The apartments will also feature underfloor heating and the kitchens will sport combined steamers, microwaves and ovens.
“Everything is about attention to detail,” Dinnigan says.
Dinnigan did the interiors at her Watsons Bay home in Sydney that she bought last year for about $7m.
She and her husband Bradley Cocks sold their Palm Beach weekender last year to actor Sophie Lee and her advertising agency boss husband Anthony Freedman in an off-market deal worth about $3.25 million.
In Milton, which Dinnigan and Cocks rent out for about $465 a night on Airbnb, she describes her interiors as “very country and relaxed”.
“I love working with the space — but it has to have the right feeling,” she says.
“And I won’t compromise.”