- Article by Jan Henderson
Jeff Copolov and Kendra Pinkus are a formidable design duo, having worked together at Bates Smart for 23 years. This year marks a change with Pinkus moving to Robert Mills Architecture & Interiors; however, this beach house is a place for them to come together and relax in beautiful surroundings. inside co-editor Jan Henderson dusts the sand from her feet and steps inside a cherished home to meet two of Australia’s foremost talents and finds interior design at its very best.
When did you produce this design?
The original weatherboard cottage dates from the 1920s, but extensive renovations in the late 1950s give it its classic mid-century modern beach house character. Further renovations followed in the early 2000s and I’ve mainly repainted, gardened and maintained the integrity of the house, adding further personality through furniture, artwork and objects.
What was the thinking behind the design?
Being born in the late 1950s, I’ve always had an affinity with mid-century modern design. My grandfather, an architect and modernist, and my mother, a textile designer, produced their most exemplary work in that period and my own practice Bates Smart created some of its most celebrated buildings in that era. So this place just seemed right.
Are you a good client?
I am quite decisive when it comes to the work of my clients, but I’m not so good for myself. With this house life was made so much easier as, when the property was offered for sale, it was on the proviso that I bought all the contents – beach towels, teacups and all! The only thing to go was a great collection of the owner’s art. This definitely removed the pressure to ‘get it right’ from the start, so gradually over time Kendra and I have worked around the main original pieces, replacing some furniture and concentrating on adding lots of personal objets, such as artwork, ceramics, cushions and lamps, as well as adding many items from our travels.
Which is your favourite room and what makes it special?
The living room, for the calm mood that it always evokes – for its scale, proportion and seamless connection on two sides to the garden. I love the profiled timber wall panelling and original Beco spun brass wall lights, as well the expansive painted rafters that spread out to the coffered ceiling of the deck and the suspended George Nelson Bubble pendant over the dining table.
There’s nothing more delicious, particularly in winter, than stealing an afternoon catnap on Hans Wegner’s daybed as the warming sun streams through the full-height classic 50s windows.
Tell us a bit about working with your art collection.
It’s quite diverse really, from an original Charles Blackman Baby that my mother picked up at a garage sale, to lithographs by my son Max. My first serious purchase was The Industrialist by John Coburn, a 1957 oil painting that fits perfectly with the era of the house.
More recently I added photographer Polly Borland’s tapestry Rabbit. Not only am I intrigued by her art, but the deliberate reversible framing adds another layer of fascination, as you witness the craft of the commissioned prison inmate’s weaving style on the back of the work.
Which is your favourite piece of furniture and why?
It’s probably a floor lamp designed by Italian, Angelo Lelli in 1955 for Arredoluce. I love the unique brass counterweight construction, Carrara stone base and perforated metal shade that was bought in 2011 from Nicholas & Alistair. The lamp sits beside the fireplace and is the perfect accompaniment to the Eames lounge chair and George Tjungurrayi Western Desert painting.
Does being in the design industry, where you’re constantly looking at new design, make it difficult to choose products for your own home?
I’ve always thought the perfect creative team is two, and I’ve always valued the second opinion of colleagues. Having worked with Kendra for 23 years, we obviously know each other’s style well and are generally on the same page aesthetically, so the difficulty of choice is eased by each other’s positive affirmation.
Are there any loose elements that you change frequently and, if so, what are they?
Kendra and I most recently returned from a trip to Botswana, and brought back handwoven baskets as well as Kuba cloth cushions that now add graphic drama to a sofa.
We both have a particular love for collecting ceramics and are constantly adding to and rearranging these small items to create new vignettes. Among the mainly Danish and Japanese pottery we even have a few of our own beginner pieces made with a group from the Bates Smart studio in after-work classes.
Photography by Dianna Snape