- Article by Elisa Scarton
ownworld has teamed up with architects Smith+Tracey to deliver five-star Art Deco-inspired luxury to residents in the newly opened Morgan Glen Iris Retirement Living.
“In the old days, it was the facility matron who made all the decisions about furniture in aged care, and generally it lent towards practical institutional furnishings and finishes,” ownworld director Peter Quintal-Norris tells ADR recently.
“But in 2021, high-end assisted living is anything but practicality over the aesthetic with frilly dollies and vinyl on everything.”
Or at least this Melbourne assisted living isn’t.
Surrounded by gumtrees within close proximity to Back Creek reserve, Morgan Glen Iris was designed to be aspirational.
“We were showing a young person through the space, and I remember him saying, ‘Hey, gosh, I’d like to live here. It’s like a five-star hotel’,” says BASSCare general manager Edward Xuereb.
“And you can’t really ask for a better review. After all, that was our brief. We wanted a gold-class finished product and the best possible environment for our older residents.”
Tasked with designing something “out of the box”, Smith+Tracey settled on a contemporary approach to Art Deco with plenty of brass accents, marble countertops and mosaic-covered bars.
A gold display case features an array of gins and other spirits in one space, while elsewhere, residents dine on a menu prepared by restaurant chefs or nibble through wine and cheese tasting sessions.
In the living room, a grand piano holds pride of place on a sprawling teal rug, while rows of books create the perfect reading nook, dominated by comfy reading chairs illuminated by golden lamps ripped from the pages of The Great Gatsby.
But Morgan Glen Iris isn’t just beautiful. It’s very much fit for purpose.
“We quickly learned from past projects that it’s not enough for the furniture, in particular, to just look good,” explains Xuereb.
“It has to be practical. After all, there’s no use having chairs and loungers our residents can look at, but can’t use.”
And it’s here that Morgan Glen Iris really exceeds expectations.
Those aforementioned reading chairs – like all the chairs featured in the project – have been especially modified from ownworld’s incredible collection of European and locally-sourced products to suit the requirements of older Australians.
They’re part of the ownworld Senior Living offering.
As a commercial furniture specialist, the company provides consultancy and design solutions to meet the specific requirements of the rapidly evolving retirement sector, destigmatising senior living by working alongside designers to manufacture bespoke and customisable pieces.
“We went through all of our European and local suppliers and compiled bespoke designs that matched the brief for senior living,” says Quintal-Norris of the service.
“Basically arm height, seat height, padding and contemporary fabric selections, which, when all rolled together, spell a chair that doesn’t look anything like those we have often associated with senior living in the past.”
“Technological developments in fabric construction and durability of use has also advanced so far that we can now use more soft and textured fabrics akin to residential applications in senior living environments. The chairs featured in Morgan Glen Iris are upholstered in mustard velvets and buttery leather-like fabrics, available now to this sector of interior design.
In the dining room, a light green upholstery is awash with a pattern of alternating vines and blooms. Elsewhere, pops of burgundy dominate the cafe seating and mint green cushions beckon you to the bar.
“We started out choosing three chairs from the ownworld collection, but ended up settling on the same chair covered in different fabrics because we knew the residents would love it,” says Xuereb.
“Just the other day, I had a resident in one of the lounges, in front of the fireplace, reading with her feet on the table.
“It was the ultimate confirmation that we’d chosen pieces that were in fact easy to get up from, to sit up straight in and to feel comfortable using.
“It was such a delight to see.”
Find out more about the Senior Living collection on the ownworld website or speak to one of its consultants today.