High art to the High Line

From gardens to architecture, design-loving identities recall their favourite experiences.


Architect & CEO, Urban Taskforce Australia

I have just returned from the magic city of Dubrovnik, where I walked on top of the city walls looking across a rippling pattern of terracotta roofs with the streets and alleyways reading as dark shadows. The city appears to be carved out of an off-white stone that forms the pavements and the walls of every building. Surrounding the city and forming the harbour is the blue-green Adriatic Sea. Dubrovnik demonstrates how a city can be a human-scaled network of places, and the lessons can be applied to precincts in cities everywhere. Having no cars helps, of course.


Australian fashion designer

Nishiwaki in the Hyogo Prefecture in south-west Japan is a beautiful, untouched, textile-producing town with a focus on Banshu-ori, or Banshu weave, a weaving style made by using the sakizome technique (where the thread is dyed before weaving) that dates to 1792. I was fortunate enough to witness firsthand the production of the highest-quality textiles woven by small family-run mills and also traditional hand-dyeing techniques, and am now using these textiles for my collections.


Interior designer (Selling Houses Australia/The Block)

The High Line in New York City navigates a voyeuristic view between offices and apartment buildings while enticing you with sculpture, green landscape and pop-up food stores. It has inspired me to extend the hidden surprise elements in my designs, as that is what makes something extra-special.


Biographer of Florence Broadhurst and Harry Seidler

I love unexpected underground architectural drama - think Hobart's subterranean masterpiece, Mona [Museum of Old and New Art], and England's extraordinary Westminster tube station, where Escher meets Blade Runner in central London's deepest void. Beneath Big Ben, and via seemingly suspended ever-moving escalators, commuters dive through a steel and concrete grid down to almost 39 metres. What a ride.


Curator of International Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

A must-visit in France is Monet's house in Giverny. The garden itself engages all five senses and is a masterpiece of sensual design. The flower beds are carefully orchestrated to suit Monet's eye and they lead you to his famous water garden. His dining room is an unexpected triumph of modernist design. He painted the entire area yellow, including all the regional French furniture. His aesthetic is minimalist, yet it enabled him to entertain his huge family and circle of friends.


Fashion designer

My spring-summer 2013 Pachamama collection was born directly from my personal journey as I reconnected with Mother Nature or, as the Incas called her, 'Pachamama'. My wanderings took me to the Andes, where I found myself immersed in a culture where the people's spiritual connection to Pachamama was profound. The Quechua people begin teaching their children how to make patterned narrow ribbons called jakimas at a very early age. Partnering children with an older experienced weaver means that the next generation is empowered through shared cultural heritage. Each textile piece has its own life: a reflection of the spirit, the skill and the personal history of its maker.


Director, AZB Creative, designer and stylist

Impressive design to me is how it works within an environment and how I react to it emotionally. The most incredibly moving and aesthetically complete structure is the Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Not only is it created in pure art deco style but the arm span is a mind-blowing 28 metres and presides over Brazil on the peak of the mountain Corcovado. The notion of a monumental religious statue presiding over an entire city has such a huge emotional and physical impact. It transforms the environment as well as every visitor.


Acting Director, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

In Sri Lanka I stayed at Lunuganga, the garden estate of the late architect Geoffrey Bawa. Equally famous for his domestic and hotel buildings, at Lunuganga it's the domestic architecture that is on show as it was never built to be a hotel. Sited in a garden that is really a carefully controlled wilderness, the rooms and buildings have a unique sense of space, proportion, light and vista. Bawa liked you to stumble across experiences in his environments. No TV or radio; instead there are boat tours to see the wildlife, walking around the gardens, relaxing on the verandah reading.