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Studio ZAWA, the architectural studio born from the minds of Brian Zulaikha and Colebee Wright, devotes itself to crafting residential projects that artfully mingle texture, quality and bespoke craftsmanship, resulting in sleek and refreshed projects. Darling Point Apartment encapsulates the driving ethos and ideology behind Studio ZAWA, carefully retaining a lifetime of stories, treasures and travels captured within the 1960's apartment block to inform and guide its re-imagination into a sleek interior, toting a refined and considered material palette.

Tasmanian Timber Series: Darling Point Apartment. Photography by Ansen Smart. Wide angle image of kitchen and living space in residential apartment. Tasmanian Oak organically curved kitchen island, kitchen benches and cabinetry in far right of image. Polished white floors and recessed white organically curved ceiling.
Tasmanian Timber Series: Darling Point Apartment. Photography by Anson Smart.
An interior shot of the hallway in this modern apartment with distant harbour views in the background
Tasmanian Timber Series: Darling Point Apartment. Photography by Anson Smart.

Darling Point Apartment not only draws inspiration from its own history, but from the belongings and cherished moments experienced and held within the client's previous home nearby. Approaching the renovation of Darling Point Apartment with clarity of mind and vision so as to create a fresh beginning in the new apartment, it was vital that only the most precious belonging were retained from the clients previous home. Studio ZAWA has carefully showcased these enamoured objects by opting for careful and considered restraint in both the design and material palette of the reimagined apartment.

A homage to the clients travels abroad; the apartment draws inspiration from the fresh, whitewashed architecture typical of Greece as well as the minimalistic and refined aesthetic typical of Japan. Studio ZAWA Director Colebee Wright says Tasmanian Oak was chosen to be woven throughout the design of the interior to provide warmth and contrast against the tactile appearance of natural white walls constructed from Tadelakt plaster.

Tasmanian Timber Series: Darling Point Apartment. Photography by Ansen Smart. Vertical shot of neutral, boucle curved airmchair. White neutral floor and walls. Tasmanian Oak cabinetry on left hand side of image.
Tasmanian Timber Series: Darling Point Apartment. Photography by Anson Smart.
A detail shot of the Tasmanian timber veneer shelves and designer objects scattered throughout the apartment
Tasmanian Timber Series: Darling Point Apartment. Photography by Anson Smart.
"In a building that’s predominantly white, timber helps bring a beautiful warmth to the space. When there’s a light source hitting the timber, it gives off a warm colour that illuminates the room and makes it feel very cozy. The timber adds tactility and warmth as it moves like a continuous ribbon, starting in the kitchen and wrapping down the corridor and into the bedrooms".

As the selected timber of choice to be incorporated throughout the space, Tasmanian Oak has been integrated through a combination of both veneers and hardwood, extending through the kitchen to wardrobes and to custom display shelving and doors. Although Tasmanian Oak maintains a somewhat consistent colour range, Wright notes that the natural appearance of the timber grain was largely influential on Studio ZAWA's selection of the material. "Surprise in variation" was a notable advantage of Tasmanian Oak, which still appears as a "real timber" even in veneer form, Wright explains. "We've found that with Tas Oak, you have a lot of feature but without too many knots". The timber is advantageous in maintaining the fresh and minimalistic fusion aesthetic in the apartment, as the variation in its appearance provides interest without becoming visually overwhelming or removing focus from the clients beloved belongings or views of the harbour. "It's practical but also beautiful and calm", says Wright.

Tasmanian Timber Series: Darling Point Apartment. Photography by Ansen Smart. Wide angle shot of open plan, modern living space in residential apartment. Floor to ceiling windows in background of image open up to show harbour views of water and hills. Floors and walls finished in neutral white plaster. Organically curved recess integrated into ceiling. Floor to ceiling white sheer curtains over windows. Curved Tasmanian Oak kitchen counter in right hand foreground of image. Eclectic furniture scattered around space.
Tasmanian Timber Series: Darling Point Apartment. Photography by Anson Smart.
A detail shot of the Tasmanian timber veneer joinery in this modern apartment design by Studio ZAWA
Tasmanian Timber Series: Darling Point Apartment. Photography by Anson Smart.

Due to the varying international aesthetics influencing the overall curation of Darling Point Apartment, Studio ZAWA felt it was paramount to utilise local materials.

"We like using real, natural materials that are from the earth and have a tactile quality about them. With our knowledge around the Australian market and Australian timbers, importing exotic species from abroad where you can’t be sure about their provenance or whether they’ve been sustainably grown and harvested, doesn’t seem like the right approach".
Tasmanian Timber Series: Darling Point Apartment. Photography by Ansen Smart. Vertical image of minimal bedroom in residential apartment. White neutral floors, walls and ceiling. Floor to mirror ceilings on the right hand side of the room. Curved white lamp hung above simple timber bedframe.
Tasmanian Timber Series: Darling Point Apartment. Photography by Anson Smart.
Tasmanian Timber Series: Darling Point Apartment. Photography by Ansen Smart. Detail image of integrated kitchen cabinetry in residential apartment space. Tasmanian Oak joinery for storage and organically curved island bench top, finished with white countertop. White flooring, walls and floors. Floor to ceiling windows in background partially covered by sheer white curtains. Windows show ocean and hill views across harbour.
Tasmanian Timber Series: Darling Point Apartment. Photography by Anson Smart.

Although Studio ZAWA prides itself on its ability to uniquely meet the needs of each of their clients, Wright feels that Darling Point Apartment epitomises what it means to design within client parameters. Particularly, the project focuses on the ability of both a client and a designer to downsize the excessive baggage we accumulate into a minimalistic and refreshing space.

Darling Point Apartment is an exercise is prioritising the importance aspects in one's lifestyle, whilst maintaining personality through design. The careful articulation of architecture works to enhance that which is most important and representative of the client, from collected ceramics from travels abroad or family crafts. "(We are) very pleased with the end result," says Wright.


This project article is part of our Tasmanian Timber Series, which aims to spotlight the remarkable sustainability of this resource and the various projects and products that showcase its potential. To find out more about Tasmanian Timber, visit their website or Instagram.


Project Details

Location: Balmain, NSW
Architects/Designer: Studio ZAWA
Photographer: Anson Smart
Builder: Bright Build
Engineer: SDA Structures
Stylist: Claire Delmar
Joinery: Elan Joinery
Microcement: Ideal Works, Lusso Venetian