Collette Dinnigan is doing the interiors for the Golf House development in Surry Hills. Photo: Hugh Stewart Koichi Takada is contributing to Pacific Bondi Beach and One Central Park. Photo: Rob Homer
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William Smart inside the display apartment of a dual-key apartment for Central Park West he has designed. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Fashion designer and television personality Alex Perry has previously lent his brand to a Queensland apartment development. Photo: Luis Ascui

It used to be all about the “starchitects”. In their quest to lure buyers to off-the-plan apartment projects, developers would enlist acclaimed architects to design the buildings, name-dropping their talented collaborators in marketing materials and roping them into glittering launches.

Now architects are finding themselves sharing the spotlight with another group: celebrity interior designers.

Fashion designer turned interiors doyenne Collette Dinnigan is the latest in a string of high-profile designers and decorators appointed to multi-residential projects.

Alex Perry was another fashion designer who gave his signature style to a hotel and apartment complex in Brisbane that opened last year.

The South African-born Dinnigan has been making a name for herself in the world of interiors since stepping back from her main fashion label in 2013. With credits including Bannisters by the Sea at Mollymook and Milton Surf & Stables, as well as a soon-to-be-launched wallpaper range for Porter’s Paints, she has proved her designer skill-set is eminently transferable.

But it is Golf House, a luxe development of 46 apartments on the old Sharpie’s Golf House site in Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills, that has been occupying much of her time lately.

Joining the project late last year after the external architectural plans had been drawn up, Dinnigan set to work with Peter Israel, of PTI Architecture, devising internal layouts and finishes designed to be easy to live with – and beautiful to behold.

“What comes to me very naturally is space and proportion and colour and light,” says Dinnigan, who was in Sydney this month for a quick visit before returning to Rome, where she is on a sabbatical year with her family.

“It feels like a lot of developments these days get a very generic look. I didn’t want that. I spent a lot of time doing the flow of the residences and making sure when you walked through the door you felt like you were walking into a space that was welcoming.”

Buyers will even be offered the opportunity – for a price – to have Dinnigan help select their furnishings.

Other big-name designers on a mission to banish boring from apartment developments include Koichi Takada (Pacific Bondi Beach, One Central Park), Burley Katon Halliday (Cleveland & Co) and William Smart (Connor at Central Park, Maxwell Place at Harold Park and the Alexander at Barangaroo).

Smart says his practice embraces a “design from the inside out” philosophy, making interiors a major factor from the earliest planning stages. He is not surprised by the increased focus on apartment interiors, saying today’s buyers are sophisticated and savvy.

“They buy magazines, they read newspapers, they know what is in the market,” Smart says. “Most purchasers nowadays will walk into a space and have a good understanding of how to furnish it. They will look at the finishes and the details and see where the quality exists.”

Ged Rockliff is head of residential projects at Savills, which is marketing Golf House. He says while there’s no doubt the involvement of a celebrated interior designer can add value, the precise amount is impossible to quantify.

What’s easier to gauge, he says, is the rate of sales. Rockliff estimates a high-profile designer could help the sales rate rise 20 per cent or more, potentially saving big money if a developer can secure finance sooner.

Rockliff predicts developers will increasingly turn to big-name collaborators.

“It’s that Darwinian theory. To stay ahead of the curve you’ve got to offer a point of difference to the purchasers.”

As for Dinnigan, she is well aware of the power of her personal brand. “It’s a huge selling point because you know that the same eye for detail and colours and quality is going to be applied to the project,” she says. “In this day and age when everything is so visual … it’s not about calculations and a black and white floorplan and a promise.”

Fashion for your home

To the untrained eye, an apartment doesn’t have all that much in common with a pretty dress. To Collette Dinnigan, who has designed some of the most stunning gowns in Australian fashion history, there is more than meets the eye.

“Sometimes the simplest of satin bias-cut dresses looks amazing because we do an undergarment,” Dinnigan says. “There are always layers, good foundations.”

And so it is with interior architecture and design.

In Golf House, for example, she insisted on insulation below the polished reclaimed timber floorboards so residents wouldn’t hear footsteps above.

“It may be a very different process but it’s a similar aesthetic … Textiles are very important to me, so are the curtains and prints and colour. That’s what creates a very homely environment.” Downsizing with designer flair

Grace Dziedzic has bought a new apartment at Maxwell Place in Harold Park. Photo: Simon Alekna

When it was time for Grace Dziedzic to decide on the colour scheme for her new apartment at Maxwell Place in Harold Park, she had some expert help.

William Smart, founder and creative director of Smart Design Studio – which collaborated with Mirvac Design on the architecture and interiors – was on hand at the launch to guide buyers in their interior design decisions.

In the end they settled on a dark option, with a dark veneer finish in the kitchen, navy carpet in the bedrooms and copper-brown tiles in the bathroom.

“My style is more eclectic, with a heritage base, so I thought the darker finish would be more in line with my preferences,” Dziedzic says.

In November 2014, Dziedzic paid $1.05 million for a two-bedroom, off-the-plan apartment in Maxwell Place, one of six precincts in the development at the former paceway in Glebe.

If all goes to plan, she will put her Federation home in Glebe on the market next month, around the time she moves into her new downsized designer home.

The IT worker says she monitored the Harold Park development from its earliest days, attending launches for several precincts until she decided on one of the 49 units in Maxwell Place.

“I’m very much interested in interior design. I buy the magazines and borrow ideas – the design of this building was a big influence.”

The eco credentials and the fact it is – at four storeys – lower than other buildings in the project also appealed.

“Finding out that William Smart was designing the building was a bonus,” she says. Feature property:

Golf House 216-228a Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills Guide: $1.15 million to $2.8 million

The old neon golfer on Sharpie’s Golf House is long gone. In his place a luxury seven-storey development of 46 apartments is on the way, with interiors by fashion designer Collette Dinnigan and architecture by Peter Israel of PTI Architecture. Intricate copper detailing adorns the facade. Inside, the residences feature floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto spacious winter gardens.

Many boast sweeping city views. Finishes include Carrara marble benchtops and splashbacks, recycled timber floors, Miele appliances and ample storage. Ged Rockliff, head of residential projects at Savills, says he expects the project by developer Trinvass to appeal to empty-nesters and affluent Gen Y buyers who want easy access to the city, parks, restaurants and universities. The site is about 400 metres from Central station and a six-minute walk to Hyde Park.

One beds, 66-67 square metres, $1.15 million to $1.39 million; two beds, 83-104 square metres, $1.75 million to $2.7 million; three beds, 127 square metres, $2.7 million to $2.8 million. The on-site sales suite opens with a pre-release preview on Saturday, May 21, with sales to commence in the following weeks. Agent Savills, 1800 959 833; thegolfhouse老域名出售备案老域名.

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Or try these:

Artist’s impression of the penthouse at Omnia, Potts Point.

Omnia 226 Victoria Street, Potts Point Guide: $765,000-$7.4 million

Award-winning design practice SJB created the interiors in this project by Greenland. About 30 of the 135 residences remain for sale, from $765,000 studios to $7.4 million for a dual-level penthouse with 185 square metres inside, plus a 63-square-metre balcony. Shared facilities include a community garden and residents’ private wine room. Agent CBRE 1800 427 008; omniapottspoint老域名出售备案老域名.

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Artist’s impression of DUO at Central Park

DUO at Central Park 1 Chippendale Way, Chippendale Guide: $700,000-$2.16 million

UK architects Foster + Partners designed the exterior and interiors of DUO at Central Park from Frasers Property and Sekisui House. There are 90 apartments left for sale, including seven three-bedroom residences, from $1.96 million to $2.16 million. DUO is made up of two interconnected 18-storey buildings. The eastern tower, where apartments still on the market are located, has 313 residences. Agent Greencliff, 1300 857 057; centralparksydney老域名出售.

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Lighthouse 511, Pacific Bondi Beach.

Pacific Bondi Beach  511/180 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach Guide: $14 million

Lighthouse 511 is the last remaining penthouse for sale at the Pacific Bondi Beach. The three-bedroom north-east-facing residence offers spectacular views over the world-famous beach. PTW designed the building, with interiors by Koichi Takada Architects. Pacific Bondi Beach will have a concierge, valet parking, gym and pool. The agent is Luke Hayes of McGrath (0402 394 816).

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