• Stjohn Axbey

We're living in the seventies and loving it!

Updated: Jan 23


It is fair to say that the swinging sixties was a quantum leap for design and style; post war austerity was replaced with joie de vivre, flare and flamboyance: designers took risks - they were fearless, courageous and sometimes completely outrageous! Colour, fun and exuberance were in abundance and the 70’s followed suit with hot reds and oranges; vivid turquoises and greens; every possible surface was covered in Formica and paisley was the wallpaper of choice.

Fun, colour, exuberance, risk, courageousness and joie de vivre!!


I can just about remember the start of the 70’s; being 3 years old and living in Mother England, in a semidetached brand-new house in the deepest recesses of, what was then, considered country Essex.

The lounge room was a plethora of pattern and colour: the wall paper was mauve and blue and black; the carpet was yellow and green; the fireplace was clad in York Stone.

The lounge suite was plump, large and upholstered in brown leather that made a fart like sound when you sat in it, or moved in it – perfect for apportioning blame when nature slipped out. Besides bodily emissions, the room smelt of smoke from the open coal fire and the numerous cigarettes that both my parents enjoyed.


There was a radiogram that doubled as a sideboard that glowed from within once warmed up; the controls for the radio where large twiddly knobs on an illuminated glass panel and the top of the unit lifted up to reveal the record player with its stacking multi play function and 3 speed capability: 33,45 and 78 rpm.



Telephones had dials and were stationary; toilet suites were available in pink, avocado and chocolate; televisions where black & white with 3 channels; furniture was made of solid wood and metal; cars were cool and seat belts were optional; school was a 15 minute walk away and play time was making mud pies.

Rotary dial telephones that stayed where they were, playing with mud, green toilets and funky cars


All of these memories came in handy when I was asked to assist in retro stylising an apartment in the iconic Gazebo building in the Sydney suburb of Elizabeth Bay. Formally a hotel, this 18-level circular building was converted to residential living in the 2005.

Images of the Gazebo during its life as an hotel and the foyer as it is today


My 'client' Matthew owns an apartment located on the 10th floor, and is afforded amazing city views from all rooms - yes even the bathroom if you leave the door open; and what sets this building apart is the curved floor plan - no two walls are parallel and that can make room layouts somewhat challenging.


Matthew wanted to smile when he walked into the apartment; he wanted colour and fun; he also wanted to include his passion for retro style. His collection had already started with a vintage Royal vacuum cleaner, a La Pavoni coffee maker, a genuine Woodson blender and an Anna Castelli orange storage unit; the piece de resistance being a 1966 Citroen DS..... a little too big to get into the apartment I think.

Matthew's retro furniture, equipment and transport.


Sourcing retro furniture has become an easy task now that it is so en vogue again, but due to budgetary constraints the purchase of genuine pieces was limited to some of the smaller items and the Chiswell sideboard.


A visit to Matt Blatt scored the orange reproduction Koppla Swivel Armchair, the sofa and the psychedelic rug that Matthew's cat Sparky seems to adore.

A psychedelic rug with a cat that looks like it's on LSD, a crazy terrazzo table, a space age light fitting by Jorgen Kastholm and Lost In Space on TV - perfect ingredients for retro heaven!


In the image below can be seen a close up view of the stunning bespoke terrazzo coffee table; it was made over 50 years ago by Matthew's grandfather who owned Dubbo Terrazzo and sits in front of the Matt Blatt lounge. The cushions are custom made with fabrics by Warrick (Dolce Berry) and Mokum (Catherine Martin Blossom). In the foreground is a Bacci timber and resin platter from Clayfire Gallery Daylesford. To the left is a Red Ericofon table phone by LM Ericsson that stands on a genuine Eileen Gray side table - the elephant was purchased at a local garden centre.

Genuine tulip chairs were far too expensive so Chicicat of Melbourne - suppliers of reproduction furniture -came to the rescue. The dining area is furnished with a white Carrara marble topped tulip table and 5 matching chairs with turquoise felt seat cushions. The genuine Chiswell sideboard takes pride of place against the floor to ceiling mirrored wall.

Charging bull and matador by Royal Haeger pottery


The Red Bull Royal Haeger art pottery completes the ornamentation on the Chiswell sideboard framed by the two tall shade lamps from Freedom. Standing to one side is the orange tub storage unit by Anna Castelli. Genuine Raak of Amsterdam stainless steel wall sconces have been installed on the two walls in the dining area.


The bedroom takes on more of a modern theme with a king size bed on the far wall with Graham and Brown Heston black fabric wallpaper. A couple of Parker bedside tables bring the retro feel into play along with Mzithern chrome pendant bedside lights and Signarture artwork. A genuine 1970 Krups Comfortchron flip clock and second Ericofon table phone complete the retro touches for this room.

Keeping it retro, even in the bedroom: Mzithern chrome pendant light fittings, Parker bedsides, Krups flip clock and Ericsson table phone.


Completing the retro feel, is a vinyl collection and Phillips (Radiola) UFO turntable, there is nothing like hearing that distinctive crackle as Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and The Supremes resonate through the apartment.


As a final touch to this beautiful apartment and in homage to the Gazebo's history, a photographic print of the building has been added to the curved back wall of the hallway. The photograph - by Max Dupain - was commissioned by the Gazebo for its opening back in 1969; my client purchased the rights to this photograph and had it reproduced as a stunning full height wall transfer. It's a great addition to the entry hallway which adds depth and focus to an otherwise uninteresting wall.

Nostalgic image by Max Dupain featuring the Gazebo and the El Alamein fountain.

0 views