WE'LL TAKE MANHATTAN
The van der Meers have created
a new concept in overnight accommodation in Melbourne.
In the heart of Melbourne is a smart
looking, fully equipped apartment. Its not quite a hotel
or an ordinary apartment because it has an ethos and
it is part of a "sequence" - The Maju Sequence. It is,
in fact, a new concept in overnight accommodation.
Maju's owners, Sydneysiders Geoff
and Alison van der Meer, created it as their home away
from home, with the secondary purpose being to share
it with other like-minded people who want a hotel alternative.
Their design aim was to incorporate the sensual, intellectual
and social as a holistic concept within the space.
East meets west in this Manhattan
- style living space. This urban loft sits in a commercial
building on the corner of Bourke Street and Hardware
Lane. Previously an office block, the roofline reveals
where the walls used to be and the van der Meers have
retained the big industrial door as part of the charm.
"The apartment is our sanctuary.
We have the whole floor and its very private. When we
come home from the hustle and bustle of work and the
city we rarely bump into other people," says Geoff van
The Maju Sequence consists of two
other luxury apartments. One is on the fifth level of
Sydney's heritage Finger Wharf in Woolloomooloo and
the other in Queenstown, New Zealand. The concept is
"Firstly these are homes for my
wife and I and our children, that's partly the reason
they're located where they are. We used to live in Melbourne
then expanded our business to Sydney. We still have
a large office in Melbourne and we come down here a
Living in Sydney's northern beaches,
the van der Meers regard the Finger Wharf property as
their weekender and Queenstown has a special connection
for them - New Zealand is their country of origin and
they honeymooned in Queenstown.
Long-term rental was not an option
because they wanted to use all three of the properties
and the décor had to suit their taste and lifestyle.
The van der Meers also wanted all three properties in
superior locations with great investment potential.
The Melbourne apartment has two bedrooms
and two bathrooms and can comfortably house a family
or two couples. They have designed the décor themselves
creating a minimalist Asian-style look.
The van der Meers collect innovative
and thought-provoking art and some lovely pieces are
featured in their apartment.
Red appears in blocks creating a
warm contrast in the space. As you enter a red inset
strip of wall backs a striking giant New Guinean statue
of a fertility goddess. Antique Chinese musical instruments
have been mounted on a red wall hanging and Asian-style
artifacts from various Melbourne and Sydney design stores
offset the simple elegant furniture. An antique Italian
olive jar from Supply and Demand and various urns meld
with the modern streamlined kitchen.
Part of the fun for Alison was the
search for the right look that also equaled style and
comfort. She designed the lounge suite, called a Manhattan,
and commissioned City Living to create it.
The dining suite is simple and stylish
and has a timeless, almost Asian quality. Made of wenge
wood stained a chocolate color, it is a one-off piece
from Empire Homeware.
"The whole place was white when
we bought it. I wanted to give it color and vibrancy,
make it relaxing. Is beautiful here at night. We have
designed the lighting very carefully. Although there
are enough lights to sink a ship, they all have a role
to play and a lot of them focus on artifacts and art
work," says Alison.
Juxtaposed with the homely ethnic
feel are high-tech "playthings" such as a home theatre,
large TV screen, library of CDs, 50 DVDs and Dolby Digital
surround sound. A TV is mounted on the wall of both
We've gone for superior fit out in
all of the properties. They all have state-of-the-art
toys so naturally the concept evolved to the point where
we wanted a regular group of like-minded people who
have the same ethos as us, will treat it like their
home and won't steal the towels. Trust must be implicit,"