Life is like a work of art. We are all free to masterfully mold, paint and create the lives we want. Some of us get that more than others. May we be inspired by Matthew and Tina, owners of Artists Houses – a collection of five wonderfully creative, spirited holiday homes in Berlin and Australia, who have forged their own distinct path to a passion-filled life.
How do you think your houses positively affect your guests?
“We like to create places that make you feel good as soon as you walk in. We like to start at the front gate – as soon as you step through, we want the feeling of happiness to seep in – a lightness of being that can be felt like a physiological and mental relief from the everyday.
“We tend to tap into people who seem to want something a little different – a lot of holiday rentals offer a beige cavernous box, other holiday rentals offer designer furnishings and fittings. Our homes are the antidote to the uptight life that we tend to live. Our homes don’t have a pretense about them – we are more about creating charm, vibe and stories. These days it seems many people are striving for a veneer of perfection, but I think one’s flaws are much more intriguing. Creatively, I have learned that it’s often the mistakes and flaws that are the most interesting part of an artwork – they are like little conduits into deeper stories, and it’s these conduits that allow you to grow personally and creatively. I like things when they are a little old, a little chipped, lived a life, renewed and reworked.
“When we design our homes, we like to create little nooks that beg for deeper conversations. We also collect and make objects and furnishings that are collected from all over the world. These tend to create conversations as well. I hope our selection of books and artworks transport you into different worlds and different knowledges. Although our homes are filled with objects we love – its not precious – we love children coming to visit, and children feeling comfortable – this is one of the most important things.
I love inspiring my own sons. I want them to grow up in beautiful, creative, inspiring environments.
“How do we do this? I think the difference is that we create homes, and created them with love. Each of our five homes was our home at a different stage in our lives. When we design them, we like things not to look perfect. They don’t look like they have been replicated from a design magazine. We like things to look offbeat, thrown together. Imperfect is perfect in our homes. We choose items that when juxtaposed with other items, create a tension – a sort of miss match. Its quite an organic process. We try as hard as we can to stay away from trends and convention until they tend to catch up with us. I was making my own palm tree and pineapple wall papers six years ago – and now I have started to see it everywhere! We choose and make furnishings that are a bit off key, a bit quirky – things that make you smile. Our lot of our guests get inspired by being immersed in so much artwork. Many start drawing, painting, writing, playing music, or writing music. I guess we have created spaces that allow them to access their own latent creativity.
“Color is important to me – I love color, and i think being immersed in it, is uplifting. I think a touch of chaos is important to relax you.
“Thats the true meaning of a holiday – downtime, where you can explore the region, but also explore different parts of yourself that you haven’t felt for a while.
“Matt says we are like songwriter Neil Young – has a terrible voice and can’t play guitar, but combine the two together and its magical.”
How do you weave environmental consciousness and sustainability into your homes?
“As much as we can, we buy recycled timber. Our beach house is made from recycled windows from the 60’s, cladding from old houses, and second-hand decking. Building this into houses, with its chipped wood, and peeling paint, brings in more stories from the past. Our places in the tropics of North Australia, Port Douglas are designed to make the most of the sunshine, and also the sea breeze. I think good natural light is one of the most important things to consider when designing a house. They are very open, very tropical and very breezy, so much so that it is rare we use the air conditioning in summer. In our Berlin home, we got rid of many walls, searching for a more open living space, and making the most of the light we had.”
How do you think traveling frees the soul?
“Travel is a beautiful thing. Both Matt and I travel with our work – Matt’s a chef, and he consults internationally, and I am an artist, so I exhibit and do residencies internationally. We also travel as a family because we love it. I love having to negotiate my day, the smells, the food, the traffic, or lack of it. I love the uncomfortableness of not knowing what will transpire, who you will meet, where you will sleep, what you will eat. It’s a constant confrontation when you step out of your comfort zone. As you step out of routine, time seems to go slower, and feels more dense, and really well-lived. We started traveling with Pablo when he was ten weeks old, and he had to get a new passport at four years old, as his passport was too full. Our baby, Hugo, started traveling with us at four months old. Our first adventure with him was spent traveling through Asia. It was a magical time of getting to know each other, spending so much time together, and experiencing different cultures together. Traveling with a young family means that we are greeted with so much warmth and smiles. It also means the kids are growing up with a sense that the world is their home, and there are many different ways to live a life.
“People have the time to converse, to slow down, when you travel – and so do we. This is important – we move away from busy-ness and have more time for each other. We learn a lot about the world and about ourselves. My son spends hours telling me stories as we walk through villages, and across beaches. We feel gratitude, respect, understanding, empathy. We get inspired by foods, cultures, landscapes and ways of living. Each time we take off, we come back feeling a little different. I think all of this frees us – it gives us time to reflect, time to learn, time to grow.”