At Home With Brahman Perera
Photography by Phillip Huynh
This week on the Journal we’re thrilled to meet talented interior designer Brahman Perera whose unique body of work has been on our radar for quite some time. We visited Brahman at the lovingly restored West Melbourne home he shares with his partner Jason and two miniature poodles, Billie & Ella. The space has an innate sense of warmth and personality about it while still allowing the heritage and charm of the property to shine through. We spoke to Brahman about bringing the space to life, his creative process and balancing sentimentality and intent in his work.
“The house was built in 1865 in the heart of ‘early Melbourne’ city; houses of this era were built for workers of the Victoria Markets and industrial Docklands area. Having assumed several identities, including a boarding house in the 1950’s and a corner shop in the 70’s the property was largely untouched. We embarked on a renovation in 2020 during Covid to try and introduce a sense of order and clarity to the many rooms, and introduce light and clear circulation to the two terraces in order to shape the house in a delicate and respectful way.”
“I love that the charm of the original house is maintained, whilst still molding to our ‘new’ way of working and living. The two terraces are now open and talk to each other, but a flick of the curtains across the large openings, or closing off a set of vintage concertina oak doors allows for privacy and compartmentalizing the house to better suit our needs. I love a house that you interact with physically and being able to shape the architectural settings on a daily basis, as well as the elements themselves providing movement and theater adds to our own pleasure of living in the house.”
“The house is furnished to best suit our lifestyle and who we are, not necessarily as a showpiece or purely for the entertainment of others. Jason’s piano takes pride of place and dominates half of the living space, but this is intentional. I meanwhile have taken two rooms on the first floor where I have a study and work-room to experiment with my plaster lighting and painting. A house should work to increase your own enjoyment and pursuits, not have rooms that are rarely used.”
A house should work to increase your own enjoyment and pursuits, not have rooms that are rarely used.
“The master bedroom is one of large propositions, and to combat this and introduce some intimacy we painted the room a deep verdant green, and introduced overscaled lighting to add some drama to fill the space. I love the soft fabric moon shaped pendant against the deep green when I’m lying on the bed; crisp white linen curtains billow and the entire room is filled with movement and life.”
“I launched my practice in 2020, following diverse creative experience across architecture, interior design and fashion. The drive to start my own practice stemmed from a steadfast belief in my personal philosophies as a designer, an excitement to collaborate closely with clients and wholly trust my own instincts.”
An IN BED Organic Cotton Towel in Toffee hangs in Brahman’s bathroom.
“Working for a selection of well-regarded design firms armed me with insights that have been invaluable to starting my own practice – particularly, the importance of seeing architecture, interior design, landscape and styling as a considered whole. Having said that, design knowledge is only part of the equation. Honing business knowledge and developing trusting partnerships with clients has been pivotal in creating a culture of transparency and openness in my practice.”
“Moving Entrecôte from its famed site of the old ‘Lynch’s’ on Domain road to Greville Street at the peak of Covid was a challenge that was deeply personal. To give this establishment a ‘forever home’ was something I was very passionate about. Rich hues, classic detailing, whimsical and collected elements are thoughtfully intertwined to present a series of emotive and memorable dining atmospheres reflecting Entrecôte’s convivial approach to French cuisine. Different typologies certainly bring different challenges to the table, but I maintain a consistent through-line in my approach. Regardless of brief or typology, my work always strives to balance sentimentality and intent, beauty and functionality – and ultimately create a special experience of the everyday.”
I was raised in a diverse, migrant household combining Hindu and Catholic faiths, so an important part of my upbringing was listening to my family share stories and memories of Sri Lanka.
“I was raised in a diverse, migrant household combining Hindu and Catholic faiths, so an important part of my upbringing was listening to my family share stories and memories of Sri Lanka. I came to understand the religious iconography and antiques in our home as touchstones for my parents to recall memories.
Ever since, sentimentality has been a consistent source of inquiry in my work. I love honouring the personal narratives of my clients and ingraining their most cherished pieces in the interior in a way that resonates. I often favour hand-crafted, artisanal pieces – their provenance is personalized and authentic. The notion of an object being made by one set of hands, and cherished by another is heartening.
I genuinely live what I preach. I immerse myself in design, art and culture, so inspiration often strikes from the most unlikely sources. Experimentation has always been critical to my creative process, and I love taking an active role in artisanal practices – painting, sewing and lighting design. This enhances my appreciation of the collaborators I work with and allows me to understand the limitations and capabilities of different disciplines.”
“Fashion, art and travel are my greatest sources of creative inspiration. I try to employ intuition when designing, to do what comes naturally and not be swayed by design culture or trends too greatly. And eating. The theatre of an immersive dining experience is just as nourishing to the soul as the Australian Ballet, the Brandenburg orchestra or a Ladyhawke at the Corner Hotel.”
“The Victoria Market is both convenient and a sensory delight to wonder through - often when I’m not in need of any produce, but the perfect distraction from the work day when in search of a delicious lunch. West Wood is a brilliant tiny restaurant that is a local favorite, as is the velvet draped Prudence for a tipple. Living so close to the Flagstaff gardens is divine - a park in the city brings all the smells & sounds of life in an invigorating symphony.”
“For the rest of this year I’m looking forward to sunshine, naps in the park and spending time with my family and friends at our tiny mud-brick cottage in Carlsruhe. It’s a perfect refuge from work and city life that we are so lucky to enjoy.”