“Home is a sanctuary for escape, but also for entertaining, for turning on the tunes, for pouring a few bevies and for daggy dancing around the living room”

For our second instalment of A Grounded Life, we are thrilled to introduce you to one of Australia’s leading exports in the world of design, Mr Jase Sullivan, of Jase Sullivan Design.

Jase has certainly had a stellar career. He is an internationally renowned interior and landscape designer who counts Cameron Diaz and Lara Worthington as clients, as well as a former contributing editor to Belle Magazine, a highly successful fashion model and a favourite Australian television personality.

In his account for A Grounded Life, Jase shares his love of travel and design, how nature inspires his creative process and he also recounts a traumatic experience that ultimately propelled him forward and launched his new career direction.

Please enjoy this colourful and exciting account of a very Grounded Life, lived by Jase Sullivan.

1. Where do you call home?

Right now I have two homes and the crazy thing is that I moved into both in the same month late last year. The first is a beautiful art deco waterfront apartment in Manly beach which is close to family and friends and is just so easy - I can lock it up and leave it. The second is on acreage in Bangalow where I will build a new house and renovate an existing one, but it is full of spiders and snakes and requires a lot of maintenance!

2. What does ‘home’ mean to you?

Home to me is a funny thing. I have an ability to not get attached. For the past 30 years I have been working all over the world, moving from country to country, so my system is conditioned to change. Over the past ten years I have pretty much moved into a different house and turned it into a home every year.

I love nothing more than getting all the pieces together to create a home, but generally after living it a place for a year, I get bored and want to do it all over again. But in saying that, I do like each of my homes to feel like a sanctuary where I can escape from the world but also to be a great place for entertaining; for having my friends over, turning on some tunes, pouring a few bevies and daggy dancing around the living room!

3. What are the elements that help you transform a house into your home?

I could feel equally comfortable in a shack or a house that has been highly styled as long as it has beautiful energy and great light. I love to fill my homes with vintage finds that I have collected from my years of travel. I have an obsession with mid-century pieces. I believe they hold some sort of memory and I swear if they could talk, they would tell some really interesting stories! I also love anything that has been hand made and imperfect, especially rugs and ceramics. I hate down lights (they are only useful for cleaning!). I prefer to set a softer mood by turning on wall lights, table lamps, floor lamps and the occasional pendant.

4. What creative projects find you most excited and energised?

Because I love to travel so much I get most excited when I have a project in a place that I haven’t yet explored.

Last year I was engaged to design projects in Kauai, Vanuatu and Byron Bay and the challenge of pulling together a house in each of these locations in one year really excited me.

5. Which life and/or work projects are you most proud of?

I am most proud of having an amazing family and group of friends, including clients who have gone on to become very good friends. Career wise, I am really proud of of winning Channel 9’s renovation television show ‘homeMADE”, designing Cameron Diaz’s LA home, and last year I was shortlisted for the Best Residential Home in the world, at the World Architectural Festival. But all that is worth nothing if you are not surrounded by good people.

6. Could you share with us some personal insights into a challenging time in your life?

There has been several challenging incidents in my life - one that may end up as a novel one day and the other as a script for “Hangover 4”! The other is a bit quicker to tell.

Before I became an interior designer, I was living in NY working as a successful fashion model. But after years of modelling and travelling, I found myself wanting to find a new career that was more creatively fulfilling. So I decided to return home to Sydney and shortly thereafter, I attended a fun day at the races with friends. However the day ended in tragedy when unexpectedly, someone drunkenly (but innocently) jumped on my back, pushing me to the ground, causing me to smash my face, break my nose and tear my lip. The next day I awoke in hospital and quickly realised that this disfiguring accident had also ended my modelling career, and I knew that the road ahead was going to be a daunting and challenging one.

7. What did you learn about yourself throughout this challenge?

I learnt that what may seem like a negative at the time, can be the catalyst for something positive in the future. I had moved back to Sydney wanting to change my career, and then this freak accident occurred and forced me into finding something that I really loved to do, and that is design. I just had to stay focused in finding something that fulfilled me and to keep the faith.

8. What type of activities or rituals do you instil to help you remain Grounded?

Going for an early morning coastal walk before work is not only great for fitness but also feels like meditation and is when some of my most creative ideas come to me. These past few months I have let that slip a bit due to work commitments but I really need to get back into it, not only for the mental benefits but also physically because my belly has grown considerably! There are two types of people that have emerged during Covid - the ones that got right into health and fitness and the ones that drank more wine, I was the latter!

9. What is the best life advice you have been given?

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

1. Be impeccable with your word,

2. Don’t take anything personally,

3. Don’t make assumptions and,

4. Always do your best.

10. Favourite travel destination for Grounding yourself:

Mykonos, Greece because of it is the perfect combination of blue ocean, stunning architecture, simple food and dancing on the sand in the afternoon as sun gets down.

11. One city must-do travel tip:

When most Aussies go to Mexico they go to the beach resorts like Tulum or Cabo - both of which I love but they don’t feel very Mexican. So when international travel opens up do yourself a favour and travel to San Miguel De Allende , a three hour drive north of Mexico City to get a real sense of the heartland and culture of the country. It has amazing European architecture, beautiful hotels and is home to a lot of artists and writers. My favourite restaurant is actually called “The Restaurant”. It somehow reminds me of the movie Casablanca.

For further information about Jase, please refer to his website at www.jasesullivan.com.au or follow him at @jasesullvian

Head shot by Florian Grey
Computer shot by Eszter + David

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