Feature Article

A Fascinating Glimpse Inside The Great Dane Apartment

Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Rose Onans

Australia’s love affair with Scandinavian design owes a lot to Great Dane and founder Anton Assaad, who in turn credits his passion for the design to his grandfather, a scientist who crafted his first piece of furniture at the age of twelve.

It is the formative years spent at his grandparents’ simple, open-plan farmhouse that inspired Anton to create the Great Dane Apartment – a fascinating space filled with some of his favourite pieces collected over the years, where friends, family and clients can stay or gather for a meal or event. Catch a glimpse into the apartment and the emotional connections in the space are immediately felt – it is not a showroom of the latest products, but a labour of love that finds great joy in curating beautiful objects, new and old.

Anton remembers the farm, which his grandfather built himself, as a simple yet incredibly warm and loving home filled with Australian-made, Danish-inspired furniture. His grandmother decorated the home with smooth-worn river bed rocks, soft grasses and flowers and spent time making her own preserved fruits and jams in the kitchen. “I spent a great deal of time here as a young man and it was very influential on me”, he says. “My grandfather was a retired scientist and taught my brother and I how to use a lathe and drive a tractor there – he was a very hard task master with a wicked sense of humour, but everything had to be done correctly and I think that’s what attracted him to Danish design.”

The Great Dane Apartment – a fascinating space filled with some of Anton’s favourite pieces collected over the years, where friends, family and clients can stay or gather for a meal or event.

The Great Dane Apartment features Anton Assaad’s favourite pieces, and is a beautiful space for friends, family and clients to gather for meals and events. Photography by Dave Kulesza & shoot styling by Bea+Co.

The Great Dane Apartment, then, is a space that translates the influential memory of place into a contemporary expression. Here you will find many of his favourite pieces, many vintage, sourced over his lifetime. Yet the space is remarkably uncluttered, reflecting its owner’s talent for curation. “I’ve always wanted to create a space that is reflective of not just Great Dane, but my own personal tastes as well. It’s a reflection of my passion for design and the pieces I love”, Anton says. “It’s a personal space that is indulgent and I love sharing it with our clients for events, as it showcases what we do best: curation and creating spaces”.

Yet while the Great Dane Apartment is undoubtedly the most deeply personal incarnation of Anton’s driving passion, it is not possible to separate these influences from everything that Great Dane do. From the Apartment and the products, to the showrooms in Melbourne and Sydney, each is indelibly linked. “I think that recreating the feeling of my grandparent’s family home has been at the core of Great Dane since the start – the products, the interiors and the emotion of what we sell”, Anton says.

The Apartment showcases Anton’s inspiring design collection of new and old pieces.

The Great Dane Apartment is a space that translates the influential memory of place into a contemporary expression.

One of Anton’s favourite pieces in the Apartment: A limited edition Spanish Chair in olive green leather and oak.

Photography by Dave Kulesza & shoot styling by Bea+Co.

Great Dane’s earliest incarnation was in importing vintage Scandinavian furniture, but as the business grew, Anton moved away from vintage and into new pieces. In this shift, however, the essence of what drew him to Scandinavian design remained unchanged. “We’ve gone from old to new”, he says, “but we’re very proud of the fact that we’ve maintained the integrity, beauty and soul of the old in this time. That’s the essence of Great Dane and always will be.”

The same passion and impetus that is keenly visible in the Apartment is felt in the other major spaces that Great Dane curates: the showrooms. The latest showroom, in Paddington, Sydney, with luxurious green carpeting and cement sheeting on the floor, heavily references Anton’s personal style. Designed in collaboration with Nicky Lobo and Great Dane Creative Director Megan Marshall, the Paddington showroom is said to resemble a Scandinavian forest, the green carpet reminiscent of the lush green forest environment. With this natural ecosystem as point of reference, it remains a translation of Anton’s original inspiration – the childhood memories of his grandparents’ family farm.

“That’s the essence of Great Dane and always will be.”

Photography by Dave Kulesza & shoot styling by Bea+Co.

In the Apartment, Anton’s inspiration is the place that began is love for Scandinavian design: his grandparents’ family farm.

This collection of furniture, art and objects would be a design-lover’s dream simply as fascinating museum of Scandinavian design in Australia. Yet by conceiving of it as an apartment, designed to be used for gatherings and events, as a space to welcome guests and a place to stay, Great Dane enable it to become much more than simply a beautiful collection. The Great Dane Apartment is special because as an apartment it is a living installation, which captures the true beauty of these design masterpieces – while they are beautiful, they are not simply standalone aesthetic pieces, but objects with a purpose. Alone, they are undeniably wonderful, but they become more than the sum of their parts through use and the love of the curator who brings them all together in deliberate order.

While they are beautiful, they are not simply standalone aesthetic pieces, but objects with a purpose.

Photography by Dave Kulesza & shoot styling by Bea+Co.

The Apartment is a concentrated reflection of the driving force behind everything Great Dane do.

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