With more than 40 books to his name and a contagious passion for design, Stephen Crafti is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to Australian architecture.

Stephen shared his expertise at this year’s KBDi Design Symposium, taking delegates on a tantalising tour through Toorak, Prahran and South Yarra. With his commentary entertaining us as we weaved through the leafy suburbs, Stephen shared gems like the ones below before generously (bravely?) opening his own doors to 80 eager designers.

Wood Marsh Architecture designed this truly breath-taking Toorak residence. Spanning three street frontages, the home’s raw concrete walls curve in and around featured trees and lush landscaping, providing privacy and intrigue. An ‘out of world’ disc-shaped roof floats above the walls, strategically positioned to play with light and shade internally and externally.

Husband and wife team, John and Helen Holgar, established their architectural firm in 1957. The practice – Holgar and Holgar – was renowned for its high-end residential projects, and we were privileged to see their Modernist style up-close and personal during Stephen’s tour. The couple’s signature arc motif was evident in these glamorous abodes, and we were all left to wonder what design delights would be hidden inside!

Stephen’s own home in South Yarra is an outstanding example of ‘old meets new’. Designed by Robert Simeoni Architects, the house is an exquisite reconfiguration of a 1930s duplex. Ground floor and first-floor apartments, each with their own external access, were cleverly combined into a single residence. An extension added an impressive volume to the internal space, with the new materials (glass and steelwork) adding a striking contrast to the heritage exterior. The bathrooms were of great interest to our group: the selection of materials, colours and shapes were a respectful nod to the 1930s architecture of the original residence.

Our final tour stop was an exclusive visit to the home of renowned Melbourne-based architect, Stephen Jolson. The Prahran residence is a perfect execution of an industrial re-invention: the former confectionery factory façade hides a contemporary interior spilling with light, luxury and a surprising sense of warmth. We couldn’t take photographs of the home’s interior, but there’s no doubt we were all awed and inspired.

Huge thanks to Stephen Crafti for this wonderful experience, and to the session sponsor, Hettich, whose generous contribution allowed us this great opportunity.

What did our Members have to say about this tour? Here’s some feedback – straight copy and paste – from this year’s Symposium guests:

Loved it and gained a greater appreciation of the value of architecture. Also it was great to see how those that participated appreciated the experience.


What a great day this was. Getting into both of those homes and speaking with the architects involved was fantastic. His knowledge of architecture was amazing and his witty humour made it all so much more interesting.


2 very different houses, both inspirational, I was speechless after the Jolson House, and Ive been to Falling Water!


One of my favourite parts of the weekend. Really appreciate Melbourne architecture.


This took everybody out of their comfort zone and showed then that design is total, it is not just about our small areas. It also inspired us to think about time and great design.


I always love visiting houses and seeing different styles, and how people live in them. Certainly a good conversation piece with clients, with lots of ideas.



To learn more about Stephen’s architectural tours, email him directly at stephencrafti@bigpond.com.

(Images above courtesy of Darren Genner CKD Au.)