Hawthorn has always been a drawcard for families wanting to be close to some of Melbourne’s finest schools; Scotch College, Methodist Ladies College (MLC) and Ruyton are nearby, just to name a few. The suburb also includes some of the city’s most coveted housing, from the heritage-listed Grace Park Estate (between Glenferrie Road and Power Street) to the wide tree-lined Harcourt Street, the latter dotted with Victorian mansions on sizeable plots. Hawthorn Grove, Chrystobel Crescent, Mary Street along with Kinkora Road attracts buyers with very deep pockets. Those with a penchant for 1920s and ‘30s Californian bungalows will appreciate the architectural offerings on the Urquart Estate. And of course, there’s the prestigious St James Park Estate bordering the Yarra River.

Hawthorn isn’t the easiest suburb to explore given the size of the suburb, yet those living in Hawthorn gravitate to either the Glenferrie Road shopping centre or Auburn Village on nearby Auburn Road. The Lido Cinemas, complete with a rooftop outdoor cinema, is also a great starting point to reflect on the shop-fronts and residences along Glenferrie Road. As one shop proprietor points out, the historic 20th century facades above street level tend to come in threes. “Take a look at Pezzimenti Optometrists to see the impressed arched windows,” says Simone Pittella, Managing Director of Pittella, importer of some of Melbourne’s finest door handles, tap ware and basins, predominantly from Italy. In the same family for three generations, with the store designed by Hecker Guthrie, Pittella points out the three different types of handles: classical, contemporary and post-modern, the latter including door handles designed by the eminent Sergio Asti between the mid 1950s and mid-‘60s. For the ultimate in cleansing, there are the Murano glass basins.

Design books are stacked on the shelves at Pitella to allow a further taste of Italian design. However, if you are looking for a more extensive collection of books, from architecture and design to children’s books, there’s Readings bookstore nearby on the corner of Linda Cresent. The classical music heard throughout the store is also a reminder that Readings is also a destination for CDs.

For those with a little time on their hands, what better way to ‘kill a few hours’ than thumb through magazines, books, and CDs before having light refreshments in the café at the rear of the store. Other places along the shopping strip that go beyond the local patronage are Simone Perele Paris, with its gold-painted ceiling and French boudoir interior and Panache Flowers by Richard Eden, with its mirrored wall to reflect the impressive flower arrangements. Other buildings, such as the Art Nouveau-inspired dental surgery at number 781, literally encroach on the footpath with its two generous bay windows.


Those with an appetite for meat will most likely have discovered The Meat Cellar at 706, with its entire shop front window given over to the display of meat. As written above the display, ‘Dry aging is a traditional method of creating exceptional tender beef…”

While the Glenferrie Road shopping centre attracts people from further afield, the smaller, yet village-style Auburn Village, in Auburn Road, has a quaint Victorian feel. Some of the shops lining these street feature three-storey Victorian facades, virtually untouched since they were built in 1891. Some of these pristine buildings contain studios, offices and ateliers, offering some of the best views of Melbourne.

As well as fine patisseries and homeware stores, there are a couple of fashion secrets. One is ‘Lounge the Label’, located at 99 Auburn Road that stocks German label Annette Gortz and the other is Rundholz, the latter being one of my wife’s favourites. There wouldn’t be too many partners who could say they did a ‘Rundholz Tour’ of Berlin, Dusseldorf and even Antwerp in search of the latest Rundholz collections! There’s also Carmen Bianco’s own label, made in Melbourne.

Nearby is Scarlet Jones (number 95 and. The industrial-style fashion and homeware’s store features exposed brick walls and painted concrete floors. Cane armchairs from the 1920s and aged mirrors are used as props and form just a small part of owner Lynn Clay’s collection of objects d’art.

Rolls of fabric are propped against walls and original paintings are dotted around the space. Here you’ll find an interesting collection of designer clothes from Yoshi Kondo and Mina Perhonen, both labels from Japan. There’s also ‘Pero’, floral silk dresses and blouses from India. Clay’s own label of linens and cottons are under her label Metta Melbourne.

Hawthorn also has some great architectural gems, spanning from the late 19th century to the post World War II (1945). Many would have noticed the monumental Victorian home with a tower in Church Street (corner Mason Street). Thought to be designed by well-known architect John Beswick, responsible for Raheen in Kew and numerous homes and civic buildings in the locale.

Avant-garde for its day (circa 1890), the grand two-storey red brick and stucco home is a landmark, with French empire-style circular windows and gables. This house was restored and renovated by its owner, interior designer Caecilia Potter. The house also featured in the social realistic film ‘Blessed’ by Ana Kokkinos, a masterpiece of cinema.

Hawthorn also has some great architectural gems, spanning from the late 19th century to the post World War II (1945). Many would have noticed the monumental Victorian home with a tower in Church Street (corner Mason Street). Thought to be designed by well-known architect John Beswick, responsible for Raheen in Kew and numerous homes and civic buildings in the locale. Avant-garde for its day (circa 1890), the grand two-storey red brick and stucco home is a landmark, with French empire-style circular windows and gables. This house was restored and renovated by its owner, interior designer Caecilia Potter. The house also featured in the social realistic film ‘Blessed’ by Ana Kokkinos, a masterpiece of cinema.

If you happen to find yourself travelling along Riversdale Road, crossing Power Street, take the time to venture into Riversdale Court. There you will find a few architectural gems from Montgomery King & Trengove to architect Neil Clerehan’s modernist wonders. Nearby at 23 Morang Road, is a house designed by Dale Jones Evans, now a leading figure in Sydney. Completed in 1989, this house extensively features water extensively and received the Robin Boyd Award for Outstanding Architecture for a New Residence. In St Helens Road, also in Hawthorn, is a brutalist pile designed in 1982 by architect John Davey as his own home. Inspired by the Mexican architect Luis Barrigan, this monumental home is finding a new audience for purveyors of 1980s design, from Memphis to Philippe Starck. Towards the end of this decade in Denham Street, Jeff Provan, a director of Neometro, was renovating his family home. The early 20th century building still features its vibrant aubergine front door, a signal of the bright colour palettes that set the scene in colour for the following years.

Hawthorn still remains at the forefront of architecture and design, with many new homes designed by some of our leading and emerging architects. Venture into Barton Street, Hawthorn and enjoy seeing the mirrored façade of a new home designed by ADDARC. And don’t feel concerned if you take an unexpected turn or end up in a cul-de-sac. There will most likely be something waiting to be discovered!

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