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ROB MILLS

“The more you focus on what makes a life special, the more chance you have
of designing something special to live in.”

WITH ROB MILLS FROM
OCEAN HOUSE

BEAR
INTERVIEW

Words

Zoe Cuthbertson

Photography

@saasha_burns
@sammy_leetham

Each Rob Mills property strikes the elusive balance between form and function; key for an architect that has dedicated his life and career to turning houses into homes with meaning. Almost three decades after establishing his eponymous firm, Rob Mills Architecture, he continues to push the boundaries — recently unveiling the first RMA residence, his family’s own beach house, to be offered as luxury accomodation. Staying at Ocean House in Lorne, Victoria, you experience firsthand Rob’s attention to craft, enduring design and his deep, abiding love of nature. Suspended between the forest and the ocean, Rob has discovered true harmony within the prime location — and like us, agrees that a weekend spent on the Great Ocean Road is never long enough.

Residence
Armadale, Melbourne and Woollahra, Sydney

Can you tell us the story behind Rob Mills Architecture + Interiors?
I wanted to create a direct connection between how we live, how we feel, and the experiences we have within the places that we call home. Traditionally, with office or commercial buildings the living experience isn’t as considered, so my formative years were spent focused on designing homes. As my work evolved and I established by own architecture firm, RMA, we became known for designing exceptional places to live.

What was the vision for Ocean House on Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road?
I have holidayed in Lorne all my life and wanted to create a holiday for my family to escape and slow down from our busy lives. I wanted to create a sensory experience, using beautiful materials and fabrics to achieve an effortless, serene place to unwind. Being able to live in a Rob Mills design was previously only possible if you owned one, now the world is discovering Ocean House they have the opportunity to experience our vision.

BEAR founder Saasha Burns at Ocean House, Lorne.

Great land is at the heart of all good living. How does this philosophy influence your architectural process?
We believe great land is the foundation of great architecture, interior design, art and objects which enrich our lives and enhance our living experience. Land is intrinsic to our work as designers. It’s influence over us, our clients and our architecture is long and lasting, that’s why we search for rare and unique land that will satisfies our client’s needs. In particular, we seek land that is as close to wilderness as possible, whether by the coast, within the countryside, or even surrounded by an urban environment.

Ocean House works so well within its coastal landscape, carefully balancing modern materials and nature. How does provenance inspire each project?
When inspired by provenance, you understand the landscapes place within history and can work on a more personal level; familiarity and understanding are key to choosing the land that we do. With Ocean House you have views of the forest one side and the other uninterrupted views of the rugged Great Ocean Road coast, providing a sense of rest and peacefulness amongst nature.

BEAR founder, Sammy Leetham. Great Ocean Road, Lorne.

How are you incorporating modern wellness within your current and future projects?
Wellness, a healthy building, with spaces designed to be truly liveable is a clear goal of the practice. The fundamental beliefs we value which result in a house that is a pleasure to live in, inspires and feels sheltered; warm in winter, cool in summer. Working across multiple yet connected disciplines; land, architecture, interiors and decoration, our designs help to create a way of life. The more you focus on what makes a life special, the more chance you have of designing something special to live in. For instance, with Ocean House I plan on staying a couple of nights, and I find myself spending all week. It’s something I need in my life.

As a true creative, what does originality mean to you?
Crafting pure design from raw materials. That’s originality to me.

What philosophy do you live by?
It’s changing. Originally, it was to travel the road alone and discover the way forward by myself. Now that I’ve succeed in creating what I have, my new approach is to open myself up to working with others; seeking to collaborate with talented people to create quality work with longevity.

What’s next on the horizon?
I aspire to work for another 10 or 15 years, then I want RMA to live on after me. To do that, I want to continue to refresh, push forward and be progressive.

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