Christophe Coppens, Plexi Mirror Hat, 1996.

Christophe Coppens is a man of many loves. He started in the theatre and studied at the Brussels conservatory. During this period he directed something like five productions. One of these productions needed hats, so he took lessons in making hats from an experienced milliner. Fascinated, he went more deeply into the hat-making business. In no time at all he had finished his first collection, which attracted the attention of individuals such as Kaat Tilley and the press generally. A show in Paris followed.

As time went on, he started to distribute his collections round the world; innovative materials, structures and the use of colours became his trademark. Even famous fashion houses called on his services.  

The making of hats continued to interest him, but as time went on Coppens’ attention was drawn in other directions. For example, his deco-line was received more than enthusiastically. He always uses the very best craftsmen for this work. The theatre too is never far from his thoughts. From time to time he still works on a production (e.g. The House of the Dying Mermaid at the K.V.S. in Brussels) and is regularly called on for costumes. Because he is busy with so many different things at the same time, Coppens has developed a style that is entirely his own, in which one activity constantly fertilises another and the boundaries between his different activities become increasingly vague. It seems highly likely that his future activities will range yet more widely.

Travel, trouble, music, art
a kiss, a frock, a rhyme —
I never said they feed my heart,
but still they pass my time.
Dorothy Parker



Established in 1984, Tilley’s Devine Cafe (located corner of Brigalow & Wattle Streets, Lyneham ACT 2602, Australia) is one of my favourite spots in Canberra for a weekend feed.

First impressions are pretty delightful here - you cannot help but feel as though you have just entered an old jazz bar somewhere in rundown Manhattan. It’s charm is instant and there is a undeniable sense of familiarity and warmth.

The interior is dark and moody… with a deep burgundy colour scheme throughout, worn out dark carpet at foot and dimmed lights above. There are hints of colour in the scattered, large palm plants and tarnished gold fittings and the space feels large and homely with the presence of mirrors on wall faces.
Seating; there is the choice of large round tables, benches, or old fashioned booths, revealing hints at the darker secrets of the cafe’s social history. The tables are stripped back and raw, as are the old purple curtains that provide privacy or light in each booth. Essentially there is nothing overstyled, unnatural or clinical to Tilley’s styling which is quite refreshing.

To the very left of the restaurant is a stage, presenting a centered grand piano and overheard spotlights. Tilley’s hosts some local and national musical and comedy talent occassionally, but the piano stands as a reminder of the rich history of its once happening night club days. The vinyl on the bathroom floors; a black and white stacked cube pattern, is also a strong nod to 80s/90s interior design.

Tilley’s warm banana bread with cream or chilli salt & pepper squid are among my favourites on the menu. However, it is ultimately the strong and almost indescribable character that this restaurant possesses that brings me, and many others back on a regular basis. Customers range from studying students, young large families, business collegues and older couples. I think it could be fair to say that these people are all quite grateful for the fact that they are welcome to stay as long as they like at Tilley’s, unlike similar restaurants and cafes which are often quick to turnover their customers and hunt them out the door.

Tilley’s interior has an effortless charm that ultimately could not be replicated and I consider it to be a great design inspiration.

Photographs sourced from Tilley’s webpage, used for educational purposes - CC.


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