OF SENTOSA DESIGNS
Photography Steven Foster
Words Bly Carpenter
If your dream interior is inspired by colonial and plantation influences (think India Hicks’ Bahamian home and Alanna Smit’s northern beaches abode) you need to know Amanda Cameron-Lennon and the treasure trove that is her Double Bay store – Sentosa Designs – a showroom for Amanda’s furniture range of the same name.
Amanda’s talent for creating beautiful, timeless interiors has seen her design services in demand by the owners of some of Sydney’s most prestigious properties. Her Sentosa Designs furniture range, an exceptionally well-curated collection of elegant plantation-inspired pieces, is arguably unrivalled in Australia and considerably more competitively priced than international collections of a similar aesthetic.
Somehow, between running her Double Bay store, attending client design briefings, managing her Sentosa Designs furniture empire and being a mother to three beautiful boys, the warm and engaging Amanda found time to chat with The Rhapsody and guide us on how to cosy-up colonial, beach and plantation inspired interiors during the colder months.
What inspired you to create Sentosa Designs?
Sentosa Designs evolved quite organically. The starting point was my former resort business in Bali. During a family holiday in Seminyak many years ago I became inspired to create a boutique, upscale, luxury resort that championed a modern take on tropical chic design. Let’s just say that once I put my mind to something there’s generally no stopping me! The next few years were consumed with building and designing Sentosa Private Villas in Seminyak, Bali. Once my boys were due to start school we sold the resort [now Peppers Seminyak] and returned to Sydney. I was passionate about continuing the style the hotel championed and confident that it would resonate with the Australian market. I decided to produce a furniture range in line with the hotel aesthetic – and Sentosa Designs was born.
Who or what are your key design influencers?
For Sentosa Designs I draw most of my inspiration from tropical living – that seamless indoor-outdoor flow, use of natural materials and pieces that are timeless yet undeniably ‘island-luxe’ in their appeal. I’m also very inspired by Ralph Lauren – his design aesthetic is very much in line with what I celebrate – classic, elegant, timeless yet bold in its use of colonial, African and plantation influences – as is his use of texture and layering of tones against a neutral colour palette. I find this style and palette never dates – it’s classic, comfortable and inviting.
I’m very much inspired by the natural environment – obviously living in Bali for so many years has significantly influenced my style, and likewise our lifestyle here in Sydney is a huge inspiration for me. I love bringing the outdoors in – my signature is real tropical foliage in the way of palm fronds, elephant ears and Monstera leaves en masse in oversized vessels. You will never visit Sentosa Designs showroom in Double Bay Sydney and not find tropical foliage, even in the dead of winter!
Personally, I am very much influenced by my parent’s style. My mother was an interior designer and my father is a property developer. While I was growing up we traveled for months at a time to beautiful locations – Hawaii, the USA, South America, Africa and Egypt. Seeing and experiencing so much of the world from such a young age has certainly influenced the ‘world traveller’ effect I like to introduce in my interiors.
Have you always worked in interior design?
No! However I’ve always loved design, art and photography and was studying a BA in Design at Canberra University before I accidentally fell in to modeling. I accompanied my boyfriend at the time to a Twisties shoot; the director spotted me on set and decided to feature me in the commercial. This director then cast me over and over again in commercials and I found myself back in the modeling world I was first introduced to at the age of eight, when I was cast as the Colgate girl with Mrs Marsh!
My design studies were put on hold for the next few years as I modelled full time. At 21 I opened my own modelling agency, Amanda Cameron Management, and my experience in creating, building and branding that business proved invaluable when the time came to establish Sentosa Designs. After many years of running the agency I was approached by a potential buyer. The difficult decision to sell the agency proved to be the right one, as this enabled our family’s move to Bali and, eventually, the formation of Sentosa Designs.
What are your five essential elements for bringing warmth to a colonial styled room?
Just as with fashion, if you start with a classic canvas any room can be trans seasonal, simply by introducing the right accessories.
Candles are a must – look for styles housed in a marble vessel or with a wooden base to bring more warmth to your colour palate.
Green foliage can continue to act as an accent throughout autumn and winter. Opt for masses of gumnuts or succulents, but add warmth to the equation by replacing your glass vase for a more textured vessel, such as a concrete pot or a giant shell or clam.
Cashmere, goat hair or fur throws bring warmth and texture to your space. For a truly unique accent try adding a longhaired Himalayan goat throw to the back of a chair or lounge.
Neutral-toned linen lampshades are a softer, warmer option than white and bring more warmth to a plantation or colonial styled room in the colder months.
African safari styling is a fabulous way to make a room feel immediately cosier and more interesting – the kind of space you want to curl up in with a good glass of champagne. Bring depth and interest to the room with quirky collectibles such as brass animals, leather accents in the form of cushions and folding side tables and vintage accessories such as retro cameras and binoculars.
What are five interior objects you simply cannot do without?
- Live foliage
- Coffee table books
- Tribal/ ethnic collectables with a rustic feel
What is your design ethos?
Trust your gut instincts – if you love it buy it, if you’re unsure, don’t. I love mixing luxe with rustic soft feathers and round objects with geometric. I always incorporate both masculine and feminine shapes and accessories into a room to give harmony to a space. I love fossil stools as side tables in my interior space – they are thousand-year-old logs that look like marble, each one is unique and so beautiful.
If you could sticky beak inside the homes of the rich and famous who would top your list?
There are two – I can’t choose! Ralph Lauren’s Montauk abode and India Hicks’ Bahamian family home. I’d love to peak inside the mansions of the rich and famous in the Hamptons and Aspen but I’m equally as intrigued by the more modest, classic weatherboard cottages of Sydney’s Palm Beach and Pittwater. They have such charm and are the perfect relaxing beach vibe for a holiday retreat.
Follow Sentosa Designs on Instagram ~ @sentosadesigns | Some gorgeous pics below…
Sentosa Designs, 334-336 New South Head Road, Double Bay. +61 (2) 9327 4777
W: www.sentosadesigns.com | E: Amanda@sentosadesigns.com | Instagram: @sentosadesigns