The Langham brings Paris to Melbourne with The Residence by Kerrie Hess


PLANS for a large-scale renovations at luxe stayca venue the Langham Melbourne have been put on hold for a year or two. So, in the spirit of offering a fresh look and feel to regular suite dwellers and VIPs, the conveniently-located five-star digs have been given a facelift, compliments of talented Aussie fashion illustrator Kerrie Hess.

It’s a clever collaboration which perfectly pairs Hess’s pink, whimsical and feminine aesthetic with the Langham’s unfailing penchant for all things luxurious, elegant and fun.

“Fun” would include The Residence by Kerrie Hess “Designer Package” – the more exxy of two exclusive offerings – that gifts one guest with personalised dusty-pink silk PJs by smart Melbourne lingerie outfit KISSKILL. At $2200 per night, up to four guests can enjoy the two-bedroom suite which comes complete with spa treatments and a Season’s Harvest picnic hamper to be enjoyed in-house or in the nearby Botanic Gardens.

Further gifts include a bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne – rosé, of course – and couture-wrapped chocolates by Koko Black, also of Melbourne and further demonstration of the Langham Melbourne’s efforts to partner with and promote proven local talent.

Hess has peppered the self-contained suite with 14 of her images, including a specially commissioned piece fashioned in Dior style and set in the elegant confines of the hotel’s lobby. The work, featuring a couture model dressed in a pink ball gown, is reminiscent of other works Hess has produced with Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Net-a-Porter.

The Residence by Kerrie Hess includes a spacious living area complete with cocktail cart, and a well-equipped kitchen and dining room that seats four guests. Connecting doors offer access to additional sleeping arrangements.

Situated on the 10th floor deliberating offering views over the Yarra River to Melbourne’s CBD, one could easily picture oneself looking over the Seine to the Right Bank. Or not. You get the picture, though.

In fact, it’s such a good look that we think the luxury global chain should consider adding a Residence by Kerrie Hess to each of its properties across four continents.

The Melbourne suite will be available until Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

Of course, the Kerrie Hess images – and even the specially selected Residence Sealy bed – can be enjoyed at home from Flavours of Langham ( If you want to try before you buy, bookings can be made by calling 1800 858 663 or visiting


Are you off your trolley?

VISITING Sydney last month, I noted that the light-rail project that has rent the CBD asunder and created traffic havoc along virtually its entire length still is nowhere near finished. It’s just possible that by the time the first light-rail vehicle runs from Circular Quay, we’ll all be in automated cars already and the public transport system will be redundant – especially one that can only go from point A to point B on one predetermined route with no detours possible.

Sydney is facing what one might describe as a “trolley problem”, trolley being an old-fashioned term for “tram” – like those commonly seen in Melbourne – which seems to be fast becoming an old-fashioned term for “light rail”. You might be familiar with the philosophical “trolley problem” thought experiment. There is no right or wrong answer to this, but how you respond says a lot about your view of the world, and your moral and ethical outlook, so here we go.

There’s a trolley hurtling down a track, quite out of control, with 10 passengers onboard. If the trolley keeps going, it’s going to run over the edge of a cliff and kill every passenger. As an aside I’ve never understood why anyone would build a trolley track that runs over a cliff, but that’s beside the point. And speaking of points, there’s a set that you can operate by pulling a lever that will send the trolley on to another track and to safety, but on that track there’s a child playing with toys, and the trolley will run them over and kill them. Do you pull the lever?

‘None of this stuff is simple, and it has to be thought about before we turn automated vehicles loose on our roads.’

As I said, there’s no single answer to this problem and I don’t want to get sidetracked here by explaining why your response suggests you are a psychopath. The point is, everyone’s morals or ethics are different, which is why The Companion can be so entertaining because his essential world view swings wildly and unpredictably between an attitude that can be summed up by the word “meh” and the more extremely animated aspects of a combination of “OMG/WTF/you’ve got to be kidding me”. Something happens, flip a coin: he could go either way.

But anyway, the trolley problems – Sydney’s, and the thought experiment – have collided, though not literally, with the issue of automated vehicles as the designers of said vehicles grapple with the question of what “behaviour” they should build in. Say an automated car is chuntering down a road at a good clip when it suddenly and unexpectedly encounters a group of people on the road. If the vehicle ploughs into the people it will kill all of them. The only way to avoid the people is to steer off the road, but then it will hit a brick wall and kill the passenger. What should it do?

Unless you’re as erratic as The Companion, the way you answer this question should be close to how you responded to the original trolley problem. But the deliciousness of addressing this problem in real life is that you can get very different responses depending on how you frame the scenario.

What if the sole passenger in the automated vehicle is a pregnant woman on the way to hospital to deliver her baby? Are you more or less likely now to want to save her, and her unborn child? What if the passenger is a known paedophile out and about for no good – more or less likely to want to save him? What if the group of people are school children – more or less likely to want to save them? What if they’re cyclists? Less likely to want to save them, I bet. But you see what I mean. None of this stuff is simple, and it has to be thought about before we turn automated vehicles loose on our roads.

At least when a tram vehicle is skreeling along (a word which here I intend to mean that metal-on-metal sound tram wheels make on tram tracks), one of the elements of the trolley problem is removed: if there’s something in the way driver can’t decide whether to steer around it or not.

The more I think about this, though, the harder an issue it seems to be to solve. It might be such a tough one to crack that by the time philosophers and makers of automated vehicles solve their trolley problem, the NSW Government will have long solved its own.


Emotions run high in Rain Room work of art

THERE’S something immediately moving about first seeing the art installation Rain Room. Perhaps it’s the sheer scale of the work, consisting as it does of a 100sqm field of continuous rainfall. Yet there’s also something elemental in the presentation of the falling droplets of water backlit simply with a single floodlight.

The point of the immersive work is to observe human behaviour in our interaction with technology. Sensors are in play to make the millions of drops of water respond to the presence of those walking through them, stopping them from falling wherever movement is detected, and allowing participants to be fully immersed in the rain while being protected from it.

As humans, the thing we naturally do when we feel the first signs of rain – city folk, at any rate – is to pick up the pace, to run for cover.

Yet in the Rain Room, at any rate, that’s exactly what you shouldn’t do: in here, the faster you go, the wetter you get.

The installation’s in-built sensors do a good job of stopping the water flow in a metre-wide radius around participants. But there’s no escaping the gravity of the rain that’s already falling in front them. You’ll also have to contend with those who are in there with you, too, with 18 people admitted at a time – nine amidst the rainfall, nine watching from the perimeter.

When I first entered Rain Room in the new Jackalope Pavilion at St Kilda, my gut reaction was one of awe. It evoked immediate emotion, inviting contemplation and a reflective attitude. Perhaps it was because I was having a one-on-one encounter with the space. Or maybe it’s simply because I love the sound of falling rain.

Regardless, I’m not alone in being captivated by the global phenomenon.

‘Rain Room is a nice reminder that nature is ambivalent to our desires in many ways.”

More than half a million people have visited the installation since it started popping up in contemporary galleries around the world in 2012. Today, it made its Southern Hemisphere debut when it opened to the public in Melbourne.

Produced by London-based contemporary art collective Random International, Rain Room is “a nice reminder that nature is ambivalent to our desires in many ways”, says Random International spokesperson Jennifer Barnes.

“The idea of Rain Room is to explore how human relationships – with each other and with nature – are increasingly mediated through technology,” Barnes says.

Rain Room evolved when artisans within Random International were trying to make a mark-making machine where water would mark a reactive surface and leave a message behind.

“They spent so much time thinking about the mechanism of rain falling that they thought ‘What if we focus on that?’,” she says.

Random International founders Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass both had a fascination with being trapped in – and protected from – a rainstorm. And Rain Room is the result. The aim is to get people to think about their relationship with technology.

Rain Room is an artwork and an immersive experience, but it’s also a machine,” Barnes says. “And when a human walks into the machine, it creates an intuitive relationship where the water is turning off whenever the human is present.”

So while it gives participants a sense of control, Rain Room is controlling the speed at which they walk. It’s forcing them to make decisions about how they move through it. So control’s going both ways.

Patrons react to it in a different way based on their experience.

“And that’s the beauty of this,” she says. “is when people get wet their automatic reaction is ‘I want to go faster.’ And yet, that’s exactly what they shouldn’t do.”

Jackalope’s general manager of sales and marketing, Josh Olgilvie, says Rain Room exemplifies how the Jackalope Hotel group uses art in a pivotal role in the guest experience.

“And each Jackalope property has a very specific narrative that all of the art and design elements tie into it,” Ogilvie says.

Jackalope founder Louis Li first experienced Rain Room in Los Angeles a couple of years ago when it was showing at LACMA and has been trying to bring it to Australia since then.

“He was looking for a monumental artwork to bring to Australia that would form the centrepiece of the second [Jackalope] hotel in Flinders Lane, scheduled to open in 2022,” Ogilvie says.

Li describes Rain Room is the group’s most ambitious curation to date.

“The work represents the spirit of our hotels – an interplay between imagination, mystery and science,” Li says.

Rain Room has previously exhibited at The Barbican, London (2012); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013); the YUZ Foundation, Shanghai (2015); the LACMA, Los Angeles (2017); and at the Sharjah Art Foundation (2017). In Australia, it’s being presented with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).

Rain Room is housed within the Jackalope Pavilion on the corner of Acland and Jackson Street, St Kilda. Tickets, which are sold in 20-minute blocks, can only be purchased online. They’re on sale via Due to rapid sales, the installation has announced a limited second release of tickets, to go on sale for Friday, August 16, at 10am.

Rain Room is open seven days a week, Sunday to Wednesday from 10am-6pm and Thursday to Saturday from 10am-9pm.


Women Flock To Madam Wheels Luxury-Car Drive Event In Toorak

madam wheels

ARE you in the market for a new luxury car but are concerned the car market doesn’t play fair? Then speak to the specialists at private-client car-advisory service, Madam Wheels.

We’ll save you time, money and frustration and get you into the car of your dreams – and we’ll do it efficiently, privately, and free of stress to you. The best way to identify your perfect car will be to get you behind the wheel for yourself, to get you up-close-and-personal with different brands or models with appeal to find the best fit for your lifestyle, personality and sensibilities.


That’s exactly what a group of 18 spirited women did recently when they took part in a Madam Wheels Drive Day out of Mercedes-Benz Toorak.

Organised exclusively for female members and friends of Melbourne’s United Club of Business, the day kicked off with a driver briefing over coffee at the Mercedes-Benz Toorak showroom, positioned discreetly off Toorak Village.

Participants were introduced to several different cars across the Mercedes model range from the new Mercedes-Benz GLE to a high-performance Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster. This last car quickly became a favourite of the day among the lady drivers, who took advantage of the sparkling weather to drop the roof and show off their designer sunnies and head-gear as they wove their way through late morning traffic to the leafy beauty of the Dandenong Ranges, on Melbourne’s eastern outskirts.


Regular pit stops along the way facilitated car and driver changes to prevent FOMO. After a brief caffeine stop at the warm and rustic Piggery Cafe at Burnham Beeches, the convoy returned to the Toorak dealership before lunch at the hip-and-happening Baby Richmond. (Truth be told, this is where the fun began in earnest. But enough said about that because what happens on a drive day, stays on a drive day!)

A Madam Wheels Drive Day is an ideal solution for corporations seeking team-building outings for their female executive teams; they’re the ultimate bonding experience, putting women firmly in the driver’s seat.They also offer women who have worked hard to get where they are – in work and life – unique and engaging, entertaining and memorable opportunities to compare and contrast the performance and capabilities of the most luxurious cars on the market, to try before they buy.

A Madam Wheels Drive Day lets ladies judge cars for themselves without pressure from sales people. They’re able to weigh up the possibilities, the potentialities, the best fit for themselves in a live experience.Ultimately, Madam Wheels wants you to “drive the dream”, and to do so at the best possible price and with the most favorable conditions attached.

If that sounds like fair play to you, please give us a call. Let’s get you on the road to automotive happiness.

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New Base Porsche 911 Still Packs Plenty Of Punch

new base porsche

There’s something quite irresistible about the Porsche 911 platform. It involves an iconic sports car synonymous with performance while still offering smatterings of luxury and practicality.

The latest iteration of the 911 Carrera – now in its eight generation with the 992 – went live at last year’s Los Angeles International Auto Show. This week, the company introduced the base Carrera Coupe and Cabriolet which, if your pockets allow, are now available to order at your local dealership. Fuel economy and emissions regulations may have taken their toll on the latest 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six. But one suspects there’ll be no great loss, really.

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The new 911 Carrera is anything but an entry-level model, still coming with its legendary rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive driving dynamics. In wet conditions, that powerful back end is kept in check with an innovative assistance system called the Porsche Wet Mode for safer handling in the rain.

Power is handled by the new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. This gets the 911 Carrera Coupé up to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, with a top speed of 293 km/h. The sprint time will be a smidge faster with the optional Sport Chrono Package.Inside, the high-quality interior is sporty and sleek offering in-demand comprehensive connectivity and decorated with a 10.9-inch touchscreen display.

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luxury cars

The pricier 911 Carrera Cabriolet starts from $251,000, while the 911 Carrera Coupé starts from $229,500, before on-roads. Included in the price are Lane Change Assist, 14-way comfort seats with seat heating, BOSE Surround Sound system, digital radio, comfort access, metallic paint, auto dimming mirrors and reversing camera.

The cars are due for delivery around October 2019.

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