The Nexus of the Modern Australian House


“Thus for the first time a genuine architectural circumspection was brought within the financial reach of the average owner…. Among the more notable enterprises was… a firm called Merchant Builders in Melbourne, which offered various designs of the architect Graeme C. Gunn.” – Robin Boyd, Australia’s Home (1968)

Imagine a time when houses conceived by a collaborative group of the best architects, interior designers, landscape designers and planners of the time were laid out for you to choose from. That’s what Merchant Builders set out to do back in the 60s – and we were there – a part of the Nexus of the Modern Australian House. In fact, our name was inspired by the “nexus” of designers and architects within the Merchant Builders group and to this day we are deeply proud of the integrity of our beginnings with such a likeminded group of professionals.


Below is an extract from “Merchant Builders & Nexus Designs” by Janne Faulkner AM:

Nexus Designs began as a manufacturing business for Merchant Builder kitchens in 1967. Until this time, kitchens were separate to the dining and living rooms. In Merchant Builders houses the kitchen, dining and family rooms became one, and were all connected to a courtyard with landscape designed by Ellis Stones. This flow of rooms was a distinctive Merchant Builders difference, and we kept the finishes minimal to enhance the simplicity of the spaces.

Commissioning furniture from leading Australian craftsman, including Leslie Wright, balanced the imported pieces, and antiques were used sparingly, specifically to illustrate to potential clients how their existing furniture could work beautifully within contemporary architecture. The simple patterns and bright colours of Marimekko fabrics, imported by Merlin Cunliffe for his Thesaurus stores, suited the houses perfectly and we used them for covering furniture and bedcovers.

Nexus Designs continues today as a successful design studio, following the pathfinding role in Australian design which was set by David Yencken and John Ridge.


Photographer: Unknown
Architects: David Yencken, Cocks&Carmichael, Graeme Gunn, Daryl Jackson Evan Walker
Landscape Designer: Ellis Stones
Planner: Tract Consultants


Further reading:
Merchant Builders: Celebrating a fifty-year legacy
Merchant Builders: Towards a New Archive
Robin Boyd Foundation