Frank Condi has been my boss in one form or another for about a decade now; either as the guy who told me to ‘turn the bloody thing up’ when I was a resident DJ at Academy, or the man who asked ‘can you make that logo bigger?’ when I designed graphics for his clubs.
These days I more frequently hear him say ‘you know what you’re doing’ as I provide the music direction for his numerous local venues—including Shorty’s, Public, Provini, Little Brooklyn, Academy, Mr Wolf, Edgars and so on. You know, the places that have been growing our city’s soul and have become Canberra institutions in their own right?
Despite all the work we’ve done together, this was the first time that we’ve had a moment to have a good chat off the clock—and there was no better place to do so than at his Ainslie home.
I already knew Frank was a hard-working and driven hospitality business guy, an ex-DJ and a supremo rugby player, but I didn’t know he’s quite the family man and also has a superb eye for garden design and mis-matched interior style. And here I thought I was the only weirdo that liked to DJ at night, but prune roses by day. I’m sure there’s a story for a superhero in there somewhere … I might pitch it to Marvel.
Anyway, Frank’s place was purpose built for his family. The front section of the house is classic in the sense that it has a formal and mature element to it—you know, dark walls, a fireplace, and large chairs to sink into with a book (or a DJ Rose Man comic) and a glass of cognac. Looking at the detail, I noticed many items–like the chairs and an interesting lamp that was actually a 1920s elevator break in its previous life–are custom-made.
Progress through the front section of the house and it opens up into a family haven, complete with a large kitchen, awesome dining and a maze of kids’ bedrooms. I noticed throughout the home, the furniture ranges from modern pieces to super antique items, which makes it all incredibly interesting to look at. At that point Frank says ‘ah yeah, my wife keeps bringing home these old things, but half the time I’m not even sure where they are from.’
I think it’s all for good reason, since everything seems to tie together through colour, complementary shapes and good positioning. His wife’s habit reminds me of a cat I had once, which bought old things home… let’s just say an arrangement of bird carcasses weren’t really working with the décor.
At the very end of the tour, we had a run through the garden and despite being the kind of rainy winter in Canberra that makes you start wondering if to build an arc, Frank’s garden was alive with spring colour and fullness. My inner DJ Rose Man was really in his element among the structured and neat garden.
At that point I noticed a football lying on the grass. For a split second I freaked out, imagining Frank asking ‘so do you boys want to pass the footy around?’ Could you contemplate what would happen at the first tackle? I would become a permanent fixture pressed into his lawn. To avoid certain death, I said the manliest thing I could think of: ‘Well, it’s raining out here Frank, and I just did my hair, so we best be going.’
Why did I say that? I hope I still have a job tomorrow.
Words: Ashley Feraude
Images: Victor Tawagi