The heart of Surry Hills is the creative souls who inhabit it, those for whom ticking boxes is a waste of time. It's not about how far you've come: it's where to next. Influential. Original. Eclectic. Whoever, whatever, whenever: to live here is to love it. That's a constant.
Founded and run by Stephen Ormandy and Louise Olsen, Dinosaur Designs was conceived in 1985 when the pair were studying art together in Sydney.
Despite their incredible international success (Dinosaur Designs now has stores across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and New York), Louise and Stephen remain very hands-on and spend most of their time in their beautiful Surry Hills studio.
We found an amazing building that we felt reflected who we were as a business and as people… creative, welcoming and full of light.
Surry Hills has an old industrial history, so that means it has large studio lofts as well and compact city-living apartments, so it attracts a really creative community. There's a lot to be inspired by in this area.
I've seen the suburb go from industrial to residential - and with that came the opening of a lot of very cool cafés, great restaurants and retail stores. It's turned into a sort of hub where people come to eat, drink and shop - but it still has a little bit of that industrial grit to it, in a good way. The streets are always buzzing with people hungry to check out the newest place.
My favourite memories are probably from back when I was at art school - many parties and good times were had in Surry Hills back then.
It's where my studio is so it's more like a creative haven. There are also so many other creative businesses in the area, so just walking down the street, you can find a million things to be inspired by - even if it's just the smell of a good coffee being brewed.
I hope the creative community can still afford to be here. The people here are what give Surry Hills its soul, they're what make it such an interesting place to be.
We donate to the Redfern Foundation, which supports the Aboriginal community in the innercity. They do a lot of great work with helping local indigenous people build the skills they need to lead positive, productive lives.
Drinks and dinner with friends. Surry Hills is the kind of place that has so many fantastic options for eating out or having a glass of wine - it's almost a shame to stay in. It's so lively. I love Vini on Devonshire Street for the great food and wine - that's my go-to restaurant for a good night out with friends
All of them, because I love working at any time, in any weather. Our studio has the most beautiful light that pours in through the windows, so it is lovely when the sun's out. It's a very important place for us and we love spending time in it. It's a place of work but it's also very personal - almost like an extension of our home.
It's so central. You're so close to everything - the city, beaches, Centennial Park, Chinatown... you can walk almost everywhere. There's also a creative spirit in Surry Hills that you don't find in many other places - it's very raw and very rare.
Creative. Vibrant. Engaging.
Really yummy food and great service.
3/118 Devonshire St, Surry Hills
Neighbourhood by Sean McManus:
This café is fairly new but the coffee is brilliant.
16 Buckingham St, Surry Hills
They've had a revamp recently - it's a great place to unwind and have a drink.
412 Crown St, Surry Hills
Beautiful furniture and interior design inspiration.
66-72 Reservoir St, Surry Hills
This is where I come for a haircut - there's also a great café inside.
311 Cleveland St, Surry Hills
When the Nimrod Theatre building in Belvoir Street was threatened with redevelopment in 1984, more than 600 theatre lovers formed a syndicate to buy the building and save Sydney's most unique performance space.
More than 30 years later, under Artistic Director Eamon Flack, Belvoir engages Australia's most prominent and promising playwrights, directors, actors (including Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush) and designers to realise work that is dynamic, challenging and visionary. It's one of Australia's most respected and celebrated theatre companies.
I don't live here but I run a theatre company here, so I'm in the area day and night - which is what drew me to Surry Hills, that it's alive both day and night.
It's got a good variety of life about it - some quick, take-away eating and some fine dining, life in the streets and life in the theatre. And, of course, I love that one of the country's great theatre companies has a home on a side street here in Surry Hills. It's full of such wonderful surprises!
Look, that's what's wonderful about Surry - there are good little changes, but on the whole it still has that great flavour of life about it. A bit of grit, a bit of beauty, a bit of convenience.
Ha, yes, it involves a funny encounter with a bikie and a man on a park bench one lunchtime. It was a kind of welcome to Surry Hills for me, back when it was a little bit rougher.
I love the mix of old Sydney and new Sydney, and the mix of public and private life. It feels wonderfully lived in, and it makes me think a lot about the nature of community - what community used to mean, and what it means now. I love the cafés and small bars here, too - I'm always happy to see great new places opening up.
I'd like it to keep its variety of life, but I'd also like to see it become even more of a home to the arts and to artists. It already is, but I hope it only flourishes more.
Our theatre is a magnet for arts lovers, so we bring people to the area - and not always people who can afford to pay. And that's what I'm proud of about Belvoir St Theatre - that we invite our neighbours, that we bring kids from tough areas, and we gather people together to see stories. That's a special thing for any neighbourhood.
I'm sorry to keep harping on about Belvoir, but a standing ovation for one of our shows is the best night out I can have in Surry Hills. Otherwise I quite like a meandering conversation over an afternoon beer while the sun sets along Devonshire St.
Summer. I love to swim in the Albert Park pool at lunch, and read in the shade of the old avenue of trees. Beautiful.
The wonderful variety of humans and shops and parks... variety! It's the greatest thing of all.
New, old, and green.
Belvoir St Theatre:
Of course, Belvoir is one of my top picks. It's home to great actors from all over Australia, and my great passion.
25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills
The best Thai food I've ever had, and a menu of unique dishes.
1/50 Holt St, Surry Hills
Excellent Italian. Excellent.
3/118 Devonshire St, Surry Hills
Dove & Olive:
I love sitting in the corner windows of this pub on a spring afternoon.
156 Devonshire St, Surry Hills
Cook & Archies Café:
Great scrambled eggs, smooth coffee, terrific lunches, and the best croissants in Sydney.
4/14 Buckingham St, Surry Hills
Established in 2011 by Sydney-based husband and wife team Nicola and Orlando Reindorf, The Standard Store has a unique mix of handpicked labels from Paris' hippest ateliers, New York's undiscovered studios and London's most unassuming warehouses. The Surry Hills store (there's now also one in Melbourne) is curated to reflect the style fingerprint of the area.
I'm from Clerkenwell, which is a hip little suburb in central London, and we kind of wanted to recreate that type of inner city living in Sydney. We looked at Bondi, Balmain and Paddington but kept being drawn back to Surry Hills. It has great energy, grit and soul - it was an easy choice.
It's just like a village - a vibrant, cosmopolitan village. Everything you could possibly want - from food, art, fashion and education - is within walking distance. Sometimes I spend a whole week without getting into my car at all. When the best of everything is at your feet, in the one suburb, why leave?
There's been a major gentrification of Surry Hills since I first moved here 16 years ago - in a positive way, and it's been phenomenal. This suburb just has so much going for it.
The Surry Hills Festivals are always memorable, with camels walking down the street and all sorts of amusing things going on.
Surry Hills is a real melting pot. You've got Indian food, Caribbean food, fine dining, Asian street food, old and new communities - it's a never-ending list, there's just so much diversity.
I'd hope for the grass roots authenticity of Surry Hills to stay and remain as it is - for the art scene to keep thriving. Clover Moore has done great work with expanding and improving parks in the area - I'd love to see more of that.
We support local kindergartens and take part in their annual fundraising events, and also donate to the Salvation Army on Crown Street. I think having an open shop also really adds to the community - people come in, mingle and interact.
It'd start with a dog walk in the morning - we have a park just outside our home, and Surry Hills is a really dog-friendly suburb, which is great. Then I'd spend some time at the store, followed by a cheeky lunch at either Vini or Toko. I love going for a swim at Prince Alfred Park in the arvo, and sunset drinks at 121BC. Catching a show at The Belvoir in the evenings is also really nice.
Definitely late Spring - I love seeing the Jacaranda trees pop.
Ultimately, its liveability and walkability. It's a multi-faceted, multi-cultural melting pot of diversity.
The Standard Store. Joking. I'd say: urban, liveable and energetic.
This is the place to go for an extensive list of fine Italian wines – all handpicked by the sommelier..
4/50 Holt St, Surry Hills
Of the many excellent gyms and fitness studios in Surry Hills, InYoga is my favourite for its great variety of classes.
115 Cooper St, Surry Hills
This store has the most exquisite, eclectic homewares – I love going in and having a browse.
674 Bourke St, Redfern
A small corner café that’s close to work – this is where I get my coffee.
536 Crown St, Surry Hills
Seriously tasty Thai food and a great ambience.
1/50 Holt St, Surry Hills