Wednesday, 3 September 2014


Sometimes the biggest hurdle with a venture is starting. But on 1 January, 2014 Crystal Bailey and her partner Mitchel Lindsay decided to take a big leap into designing and making homewares products even though their backgrounds were quite different. While Crystal had studied interior design and worked as a stylist, in a previous life she was a Tamworth-based musician, signed to Sony Music and EMI Records. Mitch, on the other hand, was the owner of a gourmet grocery store in Byron Bay. But when the pair met last year they set off on a whirlwind adventure that has seen them move to Sydney and launch Design Twins. In just over six months they have amassed a huge following and have turned their kitchen bench into a non-stop workstation. All of their creations - from concrete pillows and cups to plant pots and stools - are handmade in their beachside apartment. Here Crystal shares their story. 

Which five words best describe you? Crazy, unique, fun, wild, busy.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? It all started on the first of January this year, where our New Year’s resolution was to do something we loved and to start something different. After months of experimenting and working on unique designs with different materials, we became completely obsessed with concrete. Not long afterwards, we launched Design Twins at the end of May this year and since then life has been completely crazy busy.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Not to overcomplicate things, that sometimes the simplest things can be the most beautiful.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Being asked to teach a Concrete Class at Megan Morton's The School 22nd November.

What’s been your best decision? We launched our business with no products, which was a crazy decision, but if we didn't launch it, we probably would have kept putting it off. Stop thinking and start doing.

Who inspires you? Tom Dixon, Jai Vasicek (Ahoy Trader), Chanel and anything metallic geometric.

What are you passionate about? Creating fresh, unique and handmade designs.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Steve Jobs and Tom Dixon.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To open our very own Design Twins store.

What are you reading? Real Living magazine. Books are a rare occasion when we have time.

images courtesy of design twins

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Weaving and its many iterations has been gaining a place in the spotlight recently. Sydney artist Michele Morcos is one of the proponents for this intricate art form. While she creates works to exhibit, such as in her recent show at Chrissie Cotter Gallery, Michele also hosts workshops teaching others how to create woven bowls using recylced materials, including plastic bags, raffia, wool and fabric. You can see more of Michele’s work on her blog Tiny Trappings and through her Instagram feed.

Which five words best describe you? Colourful, passionate, creative, meditative, researcher.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I guess I’ve always been on a creative path, but the “career” bit has always been a work in progress. Everyone tells you there are no sustainable career pathways in the creative arts so I’ve never really focused on it. I’ve always viewed myself as an apprentice and kept doing what I love, and taken every opportunity that I can. From studying fine arts at COFA in the mid-90s, to working in galleries for 10 years, from exhibiting my work in group shows, and volunteering my time in amazing collaborative projects, it’s all been worth it. And I’ve learnt so much.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Be patient, ask lots of questions, be respectful and do your research about of others in the industry, and be innovative and brave with your artwork. It’s great to admire someone’s work, but try and find your own intuitive style of making a mark.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Every time I put together a solo exhibition I always stand back and say ‘Did I really just do that?’ It’s so so hard to create a large body of work and then put it out there.

What’s been your best decision? To keep going, and back myself.

Who inspires you? So many people. From professional artists to people who teach art to people in the community. I’m constantly inspired by people who are passionate and don’t listen to what common-sense, logic or society tells them they should do.

What are you passionate about? Art and nature, and being in tune with both. Colour, travel, music and sport (funnily enough).

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Mmmm…. Tough one. Maybe Gustav Klimt as I love his art and approach to mediation within his art practice.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To keep doing this and be an artist when I’m in my 80s.

What are you reading? When I was on holidays earlier this year I read Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, which was good but not as great as her earlier publication People of the book, which I still recommend to people when they ask for a favourite of mine. 

images courtesy of michele morcos

Monday, 1 September 2014


It was during his years as a photography assistant that Willem-Dirk du Toit talked himself into a corner. There was only one way out - to deliver on the job he had promised. He did that, and more. South African-born and Melbourne-based Willlem-Dirk has now been shooting as a photographer for the past decade, working with advertising clients such as Mazda, Telstra and Country Road. He has also travelled extensively, which he charts on his blog Cup of Concrete.

Which five words best describe you? Waterbaby, adventurer, obsessive, active, problem-solver.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? To be honest, apart from studying, I feel like I got my real career start from a white lie on a CV for an assisting job I applied for in Melbourne. It was about the amount of automotive photography experience I had. You see, I assisted a photographer in Johannesburg for a while and we did a lot of shoots for auto brands like BMW, Nissan, Renault and Isuzu. Only thing was that they were all conceptual advertising shoots, which never involved any actual car. Sadly the photographer did not want me for the job. He said I was over-qualified. Somehow his producer moved on and started a new job at a production company and took my CV with her. Lady luck shone on me and a couple of weeks later I found myself in Japan! However, my new employers soon discovered that I did not understand their photo jargon and I had little idea of what was going on. I guess after their investment in me they could not fathom the idea of sending me back. Fortunately this gave me almost two months to prove them wrong. The gig scored me just over two years of work in which I learnt most of my automotive photography skills and production knowledge. It set me up to land my next job at an in-house photography studio for Clemenger. Coincidentally, it was the same producer again. I’m very grateful for how she has helped me irrespective of my white lie. I guess I had to follow the “Fake-it-till-you-make-it” rule.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Positives attract. It’s not always easy to practice what you preach but it’s true. Being a freelancer you get these bursts of work. Sometimes it’s so busy that you can’t imagine it slowing down and you’re on top of the world, but once it slows down and sometimes stops, it’s only a positive attitude and being proactive which lands you that next job. Also, my dad always said, there is no such thing as a problem, only opportunities. It’s a great attitude to have.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I can’t really say I have any yet. I’m still pushing for that day to come. I’m never really completely contented with an artwork or a commercial shoot and when I am, the pride is very short lived.

What’s been your best decision? Moving to Melbourne in 2006. At the time I was just about to give up on photography and change careers, but in it’s own funny way Melbourne wouldn’t let me give up. The people who live here just won’t let any creativity die. I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given by the people of this great city.

Who inspires you? A couple of my close friends, who coincidentally are all women. I’ll list them one by one. Sonia Rentsch with her insane drive to succeed in her styling career and relocate to NY - keep an eye on her. Gill Hutchison who has gone from corporate city girl to coastal wonder woman punching home runs for Quicksilver global. My longtime friend Annemi Conradie who has inspired me since high school and guided me to follow my dream of being a photographer. Last but not least, my girl friend Sarah for never doubting me and always driving me to never settle for second best.

What are you passionate about? I’m extremely passionate about surfing and obviously photography. However, the past two years or so I’ve been passionate about the many ways people tell their life stories through the channels of design, architecture and nature.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? It’s a tough question but I love the idea of hanging with Helmut Newton at his Monaco apartment, drinking a martini. I guess I’d love to get some insight on how he managed to be such a ball breaker and always be successful.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? I’d like to one day follow in my dad’s footsteps and run the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. Also, I’d like to set up my career in such a way that I can live in any part of the world, especially Cape Town, and maintain (and even grow) my clientele.

What are you reading? I grew up in South Africa speaking mostly Afrikaans, so now I’m catching up on all the classics in order to understand the many references in today’s modern novels. I’ve just finished Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I persevered and enjoyed the dark, relentless drama, even after people told me the song is better than the book.

images courtesy of willem-dirk du toit

Friday, 29 August 2014


There are not many overnight success stories in the art world. It is a vocation that is perhaps best suited to constancy and consistency. “It seems like a slow and steady life to me,” says Holly Coulis, a Canadian artist who has called Brooklyn, New York, home since 1999. “That may be the way it is for many artists: spending time in the studio, making your work, meeting other artists over the years, finding people along the way who are interested in what you are doing.” There is recognition, though. Holly has exhibited in New York, Los Angeles and Detroit, as well as Canada and Switzerland. She also teaches and is part of non-profit gallery 106 Green.

Which five words best describe you? That's a difficult question. It really depends on how I am feeling at any given moment. Maybe stubborn, curious, intuitive, insightful, and I'll go with funny. I laugh at my own jokes all the time.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Well, I suppose it begins and ends with dedication to my studio practice. It's been years of showing up. I just keep showing up. And finding new ways to be involved with painting and with art in general. It seems like a constant conversation with myself about how to keep my work interesting to me. Spending as much time as possible looking at other people's paintings helps a lot.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Life is short and also long. It's important to try to stay captivated by the world.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Honestly, it was when I taught my first beginners’ painting class. It was very nerve-racking and I felt that I had nothing to offer these young artists. By the end of the semester, they had all grown as painters and artists. Also, being a part of 106 Green, a non-profit gallery started by Mitchell Wright and Ridley Howard in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We've shown a lot of artists' work and asked artists to curate shows there. It always feels like a real place for art and artists.

What’s been your best decision? To move to New York. To marry my husband.

Who inspires you? People who are dedicated to their vision and keep making/writing/doing what they love. And people who manage to keep the life in their eyes.

What are you passionate about? Music, painting, film, stories, humour, food.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Jacques Pépin. He seems hilarious and sweet, and I've seen him make a beautiful omelette on TV. There are other people who I really admire or am inspired by, but Jacques Pépin is someone I would actually like to sit down with. Preferably in a kitchen. Over some food.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'd like to write something good. And learn to play the piano.

What are you reading? I'm in the middle of Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

images courtesy of holly coulis

Thursday, 28 August 2014


Ingrid Weir was already living a full life before she joined the world of Instagram. She was well-known in the Sydney arts scene for her work as a set, costume and graphic designer in the theatre and on film. She has worked on a variety of projects from the big budget film Master and Commander to children’s television program Playschool. This was after graduating from Sydney University with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Architecture. Ingrid also spent a year at art school in San Francisco studying installation and jewellery design. Many of these skills have come into play in her side career as an interior designer. Notably she has designed a bar in Mexico for Fox Studios. And one of her most personal projects, giving new life to an old schoolmaster’s house in the old gold rush town of Hill End, has opened all sorts of other doors. Many of these she charts through her blog of the same name, and her popular instagram feed.

Which five words best describe you? I aspire to be… thoughtful, curious, open to learning.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied Architecture at Sydney Uni and then did a year at art school in San Francisco. Starting out I designed plays for independent theatre companies and that lead me to a job at the ABC designing Playschool. Since then I have ranged from costume design for the STC and various TV series to production design at the ABC for The Chaser’s War on Everything plus graphic design for TV and film, including Master and Commander. Recently I’ve expanded into photography, shooting a campaign for Samsung and my country place for Frankie’s Spaces 2 book. A film I did the costumes for The Little Death is opening in September and I am currently designing a retail space.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Be bold.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Designing and building "The Monkey Bar" in Mexico.

What’s been your best decision? To buy and renovate my cottage in the old Gold Rush town of Hill End. After years of working to other people's briefs, it was liberating to make up my own.

Who inspires you? People who find beauty and positivity in the world despite great hardship.

What are you passionate about? Finding a simple, meaningful way to live.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? The young Hemingway and the old Matisse.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'm working on a book that incorporates my writing and photography.

What are you reading? The rise and fall of great powers by Tom Rachman.

images courtesy of ingrid weir; portrait sal flegg


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