Friday, 12 February 2016

DESIGNER SARA LUNDGREN








As part of her upbringing in Sweden, Sara Lundgren was always surrounded by design. And she was always building or creating something. “There is something special about designing pieces for homes, as objects you are surrounded with help set the mood, and express individual style,” she says. However, when Sara landed in Australia seven years ago, it was as an exchange student while she was studying international business. While she fell in love with the natural surrounds - and warm climate - and settled in Bondi Beach, she initially took a corporate path with her career. After working for a small digital agency for a while, Sara took the plunge and launched her own design and homewares business Zakkia at Life Instyle in 2014. “I had not shown the collection to anyone before the show, and having never exhibited before, I had no clue what to expect,” she says. “It was a bit nerve-wracking, to say the least.” But the response to the collection was instant, and overwhelmingly positive, she says. “It was amazing so see people’s confidence in the brand from the very beginning. That was when I knew that Zakkia would work.”

Zakkia will be exhibiting at the upcoming Life Instyle Sydney event. Register now to attend and explore Happiness By Design. The trade event runs 18-21 February at the Royal Hall of Industries and Hordern Pavilion.

This post was sponsored by Life Instyle, an event I have attended many times over the years. All editorial content was produced independently. Thank you for supporting businesses that help to make Daily Imprint possible. - NW

Which five words best describe you? Determined, creative, sun-loving, passionate, motivated.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied international business and marketing at university and worked in corporate marketing for a few years after my studies. I then transitioned to work at a small digital agency where I was fortunate to work with many small online retailers on their marketing and ecommerce strategies. It was during this time the inspiration grew to create something of my own.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I feel like I learn new things every day with Zakkia, and that is one of the best parts of this journey. I definitely think a big lesson is just to stay true to who you are, and if you take the plunge and follow your passions great things happen.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Every time we launch a new collection is a very proud moment. There is a huge sense of satisfaction in seeing designs and products that you have been working on for a long time all come together into a complete collection. Our photo shoot days for our catalogues are usually the first time we see all our new pieces nicely presented together as a whole, and it is my favourite time of the year.

What’s been your best decision? Just taking the step and deciding to launch Zakkia - there has been so much work, late nights, long weekends, ups and downs - but I have not regretted one second of the time spent. Another big decision was when Zakkia grew and I had to make a decision on expanding the team. It is definitely a big step and commitment to bring new people on board to a relatively new and growing business. I’m so glad I decided to do this early on. Zakkia would not be what it is today if it wasn’t for the amazing team we have here.

Who inspires you? Australia has a lot of inspiring female entrepreneurs. I’m also very inspired by the incredibly skilled artisans we work with in Vietnam for the production of our collections. When I started Zakkia, I made a conscious decision to only work with small, family-owned producers for our products, and to have them handmade. One of our ceramics partners is a family-owned studio, which are now ninth generation ceramics masters. These artisans have such a passion for their trade and there is such a long tradition of skills that have been passed down through the generations. Every time I come back from a trip to Vietnam I always feel very inspired - we are so lucky to get to work with such an amazing team over there.

What are you passionate about? By working with our team in Vietnam I have learnt so much about traditional pottery and ceramic techniques, and this is something I’m very passionate about. Having products mass produced in a large factory will save on costs, but there is something so special about a ceramic mug that has been handcrafted using techniques that have been passed down through generations for the last 900 years. When you know how much time and passion goes into making each and every product it is not hard to appreciate the value of handmade products.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Zakkia is actually named after my grandmother, who I only got to meet once at a young age before she passed away. I would love to meet her again.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would love to be able to buy a house to renovate and create my dream home.

What are you reading? Lots. On my bedside table at the moment is a Swedish novel called Jag heter inte Miriam by Majgull Axelsson, gifted by my sister, The Monocle Guide to Better Living, also a Christmas present, the Collective Hub Magazine, and stacks of various home interior magazines.

images courtesy of zakkia; photography sam mcadam-cooper [interview]

Thursday, 11 February 2016

CERAMICIST IVY WEINGLASS







Ivy Weinglass has a long creative curriculum vitae. She has and continues to variously call herself an artist, stylist, set and production designer. But two years ago, after receiving the gift of a ceramics class from her parents, she has found her feet making hands (with her hands). Initially she created ceramic wares for fun. “And then I realised that I was as content and happy as I had ever been, and why couldn’t I make that a full-time thing?” Ivy says. “So I just was like, ‘let’s try it’.” Then the orders came in and started to overwhelm her a little. “That’s when I was like, ‘Oh, it’s not just me who wants to do this - people want me to do this.’ And that was pretty cool.” After growing up partly in New York City and then on the other side of the USA in Santa Monica, Ivy is based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where she makes her wares under the name IIIVVVYYY.

Which five words best describe you? Have you heard of The Birthday Book? It takes the day of your birth and through astrology - shhhhh all you haters out there - and gives a rather in-depth and scarily accurate personality overview. They also have it for relationships and damn is it right. But, anyway, they give you your traits for the day so in lieu of me having to choose my own traits this is what the Birthday Book has said are the six words to describe the traits for people born on July 6th: Attractive, intent, involved, obsessive, stuck, addictive. Sounds pretty right, especially when I view it through how I am about my work. 

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I made my career start and I’ve just kept going forward ever since. If things feel a little static or plateaued, I panic, so I keep moving forward. Sometimes I have no idea what my next step will be but so far every time I’ve leaped to something a little out of my reach it’s been the right way to go.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? It’s not always going to be sunshine and happiness from everybody around you just because you feel so sunny and happy and excited. I learned that very early on by a horrible experience that took the wind out of me and made me so sad and scared to move forward. But after a few days of that feeling I realised I was doing something that truly felt right and I knew in my heart was good so I brushed that experience off and moved on. Now I try to be positive and grateful and a cheerleader for the people I know - and don’t know! - who create because it’s better to be that than negative and cynical. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? All of it? Is that cheesy to say? I’m just proud of myself for finally finding something that actually makes me feel good about what I’m doing.

What’s been your best decision? Every time I believe in myself a little and take a scary jump - like get myself a larger studio or buy some expensive equipment - is when things start happening, which is directly because I allowed myself to believe it could happen.

Who inspires you? My mom and dad. They are so different in so many ways but I like to think I got the best of both worlds from them. And their support is the most important thing I get.

What are you passionate about? Living in a way that feels right for who I am. So many times I’ve tried to fit myself into a life that wasn’t accurate to who I am as a person. That’s just growing up and figuring things out, but the second I started living the way I was supposed to - even just a crumb of that - I could tell it was right. Now I have a much better vision of what I need and how I need to do it to live, so I’m passionate about just staying that course. And avocados - I seriously love them.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I think it would be pretty cool to meet my entire ancestry line. So cool but so exhausting. Also I was always a little obsessed with Rasputin so I think that would be an interesting albeit terrifying person to meet.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Oh god, I have so much more I want to create and make. The dreams never stop - they shouldn’t! There should always be something more you’d like to accomplish. I just want to expand and get better and come up with wackier and crazier ideas. I want to immerse myself fully in this lifestyle and not think twice about it.

What are you reading? I just finished Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and I just want to go back in time and read it again for the first time. I finished it in 24 hours. I couldn’t sleep or do anything except read. It’s that good. I may read it again soon because I miss it.


images courtesy of iiivvvyyy; photography suzi sadler and kim facile [interview] (4)

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

DESIGNER + MAKER LAKSMI WILSON








Laksmi Wilson has always focussed on the art of storytelling. For many years, she toiled away writing creative stories. However, it wasn’t until after becoming a mother that she found an altogether different type of story to tell through her homewares business Copper and Cross. Byron Bay-based Laksmi believes that products made by hand are more than an object. They tell a story, and carry a feeling. And creating craft-based wares was satisfying and addictive in a way she hadn’t anticipated either. “When I started down this path I had no idea I could be adept at it or that I was capable of teaching myself to be creative with my hands,” Laksmi says. “I was hooked immediately though - the therapeutic nature and the satisfaction of watching an idea be realised in a tangible way is so addictive.”

Copper and Cross evolved through a process of Laksmi showing her wares to a friend who had business experience, and gaining a lot of advice. “Whenever I feel self-doubt or weighed down by the business side, I go back to the beginning,” she says. “I sit down and weave, and whether it’s the creation or the meditative aspect, I can always access the confidence in the business I need afterwards.”

Even though Copper and Cross has only been up and running for six months, Laksmi says she's ready to take the next step and show her wares to a large audience at the upcoming Life Instyle event.

Register now to attend Life Instyle Sydney which explores Happiness By Design. The trade event runs 18-21 February at the Royal Hall of Industries and Hordern Pavilion.

This post was sponsored by Life Instyle, an event I have attended many times over the years. All editorial content was produced independently. Thank you for supporting businesses that help to make Daily Imprint possible. - NW

Which five words best describe you? Analytical, competitive, empathetic, inappropriate, perceptive.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Before starting Copper and Cross my main interest, and torment, was creative writing. It’s all I had ever imagined doing vocationally but strangely, directly alongside my sense of fulfillment and purpose was a wearying feeling of guilt and pressure - the unfinished stories, the juggle between inhabiting the physical world and the intangible/storyteller world, especially as a mother - led me to pursue a more physically creative outlet, which I had no idea I was capable of. I had actually set out to make a plant hanging but on a whim and a whimsy I got out some paddle pop sticks - yes, the prototype! - and made a “God’s Eye”. The cross shape grew around it, as did everything else.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust your instincts. We can always feel it - the right move, the right person, the right product. I’m still learning it but you have to trust that initial feeling - the more you do, the more you can hone and perfect it. Also just being kind to people. Most of my business moves have come at the hand of the kindness of strangers and friends in giving me advice. I can’t ever see a reason not to be open and transparent to help anyone else along the same path.

What’s your proudest career achievement? There are highlights that have been a success for the business and highlights that have been a success for me personally. Anytime there is any feedback on our products - that’s a highlight. It’s an honour every time somebody chooses our products; to have them beautify their house with it, to make people happy and feel that resonance. To have people love what you love to do is an expanding, humbling experience. It’s a very vulnerable-making venture - putting your passion and labour on display, you really have to get over yourself, but making yourself vulnerable, and I felt this magnified when becoming a mother, is like some kind of gateway to feeling connected to the world. It floods in.

What’s been your best decision? I spoke abstractly before about trusting your instincts but to speak more pointedly about it - one of the best decisions I made was to follow through on my idea of our hand-poured candles in sealed tin cans. I was so excited by the idea when it initially struck but it took a lot of problem-solving to make it work and there were times, and as more time passed, that I doubted the product and had to endeavour to recall my initial excitement and trust in that. The finished product is something I truly love - I never tire of looking at them, and every surface of my house/studio is covered, and I’m so glad I never gave up on the idea.

Who inspires you? The people around me. I am unbelievably lucky to have friendships in this area with roots back to our childhood of women, men, mothers, fathers all invested in similar vocational, creative, entrepreneurial paths. It’s vital for me to get together with these people, who have all grown their own businesses and family and to be able to connect on all levels - the triumphs, the failures, and perhaps most pertinent, juggling a family life! Similarly, Byron Bay itself - I strongly believe that the value of good quality handcrafted products is second to none and this area is rife with artisans who feel the same way.

What are you passionate about? Literature, motherhood, friendship, analysing everything, being truthful, critical thought, words, the pursuit of objectivity, the futile nature of that pursuit, laughing. On an aesthetic level I’m attracted to things that have a story, a point of difference, the things that you see and no matter the price you can’t walk away from it. It’s that resonance, evoking an emotion of familiarity or excitement, whatever it is that says something to you about your story, your world - exterior or interior.

There is something so addictive about the quality and practice of products actualised from human hands. Love. Life essence. Story. Whatever you call that quality that you get from handmade products - that's the emotion that will guide you towards creating a home that makes people feel good, not just look good.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I love running my own business and using my hands, creating things for people’s homes - so I can’t imagine I’d ever want to trade in what I’m doing right now. Also, this is going to sound corny but honestly being a mum is just the greatest, most soul satisfying thing I have done or can imagine doing. It is obvious and it is maybe an easy answer but it’s also true. 

What are you reading? A ton of unfinished books - who has time?! The last book I finished and loved was Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.


images courtesy of copper and cross

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

DESIGNER MARJOLEIN DELHAAS







Marjolein Delhaas is a Dutch designer whose passion for office supplies has turned the light back on her graphic design work. The two are inextricably intertwined. Twelve years ago she started to bind blank books by hand. It was to experiment. “But now if I think thoroughly, there might have always been a modest dream of creating my own line of office items,” she says. “Since I can remember I have been pasting and glueing paper. I can remember my mama always saying, ‘give her scissors and a pile of magazines and she’ll be over the moon’, if someone asked what to give me for my birthday. So it seems like it was obvious I ended up doing what I do today, but funny enough it wasn’t that clear to me at all.”

Growing up she wasn’t aware of careers in fields such as graphic design. “Maybe because professions in the design industry weren’t that obvious as they are today,” she says. “I suppose there was less information available. It was before commercial television and programs like ‘how to become world’s best stylist, fashion designer’.” Instead Marjolein studied drawing and art history. “Through those lessons I discovered a different world, and got introduced to schools where you could learn to draw all day long,” she says. “The idea of that gave me great inner peace and I followed that feeling.”

After Marjolein started her own studio in 2006, she started to create and bind books. When they sold well, her side project soon turned into a serious business. But she is conscious of keeping it manageable, and focussed on design rather than sales. Since creating the range she’s had offers to design books and bespoke office products though.

While Marjolein has ideas to develop new items - pieces that she cannot find - they have to be based on her design criteria. “Meaning the right functionality combined with that certain radiance of bold but refined typography, white space and the tactile feel of paper,” she says. But Marjolein doesn’t want to feel pressured to create new products. “I want to develop an item when I think it adds something new to my portfolio, to my work as a graphic designer,” she says.

“The fact that ‘stationery’ has become a real trend in the last two to three years makes it easier to decide to stay small. I am not fond of trends, they come and go and I don’t want to be labelled as a stationery designer. In one way the success of my planner/s may be partially to thank for this trend, but on the other hand it was appreciated long before paper goods became mainstream.”

Which five words best describe you? A person full of contrasts.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I got the chance to take a good look in the kitchen by taking the job that I was offered after art school. And another one after that. Learning on the spot, in real time while working on projects that I knew I would not be able to do straight away if I had started on my own. I made books, and worked for both commercial and cultural clients. Being opinionated, becoming eager to do it all myself, learning about my weak spots and what I do best, developing a specialism, and thinking I could do it better, resulted in working for myself. Of course, looking back now and then and seeing how stubborn I was at that time makes me realise how patient the ones I worked with were. But it was exactly that what brought me to where I am today.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? That in the end it is just another job - you can do the job from 9 to 5 and in 4 or 5 days a week if you want or must: the pressure of a deadline can even help to force yourself to focus. It is a lot about time management and daring to say no. In my head I am always “on”, but that is the passion for what I do. I do a lot of overtime, but mostly because I haven’t been focussed when I needed to be or something in the planning changed. Not because it is a “must do” to get better results or “inherent to the business” as someone once told me. Time off is so important, to empty your head and make space for new ideas.

What’s your proudest career achievement? To be able to earn my own living with what I love to do most. Maybe it sounds a bit corny, but it’s true. Nothing is worth more coming home with a smile on your face and a satisfied feeling. Regardless if it pays good or if it has a huge career perspective; do what you love! I believe if you are truly passionate about something and work on it, it’ll at least help you to pay the rent and eat, but it will probably give you more than that. 

What’s been your best decision? Finding an office outside my home before having kids. Although I still dream of a studio next to my house – with a separate entrance. I love dreams… 

Who inspires you? People who stick to their own path. Stay true to their dreams and follow them. Focussed, concentrated and committed. Able to keep their work downsized, to the essence. 

What are you passionate about? Letters, paper, ink and bound paper, in many forms. I can fall in love with stacks of paper. Also I am a true office supply geek, but probably superfluous by now to say.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? No one in particular that I can think of. I am not good in placing people on a pedestal. I have my icons, people I admire, but no special wishes to meet them. Over the past couple of years I have met a lot of inspiring people. I wish that to continue.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Having a tiny house close to the sea - with that small next door office.

What are you reading? With two kids, the youngest being 22 months, reading is still a bridge too far. But we might be at a turning point as I managed to read 350 pages last month of Purity – a book by Jonathan Franzen. Gifted by a dear friend and very cherished, as it forced me to read something else besides - too many - emails.


images courtesy of marjolein delhaas; photography ingmar swalue, portrait anna ciolina

Monday, 8 February 2016

CREATIVE DIRECTOR BREANNE RAFFOUL

 







Being told that she would never amount to anything - by her school vice principal - put a fire inside Breanne Raffoul. She is the Melbourne born and bred founder, designer and creative director of the up-and-coming design studio, Behr & Co. “I have her to thank for making me prove her wrong,” she says. “Think I’ve succeeded.” Over the past year Breanne has taken an idea and turned it into a fast-growing homewares business. She had been working as an office manager in the entertainment and leisure industry when she  started designing pieces for her son’s room. Soon she was collaborating with stonemasons, artisans and seamstresses to bring her ideas to life. “When I had large stores that I had admired for so long asking to sell my products, it was a pretty amazing feeling,” Breanne says.

Behr & Co will be exhibiting for the first time at the upcoming Life Instyle event in Sydney. “You’ll be able to see all our collections along with a new range, which is a collaboration with a local Melbourne artist,” Breanne says.

Register now to attend the upcoming Life Instyle Sydney event that explores Happiness By Design. The trade event runs 18-21 February at the Royal Hall of Industries and Hordern Pavilion.

This post was sponsored by Life Instyle, an event I have attended many times over the years. All editorial content was produced independently. Thank you for supporting businesses that help to make Daily Imprint possible. - NW

Which five words best describe you? Creative, honest, generous, persistent, loving.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? The venture came about from designing things for my son’s room. All my friends loved the pieces, and before I knew it I was selling them, and the rest is history.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Don't mix business and personal life. I work from home, but I now have very strict working hours. No work past 5pm - it makes everyone a lot happier.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Seeing my items on TV was pretty incredible, but being featured in Inside Out for our new collection was defiantly a pinch-me moment.

What’s been your best decision? Hiring an assistant! Couldn’t live without her.

Who inspires you? Two women inspire me. Heather Rowland, founder and owner of toy company Kippins. Building a global empire with two energetic toddlers, with a focus on ethical manufacturing. She always has time for me to offer advice or be a sounding board. Also, Justine Flynn from Thankyou group. Making a incredible impact in the world through social enterprise business model. She’s a mother and a business women, and the loveliest lady you’d meet.

What are you passionate about? Ethical manufacturing; slavery needs to end in our life time.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Jessica Alba - what she has done with The Honest Company is incredible, to pick her brain would be fantastic.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I really want to go to Italy to visit the family team that make our Eclipse collection. Hope to go within the next year.

What are you reading? Five love languages. Juggling marriage, children and business - have to make sure everyone is loved how they need it! Highly recommend.


images courtesy of behr & co; photography armelle habib, styling jacqui moore of greenhouse interiors

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