Wednesday, 1 October 2014

DESIGNER KATE PASCOE SQUIRES







Every now and then a design business comes along with a deceptively simple product. It is possible that Kate & Kate might have produced for blankets what another company has done for rugs - made a stylish staple. The duo behind the wares came to the idea almost by accident. They were friends and sisters-in-law, with the same name, who were both looking for a creative venture. After discussing their ideas, they set about creating a cotton blanket that could be used for babies, and beyond. Kate Pascoe Squires, pictured right, is the Sydney-based part of the business. Kate Pascoe lives and works in Melbourne.

Which five words best describe you? Determined, loud, passionate, hungry, easily amused (sorry, that’s six!).

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and went directly into a PR job. I worked with restaurants, chefs, food, wine, spirits… lots of events, parties and fun. After my second baby I had a real itch to do something creative, something tangible - and definitely something of my own. Kate and I were so lucky, we literally stumbled across the Kate & Kate business idea. Since that stumble, we’ve really just been running with it.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Allow yourself time to switch off. You are never going to get everything done, so you may as well have some down time along the way. Sometimes, emails can wait.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I just love seeing our product in magazine shoots. I’m old school PR and, to me, nothing beats seeing a Kate & Kate blanket in a gorgeous interiors layout. Beyond exciting.  

What’s been your best decision? To start a business with my sister-in-law – working together, quite simply, rocks.

Who inspires you? I’m inspired by so much everyday. I really try to keep an open mind and see where things can take me. I try not to believe in dead ends… everything leads somewhere, right? In this way, I can really draw back on my experiences and use them for inspiration.  

What are you passionate about? Food. And wine. And my kids. 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Dave Grohl. Definitely.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I need to get to New York – stat!

What are you reading? Burial rights by Hannah Kent.

images courtesy of kate & kate

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

ARCHITECT BENJAMIN MITCHELL







It hasn’t taken Sydney-based architectural firm Those Architects long to start collecting awards. Even though Benjamin Mitchell and Simon Addinall joined forces in 2012 the duo have already won the 2014 Australian Interior Design Award for Workplace Design, as well as the 2014 Australian Timber Design Award for Commercial Interior Fitout. The same project, a collaboration with End of Work, has been shortlisted for an IDEA 2014 too (winners to be announced 21 November). But the brief wasn’t without its challenges. A heritage listing for the former Metcalfe Bond Store in The Rocks, Sydney, meant that the designers weren’t able to mechanically fix into or change any of the fabric of the building. The solution was to create a fitout that in some ways mirrored the way the technology company operates - via a “cloud”. Everything was designed to float within the space - to occupy for the medium-term and be able to relocate with minimum fuss. What started out as well-thought-out design with a strong focus on the client’s needs, is now gaining recognition within the broader design community. Ben shares a little more of the back story to Those Architects.

Which five words best describe you? Bad dancer but die trying.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I actually started my career in the Royal Australian Navy serving aboard the guided missile frigate HMAS Melbourne. It set me up with some very valuable tools as I transitioned into my architecture studies at Sydney University. After studying for six years I established my own firm which recently became Those Architects when I amalgamated with my long-term friend and colleague Simon Addinall. Our studio-based practice is underpinned by collaboration and open dialogue in pursuit of quality design outcomes.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I can think of three. Work hard, maintain your integrity and follow your instincts.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Receiving several major awards for the first project completed by the office is my proudest career achievement to date.

What’s been your best decision? To pursue a career in architecture against all the advice I was given.

Who inspires you? Many people. My partner Diana inspires me to be the best man I can be. My kids inspire me to enjoy every moment of this short life. My parents inspire me to live life by your own rules and my brother inspires me to take on a challenge when one presents itself. I’ve also got many talented friends who inspire me on a daily basis.

What are you passionate about? Life. Just so many reasons to get out of bed each day. In particular I’m passionate about rigorously pursuing my architecture career and making a meaningful contribution to the built environment both here in Australia and abroad.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Sir David Attenborough. He has an acute awareness of the natural world and our place within it.
  
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d really like to be in a position one day to act as my own client.

What are you reading? Papillon by Henri Charrière. 

images courtesy of those architects; photography brett boardman

Monday, 29 September 2014

ARTIST FILIPPO MINELLI







Italian artist Filippo Minelli, who was raised by a deaf aunt while his parents worked, has spent his brief yet extensive career exploring the idea of language, and its opposite, silence. Through his art he tries to express ideas in simple ways, such as his Silence/Shapes series, which gives physical shape to silence through the use of smoke bombs in natural landscapes. Filippo was born in 1983 and by the end of the 1990s was already creating art installations in public spaces. He studied art in Milan and spends much of his time travelling to create new works in places such as South East Asia, Africa, Mongolia, as well as in Europe.

Which five words best describe you? Curious, impulsive, generous, sensitive, wilful.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I'm not sure that I started my career, things come and go in life and I don't like to know what happens next. I like to work hard on what I like, that's the path I've taken since the beginning. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust yourself and keep energy-vampires far from you.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Many nice people and institutions contact me without being introduced by anybody. This means that my works speak for themselves.

What’s been your best decision? Leave everything I had and to keep leaving everything I have from time to time.

Who inspires you? Literally everybody I have met. I'm quite a good observer sometimes, and meeting people for years or for seconds is always a huge source. Decisions and taking action are probably what I'm mostly interested in: that short moment in which people decide what to do and for which reason. And what remains unrealised as well.

What are you passionate about? I'm passionate about things I don't know, which often coincides with places. Traveling has always been a huge source of joy and inspiration for me; I have always looked at traveling as a way to expose myself to the unexpected, and when I'm not traveling I usually hike up on the Alps, as nature is always the most unexpected and transitory thing.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I don't wish to meet anybody in particular, but if I do meet somebody really cool or totally shit I hope to be ready for that.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Having a family in a place I can call home.

What are you reading? I have no time for reading at the moment but the last thing I read four months ago was Beyond good and evil by Nietzsche.

images courtesy of filippo minelli

Friday, 26 September 2014

INTERIOR DESIGNER JASON MOWEN







After 14 years of living overseas - mainly in the UK and Spain - interior designer Jason Mowen was ready to start a new venture on his return to Sydney in 2009. Along with artist Eduardo Santos, he set up a boutique showroom in an enviable double-fronted position in the regenerating suburb of Redfern. It’s a cross-pollinating space that showcases an unexpected mix of antique and 20th Century furniture and decor pieces, as well as tribal and contemporary art. From here, Jason also creates custom furniture and interiors based on an aesthetic cultivated during his time in Europe. After moving to London in 1995, he and Eduardo ran a menswear shop in Covent Garden for seven years before Jason worked for interior designer Jonathan Reed. A highlight of this period was assisting on the new royal palace for Queen Raina of Jordan. Later, after setting up his own studio in Madrid in 2005, he converted a 14th Century Moorish tower that had belonged to the Austrian Archduke Luis Salvador. While most of his adult years have been informed from a life spent overseas, most of his childhood was spent between Maleny and Brisbane in Australia, other than a stint in Papua New Guinea. 

Which five words best describe you? Sensitive, stubborn, hedonist, generous, perfectionist.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? It's been a culmination of experiences and, in particular, people who have shaped my life and career. I've been really, really lucky to encounter, through either work, friendship or love, a small handful of people with great knowledge and taste. I guess it was inevitable a tiny part would rub off on me. They may not even realise it, but it's been one of the most significant and wonderful aspects of my life.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Don't let anyone talk you out of anything.

What’s your proudest career achievement? So far it's probably been opening the shop in Redfern in the middle of the financial crisis on a budget of $15,000! It was as much a miracle as career achievement. 

What’s been your best decision? Moving to London when I was 24.

Who inspires you? The list is long. In terms of style, the French and Italians. In terms of strength and kindness, my mother. I'm also inspired by the classical world - Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. 

What are you passionate about? A lot! I'm Taurean: travel, art, food, love. And Spain!

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I was going to say Jesus Christ, but I'm switching to Elizabeth Taylor. I was invited to her birthday party in 2002 and didn't go, stupidly thinking I'd have other opportunities to meet her. Apart from being one of the great actors of the 20th Century, she was a wonderful humanitarian. What Taylor did for AIDS, giving it a voice when it had none, was incredible. She was a true trailblazer.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'd love to own a c.1960 house in Old Las Palmas, Palm Springs, with a big garden and a view of the mountains.

What are you reading? The rise of the nouveaux riches by J. Mordant Crook.

images courtesy of jason mowen, felix forest and belén imaz (image 2)


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

SHOP OWNER MAXINE SMITH








More than three years ago Maxine Smith was watching a group of women from Laos make silk scarves. The idea struck her that she could take them back to Australia - along with other wares from her travels - and sell them to people who treasured handmade and crafted textiles and decorative objects for their home. Maxine spends considerable time sourcing each piece for her online store Barefoot Gypsy, and travels around the globe hunting out pieces she would want in her own place, always with an eye towards ethical pieces.

What five words best describe you? Passionate, enthusiastic, focused.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have always loved travelling and collecting beautiful pieces along the way. In 2009 I was recently separated from my then husband and business partner. Together we had created a building business, which gave me a keen insight into the world of business and architectural design. Now a single mother with five children, I took a trip to Laos. In hindsight, it really was a trip of reflection, a time to think about the future. I was in a community in Laos admiring the silk scarves the women were making which gave them an income for their family when I had that “light bulb” moment and thought what if I could bring in the scarves and sell them to small boutiques and home and gift stores. I haven’t looked back, each day the collection broadening in scope and destinations I source from.

What's the best lesson you've learnt along the way? That you can't do it all yourself.

What's your proudest career achievement? Our newly launched catalogue and the fantastic response it has received from my customers and others in the industry. It is really gratifying when you work so hard on something and people respond well to it.

What's been your best decision? To not waiver in my decision to keep the collection organic and to care where products are sourced. While I often work with vintage pieces, one of my new collections is made in India. I didn't want my products made by women in appalling working conditions or the use of child labour, so I went there unannounced to see who was making the products and the working conditions. Needless to say I was happy with the working environment. I do believe you always need to care how and where things are made.

Who inspires you? A lot of things inspire me but it is the artisans who keep their craft and traditions alive that keep me constantly motivated to continue finding new pieces. I love that I can be part of the process of sharing their craft and traditions with different audiences.

What are you passionate about? People and their cultures. I love the textiles and objects that are part of the communities I discover through my travels and embrace the stories behind them.

Which person, living or dead would you like most to meet? I couldn’t choose just one - maybe we could host a Moroccan style brunch and I could put together the guest list so we could invite all the amazing people I would love to meet in person.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? I would like to design and develop a clothing and soft furnishings range.

What are you reading? I demolish mountains of magazines on interior design. One favourite magazine at the moment is The Renegade Collective, a great source for inspiring tips for small business. I also enjoy trawling through my endless Nomad Textile books.

images courtesy of barefoot gypsy

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