Thursday, 3 September 2015


From early on Ross Gardam knew that industrial design was for him. He clicked with the subject at university after growing up in the country town of Barham near the NSW and Victorian border with a father and grandfather who had a passion for making. After working in the design industry for a number of years, Ross stepped out onto his own and launched his eponymous business in 2007. He says it took him a few collections to cement his designs. “The realisation that I was going to be doing this for a long period of time made me slow down a little,” Ross says. As a consequence he releases only a few products each year because the design development takes at least 12 months for each one and everything is hand crafted in Melbourne. “Taking small steps is really important to me,” he says. “I like to labour over things and refine them to an inch of their life.”

Which five words best describe you? Analytical, driven, reflective, optimistic and cheeky.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After graduating from industrial design at Monash university I started working in the interior/retail design sector. It was interesting work and I learnt a lot about products in space. I then worked in branded environments, which is more industrial design focused. Working for a variety of firms in Australia and then London gave me a good grounding to start my own business eight years ago.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Take your time, ideas need time to blume.  

What’s your proudest career achievement? I like to celebrate the milestones along the way with each product, I don’t really have favourites.

What’s been your best decision? To employ staff, I could not do what I do without the team in the studio.

Who inspires you? I like the work of many international designers such as the Bouroullec brothers, Benjamin Hubert, Patricia Urquiola, Eoos & Barber Osgerby as well as Australian designers such as Alex Lotersztain, Jon Goulder, Keith Melbourne, Helen Kontouris and Adam Goodrum to name a few. I am inspired more by process and the beauty of material things more than people.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about Australian design and manufacturing and the challenges this throws up. Materials and processes are also a love of mine and are the grounding for all my products.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I think Hunter S Thompson would be fun to have a cheeky drink with.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I am enjoying what I am doing and want to do more of the same. I would like to work with some international brands to develop new product as well as continuing to work under my own brand.

What are you reading? I am actually on holiday in Borneo at the moment reading a trashy Robert Ludlum novel.

images courtesy of ross gardam

Wednesday, 2 September 2015


Ottoline de Vries almost fell off her chair when a renowned Dutch interior design magazine called her to request an in-depth interview after she launched a few wallpaper designs online. Not long afterwards the London-based designer was asked to design a wallpaper for the refurbishment of the Willet Holthuysen Museum, Amsterdam. The signs were indicating that she had made the right choice to leave her job as a tax lawyer and focus on her interest in wallpaper design. Born in Quito, Ecuador, Ottoline grew up mostly in Holland, and studied law at university in Amsterdam. Her family moved to London in 2014. Ottoline is launching her latest collection Ballets Russes at Tent London, 24-27 September.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, resilient, headstrong, visual, positive.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? 
My career started in a totally different field. I had studied tax law and started working as a lawyer. When my husband and I were ready to start a family this new energy overpowered me. We had bought a family house in The Hague and I became completely obsessed with decorating. I wanted to create a wonderful world for my kids at home, wallpapering their rooms and hunting for antique and vintage furniture. The weekends and evenings were spent sanding, painting, wallpapering my unique finds. I fell totally in love with my new hobby and my actual corporate job started to feel like a distraction from what I really wanted to do.

Soon family and friends asked me to make them something unique and they started to encourage me to sell my creations. When my first upcycled cupboard was sold to someone unknown, I started to believe this could be my mission. And so I changed my law career for an artistic (ad)venture. 

Since childhood I have had this fascination for wallpaper. I just love it. From William Morris to modern design. It had never occurred to me that I would be a wallpaper designer myself. But it just happened thanks to the digital era and plenty of opportunities to print your own fabrics and wallpaper online. I remember uploading a hand drawn sketch online to have it printed on my own fabric, just out of curiosity. The result was overwhelming and I was determined that I wanted to make more and learn how to draw with professional computer programs. And so I did.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? There have been so many lessons. Being an independent designer and entrepreneur seems romantic but it’s hard work with a lot of falling and standing up again. Probably the best lesson is to stay focussed. In the beginning of my career I was all over the place; there were so many ideas in my head, so many opportunities and interesting people who wanted to cooperate. I did all that and it was quite stressful. Along the way I’ve found out who I am as a designer and what I find important in my designs. It allows me now to be much more focussed, to decide more easily where to put my energy in and not to be afraid of turning things down. As a result of that I stay very true to myself, which has a positive effect on my designs. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? I’m extremely proud that I have managed to turn the thing I love to do most into something that I can make a living from.

What’s been your best decision? That’s a difficult one… Within a few years I hope I can say, our move to London. We moved to London summer 2014 and after a year I can say we love it here. This city has so much to offer - the parks, the streets, the mix of people; a true melting pot. My creativity thrives in a place like this.

Who inspires you? Sergei Diaghilev. I have dedicated my latest collection to the revolutionary dance company he led between 1909 and 1929. The Ballets Russes collection is inspired by the wonderful costumes and set designs made by great artists like Picasso, Matisse, Larionov, Bakst and many others for this dance company.

What are you passionate about? Running - it gives me energy, clears my head and best ideas tend to occur when running through London in the rain.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Vincent van Gogh. For the love and admiration of his beautiful, inspiring work but mostly because it’s so tragic that he hardly sold any work during his life and never got any credit for making these extraordinary works that influenced so many artists and art movements after his death. If only I could tell him that he would be acknowledged as one of world’s greatest painters. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I hope that one day my family and I will be able to design and build our own house.

What are you reading? A biography of Diaghilev written by Dutch writer Sjeng Scheijen.

images courtesy of ottoline de vries

Tuesday, 1 September 2015


An early life spent surrounded by creatives had a big influence on Lucia Braham. The Sydney interior stylist says, “My father worked in the entertainment industry and my mother is an artist and owned a florist so there was never any shortage of materials with which to play and be creative.” Lucia has spent many years living and travelling overseas - from Hong Kong to London and Paris, and lived and studied in Italy where she attend the university in Perugia. The following year Lucia studied interior styling and colour consulting at the International School of Colour and Design in 2003. Since then she has worked as a property stylist and, for seven years, as an assistant to Steve Cordony [interview], the interior design editor at Belle. Now out on her own, one of her latest styling campaigns has been for Katriarna Rodgers [interview] of Sydney interiors store Urban Couture.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, decisive, driven, thoughtful, traveller. 

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My first job after graduating from college was for a home staging company. I would style and concept two different properties each day. Although it was exhausting, it was great experience to be styling in such a variety of different homes and styles. Prior to that, I had assisted a few stylists and after a couple of years, I knew that photographic styling was what I wanted to go back to. I cold-called and emailed any and every editorial stylist I knew of and, fortunately for me, Steve Cordony was just beginning his position as interior design editor at Belle. For the past seven years I have primarily assisted Steve, along with a lot of other influential stylists in Sydney, and before too long, I started being offered editorial and advertorial work of my own. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Work hard and always trust your gut instinct. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? I wouldn’t say there’s one specific accomplishment I’m most proud of, but probably the fact that I’ve been able to make a living doing what I love most and the ability to sustain my life as a freelancer. 

What’s been your best decision? To travel. In my opinion, there is nothing more challenging or inspiring. 

Who inspires you? People who create new things. And Iris Apfel

What are you passionate about? Travel, motorcycles, lighting design and anything made from wool or leather. What a mix! 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? This is an easy one for me - someone I’ve already met but would love to see again: my father, who passed away when I was a little girl. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To design and build a container home, somewhere overlooking the water. 

What are you reading? Not that I’m actually reading them - because I don’t speak French - but Ideat Magazine. A French interior design publication I picked up a subscription to at Maison Objet. 

images courtesy of lucia braham and urban couture; photography david wheeler

Monday, 31 August 2015


A decision to move to the US had a huge impact on the work of Melbourne born and raised artist and printmaker Sarah Amos. “I felt that there was no going backwards but only leaps and bounds in a forward direction,” she says. “Anything seemed possible to me in the early years when living in New York; it was viable to have a career as an artist who worked on paper. I was determined to make a go of it and not come home without some small success in hand, only problem was I never came home so strong was the pull of future personal career potential that I thought Australia could not offer me.” Sarah has now been based in the US for 24 years but admits that she is homesick for Australia. Each year she spends several months back in Melbourne, and shows her work locally every two years. Her latest exhibition Complex Geographies is at Flinders Lane Gallery until 19 September.

Which five words best describe you? Motivated, passionate, inquisitive, intuitive, dedicated.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My career really took off when I attended Tamarind Institute of Lithography in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I then went on the heels of graduating from Tamarind to New York to work in lithography as a master collaborative printer. Collaborative printmaking then became my full-time profession, which took me on from New York after three years to the largest art colony in the US - The Vermont Studio Center in New England. I continued on for 10 years there as the master printer and worked with over 200 artists, helping them to make the very best prints they could. It was an incredible education and experience one that I value highly and was better than any MFA around. I then left over 10 years ago to concentrate on my own work fully and have never looked back.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To trust my instincts, work hard and do not give any attention to what others think about your work.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Graduating from Tamarind Institute and being awarded the Joan Mitchell Painting Prize in 2014.

What’s been your best decision? To give up a steady paycheck and dedicate the rest of my working life to my work.

Who inspires you? My family, El Anatsui, Peter Doig, American Outsider Artists, Vermeer, and 300 more.

What are you passionate about? Textiles from around the world, soft sculpture and African masks and architecture.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My maternal grandfather, who was a landscape water colourist and mural artist Len Annois.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would love to collaborate with the master weavers and make one of my pieces into a full size tapestry at the Australian Tapestry Workshop.

What are you reading? The autobiography of Sally Mann, the American photographer.

images courtesy of sarah amos and flinders lane gallery

Friday, 28 August 2015


Even though Chelsea Hing had worked at some of Australia’s most respected interiors firms, it was when she stepped out on her own in 2007 that she realised she would have to cultivate her own visual language. “I had to stand for something,” she says. “My work had to have a point of view. It took me a few years to really get a handle on those things but that early learning and level of thinking has formed the backbone of how I make decisions today.” This understanding was key to making her Melbourne-based business tick over and thrive. But there was never any real doubt that she should work in interior design. “I am able to mesh the two sides of myself together,” Chelsea says. “My artistic sensibility mixed with a bent for the technical, quite possibly inherited from my engineer father, sits really well with what an interior designer does.”

Which five words best describe you? Tenacious, honest, intuitive, curious, dreamer.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Fresh out of design school and sporting a shaved head from a mid-year trip around Europe, I landed my first job with Nexus Designs. I had approached them through the mentor program at RMIT to gain some advice on which firms I might be suited for. I didn’t get very far and was offered the job on the spot. Right place, right time? I was probably lucky to get in when I did. I learnt everything an interior designer needs to know at Nexus under Janne Faulkner, Harley Anstee and Sonia Simpfendorfer. I ran all kinds of projects from demo to reno right through to furnishing and finishing. I loved all of it and really received the best experience I could hope for. But I wanted to go discover the world of design so I took a job at the big architecture firm Bates Smart. It was a totally different culture and it helped me focus on what I loved most about design. After a tough year of sharpening my tools I left. I launched my own studio, Chelsea Hing, soon after. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? There have been so many lessons. Not one single one jumps out as there are a handful that a really important. Number one is to keep trusting myself, keep taking risks, keep being courageous. Without that, everything remains stagnant. Number two is realising you can make it all up as you go. This was a revelation. When I first started, I thought there must be a right way to do certain things, until I had to raise my first invoice and I realised I had to just make one up. That was an important lesson as it taught me my business could be anything I wanted it to be. I realised it better reflect my values, it better reflect what I care about. For me, staying true to self, also means staying true to self in business. We don’t do anything we feel a bit “iffy” about. We do what feels right. Finally, if you want something, you need to create it.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Being able to create beautiful houses for our clients that have made a difference to their lives. Through that, I have forged some fantastic personal relationships, clients become friends and I get to go back over and over to see how they live and grow in their houses. It’s fantastic. With that privilege has come the opportunity to create a portfolio of work I’m really proud of. As the studio has grown over the last few years my current proud achievement is assembling and inspiring my team on the things that are important to us as people and important to how we approach the work we do for our clients. 

What’s been your best decision? Residential interiors were always my first love and what I had the strongest passion for. So a few years in, against all advice, I started turning down any job offers that weren’t private homes. Eventually all the work the studio was doing was residential and suddenly everything made so much more sense. The flow of our work was more consistent because we could control it, the technical expertise we held was more intense and the problems we were solving over and over again honed my craft as a designer faster than I had experience in any other time in my creative life. I was onto something, and that decision came from the gut. I am reminded to trust it when making difficult decisions ever since.

Who inspires you? Masters and artists of every kind, people who produce beautiful work from their passion. Ilse Crawford for her incredible interiors that I would travel the world to be in, their call is that strong. Danielle LaPorte for her spiritual guidance and all-round amazing woman-ness. I pull a truthbomb card from her deck, daily. Brene Brown for her courage to say what we all were too afraid to say. Achille Castiglioni for the gift of producing - some of my favourite - furniture and lighting pieces right up until his death.

What are you passionate about? After nearly 10 years with my own studio, I’m still passionate about the work because I’m passionate about ideas. Imagining possibilities, framing spaces in my mind and dreaming up how to create something beautiful that has meaning is when it all clicks into place for me. Recently our team has been looking at the theme of empowerment in what we do and how we work together. This has had a ripple effect on all of us and I’m excited to see how we can weave that into our vision for the future and everything we do. 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? They always change; currently I’d like to host a dinner party with Iris Apfel, Nelson Mandela, Andree Putman, Le Corbusier and Oprah

What dream do you still want to fulfill? To live in Morocco in an amazing riad, just for a short while. Back home, to do up a rambling old house and sit on my back porch in a swing looking out to my garden. 

What are you reading? I’m re-reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown - her work on wholeheartedness is a balm for the soul. I’ve also just finished Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming, the actor.

images courtesy of chelsea hing 


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