Friday, 27 November 2015


While Alexandra Donohoe entered the interior design industry via “the side door”, she took every step along the way to ensure she made it into the building. After missing out on a place in the interior design course she wanted to enrol in at university, she took a place in landscape architecture at UNSW. However, during the first year, after Alexandra fell asleep in the soil science class, she transferred across to interior architecture. During her uni years, she also worked as a receptionist at SJB Interiors+Architecture and also gained experience at other well-regarded practices including Landini + Associates, Bates Smart, Sarah Davison Interior Design and Paul Kelly Design. After starting her own studio - Decus Interiors - Alexandra has worked regularly with leading architecture firms such as Luigi Rosselli Architects [interview]. “Opening the studio was the equivalent of strolling out onto the edge of the cliff and taking a leap across the divide,” she says. “As cliche as it sounds, backing yourself in those moments is essential. If you don’t think it can happen no one else will.”

Which five words best describe you? A nutty, laughing, dancing, brutally honest, push-the-envelope introvert - think that counts as six!

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started as a secretary at SJB Interiors+Architecture straight out of high school. I knew I wanted to work in design but my last years of high school were should I say… distracted? I just missed out on getting into interior design so I started a degree in landscape architecture at UNSW instead. In the interim, I worked at SJB for five years throughout uni and between backpacking holidays before hop-scotching to Landini + Associates, Bates Smart, Sarah Davison Interior Design and Paul Kelly Design. In doing so I experienced the full gamut of interiors. Ultimately, residential is my spiritual home - no pun intended. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? There have been thousands of lessons along the way. I think starting a business from scratch at your dining table and building it centimetre by centimetre forces you to look at how you approach almost everything in life, be it work-life balance, tricky situations, following your heart - and gut, prioritising family and friends, and how you value your own contribution to the world. Life is big and constantly changing, it’s messy, it’s perfect in a totally imperfect way and I’m quite passionate about looking at what drives me to make the decisions I make.   

What’s your proudest career achievement? It’s driving home at the end of the every day feeling immense gratitude for the studio I’ve created from a bit of a pipe-dream and the amazing team of people I have around me. That’s insanely cool. Seeing our work published in respected magazines is bonus.

What’s been your best decision? To work for myself, hands down.

Who inspires you? Pierre Yovanovitch, a French self-taught fashion designer turned interior designer; Josep Font, creative director of Spanish fashion house Delpozo, an architect turned fashion designer. The work of Studio KO. My husband. 

What are you passionate about? What it is that drives us to make the choices we make.  My environment - interior and exterior. Sleep. The happiness of those around me.   

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Anna Wintour. I’d love to know how her mind works and how she handles the spotlight, criticism, pressure. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Designing a house and living in it on one of the Aeolian islands, Italy. 

What are you reading? Tribes by Seth Godin and The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.

images courtesy of decus interiors; photography justin alexander [interview]; archicture luigi rosselli architects [interview]; porebski architects (image 4)

Thursday, 26 November 2015


After finishing her final year at art school, Joanna Logue started to think about representation. She met Kim Bonython at his then Sydney gallery in Woollahra – Bonython Meadmore Gallery - pulling up in a taxi as she didn’t have a driver’s licence at time. As Joanna arrived, Kim was leaving and so she ended up showing him her work on the street. "Kind of in the gutter," she says. "He was quite taken with my work and put me in a group show with John Coburn and some other older generation artists.” After selling her works she was offered a place in the gallery’s stable. While she admits she was young and naive at the time, it was her start on the path to working as a full-time artist. Joanna is now represented by King Street Gallery in Sydney and is also about to participate in a group show at the Anna Pappas Gallery. The works, based on the landscape around her country property in Oberon, NSW, will be on show from 11-23 December.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, curious, sensitive, driven, sensualist.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? When I was a young painter I won the Kings Art Prize and went on to join the Tim Olsen Gallery. I had quite a few very successful exhibitions and was fortunate to be able to support myself through my work and purchase a beautiful historic property in country NSW where I could live and make my work. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To take time out of the studio, even when I am on a deadline, to re-energize, reflect and fill the well. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? Joining King Street Gallery where I share the stable with great painters including my heroes Elizabeth Cummings and Idris Murphy

What’s been your best decision? Moving to my country property Essington Park where I lived for 20 years in relative isolation, deep thinking and making my paintings inspired by the surrounding landscape.

What are you passionate about? Painting, of course. But I am also passionate about cooking - it runs in the family, music, literature, being in nature and cinema.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Brian Eno.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? I would love to go to Antarctica as an artist in residence with Australian Antarctica Expeditions. I think it would be really challenging for the psyche to be butted up against the sublime, artistically and on a personal level. 

images courtesy of joanna logue; portrait frank lindner

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


“It’s always interesting to see people’s reaction when you say you design rugs,” says Christine McDonald. “It’s just not a career that is heard of, but once you tell people who or where you design rugs for – they’ll find themselves kicking up the corner of a rug to see if it was designed by Designer Rugs.” Christine has been with the Australian company for 14 years and has collaborated on many of its successful collections over the years, including working with fashion designer Akira Isogawa [interview]. Along with fellow senior designer, Lia Pielli, Christine has also been designing Designer Rug’s in-house collections as well as creating custom designs for residential and commercial clients. Now, for the first time in its 30-year history, the company is releasing a collection by one of its own designers. Christine designed LØCAL based on the landscape of Wollongong, where she grew up and continues to live. With names like Coal Coast, Hargrave and Stanwell, the designs were drawn from her life growing up on the beach and enjoying the panoramic views from the area.

Which five words best describe you? Loyal, beachy, creative, detailed and curious.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After completing a diploma in interior design, I was fortunate enough to be offered an interview at Designer Rugs. I’d never heard of anyone being a rug designer but I loved interiors and enjoyed the graphic component of design so I thought why not. Here I am 14 years later, still designing rugs. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Not to take criticism of my work personally. Everyone has their own idea of what they had in mind. Some are good at translating that, others not so much.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Taking the leap into creating my own rug collection, LØCAL. 

What’s been your best decision? Not becoming an ambulance officer and returning to Designer Rugs after a three-year break.

Who inspires you? People who don’t dwell or blame an awful childhood or adversity that may have occurred during their life and just rise above the odds.  

What are you passionate about? Family, friends, the ocean, good people, and great design.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Audrey Hepburn.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To have a home with more walls than my apartment. 

What are you reading? The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland. I thought it was going to be funny, but I’m finding it depressing.

images courtesy of designer rugs

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Brett Stevens is currently travelling around Australia photographing a range of locations for travel and food magazines, including Conde Nast Traveller. This follows 10 months of shooting a book, Organum, with renowned chef Peter Gilmore in a variety of studios, locations and restaurants. It’s a mix that has sustained him for a career that has spanned 25 years. During this time he has contributed to more than 45 food and lifestyle books and worked for a range of magazines and advertising clients. He got his start after studying fine arts and photography at UTS, and assisting big studio photographers in Toronto, New York and Chicago. While Brett is based in Sydney, next up is a trip to Dubai for a couple of clients based in the UAE.

Which five words best describe you? Driven, perfectionist, creative, innovative, persistent.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I commenced as a newspaper photographer where I learnt to work quickly and efficiently. This methodology has subsequently transpired into advertising and editorial photography domains.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Always be humble as there is always someone else you can learn from.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I was very surprised a little while back when I had seven magazine and book book covers on the news stand at one time - that was a pretty cool achievement.

What’s been your best decision? To stay true to my beliefs regarding career paths and client selection.

Who inspires you? Anyone who is willing to push the creative process beyond what is considered the norm, and, whose thought ideals are one of achieving the best end result.

What are you passionate about? Walking the path less travelled and always aspiring to be in the moment. Currently living by the life motto: this is it.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’ve always thought that Bono would be a great conversationalist, but I am heading towards a little more visual stimulus at the moment and would say Gregory Crewdson.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Building a lifetime of work is great but I do wish I could find more time to work on personal projects that would be exhibited - watch this space.

What are you reading? Not so much reading but always referring to Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky’s series of books - his latest on Water and Dennis Hopper's Photographs 1961-1967.

images courtesy of brett stevens; styling matt page and glen proebstel (image 2)

Monday, 23 November 2015


Printmaking is a coming together of many of Ellie Malin’s interests. She’s been a keen observer of architecture as well as nature and how we move through these environments. “I’m fascinated with the impact and importance they have on our lives and had this idea that if I could translate the beauty and vulnerabilities that captured me and communicate them back to others, that would be the ultimate challenge,” Ellie says. Besides, she really enjoys the hands-on physicality of the process - carving and cutting into wood, mixing coloured inks, working with printing presses, as well as moving through various sections of a workshop. “Printmaking is a great analogy to life,” she says. “Things don’t always go to plan, but it’s good to be prepared and have direction, enjoy the process, try something new, keep it simple - mistakes happen; embrace them.”

In 2007 Ellie graduated from Monash University with a degree in Fine Art, majoring in print-making, but initially worked in non-related fields. After a couple of years she felt the pull to return to a regular creative practice. “Even after dedicating years of study and completing diplomas and degrees, it took some time to take a leap of faith and set up studio as a full-time practice,” she says. “Choosing to follow this path is the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done, but once the decision was made it became a lot easier.” 

Since then Ellie has created designs for Gorman and exhibited at Modern Times, as well as receiving a two-month residency at Megalo workshop in Canberra. “Turning art into a career required me to examine my values and belief systems,” she says. “I surrounded myself with good mentors; focused on realistic goals - and also thought about those more out-there ideas; I set a discipline, establishing a structured schedule meant that I was less likely to be side-tracked putting the work out through exhibitions, awards, local stores… even though it felt awkward to start off with.” These experiences have helped her confidence and contributed to her growth as an artist, she says. 

Which five words best describe you? I’m an introverted communicator who is playful, intuitive and creative.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? In 2010 I enrolled in a small business course and skilled up on how to write a business plan, bookkeeping and general admin. I then set aside 12 months to set up a studio practice and to “see how things went”. I said yes to every project and opportunity that came my way and it gathered momentum fairly organically from then on - not without a lot of work.

I continue to plan and visualise the kind of projects I’d like to pursue. I carefully consider each and every opportunity that comes my way. It’s incredibly difficult to say no at times, especially now that the focus has shifted to starting a family and becoming a parent - in a matter of weeks - whilst also continuing to balance a career in art. Accepting that there will be a change in how and when I create work, but also I’m excited to think that our family and work life will somehow meld naturally as my husband and I identify ourselves through our respective creative practices, but are also incredibly close to family. It will be interesting to see how it all evolves. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? As much as artists and creatives may be thought of as being loose, free or aloof, I think it’s really important to be disciplined as with any job. There are days where I don’t feel in the “mood” to create, but having a routine and just going into the studio can be rewarding. Sometimes it’s just a matter of minutes to shake off that feeling and before you know you’re in that state of flow. I’m not sure if this is a lesson, but it’s definitely something I learned about myself and that’s to strive to create good work and for it to be meaningful. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? I’m proud of the fact that I get to do what I love and develop and grow as an artist. It’s particularly humbling when I see people enjoying the artwork in their homes and work spaces. 

What’s been your best decision? Giving myself time. It takes time to hone skills, to build confidence, to find direction, to experiment with ideas and to keep creating regardless of the successes and failures. 

Who inspires you? I’m inspired by the everyday: streets I walk in, people I meet, design, architecture, travels, plus a good dose of daydreaming. With the current events gripping our world and reflecting on parenthood I’ve been enthralled by learning about the lives of my grandparents who came to Melbourne with their young families despite all odds to provide a better life and am incredibly inspired by their hard work, pride and joy for life they instilled in the family. From an art perspective, and in no particular order, I’m inspired by the work of KiKi Smith, Andy Warhol - can’t wait to see the exhibition with Wei Wei and Warhol! - Mirka Mora, Tadao Ando, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Yayoi Kusama, Kandinsky and Matisse

What are you passionate about? My work, family, travelling, living healthy, and just keeping it simple. 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’d love to hang out with Matisse. Maybe do some collages together.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d love to collaborate with architects and interior designers and translate my artworks into something multi-faceted and functional. And write a book – pictures only. 

What are you reading? Admittedly, my beside table consists of a mile-high pile of parenthood books. Amongst them, a charming and inspiring book Motherhood and Creativity by Rachel Power. Other books on the go include People of Print by Marcroy Smith and Andy Cooke - a survey of creative print studios from around the world, Vault magazine for all the latest and greatest in the arts and Ladislav Sutnar, Visual design in action

images courtesy of ellie malin


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