Tuesday, 30 September 2008


Australian writer Vicki Archer has found success charting her love of all things French. In 1999, alongside her husband and three children, she bought and began renovating a 17th Century property in Provence. The project features in her book My French Life, documented by fellow Australian expat photographer Carla Coulson [interview], and details her restoration of the farmhouse and its abandoned apple and pear orchards. It also showcases an olive grove that Vicki planted of more than 2000 trees. Vicki splits her time between London and Saint Rémy de Provence.

What five words best describe you? Creative, engaged, loyal, conscientious and energetic.

What's your proudest achievement? A long and happy marriage.

Who inspires you? My children as do photographers, writers and artists.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about living in Europe, continuing to create my home in France, my olives and anything involving fashion or interiors.

What's the best lesson you've learnt? How to deal with teenagers!

If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be? I would like to meet Augustus Caesar, the Roman Emperor - I am fascinated by all things Roman since moving to southern France.

What are you excited about? Coming home to Sydney for three weeks in October; I am excited about the November olive harvest in France and I am excited about Christmas with my family.

What are you reading? Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman. I saw the movie, loved it and couldn’t wait to read the book.

images courtesy of vicki archer and carla coulson

Monday, 29 September 2008


Bought this cute retro child's chair in Sorrell, near Hobart.

Just got back from a family holiday in Tasmania. It was wonderful and exhausting all at once. On the one hand it was great to have D by my side every day to take on joint parenting duties (versus just doing it all on my own during the week while he's at work), but on the other hand it was tiring trying to get Little C to sleep in the car and other strange environments. But all-in-all, we all survived and got to see family and some more of the beautiful Tasmanian countryside. And today I just picked up a passport for C - next stop, Fiji!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

artist monique germon

Who better to feature than a Tasmanian when I'm about to head south for the rest of the week. Monique Germon was the creative force behind Hobart's shop Love & Clutter, which has a huge following. She's since moved on and works at the Handmark Gallery in Salamanca Place while pursuing many projects, including fashion and photography. See you next week!

What five words best describe you? Mary Magdalene meets Michael Moore.
What's your proudest achievement? When I was 19, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given three months to live, and so I became his sole carer. We had seven months together, breaking down life's complexities to single important truths. I was able to witness a rather astute businessman transform from who he thought he ought to be into who he really was. This gets "proudest achievement" because against doctor's orders, he died peacefully at home as he wished.
Who inspires you? People who believe in original thought and creativity. They are rare - those who push beyond convention and are themselves as a result. You see it mostly in scientists because they literally know things are expanding! Pollies and public intellectuals who push for justice really inspire me also because look what they're up against. I see creative practice as no different to this. Robert Dessaix, Jane Elliot, Bob Brown, Germaine Greer, Bonnie Prince Billy, Mike Parr, Peter Sharp, Nick Cave & Anna Akhmatova.
What are you passionate about? Riding horses. I have a very strict instructor named Louiz who is giving me private lessons. I love the discipline. Poetic and very physical.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? That romantic idealism needs a clever right hand.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My great grandmother Alice, the thirteenth child of an amazing family and an apparent master of the above lesson. Perhaps there was a review needed before I inherit her wedding band from my grandmother.
What are you excited about? Robert Dessaix's next book, Arabesques out early October.
What are you reading?
Anna Akhmatova Selected Poems and On Rage by Germaine Greer.

Images courtesy of Monique Germon

Monday, 22 September 2008

artist john phillips

I don't tend to think of myself as old but perhaps I am. After all, this is the second artist I'm featuring this week who is still in their 20s and having great success. Both Hilton Owen and John Philips seem so green. John Phillips is just 28 and he's already been an Archibald Prize finalist, for goodness sake! Not only that - he has exhibited in Switzerland as well as several group shows. These works are part of his current solo exhibition at the Frances Keevil Gallery. Beautiful.

What five words best describe you? Optimistic, forgetful, messy, adaptable, excitable.
What's your proudest achievement? Being shortlisted for the Archibald Prize 2008.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? I began painting water scenes as a means of testing my ability to paint. I have continued because water fascinates me. Some paintings in this current series remain purist exercises is expressing water and light, others also engage open narratives.
Who inspires you? I have great friend named Kieran Courtney. He is blind. Never once have I heard him complain, or wish for anything more from life. His positivity is contagious.
What are you passionate about? Painting. Although I'm a trained architect, my mind rests with the paints.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? There is always a better painting.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
William Turner.
What are you reading?
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz.

Images courtesy of John Phillips and Frances Keevil Gallery

Friday, 19 September 2008

photographer rebecca duke

Rebecca Duke must have editors salivating. She's a UK-based photographer who used to work as a stylist. Talk about leaving your photo shoots in safe hands! It's no wonder she's carved out a successful career in both fields. And now she's off to Crete for Conde Nast Traveller. I want her job!

What five words best describe you? Creative, persistent, motivated, aesthetic and epicurean.
What's your proudest achievement? Having three children combined with a successful career as a stylist and then re-inventing myself as a interiors photographer.
Who inspires you? My friend Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou, founder and editor of
10 Magazine... I don't know how she does it all!
What are you passionate about? Taking pictures, food, travel and shoes, shoes, shoes.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Make every day count and never take "no" for an answer.
If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be? I would like the opportunity to introduce my late father to my children... sadly, they never got to meet.
What's next? Developing my travel portfolio. Off to Crete tomorrow, with a fab commission, for Conde Nast Traveller.
What are you reading?
The Professor of Desire by Philip Roth.

images courtesy of Rebecca Duke

Thursday, 18 September 2008

black and white

I know it's got a folk design touch (not too dissimilar from Kasia's work at Laikonik), but the gorgeous cushion from the latest range of Emma Jay Designs reminds me of the Pearly Kings & Queens of London. I'm sure there was once a Burberry ad with Kate Moss featuring her with some of them. But do you think I can find that image! Anyway, the black and white combo also has a touch of Chanel, too.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

stylist rachel brown

Styling is one of those professions. When you first learn that it's basically a job whereby people get paid to shop, it seems incredibly unfair... and perhaps a little too easy. But it's deceptive like that. Magazine stylists have to always be ahead of the times with trends. They have to create completely new looks for different magazines. Their job often also entails doing the equivalent of moving house every day. And so when you think about it like that, it's probably something most of us would rather leave to someone else. Rachel Brown is a talented stylist whose work appears in real living as well as other Australian interior magazines. She's also just launched her own homewares range Attia Home. It's immediately clear that her discerning eye has handpicked these pieces with a view to form, colour and texture. Check out Rachel's Etsy site too - I just have to have those beaded storage boxes.

What five words best describe you? Passionate, over sensitive, enthusiastic, hardy, driven.
What's your proudest achievement? Having just made it to 30 and not having too many regrets.
Who inspires you? Lots of people inspire me; I have always been inspired by Bono and on a more local scale lately I have been inspired by Pip Robb from
The Arm Chair in Crows Nest, NSW.

What are you passionate about? My family and friends, my dog Ruby, travelling in Indonesia, Africa and Italy, anything to do with homes and their interiors, old buildings with lots of flaky layers, Led Zeplin, potato chips and gold kiwi fruit.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? To relax more and enjoy the moment rather than always wishing for what's coming next.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Jeff Buckley.
What are you excited about? Almost everything!! But especially homewares and interiors.
What are you reading? Anything by
Peter Temple.

Images courtesy of Attia Home

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

artist hilton owen

I'm heading to Tasmania next week and one place I can't wait to visit again is Handmark Gallery in Hobart's Salamanca Place. They always exhibit the most beautiful artwork, as well as pieces that are really quite different to anything I see elsewhere. This is the case with their latest exhibition - "Zoo World" by Hilton Owen. Talk about prodigious talent - he is only 19 years old!!!

What words best describe you? Dedicated, busy and curious.
What's your proudest achievement? Probably winning the RACT youth portraiture competition and also having this exhibition at Handmark Gallery.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? There was nothing to start with really. I began some paintings with no real plan and all of a sudden I was into this body of work and slowly I began to realise what it was about.
Who inspires you? Everyone really. Pretty much anyone and anything I can see in my life I like to take as inspiration. Other painters I have always been inspired by are guys like
Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. Looking at their work has always made me want to work.
What are you passionate about? I am most passionate about my artwork but I am passionate about many things. Anything that grabs my interest at first I tend to become passionate about.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? I feel like I am still too young to answer that. It’s the kind of question I will have a really good answer for when I’m older. I have learnt to be dedicated and committed if you want to achieve something, though.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’d feel slightly uncomfortable meeting a dead person so I'll say just anyone really. I don’t really have a huge desire to meet someone famous or important but it would be cool, I suppose.

Images courtesy of Hilton Owen and
Handmark Gallery

Monday, 15 September 2008

writer lisa clifford

I was almost afraid to ask. Because my dad is a family history buff and you can get sidetracked for hours with him if you ask about our origins. But when I learn the answer, I'm a little disappointed. After all, discovering my ancestors include a greengrocer, farmer and fisherman from various small towns and villages in the UK is not quite as exciting as Lisa Clifford's family history. Certainly not book-worthy. But when Lisa, a journalist, swapped countries to be with her Italian husband, she heard about an unsolved murder in his family that was to become the basis of her book Death In The Mountains. It's the story of Artemio Bruni, who died mysteriously in Tuscany over a 100 years ago. Lisa also wrote The Promise: An Italian Romance.

What five words best describe you? Determined, loyal, claustrophobic, humorous, sensitive.
What's your proudest achievement? I have two - Natalia - 10 years old and Leo - 7 years old.
Who inspires you? Anyone who reveals their own private story of their struggle against adversity.
What are you passionate about? Truth and justice.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Patience.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Jesus.
What are you excited about? Coming home to Sydney for the launch of my new book in October.

Images courtesy of Lisa Clifford and Pan MacMillan Australia

Friday, 12 September 2008

the undertaker

Restaurants have really come to the interior design party in the past decade. No more bland tables or regulation chairs. One of the best recent examples of stunning design if The Undertaker in Melbourne's Hawthorn. While I've yet to taste the food - although it comes via the talent of ex Bathers Pavilion chef Ian Alexander - the decor is top notch. Anna Roberts, who worked on the interior with the restaurant's general manager Olivia Frawley, comes with interesting credentials. She worked for Priscilla Carluccio (Terance Conran's sister and Antonio Carluccio's wife) on Carluccio's caffes in London, opening about 15 of them during her time there.

Images courtesy of The Undertaker

Thursday, 11 September 2008

designer courtney saxon

Sisters Courtney and Jade, the creative talent behind Luxe Accessories

Talk about a quiet achiever. When the media is saturated with the same talking heads over and over again, it's so refreshing to hear the voice of one girl - Courtney Saxon - who is just out there doing it. Together with her sister Jade, she has grown Luxe Accessories from a small operation selling jewellery to a comprehensive accessories business that is stocked in more than 120 stores across Australia. And that's just since 2001.

What five words best describe you? Passionate, loyal, optimistic, humble, vivacious.

What's your proudest achievement? There is not a day that goes passed that I'm not grateful for what my sister Jade and I have achieved so far with Luxe. When I think back to when we first started the business, our collection consisted of 10 styles of earrings, and now our ranges present over 120 leather bags, clutches, belts and footwear styles, stocking to over 120 stores nationally.

Who inspires you? Definitely my mum - she has always had a strong mind and believes there is nothing you can't do if you put your mind to it.

What are you passionate about? The 3 Fs - Family, Friends and Fashion.

What's the best lesson you've learnt? Nothing comes for free. If you put in hard work, results will follow... And the things you work hard for, you appreciate the most. Always believe in yourself and aim high. If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll only go where you've always been.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My Grandpa. Even though he was alive when I was very young, I would love to meet him today. Everyone says that Jade and I got our artistic talent and creativity from him.

What's next? We're aiming to hit the international market with Luxe.

What are you reading? Jodie Picoult - My Sister's Keeper.

Images courtesy of Luxe Accessories

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

sustainable house day

This weekend - Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th September - is the seventh annual Sustainable House Day. It's a great way to learn how to put the theory into practice. Go to the website to find out the location of your nearest sustainable home here.

Images courtesy of Sustainable House Day

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

designer nicci green

It would be great to drop into a conversation. "Oh, I'm just heading off to the Maison & Objet fair in Paris." If I was any kind of homewares designer that would be on my top 10 list of things to do. Well, Bribe founder and designer Nicci Green has well and truly ticked that goal off. She was there recently - for her fifth time - to show her gorgeous hand-blown glassware - and, no, it's not expensive. Nicci's mission is to provide handmade products that are not only beautiful to behold but functional and accessible too.

What five words best describe you? Energetic... always on the go and juggling a million things. I don't take myself too seriously, I love hilarity and being ridiculous... having a laugh whenever and wherever possible (I particularly love teasing my son Jack). I am family girl... I am mad about my family and friends and dog.
What's your proudest achievement? As a mother there is no prouder achievement than having a child. Unequivocally my beautiful son Jack.
Who inspires you? Tom Dixon, definitely, I remember meeting in his offices in London and the conversation blew my mind; he was exciting, creative and out there. He is a designer like myself (although he is really, really successful... he is the real deal) who fell into design rather than chose it all due to a motorbike accident. I really like that. Basically I take inspiration from everything that surrounds me, the tiniest most unassuming things, but most designers feel that way.
What are you passionate about? Apart from my Jack, family and friends... Bribe. I am completely passionate about my glassware business. I really believe good design should not be elitist and should be available and affordable to everyone.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Eat life. I breathe it in and fit in as much into a day as possible so that you never look back with "what ifs".
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Oh, that's a hard one... there are so many people I would love to meet and talk to...
What are you excited about? Next week we are showing at the Maison & Objet fair in Paris, this is our fifth fair and I think the most significant. Maison & Objet is the pinnacle design fair worldwide. I am proud to be exhibiting there amongst so many talented designers and people that I have looked up to through the years and revere.
What are you reading? My house is full of pattern and print/graphic design, photography, interiors, architecture, you name it, I love them. If I'm not pouring through some art or design book I am being seduced (and mind you that makes me dreadful company when my head is in a book) of all things by crime fiction, I love it and can't get my head out of them.

Images courtesy of Bribe


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