Friday, 28 November 2008


A book that I often return to is My French Life by Vicki Archer [interview here]. It is in equal parts due to the images of photographer Carla Coulson as the story of Vicki's restoration of a beautiful home in the south of France. Carla has recently released a book on another iconic place and its people - Paris Tango. Her photography career began after she decided to leave the Sydney-based business she'd been running for over a decade and go to live in Italy. It was there that she studied photography and found her path, which she chronicles in her first publication Italian Joy. Since publishing her first photography story in Marie Claire Australian in 2002, she has had her work featured in a range of magazines including Vogue Entertaining and Travel, Gourmet Traveller, Harpers Bazaar and Qantas. Carla has been based in Paris since 2004.

What was the starting point for your book Paris Tango? My first job in Paris was for Italian fashion magazine Collezioni. They asked me to photograph details of couture at the ateliers of John Paul Gaultier, Dior, Christian Lacroix and Valentino. It was a wonderful experience entering these places with so much Parisian history. I thought, "Wow, imagine if I could show everyone this!" The seed was planted and during a three-year period I sought out many special places and Parisians and the culmination is Paris Tango.

And what about Italian Joy, what's the story behind that book? Italian Joy is my love letter to Italy. At the beginning of 2000 I changed my life. I left behind a business I had in Sydney for 13 years and moved to Italy to learn photography. Italian Joy is a photographic journal of my experience and all the wonderful things I found along the way in Italy including rediscovering the simple pleasures in life.

Which five words best describe you? I asked my boyfriend to help with this. Messy, funny, enthusiastic, open and passionate.

What's your proudest achievement? Surviving eight years as a freelance photographer in a foreign country.

Who inspires you? Artists, photographers, architects, nature and the man on the street.

What are you passionate about? Photography and life. I think they go hand in hand, if you love one then it is easy to love the other.

What's the best lesson you've learnt? Patience; it has taken eight years to beat the "multitasker" out of me and I feel liberated.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? There are so many but I often think I would love to speak with the generation of my great grandparents. They are the keepers to so many ways and secrets that our society has lost. Also, I love Italian fashion photographer Paolo Roversi.

What's next? More photos!

What are you reading? Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King by Antonia Fraser, Death in the Mountains by Lisa Clifford and The Middle Sea by John Julius Norwich.

images courtesy of carla coulson

Thursday, 27 November 2008


Tropical fish swim below the jetty on Mana island

This structure is a bure - a cool place to sit during a hot day

Escaping the crowds and enjoying peace and quiet...
while the little one learns to swim

Sunset Beach for snorkelling

A beautiful yellow hibiscus flower

I don't know if you're like me, but I have resisted Fiji as a holiday destination for years. Resorts. Tropical islands. Nothing to do but relax... No thanks, I said time and time again. I was always more of a city person - Paris, Rome, New York, Barcelona. You get the idea. But now... NOW I have a whole different perspective thanks to the little bundle of joy and energy that is my son. And I was looking forward to the trip just based on the fact that my partner was going to be there, helping to share the responsibilities of parenthood for six days. But I got so much more than I bargained for. I actually finished a book and three magazines! It was such relaxing bliss. I cannot recommend Fiji highly enough. And perhaps one of the greatest features was the people. All the locals wanted to hold little C - on buses, ferries, at restaurants. This meant we actually got to eat meals as a couple and not in shifts. Heaven, thy name is Fiji.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

southwood home

Melbourne does retail really well. I don't know if it's because the rent is not as expensive as in Sydney so stores have more money to spend on shop fitouts. Or if it is because of the longer, darker winters the southern city is exposed to - and so more time is generally spent appreciating the indoors. But whatever the reason I cannot get enough of visiting Melbourne shops. Southwoodhome is a stellar example that opened recently.

How and why did you start southwoodhome? I started it after many years working as a textile buyer in department stores. I felt very strongly that as consumers we should be able to make choices that allowed us to furnish our homes in a stylish but low-environmental impact way. I stock mainly Australian-made ranges focusing on handmade and natural materials. The exception to the local made product is our certified organic bedlinen and the Bholu range of fair-trade homewares from India.
What has been the response? We have had a very positive response from customers both locally and from the wider Melbourne area.
How is having your own business different to what you expected? Having always worked in the "back office" in the past, I have really enjoyed the chance to have some interaction with my customers and to get to know them and their style.
What has been a highlight? The past three months since we opened has been great fun - also getting good media coverage has given us a boost.
Where do you look to for inspiration? I read all the interiors magazines but am mainly inspired by the fantastic makers and designers I work with.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Remember to hold your line.
What are you passionate about right now? Hand made textiles and ceramics.
If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Shirley MacLaine.
What are you looking forward to? Christmas.
What are you reading? I couldn't possibly tell you - it's too low-brow to admit to!

Images courtesy of Southwoodhome

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

advent calendar - part ii

Yes, more babushkas! These designs are from Thymbyl Designs

And something beautifully simple from Nuvo Nova

I love these simple ideas for advent calendars, too. (If you recall from
here - I'm on a searching mission.) And I'm definitely a fan of having an advent calendar that has a gift inside. Of course, it can be a teeny tiny gift, but I think it adds to the fun of each day... and is probably good at rationing out the likes of chocolate for someone such as me as I'm notorious for eating all mine in one go. Shameful, I know.

Images courtesy of
Thymbyl Designs and Nuvo Nova

Monday, 24 November 2008

designer haidee lindell

There is so much to love about the recently launched Miss Haidee label from Byron Bay. The bags and clothing (not the bathers!) use recycled fabrics. Everything is made in Australia. And it's all super cute. Vogue, thinks so too. Oh, and there is free shipping on all summer stock bought directly from the website.

Which five words best describe you? Imaginative, creative, kookie, funny and bright.
What's your proudest achievement? It would have to be the birth of my children followed by one of my dresses getting in
Who inspires you? My daughter Millie has such a divine attitude to life it's contagious. Even on the greyest days she will proclaim how lovely the day is. She is a pleasure to be around.
What are you passionate about? I love designing, making things, turning objects into art pieces. I have to be making something and have many projects on the go or I get annoyed with myself.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? I am still learning it - to enjoy the moment not the next step; the journey is sometimes more fun.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My husband's grandfather sounded very cool.
What's next? A fashion parade, which will involve pulling out my Tafe millinery skills from many years ago, a skill I am so glad I learnt - it makes it soo easy to impress.
What are you reading? Once I have read a book to my three-year-old then a book to my two-year-old I am so tired... although I do have a lot of books on the go. A friend just lent me
Trading Up by Candace Bushnell.

Images courtesy of Miss Haidee

Friday, 21 November 2008

illustrator kat macleod

I never understand why galleries aren't always open on Sunday. It seems like the perfect day to peruse works of art, don't you think. But quite a few times I've been caught out. And the same thing happened last weekend when I was in Melbourne. I was hoping to catch Kat Macleod's exhibition at Lamington Drive Gallery in Fitzroy. It's hard to believe but it's her first exhibition, although, of course, she has been prolific as an illustrator in books and magazines. The good news is that even if you can't make it to the gallery or arrive on the wrong day, like me, you can check out the catalogue which will be uploaded on the The Jacky Winter Group website. Oh, and the exhibition ends November 29 - so don't wait too long to check it out... And one more thing. If you would like to see the interview I did with Kat during my Design*Sponge guest blog click here - and if you would like to see the remainder of her answers that I posted on daily imprint, click here. But for now enjoy what she has to say about the exhibition alongside a few other thoughts.

Which five words best describe you? Sometimes messy and sometimes neat.

What's your proudest achievement? I am very proud of Ortolan, the graphic design company I co-run with my two business partners Simone Elder and Chloe Quigley. I love being able to spend each day working with them, there's a lot of mutual admiration and respect going on. We have worked really hard to create and maintain our business and I feel really lucky that I've met the girls and we are living our dream. Also I am really happy with my first solo exhibition which just opened. I worked really hard on it and I couldn't be happier with how everything has turned out.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? I have only really worked on commercial and editorial projects since the beginning of my illustration career eight years ago. I really love my job but there seems to be less and less time to draw just for fun and experiment with materials and subject matter, and explore new styles and techniques. I had been thinking it would be nice to see what happened if I focused on a collection of drawings which weren't for a client or a brief, and just see what I could come up with. My illustration agent Jeremy Wortsman from The Jacky Winter Group has been helping me organise and work toward having a show all year, and when he opened up his own gallery, Lamington Drive, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. The show is titled The Tiniest Spark, it's a lyric from one of my favourite Bjork songs, Isobel. The full lyric goes: "In a forest pitch dark, glowed the tiniest spark, it burst into a flame...". I thought that the lyric summed up my process of drawing, and that's more or less what I explored whilst creating the pieces: the spark of an idea and the little burst of inspiration which is the beginning of each piece. The show is an exploration of my process.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Make room for intuition.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Quentin Blake, who illustrates Roald Dahl books. I'd like to have met Roald Dahl too. Both of their work is genius in my eyes, and their books are just perfect.
What are you reading?
Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre.

Images courtesy of Kat Macleod and Lamington Drive Gallery

nouvelle vague unplugged

I don't know about you but I don't get to music gigs as much as I used to. But in March I got to see Nouvelle Vague when they were in Sydney and it gave me one of those epiphanies - I have to do this more often. It was so much fun. The music was great and the band had endless energy... and I would even go to say that the live performance was even better than their CD, which rarely if ever happens. Because it was at the Metro, it was a reasonably intimate show and I danced and danced and danced - despite being very very pregnant. This show will be an acoustic set but I'm sure it will more than deliver. Can't wait!

18 Dec - Melbourne, The Prince Bandroom

19 Dec - Sydney, The Factory Theatre

20 Dec - Brisbane, The Brisbane Powerhouse

Images courtesy of
Cartell Music

Thursday, 20 November 2008

melbourne wedding

It is always the unscripted moments that make weddings so memorable. And so I will never forget when Belinda and Jacques's baby boy Jeremy fell asleep when he was supposed to have been handing across their wedding rings. It was the cutest thing I've seen in a long time. And then when his parents arrived at the reception he ran out to greet them, bursting with excitement. Too, too cute. Also, the location of both the ceremony (Rippon Lea Estate) and reception (The Willows) where both so romantic and beautiful that I was reminded of many of the great English estates. That's Melbourne for you, though... And a great way to spend the weekend.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


Lucy Feagins is my "go-to" girl in Melbourne. Mainly for when I'm working on features for real living. For example, I was trying to track down a photography studio for a food story a little while ago and I contacted Lucy as she seems to have her eyes everywhere. Most of you probably already know that Lucy has a highly tuned tracking ability thanks to her blog The Design Files. I'm so glad I got Lucy to answer the questions below because, as always, she's included some fascinating gems. Above is her work as a set designer.

Which five words best describe you? Creative, thoughtful, sensitive, organised, passionate.

What’s your proudest achievement? On a personal level, my proudest achievement was buying my own home just over a year and a half ago. It makes me feel like a grown-up.
I’m also very proud of my blog - it seems to have taken on a life of its own - I never expected it to grow as it has, and sometimes I feel I’m struggling to keep up. The Design Files has put me in touch with some of the most incredible people, and has given me lots of opportunities I never expected. Since starting the site in January this year, I have been asked to write articles for magazines including
Design Quarterly and Artichoke – and I was pretty excited when Belle magazine recently asked to use some of my photos for their next issue.

Who inspires you? My partner Gordon – he’s a tireless "do-er". He has taught me to take the plunge, to act on my plans and ideas rather than just dream about them; to never waste a moment.
Marije Vogelzang – a unique Dutch food designer with the most fabulous ideas when it comes to shared cooking/dining/eating experience. I am addicted to her blog and company website. A truly unique creative mind. I have also written a little background about Marije on my blog here.

What are you passionate about? Good design in all its forms. Melbourne – its eclecticism, its colourful and vibrant sense of community, its support of local artists, designers and independent creative business. Blogs – self-publishing is an amazing, empowering thing.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Just start. I have a tendency to over-calculate my decisions, and to be so concerned with getting something perfect, that I sometimes never even begin! I’ve learnt that the best thing you can do is "lean in to it" – just start, somewhere, and the rest will follow.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Stefan Sagmeister – on top of being an extremely talented and internationally recognised designer, he also appears to be the most truly lovely guy. He’s modest and thoughtful, and he has the most beautiful, engaging accent. Have you seen this film. It is fantastic - please watch it.

What’s next? Improvements to my blog – perhaps a bit of a redesign, more features, and collaborations with other like-minded bloggers and creative people. I would love The Design Files to have more of a sense of community rather than just being my voice all the time. Work-wise, I’d love to sink my teeth into a great Australian feature film. In the last couple of years I’ve been working on a lot of comedy and children’s TV series and commercials, and I’m ready for a new challenge.

What are you reading?
House of Concepts, which is a book about the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands. I really love Dutch design, and many of the designers I admire most studied at this prestigious school, including Marije Vogelzang, mentioned above. This book looks at many of the Design Academy’s most high-profile and successful graduates.

images courtesy of lucy feagins

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

australia week at liberty post

As my dad would say, I'm burning the candle at both ends. This morning I was interviewing, writing and creating my blog and this evening I am catching up on all the wonderful posts out there. Then I spotted him - my beautiful baby boy - on Liberty Post! - followed by pics of my home and pregnancy feature for real living. In case you've missed it, she has had an "Australia week" featuring everything from Kylie Minogue to Sass & Bide to Shannon Fricke. Definitely addictive... and an honour to be mentioned in such fine company. Thank you, Miss Post.

Image courtesy of Liberty Post

advent calendar - part i

It's all Belinda's fault. That's my colleague and friend Belinda Graham from real living, renovate + decorate and mini meez. But Lisa Tilse has to shoulder her share of the blame, too. They both got me obsessing about advent calendars after this post here. So now I'm looking high and low for a great one. Of course, first port of call was Etsy where I found this incredibly cute version at GongyAndSquish. I guess it would be easy to make a similar one from Ikea storage boxes. But it's mid November - I don't have time!

Images courtesy of

Monday, 17 November 2008

designer melissa gardner

Melissa Gardner is another creative woman that I contacted for the upcoming real living "handmade" feature. While her "day job" is as a graphic designer at Brisbane design studio Jolt, she also spends considerable time and love painting Russian Babushka dolls for Nushka Dolls. And with what little spare time she has left over Melissa also does part-time assistant teaching at Shillington College to share her knowledge with emerging talent.

Which five words best describe you? Creative. Passionate. Sarcastic. Organised. Silly.
What's your proudest achievement? Buying my first unpainted Babushka doll - it was just going to be a gift for a friend but has now turned into a fabulous hobby where I get to create more and more!
Who inspires you? Every day I come across new people who inspire me.
Flickr is my main source of inspiration - there are so many fantastic artists/illustrators/designers/photographers on there that inspiration is endless! One of my long-time sources of inspiration is Dick Bruna who created Miffy. I love his style. I also love my boyfriend who inspires me every day with new creative endeavours.
What are you passionate about? Design. Art. Photography. Music. Classic cars. Not-so-classic cars. Traveling. Dreaming. Good food. Great coffee.

What's the best lesson you've learnt? Creativity takes courage - Henri Matisse.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Dick Bruna and any other creative illustrators who inspire me.
What's next? More dolls! I'm planning to expand my current spectrum of designs into even more contemporary colours and patterns! Maybe some cute little animations?
What are you reading? I'm a big magazine buff - just bought 3 new ones on the weekend. Really love all design-related mags and also
Frankie is a good read too!

Images courtesy of Melissa Gardner


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