Thursday, 31 January 2008

hang on...

Carrie's gorgeous phone is perched on her bedside table.






A year or so ago we ditched our home phone. Line rental costs are a joke in Australia and we hardly ever used the thing. But now I'm starting to wonder if it was a rash decision. I've always loved the black bakelite-type phone Carrie uses in Sex And The City. And now I'm reading The Slow Guide Sydney I wonder if I'm losing the good old-fashioned art of conversation. If I was to reinstall then I'd go for one of these snazzy numbers. I don't know if I can go past bakelite. I just love the sound of your finger running along the dial.






Images courtesy of HBO and Crosley Radio.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

big little news













I've been putting off mentioning this for fear of jinxing myself, especially after a bad experience last year. But it's getting harder not to mention given I'm becoming a little more attentive to all things baby. Yes, that's right, I'm pregnant. 20 weeks and counting. Last Friday I had an ultrasound that told me everything was going well. Such a relief. D and I also found out the sex but I'm going to keep mum on that one in case my friend Bianca reads (and she really doesn't want to know).





Anyway, after I left the office I headed to a photo shoot to get some snaps of my growing belly for the mag (stay tuned, as they say). Then after that - I couldn't help myself - I went to the Bholu sale. In a mad rush of excitement I bought an entire cot set and a very cute giraffe (pictured above). But I don't regret it for one minute as they really are so very beautiful. I haven't looked at much baby stuff so far but some of things I've seen have been a bit scary. Thankfully, the Bholu baby range finds the right balance between cute and stylish. Now I've just got to buy the cot, pram... Oh dear. Well, I'll keep you posted, but try not to go overboard.





Images courtesy of Bholu.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

photographer alan jensen

Tokyo man.



Tokyo train.





Sydney skyline.



Storm at sea.





The man behind the lens - Alan Jensen.




There is something about the idea of working as a photographer that seems so glamorous. I always thought that... until I started working with them. Then I realised how incredibly hard they work. It's no wonder they're all so skinny - each time I've been on a shoot with a photographer they've barely had time to eat. (Or maybe I just push them too hard - I do kind of go crazy with my travel itineraries). Anyway, Alan Jensen is a photographer I met recently while shooting my Brisbane travel feature for real living. When the photos arrived recently we were thrilled with the results. Check out the April issue for the feature. Here's more about Alan:


What five words best describe you? Relaxed, inquisitive, loyal, fun, playful, and right now, hungry.
What's your proudest achievement? Getting paid to do what I love.
Who inspires you? Everyone around me. From the happy-go-lucky attitude of my Italian assistant to my mate Morgs, who makes my coffee day in, day out, like a work of art. My girlfriend, who encourages me to be the best I can be. I often find the best motivation in the very normal of circumstances. People who succeed above all else are a constant source of strength. If you look around, they're everywhere!
What are you passionate about? Travel, food, love and learning. Japanese food, beer and skiing - not necessarily in that order.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try, try again.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Nadav Kander, Jeffrey Smart and Thom Yorke. Unique, creative and challenging all in their own right.
What are you excited about? Going to Thailand tomorrow and another year to do it all again.
What's next? More travel, more Japanese and maybe a beer or two...

Images courtesy of Alan Jensen.

Monday, 28 January 2008

courtesy of mao & more







Don't you just love the different colours, smells and textures you experience when you visit another country? I especially love the first two pics. You can almost see how they arrived at the bright green uniform after seeing the photo of the prickly fruits on sale. These photos are from John Williams (pictured above) at Mao and More. Enjoy!

Now, about lunch...

Images courtesy of John Williams @
Mao and More.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

mao & more

Plenty of Mao... and more on offer.



If you're looking to inject colour - this is the shop for you!



Beautiful furniture and furnishings sit alongside quirkier items.



Lanterns galore.



Ronald McDonald on a Chinese armoire - who'd have thought!




Owner John Williams, with one of his many pairs of brightly coloured spectacles.


It's not really fair to call Mao and More a shop. It's more an Aladdin's cave, although one that has treasures from the Far East. And its contents are quite a reflection on the owner, John Williams - colourful, bright, bold... as you'll find out for yourself:



How and why did you start Mao and More? I started it when I was a very young boy - 12 to be exact - the idea not in its current incarnation was and has been there since then to do with a fascination for all things old, new, textures, travel, histories, design, colours, smells, objects and, most of all, people. This leads to exploring periods of times past and present, and having stuff that you can then pass on to others. I also think all these elements make up the palette of people and societies.
How is having your own business different to what you expected? We left Singapore where we were living and returned to Oz. I didn't want the corporate life anymore so it was a very natural and seamless transition to the setting up the Mao and More brand and business concept.
What has been the response? I do not believe these things happen in a vacuum but all people and objects collide at the right times. So after a lot of breathtaking conversations Mao and More opened four years ago. The response has been an interesting journey as we have a great many fab customers and people who think what we are doing and the directions we are going in is for them. I think the retailing environment is a massive animal that is voracious and relentless in its pursuit of attracting consumers and customers. I had worked in the advertising and media/marketing environment in my past life, but it does not prepare you for the retail environment. But, hey, we learn and move on!
What has been the highlight? The highlights have been many both here and throughout the markets we trade in. But I think the singular one would be the acceptance of this concept: pulling and pushing it towards the consumer acceptance. And there are two standouts - two charities that Mao and More supports: Margaret Ward, an ex-Medecins Sans Frontieres nurse, who has set up an orphanage in China called
Xinxing Aid for Street Kids which also deals with the trafficking of children. I also feel passionate about people on the land, so we will help support farmers with free labor during times of duress.
Where do you look to for inspiration? I do not look for inspiration as if you look you cannot see it - it's there all the time and it pops up all the time you just have to recognise it and go with it. However, I think there are fab qualities that give you a bit of a different look at yourself. I really love the attitude and vibrancy of Jamie Oliver as he exudes himself; wonderful.
What are you passionate about right now? I have a burning desire to see the farming communities hit by hardship recover; George W Bush to exit the Oval Office and America come to a more real sense of its global position; see my children and all children grow to be the new citizens of tomorrow; and, of course, Mao and More to flourish.
If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be? To meet someone or aspire to meet a person does not equate in my sensibilities, as I think you meet lots of fab people. If you do end up meeting someone who has a large profile well and good... it’s meant to be.
What are you looking forward to? Seeing Mao and More become a bigger venture so I can devote more time to giving back to the communities/causes that need help and assistance. I think giving back is as important as getting - it’s the yin and yang balance.
What are you reading? I am currently reading the new
Neil Perry cookbook: fab, fab, fab, simple and a great outlook on food and how to do it. Also the book called Museum about the Macleay Collection at the University of Sydney. What an interesting man for his time.

Images courtesy of John Williams @
Mao and More.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

favourite finds in melbourne


Images courtesy of yourrestaurants.com.au



Madame Sousou 231 Brunswick St, Fitzroy; 03 9417 0400 Why oh why don't cafes in Sydney look like this? And the great thing is that pretty much every cafe in Melbourne has been designed and decorated with love and care. The breakfast was mighty fine, too.








Babka Bakery Cafe 358 Brunswick St, Fitzroy; 03 9416 0091 Okay, so this is a place I visited last time. That's because it is just so damn good. Couldn't go past the beef burgundy pie. Still thinking about it.




Clear IT 188 Brunswick St, Fitzroy; 03 9415 1339 Kind of shameful to admit but bought some amazing all-leather Alannah Hill red boots for only $150 and Dangerfield trousers for $15!!! Still pinching myself.







Alice Euphemia Shop 6, Cathedral Arcade; 03 9650 4300 Beautiful clothes in a breathtaking building. Hurray for shops that retain character and charm.

anyone for tennis?




I was at the tennis yesterday in Melbourne for the Australian Open - so much fun. Highly recommended. Got to see Roger Federer and Venus Williams play. Also found some great food and shopping spots in Melbourne. Will tell more later.




Image courtesy of Lacoste.



Friday, 18 January 2008

taking it easy?



I'm off to Melbourne this weekend and going to try very, very hard to absorb rather than devour the city. In my bag, I'm taking The Slow Guide To Melbourne in the hope I'll be inspired to take it easy and not do my usual run around like crazy. Hmmm. We'll see.





Image courtesy of The Slow Guides.



Thursday, 17 January 2008

photographer eugene "uge" tan

Eugene "Uge" Tan at the Aquabumps Gallery in North Bondi.




Another day at the office.



A pic he took yesterday in North Bondi. You can buy prints online at aquabumps.com



I'm not sure what quite came first - seeing the Aquabumps Gallery in North Bondi or my husband D getting the newsletter. Certainly, the latter has had a bigger impact on my life than I ever would imagine. Example? Tuesday. Get an email from D. "Going surfing tonight." His reason? Uge's daily newsletter showed photos of the surf from that morning and it was too good for D to miss. Similarly, D slept in this morning leaving me to go for my soft sand run alone. The reason? Uge said to expect crap surf due to the southerly. He was right. So while I sometimes curse Eugene Tan and his newsletter, other times I can't help but be impressed with his "job" and what he's achieved - plus his photos are pretty damn amazing. So many would love to do what he does but, fact is, nothing is really stopping them. Uge just went out there and did it. Kudos to him.

What five words best describe you? Hypo, sometimes very vague (dreamer), passionate, incredibly intelligent (na just kiddin), talkative.
What's your proudest achievement? Opening the Aquabumps Gallery.
Who inspires you? Jon Frank, Dustin Humphrey, my girlie Debs.
What are you passionate about? Ocean, waves, photography, surfing, good design, gelato, yum cha, Seal Rocks. Did I say surfing?
What's the best lesson you've learnt? The harder I work, the luckier I get.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Gerry Lopez.
What are you excited about? Pretty much everything at the moment. But I have a new panoramic Hasselblad underwater camera that I am frothing over. Oh, six overseas trips this year... um... the good weather at the moment.
What's next? Exhibition in London and New York.

Images courtesy of Eugene Tan @ Aquabumps.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

margaret atwood




Because she's a brilliant writer.
Because she's prolific and yet so diverse.
Because she has written some brilliant books about the subject of writing such as Negotiating with the dead.
Because she made "speculative" futuristic/sci-fi books (which I usually hate) such as The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake completely compelling.
Because she's going to publish her worst reviews on her website (there's hope for all of us, then).


Because she's passionate about the environment and donated her Booker prize money to worthwhile causes.


Because she's not afraid to voice her opinion.

Images courtesy of Margaret Atwood.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

penny arcade












I stumbled along Penny Arcade a little while ago - it's that kind of place. While there are an increasing number of businesses opening in this reasonably quiet street of Sydney's Surry Hills - the shop isn't on a main thoroughfare such as Crown or Oxford Sts. But the detour is definitely worth it as you'll find one cool homewares store. Here, owner Michael Bracewell reveals what got the whole thing kick-started.

When and why did you open Penny Arcade? The store opened 11 months ago – the result of a desire to explore other interests after being in fashion for 28 years. I have a love for good design whether it be architecture, automobiles, fashion, furniture, lighting, etc. I enjoy shops that are outside of the square.
Why Penny Arcade? The name was taken from a 1970s sign from Luna Park, which hangs prominently in the entrance.
What has been the response? Surry Hills is undergoing a transformation from an old inner-city working class ragtrade area into a diverse new culture of small businesses, cafes, bars and restaurants. So an interesting store packed with great furniture from the 1950s onwards, plus vintage clothing, has been warmly welcomed.
What five words best describe the shop? Eclectic. Danish. 20th Century. Modern. Inspiring.
What product can’t customers get enough of? Australian companies such as Fler, Parker, Danish Deluxe and Tessa, which were all influenced and did a good job of interpreting the Danish furniture of the 1960s and 70s - especially chairs and sofas.
Where do you look to for inspiration? Books. Internet. Anything on the giants of this period including Eames, Panton, Conran, Wegner, Featherston and a host of others.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Living - Sir Paul Smith - fashion mogul and collector. Dead - Fred Lowen - Australian Furniture design pioneer.
What are you reading?
Iconic Australian Houses 50 60 70 and Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario.
What’s next? The challenge is always to find unique pieces to make the store great. It is a constant as there is no regular supply chain, but I guess that's part of the fun.

Images courtesy of
Penny Arcade.

Monday, 14 January 2008

jewellery designer chelsea de luca

Chelsea wearing one of her jewellery designs.



One of the amazing people I met in Brisbane recently was Chelsea de Luca. I don't know if you could meet a sweeter girl. And, boy, is her shop beautifully put together - it's like a French salon. She has a long console table displaying her beautiful jewels that was once part of a Romeo & Juliet style balcony in Buenos Aires - bought from Salvage. Exquisite! And that's not even talking about the handmade jewels on display. It's no wonder she's getting a following among the rich and famous (Beyonce and Elle have both been papped wearing her pieces).






What five words best describe you? Loyal, dedicated, passionate, ambitious & honest
What's your proudest achievement? Opening my first flagship boutique last year in the TCB Building, Brunswick Street Mall, Fortitude Valley with an overwhelming response. And having the likes of Beyonce, Elle MacPherson and Eva Mendes wearing my jewels.
Who inspires you? So many people. Self-made women who’ve had the courage to take the leap into business; the photographic works of Ellen Von Unwerth; Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott; old black & white movies.
What are you passionate about? I am very passionate and focused on doing the very best that I can in my business and making it the very best that it can be.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? I think one of the most important things is to always ask a million questions if you are unsure about anything. It is the only way you will learn.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? So so many that I would love to meet or have met. Coco Chanel, Mae West, Edith Piaf – all for their bold, independent and fabulous personalities.
What are you excited about? The year ahead in 2008 as the business grows significantly with a focus on expanding into stores both in the Australian and overseas market.
What’s next? New collection out in stores in March and chic new website coming soon.










Image courtesy of Chelsea de Luca.

Friday, 11 January 2008

andy warhol

Andy Warhol, Self Portrait No. 9 1986 (acrylic and screenprint on canvas)
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.



Andy Warhol, Debbie Harry 1980 (acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen)


© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.




Andy Warhol, Skull 1976 (acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen).
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.





While I was on holiday I visited the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. There is something completely captivating about his images. I'd loved to know what people thought of them when they first came out because they're so embedded in our cultural history now that it's hard to separate the man from the work. In some regards they're quite simplistic and incredibly commercial (hence, why they were so successful and made him so much money during his lifetime - rare for an artist) but in other ways they still are on the money. Take, for instance, the skull (pictured above). Skulls are everywhere right now. Certainly, he had his finger on the pulse of modern society - that's one clever man.

Images courtesy of GOMA and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

in case you missed it...











Old flat mates from London have asked to see some pics of my flat. Some of you will be familiar with it from the real living feature, others might have come across pics on absolutelybeautifulthings.blogspot.com but then there are others of you who might not have seen it all - such as Belinda and Eva (hey, girls!). So for them, and you, here it is.

photos courtesy of real living and amanda prior; styling megan morton



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