Friday, 30 January 2009

amy butler and the little green dress

Oh, I can't believe this. Amy Butler is wearing MY dress!!! Yes, that's right. I've got that exact same dress. I bought it in Bondi, Australia, though (only a few weeks ago). And she must have bought it in the US. What a happy coincidence. The only other time this has happened to me was when I saw Gwen Stefani wear a fake tiger fur coat by Miss Sixty and I had the same one - yes, I used to have a little bit of a wild side. Hmmm - that's quite a difference, from Gwen Stefani to Amy Butler. Hopefully that means I've got more of a refined sophistication going on. Well, I'd definitely LOVE to have a home like Amy's.

Image via

Thursday, 29 January 2009

good food choices

Little C has taken to smiling to everyone on the bus during our daily commute. It makes my heart sing.

But earlier this week I was facing a few
more dilemmas.

Image courtesy of
Annabel Karmel

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

shannon fricke's home

Still lovin' the white and blue combo in Shannon's living room

Who would have thought - velvet and a rattan-style chair next to a Zaishu stool!

Love the blue vase, bird and wallpaper contrast with the green plant.

From Shannon's previous home - she was a fan

of blue and white even back then

A creative and yet organised office. Shelves and drawers make me drool

Also found this pic on her site, which is from Shannon's brilliant Sense of Style book.

I heart hydrangeas, especially in blue. I think they're my new favourite flower.

Even the blue sky fits in perfectly!

Shannon Fricke has been teasing us in recent months with glimpses of her home decoration project. For those of you who read her blog regularly, which I suggest you do if you love colour and a sophisticated-cum-casual Australian style, you'll know what I'm talking about. I have to confess that I catch myself thinking about her colour palette at random moments. The peacock green velvet sofa. The dusty turquoise Florence Broadhurst wallpaper. The teal blue scatter cushions. I'm in love, love, love. (I wrote about the initial head-over-heels teal blue moment here.) And another person who is making me think blue is interior stylist Sibella Court, who in a recent (as yet unpublished) real living interview professed her love for indigo. Not surprisingly, Shannon has spoken about this colour too - I'll post my favourite pics soon.

Images courtesy of
Shannon Fricke, Prue Ruscoe

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

designer two ruffians

It's always exciting when you learn that someone has taken the plunge and decided to set up their own business. It's extra gratifying when that person is someone you know and what they've created is something you love. That's the case with Nick Young and two ruffians. Since I've been working at real living, I've been in regular contact with Nick's partner, the talented interior stylist who I featured on my design*sponge guest blog, Clair Wayman. I kind of feel like I know Nick through osmosis as I've been in such regular contact with Clair over the years. And Nick has helped her out on many photo shoots and so I've seen his cheeky smile and irreverent style in photos for the mag. So I was thrilled when I learnt he had set up two ruffians. And I was bowled over when I checked out his website. It's brilliant not only because of the design but also because he's got some great products. Since then I've been begging him to extend his boys' range to a babies' line. Fingers crossed...

Which five words best describe you? Thoughtful, colourful, friendly, driven, fun.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My first job was working in a men’s boutique clothing store. It was my first real introduction in to the world of fashion & design. I then took the option of studying business and finance, with a view to setting up own business one day. This sent me down a more conventional path, through several corporate jobs, until I tunneled my way to freedom and into a world of creativity.
What’s your proudest achievement? Teaching myself to design, expose silk screens, and print.
What’s been your best decision? To buy a Macbook & Adobe creative suites 2.5 years ago. It didn’t magically turn me into designer, but I knew what I wanted to achieve and it’s helped me to launch two ruffians. It was a bit like getting a plane knowing that you wanted fly, but having no idea how all the buttons worked. I still start with a pencil and paper, but I would never have been able to design my own online store, if I hadn’t bought the Mac.
What are you passionate about? Family, friends, the Doris, my dog, music and designing.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Never listen to people who say "it's not possible" and be grateful for each day.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My Dad, just to find out what he thinks of ‘two ruffians’ and listen to his valuable advise.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? To help others achieve their dreams through the success of two ruffians.
What are you reading?
Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far by Austrian artist Stefan Sagmeister.

Images courtesy of two ruffians

Monday, 26 January 2009

(art.inspiration) diana prichard

Diana Prichard (left) and Gail Affleck
There is almost nothing so pleasing as seeing good things happen to a beautiful person. That's what happened when I saw friend and colleague Diana Prichard on the opening night of her second joint exhibition at the Bondi Pavilion Gallery on Wednesday. (Gail Affleck is exhibiting alongside her.) While Diana works as a journalist she spends many spare hours creating gorgeous artworks that very much evoke the suburb where we both live - Bondi.

Which five words best describe you? Optimistic, happy, driven, determined, grateful.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My first job was chambermaid in a London hotel between finishing high school in the UK (moved from Sydney to Surrey when aged 13) and starting an arts degree in Sydney six months later. But I dropped out of uni after a year, worked in a community radio station, travelled and returned to uni a couple of years later to study communications. I've worked as a print journalist ever since. But a couple of years ago I also started painting, after finding some dumped timber shelves, floorboards and pallets on our council verge. For some unknown reason I thought they would make great canvases. I love wood - its grain and texture - and I also loved that this found timber had a sense of mystery attached to it: what had it been used for, where had it been, and how did it end up in Bondi? I also love turning utilitarian objects into artworks, and particularly like pallets as a canvas. The spaces between the slats provide a lightness and airiness to the work, and also suggest something by their very absence. After I found the wood, I began to paint what I knew: my Bondi neighbourhood. Looking out my sunroom/studio window I am constantly inspired by the little portraits of everyday life: my sons and their friends juggling footballs and skateboarding; surfers, with boards under their arms, running down the road to the beach; willy wagtails hopping around the front garden; and bottlebrush and flannel flowers waving in the sea breeze.
What's your proudest achievement? Helping to grow two beautiful, energetic, sensitive, thoughtful and good-humoured sons.
What's been your best decision? Returning to Sydney in 1998 after living in the literal (and stunning) wilderness of Tasmania for nine years. Tassie is a sensational state, but I missed the frenetic, invigorating and inspirational energy of a busier place. I'm excited by the possibilities here.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? I painted so much timber, and ran out of space at home, so had my first exhibition at the Bondi Pavilion Gallery two years ago. I was really thrilled to find my work struck a chord with others, but I knew I had so much to learn, and my obsession to learn more was growing. I painted at every opportunity, learning about colour, form, composition, texture and perspective as I went; broadening my range of subjects; and developing my style. I was running out of space again, and held another exhibition at the pavilion gallery, which is on at the moment. I love painting, I think about it all the time, and if I don't paint for a few days, I get twitchy!
Who inspires you? My sons and their friends inspire me every day, whether they're surfing, skateboarding, juggling footballs in front of the garage, wrestling, teasing, or laughing. They embrace life with incredible energy, honesty, thoughtfulness, humour and sensitivity - these boys are simply glorious - and I'm hopeful for the future in their hands. And my darling husband, also a water man - a surfer and a skipper - always inspires me, as well as artists Rosalie Gascoigne, Euan Macleod and Picasso!
What are you passionate about? Leaving a healthy planet for our kids; looking after those less fortunate than ourselves; standing up for what we believe in; family, friends, painting, and chocolate! Chocolate and a glass or red wine a day are excellent for our spirits, and good for our hearts!
What's the best lesson you've learnt? To believe in yourself and to follow your dreams. To go for it! You'll never know unless you try. And if you fall down, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again... but never, ever give up. And to try and live generously and to curb jealousy - it ultimately only destroys yourself.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My great, great... (not sure how many greats) aunt Florence Rodway, who was a very talented portrait painter, but stopped painting the minute she married. I'd love to ask her why: did she really want to, or was it the social norm? If it was the first, I'd love to encourage her to buck the patriarchal system and follow her passion.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To be good enough...
What are you reading? I haven't read a book for a few months, frantic with getting this exhibition together, but can't wait to start The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood by Rachel Power, which is apparently about the conflict between being a mum and trying to create! A friend lent it to me (!). It sounds like a very, very appropriate read. I feel I've neglected my kids somewhat in my pursuit of painting (although my teenager said he likes being neglected!!!). I'll take the book down to the gallery next week, to read while I'm sitting behind the desk.

Friday, 23 January 2009

renovation sale

Oh, it's too good to be true. One of my favourite Sydney art galleries is having a renovation sale. Eeny, meeny, miny, mo....

Image courtesy of Arthouse Gallery

Thursday, 22 January 2009

designer caitlin klooger

There is something about handprinted fabric that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It's the realisation that a product has not been made on a production line. And that it hasn't been made in a sweat shop. Or loaded onto a shipping container in China. No, designing and printing your own fabric must be something like making the most delicious homecooked meal you can think of. It's an endeavour that seems to be filled with goodwill and love. What a gift to have. And so what a fortunate person Caitlin Klooger is to not only have the ability to design and print her own fabrics, but to have the business acumen to sell them via her website business pippijoe.

Which five words best describe you? Creative, messy, lucky, determined, busy.

What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? When I was about 8 years old I made little elf Christmas decorations from wooden beads and toothpicks which I sold in a local gift shop. I made $10. Since then I’ve studied various design streams including interior design and landscape architecture. I love creating things. I think that textile design links all of my previous incarnations beautifully.

What’s your proudest achievement? Besides my kids, it would have to be getting pippijoe off the ground. It’s amazing to have a creative outlet that is truly my own, where it’s driven by my choices and designs. That fact that it has been received so well has been so empowering for me. I also love that many of my friends have been inspired to create things using my fabric; I just can’t begin to explain how wonderful it is to be part of other people’s creativity.

Who inspires you? People who can fulfil their creative passions while keeping the home fires burning.

What are you passionate about? Creating things! I love to make things from scratch, be it cooking, sewing, crafting or gardening. I generally have a few things on the go at any one time and many things that are never quite finished.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Design and make what I like not what I think people like. Then, if no one wants what I create, I’d be happy to keep it.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Florence Broadhurst – strong, creative, mysterious and completely extraordinary if all I’ve read is true…

What’s next? This past year has been so busy, that I now want to take some time to regain the balance in my life so I can be a good mum, wife while still having time to simply be creative. Then, a few designs, a print run… and see what happens.

What are you reading? I love biographies and am currently reading one about Truman Capote and his flamboyant and hedonistic life in the midst of New York arts and society. Such a different world.

Images courtesy of pippijoe

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

photo love

I realised the other day just how much I love looking at photo albums - I wrote about it here. And, yet, I don't have a single one for my Little C. Shameful, I know. So I've decided to put a plan into action. I've ordered one of Kasia Jacquot's beautiful "Once a year" albums that she creates for Laikonik. Surely, even I can manage that!

Have you printed off photos of your children? Do you have albums? And how do you store your albums? I really want to take all of my travel photos out of mismatched albums and put them in those gorgeous-to-touch (and look at)
Corban & Blair black books.

Image courtesy of

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


Finally, I understand why so many people love the works of Frida Kahlo. I have to admit they were a little lost on me previously. You know - the works where she has her unborn son son levitating above a bed. A little too much information, perhaps. And a little too surreal. But I think once you have more of an appreciation of her life story - and what a tragedy that was - her paintings can be seen in a completely different way.

This new appreciation is thanks to the film Frida, which I finally watched the other night on DVD. At first I regreted my choice. The acting seemed a little contrived and the script a little cheesy. But once it got going, I was enthralled. Of course, I am a bit of a sucker for stories about artists. But I loved the more surreal edges to the film - when the paintings become the action and vice versa. I was also fascinated to learn of her relationship with Trotsky. I studied the Russian revolution at high school for what seemed like an eternity. But what perhaps won me over was her determination to keep painting no matter what obstacles she faced during life. A true inspiration.

Monday, 19 January 2009

matthew williamson

Stronger colours on this cover - my preference

The colours look faded and a little dirty in

comparison with the cover above

Love the wallpaper (design AND colour), the mirror and console

Brave choice - turquoise with fuchsia pink and then a hit of kelly green

Clever use of mirrors and like the orange

window frames - who'd have thought?!

A light installation in a stair well - great use

of a normally bland, empty space

Stainless steel is a bit boring but the pink more than compensates

I've seen a gad-zillion mood boards in my time but

never in a bathroom. Like it. Like it a lot.

The man - who I once met in London (he's tiny!) - on a sofa

that is not really my cup of tea

I thought I'd post some pics of UK fashion designer Matthew Williamson's cool and colourful London home - after talking about it here - which features on the cover of the latest Elle Decoration magazine and has previously been on the cover of Domino magazine.

Yep, it's pretty out there and even I don't think I could live with quite so many electric hues I love that he has been brave. After all, someone has to lead the pack. Then the reinterpreted, distilled look will eventually make its way down into accessible homeware brands.

Anyway, love to know what you think, especially the differences between how the two magazines have styled and presented the covers (such as use of props and colour tweaks). There's a great commentary on
Mirror Mirror, which is where I sourced these pics.

Images courtesy of
Domino, Elle Decoration and Mirror Mirror

Friday, 16 January 2009

designer rachel castle

The other day at work I was flicking through a stack of interior mags - it's my job, honest!!! - and even though I do fantasise about living in a white house I am instantly drawn to any image with colour. I had a paroxysm of delight when I saw Matthew Williamson's London home in the latest issue of Elle Decoration. Anyway, I think a more realistic option for me would be to pursue something like what Rachel Castle has achieved with these gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous images of her products. White background. Tick. Bursts of colour. Tick.

After working in London and setting up a design and branding agency there - where she created catalogues for Conran Shops - Rachel has returned to Sydney and established CASTLE, which produces beautiful bedlinen and handcrafted artworks (with the help of her mother Jillian Patching). The dots (you can see them as artworks on her website) kind of remind of some of Damien Hirsts' artworks.

Which five words best describe you? Loyal, fastidious, persistent, reliable and sometimes chaotic - from what I'm told!
What was your first job and what path have you taken since? Marketing the homeware range at Country Road in the late eighties, working with Terence Conran and then our own branding agency in the UK during the nineties, back home in Australia the last few years working with artist David Band in Melbourne before starting CASTLE in Sydney in 2008.
What's your proudest achievement? My marriage - it's hard yakka staying married to the person you love!
Who inspires you? My beautiful, funny little children, and all the colour they bring to our lives.
What are you passionate about? All the ings... sewing, printing, painting, knitting, cooking, and especially, my all time favorite, singing.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? If you want the bed made nicely don't ask your husband to do it.
Which living person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Shane McGowan and Kirsty McColl together.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Going on holiday with my best friend when she finally finishes her PHD sometime this CENTURY!
What are you reading? Independence Day by Richard Ford

Images courtesy of CASTLE

Thursday, 15 January 2009

quick fix

Do you umm and ahh over the different ways to dress your child? After all, the clothes we dress them in says a lot about who we are as mums. And don't get me started on clothing stickers - I got myself tied in knots over whether C was more of a surf dude (ya know, even though he can't crawl yet) or more a skull and cross bones kinda guy.

Image courtesy of Stuck on You

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

the diving bell and the butterfly

Can I just say now that I'm in love with Julian Schnabel. I've written about my crush before. But after finally getting to watch The Diving Bell and The Butterfly it's getting to become a full-blown obsession. I'd love anyone to recommend a book about Monsieur Schnabel. I HAVE to learn more!

Oh, and the film - divine. Beautifully shot. An inspiring story. Definitely worth watching. It made me want to buy the book that it's based on by former Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby called
Le scaphandre et le papillon.

A few little facts about the film:
* Johnny Depp was originally going to play the lead.
* Julian Schnabel learnt French to make the film.
* Julian Schnabel won Best Director at both the Golden Globe Awards and Cannes Film Festival among a stack of other awards.

Image courtesy of Pathe

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

designer lori andrews

I haven't met a Canadian I haven't liked yet. And Lori Andrews is no exception. She lives in Calgary and is one of those oh-so-talented types that has a multitude of epithets next to her name. Interior decorator. Artist. Photographer. She is also an author. Her latest book is Lori Andrews Interiors, a realistic guide to decorating your home from the self-proclaimed 10-cent designer. Oh, and I love, love, love that first pic.

Which five words best describe you? Creative, Fun, Focused, Friendly, Slightly Obsessive.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since? My first job was at Calaway Park, our local family amusement park. One of my duties was to man the Pop&Floss (popcorn and candy floss machine). One day while I was attending customers, I inadvertently left the popcorn in the burner too long. It caught fire. I burned down the Pop&Floss. Since that time I have become very detailed oriented. I always try to think of all the possible scenarios before I approach a problem. teehee
What’s your proudest achievement? Creating my own successful interior design business complete with staff members.
Who inspires you? My flickr
friends. Seriously, they continually amaze me with their individual creativity, openness and brilliance.
What are you passionate about? Art and design.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Give praise freely.
Which living person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Annie Leibovitz.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I want to have my designs featured in
Metropolitan Home Magazine.
What are you reading?
Vanity Fair.

Images courtesy of Lori Andrews Interiors


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