Friday, 26 February 2010

you only live once

D took this pic last weekend just outside the front of North Bondi Italian Food. Thought it was a good thought to end the week.

image daily imprint

Thursday, 25 February 2010

photographer clare plueckhahn

It's hard to believe that Clare Plueckhahn is only 26 and yet working as a professional photographer. Yes, 26! I met her a late last year when she came to Sydney from Melbourne to show her portfolio. I'd been impressed after she shot some beautiful photos of Midi Boutique (pictured, top), a shop that belongs to her friend Jess Young, which we featured in real living. Clare is currently producing a girls' surf film. Cool. 

Which five words best describe you? I'm a dreamer. Adventurous, visual, energetic and restless.
What was your first career job and what path have you taken since? Assisting other photographers, which I saw as a great learning experience. After that I freelanced in a studio that specialised in linen photography. So I perfected steaming, ironing and folding linen! But since then I've been freelancing out of C.I.Studios as a food, surf and lifestyle photographer.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? You never stop learning. And if you do, you're not pushing yourself hard enough. Corny but true.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Being 26 and sustaining myself through a career as a professional photographer. I never thought I would be where I am so early in my life. That and also travelling last winter to Hawaii to do photography stills on my first feature film 'First Love'.
What’s been your best decision? To persist with photography and not take an easier road. Mum and Dad are really supportive now but I remember they were always warey because freelance work is so irregular. It's hard to maintain especially when all your friends are getting regular full-time jobs. Early on it was really hard to keep motivated but it's definitely paid off. Deciding what you want to do and just doing it is easier than it sounds. You just need to take the leap!
Who inspires you? Tim Winton because I love the way his words evoke images in my head. My passion for food photography comes from cooking. I'm always testing out new recipes; my day pretty much revolves around food. I also like keeping abreast of the industry. I'm always looking at what other photographers do, or drawing from my everyday experiences, friends and family.
What are you passionate about? Creating beautiful images and having the time of my life doing it. I guess I've just combined my two loves (cooking & surfing) into my profession.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Sofia Coppola. I have forgiven her for her acting in The Godfather 3 and completely adore her films. From Virgin Suicides to Lost In Translation I love the way she sees the world.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Doing photography for a cookbook and working overseas in Europe.
What are you reading? Eat, Pray, Love. Which kind of goes with my motto at the moment. Eat, surf, shoot, sleep.
images clare plueckhahn

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

fashion designer akira isogawa

Is there anyone more distinctive, and yet completely successful, in Australian fashion than Akira Isogawa. He proves that you can be a maverick and still make your way. He is also completely unassuming. A couple of years ago real living created a room set based on his rug design for Designer Rugs. Everyone was blown away with his professionalism and humbled by his grace.

Which five words best describe you? I see myself as carrying an antonymic character. Realist, conformist, non-conformist and dreamer (day/night).
How did you get your start in fashion and what path have you taken since? The starting point was making clothes by getting the right tools and machines.
What advice would you give to aspiring designers? Faith is powerful.
What has been your best decision? Start in fashion.
Who inspires you? Designers I respect as well as some of my close friends.
What are you passionate about? Fashion is a passion.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Being inspired in 10, 20, 30... years to come.

images courtesy of akira isogawa

Monday, 22 February 2010

artist peter sharp

I was drawn to these artworks because of the colour palette and organic shapes. When I learnt that the artist Peter Sharp, a keen surfer, had lived in Paris - after being granted a residency at the Cite' des Arts Internationale several years ago - I had to smile. It's a wonderful image: an Aussie bloke collaborating with French printmakers to make lithographs and etchings. That's not to undersell Peter, who has also exhibited in Germany, as well as Australia's prestigious Wynne and Sulman Prizes. He is exhibiting at Liverpool St Gallery, Sydney, until March 11. 

Which five words best describe you? Honest, determined, affable, surfer and artist.
What was your first career job and what path have you taken since? After graduating with a Masters of Fine Art at the University of New South Wales, College of Fine Arts (COFA) in 1992, I became a high school art teacher and continued to paint in my spare time. I am now a professional artist, exhibiting with Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney and teaching painting at College of Fine Arts (COFA).
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Enjoy and believe in what you do and the rest will follow.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Making works that still inspire and have the ability to move people.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? A trip to the Louvre Museum in Paris in 2008 where I rediscovered the fragmented hand of the Winged Victory of Samothrace (190 BC). I was struck by how beautiful it was and I wanted to develop a body of work inspired by the lines and forms of the almost fingerless hand. I spent the next year creating a body of paintings, sculptures and monoprints using the silhouettes, shapes and overlapping compositions that were first imaged in the Louvre.
Who inspires you? People who are passionate about what they do from all walks of life. In my work, I am inspired by an Indigenous approach to the landscape where nature is part of you, and you are part of nature.
What are you passionate about? I am passionate about art, my family and being outdoors. I love bushwalking and surfing at the beach and I always take a sketchbook wherever I go.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would love to meet Francis Bacon and also Louise Bourgeois.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? In the long term, I want to finish the seven-year renovations on our house, hold a major exhibition of work in a gallery overseas and put together an exhibition that people will never forget even if they tried to!
What are you reading? I just finished Stoked, the autobiography of surfer, Bob McTavish and am currently reading Gerhard Richter’s Biography, The Daily Practice of Painting: Writings 1962-1993.

images courtesy of peter sharp and liverpool st gallery

Friday, 19 February 2010


Kelly Wearstler doesn't make apologies with interiors. Instead she makes bold and confident statements; and heeds you to take notice. Each space is thoroughly resolved and unique. And while she has been heralded as the reigning queen of Hollywood Regency, Kelly seems to have surpassed that trend with a stronger look, which has become her signature style. Furthermore, in amongst the empire that she's created - homewares, books (HUE is her latest), TV programs, countless magazine features - she is a mother to two young boys. Indefatigable, irrepressible and a living icon of interior design.

Which five words best describe you? I chose 6! Creative,  family-oriented, risk-taker, ambitious, free-thinker, organised.

What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? I worked as a waitress for years. That job taught me how to multi-task and deal with people.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Opening my design firm over a decade ago. It was always a dream of mine, and I was fortunate enough to make it a reality.

What’s been your best decision? Having a family.

Who inspires you? William de Kooning, Sonia Rykiel, Ettore Sottsass... Each brings something unique to the table in their respective fields, which I respect and admire.

What are you passionate about? Fashion, travel, design, my family...

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Always learn from your mistakes.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would love to have an opportunity to meet my children’s children and my great, great grandparents. It would be so intriguing to see my family’s past and future.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Opening my own lifestyle boutique.

What are you reading? My new book, HUE.

images courtesy of kelly wearstler; portrait mark edward harris

Thursday, 18 February 2010

fashion designer collette dinnigan

This is Collette Dinnigan's first foray into interiors -
the Dom Perignon lounge at Sydney's hemmesphere, Establishment.

I have a lot of admiration for Collette Dinnigan. And it's not just because she creates the most beautiful, feminine clothes. Or because she started out in the ABC costume department in Sydney (there's something wonderfully romantic about that kind of work). And it's not even because she was the first Australian to show a ready-to-wear collection in Paris. No, rather, it's because under intense media scrutiny, due to her phenomenal success on an international scale, she's kept her poise and focus, and continued on with what she loves: designing beautiful clothes.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, creative, spontaneous, detailed, nurturing.
How did you get your start in fashion and what path have you taken since? After studying fashion design in New Zealand, I gained invaluable experience at my first role within the costume department of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The exposure to so many key periods within fashion continues to influence me to this day.
What advice would you give inspiring designers? The best advice I ever received was 'listen, rather than speak' and always follow your instincts.
What is your proudest career achievement? Our 10-year anniversary show in Paris.
What has been your best decision? To work for myself, building my own company and brand and of course to become a mother to my beautiful daughter Estella.
Who inspires you? A vast mirriad of people both past and present from Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Talitha Getty and Cate Blanchett.
What are you passionate about? Escaping to my property in the South Coast with family and friends, I really enjoy entertaining and cooking, and also tending to my veggie garden.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Artists Andy Warhol and Picasso.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would love to go into designing hotels and interiors.
What are you reading? Tim Winton's latest novel.

images courtesy of collette dinnigan

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

nyc photographer drew sackheim

Don't each of these photos capture a golden moment - a time between play and posing; awareness and obliviousness? They're the work of New York photographer Drew Sackheim who got his start photographing high-profile musicians such as Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Mick Jagger, Elton John for Rolling Stone magazine, among others. He then moved to Europe and focussed on fashion photography before returning to America, and creating sublime images for the likes of Vogue Bambini. 

Which five words best describe you? Determined, sensitive, analytical, studious, quirky.
How did you get your start as a photographer and what path have you taken since? When I was just starting to learn to take photos, I took a photo at a concert of a major artist who was with MCA Records (Universal Group). I ran down in front and shot a roll of film in the days when you could do that sort of thing and no one would bother you. My family happened to have a friend who worked at the record company and he'd occasionally give me albums. I decided to give him a print of one of the photos. They ended up buying the image and put up a giant print in the Universal Studios commissary. Then they gave me my first jobs photographing musicians. Eventually I found myself being influenced by fashion photographers and that in turn led me to Europe.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers? It's a bit of a paradox; learn to trust your own instincts as much as you can... and also allow room for feedback from a person or two that you respect and trust.
What’s your proudest career achievement? There have been various occasions where I've done a story - for editorial or even just for myself - and felt that I did what I considered to be outstanding work at that moment in time. More specifically I was quite proud of my very first story for Vogue Bambini as it was a goal I'd had for a long time... and I was really happy with how it looked on the page.
What has been your best decision? To go and live in Europe immersing myself in European culture for many years.
Who inspires you? I find inspiration in all sorts of places and from all sorts of people. I'm particularly inspired by artists, musicians, designers, teachers, and film makers who have quite a bit of the rebel in them and put everything they have into their work. They create with an unmistakable passion and a very personal voice: Akira Kurosawa, Alexander McQueen, Neil Finn, Pete Townshend, Joni Mitchell, Caii Quo Chang, Modigliani, Gerhard Richter, Emaho, Miki Dora (the late renegade surfer) to name a few. There are many more.
What are you passionate about? I'm passionate about beauty, personal development, communication and music. I've played instruments for most of my life and it's been very complementary to photography and helped me to be even more passionate about music.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Perhaps Paramahansa Yogananda and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'd like to have a gallery show with the idea of creating new avenues of expression for my photography.
What are you reading? Be Quick - But Don't Hurry by Andrew Hill with John Wooden. It's about the teachings of John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach of UCLA. A random quotation from the book: "Focus on effort, not winning".

images courtesy of drew sackheim

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

jewellery designer samantha wills

Here's a Tuesday challenge for you. Hop onto Samantha Wills' website and see if you can't find something that you want to buy this minute. I first came across the jewellery a few years ago when we featured Samantha's office in real living magazine. And while I really liked her designs then, I LOVE them now - it's because of the references in her work: places (Morocco), cultures (native Americans), history (Art Deco). And the colours and shapes are amazing. I'm enamoured with Samantha's story too. She's from Port Maquarie, which is a small place on the world stage, but she's made it big, having her designs sold all over the world.

Which five words best describe you? Bohemian, creative, adventurous, down-to-earth, ambitious.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? I had my own hand beaded jewellery label, ‘Sam-art’, which I sold in my parents boutique in Port Macquarie when I was 11 years old. I feel very blessed to be able to say that… the rest is history!
What’s your proudest achievement? Watching the brand grow internationally. To take the label literally from my own backyard, to the arm, hands and necks of some of the world’s biggest stars is still very surreal to me.
What’s been your best decision? To allow myself to follow my heart and not my head – especially in my biggest career defining moments.
Who inspires you? My business partner, Geoff Bainbridge. While being the most business savvy person I have ever met, it is his ability to interact with people of all ages and from all walks of life that is truly inspiring. He is an amazing individual.
What are you passionate about? Following and fulfilling my dreams, my friendships and making the most of every moment. I have made it my business to not take anything for granted.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? If you can’t be good, be good at it!
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would love for my beloved Ga (grandfather) to have met me as the woman I am today. He passed away when I was in high school and I would give anything to have him here today to speak with him, adult to adult.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To work in an Orangutan Orphanage in Borneo.
What are you reading? Mama Mia by Mia Freedman. I love Mia’s honesty in everything she undertakes. I think the most inspiring people are the people who are most honest.

images courtesy of samantha wills

Monday, 15 February 2010

sneak peek at my first ever styling shoot

A funny thing happened to me late last year. I woke up one morning and decided I was going to ask Real Living magazine editor Deborah Bibby if I could style a photo shoot. Then the really scary part: she said yes! - and gave me one of the biggest features in the magazine - "shopping". I was either going to sink or swim. Let me tell you, there was a lot of thrashing in the water the week of the shoot. But somehow I emerged and kept my head above water and the pics above are of how the shoot turned out.

So what's it really like to style for a magazine? There was LOTS of running around sourcing products, arranging courier deliveries, unpacking, unpacking, unpacking, creating "make" projects, styling, repacking, repacking, repacking, arranging returns. I lost 2kg that week simply because I didn't have time to eat.

The part I enjoyed the most was actually coming up with the concepts. Of course, I had to include a "Bookish bohemian" room - this is very much MY style. The second office, "Laid-back glamour", was inspired by the office of Lonny Magazine's Michelle Adams (featured in Real Living in July 09). And the last space - "Crafty industrial" used references from Amy Butler's home featured in Midwest Modern.

Would love to know what you think, and which one you like the best. Also, love to hear which offices in general you find inspiring - send links if you can. The March issue of Real Living, which includes the shoot, is on sale today.

images courtesy of real living and chris warnes 

Friday, 12 February 2010

interior designer india hicks

India Hicks proves you should never judge a person by their family tree, beauty or book cover. I recently had this "a-ha" moment in a Sydney bookshop. Previously I had admired the photos of her Caribbean home via glimpses in magazines and blogs. I had bookmarked a spread in Cookie magazine when India looked glamorous yet completely natural with a baby girl on her hip and three boys sauntering at her side (they too appearing film-star cool, wearing Ray Bans). I was also aware of India's successful stint hosting Bravo TV's Top Design, not to mention her home and body range for Crabtree and Evelyn.

But it wasn't until I had a good look within the pages of her book Island Life that I became spellbound. It wasn't just the beautiful library of books in Hibiscus Hill. Nor the decor, which made me think of Hemingway by the sea with its dash of colonial Africa, or the rows of photos celebrating family and her boys. As Ralph Lauren says in the foreward, something else was afoot:

"The style of her homes on the island is impressive and I was also captivated by the romance of the story that lay behind their creation. It strikes me that many people may dream of leaving high-profile lives in New York or London to go and live on a tropical island, but very few actually do it - or have the imagination and creativity to make it work."

Yes, India is a model turned interior designer, daughter of the late interior design icon David Hicks, granddaughter of Lord Mountbaten, the last Viceroy of India, bridesmaid to Princess Diana, goddaughter to Prince Charles. But she is much more. As I've quickly learnt India is warm, generous and down-to-earth, which is very much reflected in her homes.

Which five words best describe you? Way too bossy but dependable.
What career path have you taken? I have never thought of my life in terms of a career.
What’s your proudest career achievement? The partnership between myself and Crabtree & Evelyn.
What’s been your best decision? Following my heart, which lead me to an island life and four children.
Who inspires you? Anyone who makes their own impression. Noel Coward for instance, he had an individual style and elegance, and a world-class wit.
What are you passionate about? The creative world.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Plus est en vous. More is in you.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? God, just to be sure.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Too many to list...
What are you reading? James and The Giant Peach, to my six-year-old each night.

images courtesy of india hicks and crabtree & evelyn

Thursday, 11 February 2010

blog love - mr jason grant

If you haven't already checked out Mr Jason Grant's blog then I implore you to give your eyes a treat today. It's all about his adventures as a stylist (style director for real living, in fact). He's always out and about discovering fun, quirky and beautiful things. And the blog is written in his succint and witty way. (I'm often on the pointy end of his shtick at work - we're officially office "husband" and "wife" so teasing is allowed.) For a little more Jason love, check out his interview on Daily Imprint here.

images jason grant


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