Wednesday, 31 March 2010

cook book queen michele cranston

I went to the bookshop yesterday and was blown away by just how much shelf space is taken up by cookbooks. Everyone is obssessed with the idea of cooking - but, let's face it, how many of us make those tantalising recipes? Well, there's probably a couple of exceptions - for me, at least. Bill Granger's cookbooks and those by Michele Cranston. She was the pioneer, though, with all those beautiful - and, importantly, easy - recipes for Marie Claire. Michele is definitely the quiet achiever of all those "look at me" cooks and chefs. But that endears her to me even more.

Which five words best describe you? Smiley, chubby, busy, chatty and of course hungry!
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? Cleaning a café - fortunately it was small and I soon started working as a waitress and then a cook. From there I paid my way through university and art school by working in many kitchens.
What’s your proudest career achievement? The marie claire cookbooks. Each one has been a labour of love and there is something wonderfully substantial and enduring about a book. I still get a kick when I see them lined up in bookshops.
What’s been your best decision? Agreeing to help Bill Granger set up bills. The early days of bills was lots of fun and I still miss the buzz of making simple yummy food and all the great people who either worked with me or became regulars and friends.
Who inspires you? People who care about the planet and go out of their way to do something about the bad decisions which we seem to keep making.
What are you passionate about? Good food. It’s a simple statement but encompasses complex issues... nutrition, sustainability, ethics.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Either simplicity or leave your ego at the door. In a funny way it’s the same answer!
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? After seeing ‘Julie and Julia’ it would have to be Julia Child.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Having a vegetable garden like my grandfather’s. I’m great at the salad end but not so good at the seed, sow and slug beginning.
What are you reading? I’m re-reading Much depends on dinner by Margaret Visser but looking forward to the growing pile of ‘holiday reads’ next to my bed.

images courtesy of michele cranston and murdoch books; portrait by leslye coates

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

the sartorialist's scott schuman

An interesting thing happened after I interviewed The Sartorialist's Scott Schuman - via phone to New York (so very old school). I was telling Jacqui Lewis about it and she relayed this story: a friend of hers was shot by Scott when he was in Sydney. The young girl was only 15 but had been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing chemo so had little hair and was wearing a beanie. After the image was posted many people commented on how gorgeous she looked. "It really made her strong and believe that she could get through this and not every single person looking at her thought she had cancer," Jacqui said.

It's amazing how such a simple thing as being photographed can make all the difference to not only the subject, but can help broaden people's acceptance of what is beautiful too. It's telling that the image chosen on the cover of Scott's book is of a woman who has one leg shorter than the other. It was a deliberate decision to use this photo because he wants the definition of beauty to be more all encompassing. This is why Scott and his blog are not just great - but inspiring.

Which five words best describe you? Driven, curious, artistic, generous and selfish.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? Working at a clothing stall at the mall, and I’ve taken a curvy line to where I am now but it’s always been to do with fashion.
What’s your proudest achievement? Making a good community on The Sartorialist where people feel they can communicate and share their thoughts without being ridiculed or made fun of and we are able to have participation on the site from a lot of different types of people.
What’s been your best decision? Just to go for it and trust myself that I was going to become a better photographer and to learn how to shoot things the way that I saw them romantically.
Who inspires you? My girlfriend Garance Doré inspires me. She’s great at writing, great at photography, great at illustrating, but she doesn’t take any of that for granted and she always constantly pushes herself to get better.
What are you passionate about? Continuing to have a relevant blog that inspires people.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Probably to remain calm… when things are going crazy, to remain calm.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I don’t know. I don’t really have anyone like that. I’ve met most of the people that I wanted to meet. If anything, what helps me do what I do, and I talk about it in the book, is if anything to keep a distance from those people so that I can continue to see them in a romantic way, no one ever lives up to your expectations so it’s safer to keep a little distance.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I want to get better. I want to capitalise on all the different things that I’m good at. I want to write better. I want to shoot better. I want to communicate better.
What are you reading? I just bought of autobiography on Lord Snowdon, the photographer.

images courtesy of the sartorialist and penguin

Monday, 29 March 2010

interior designer taryn leibowitz

I always find it interesting to observe how good quality work stands on its own feet - no matter your age, income or background. Take interior designers Taryn Leibowitz (pictured, above) and her business partner Tamie McLachlan who have the interior design practice Leibowitz and McLachlan. They have stormed onto the Australian interior design scene - their first home project was featured in Inside Out magazine - even though they're both quite young. But the spaces they create are sophisticated and mature. Recently I met them both and they're obviously passionate about their work. Meet Taryn.

Which five words best describe you? Romantic, dreamer, no such thing as NO, passionate and my boyfriend says bossy.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since? At 21 work experience for Thomas Hamel which opened my eyes to the world of decorating. I continued to explore what genre I enjoyed most by working at a retail design + hospitality firm and whilst at both of those places my mind would naturally drift off to decorating residential spaces. By the age of 25 my dream became a reality and Leibowitz and Mclachlan was born.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Stick to what you know and what you're good at; creativity will flourish and good things will come. Where there is a will there is a way!
What’s your proudest career achievement? Starting my business from nothing with my partner Tamie and watching it grow has been my greatest achievement. But other highlights along the way included our first job being published in Inside Out in our first year of business with other articles to follow... One in particular was in 2009 one of our largest projects was published on the cover and in one of our favourite international magazines; US Interiors and also featured in an Australian magazine Inside Out.
What’s been your best decision? To work in an industry I dream about.
Who inspires you? People with a strong sense of style and self no matter what that may be. Music gets me in the zone... a good dose of Hotel Costes always gets my creative juices flowing. Artisans; just recently on a trip through Morocco I found myself spending hours in the local workshops - crafts from all around the globe intrigue and inspire me.
What are you passionate about? I'm obsessed with the hand made. The hand crafted. The colour white. The Mediterranean. Natural fibres. Raw, distressed + pre-loved timbers. Muslin. Dried flowers. Fluoro. Crushed and raw textures. The pared back simplicity of Dutch and Scandinavian design. Africa... it's my home away from home.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? The editor of Marie Claire Maison; I would love to follow her around for a day - I am obsessed with the spaces she features!
What dream do you still want to fulfil? In general balance; a life of leisure with loads of creative pleasure. Creatively I would die to design and decorate a boutique hotel by the water!
What are you reading? Too many interior magazines!

images courtesy of leibowitz and mclachlan

Friday, 26 March 2010

megan morton's home love book

If you're a book and interiors junkie like me then you probably know that Australia's busiest stylist (even with a newborn baby in her life) has just released her first book. Megan Morton, who was interviewed on Daily Imprint here, is doing a great little Q&A on her new blog Home Love on Tuesday 30 March between 10am and 11am where she will answer all your decorating questions. She's a hoot, so the hour will no doubt be a lot of fun too. Congrats, Megan!

images courtesy of megan morton and penguin and via hello sandwich

Thursday, 25 March 2010

my second ever styling shoot... fridges (lucky me!)

I almost completely forgot that my second ever styling shoot has just appeared in the April 10 issue of Real Living magazine. Lucky me - I was asked to source and prop fridges! It seemed like some cruel test. How can ANYONE make them look good. They're just large rectangular boxes. So I researched like crazy to find great styles (always with an eye to cost and energy efficiency). On the upside of the brief was that I got to shoot with uber photographer Prue Ruscoe, who you might know not only from her extensive magazine work but also the books she's done with Shannon Fricke. I've worked with her previously - but as a subject (she shot the photo of me on the sofa that's in the JanFeb 10 issue of Real Living).

So the shoot day was full on - not quite so manic as the office shoot - but still crazy. I was also shooting another "best of the best" feature, which will run in the May 10 issue. The fridges arrived - well, most of them - and we had to shuffle them into place. I had a fairly good idea of how I wanted them placed as I didn't want to be moving them too much but still there were changes due to the proportions of them. It's not until you see them side by side that you get a real sense of the size. I was also worried that the stripey Smeg fridge would dominate the shot if brought to the front, but at Prue's suggestion we put it quite central to the shot and it worked. Then there was a LOT of work getting the lighting right because of the reflective surfaces. As soon as we got the shots then the delivery drivers arrived to collect the metal monoliths and me and my little posse of workies scrambled to pack up and set up for the next shoot.

Love to know what you think.

images courtesy of real living and prue ruscoe

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

wallpaper designer tracy kendall


What starts as a simple idea can turn into a fully fledged creative venture. In 1996 Tracy Kendall came up with the idea of a graphic large-scale cutlery set for her kitchen. Soon it was seen by Isle Crawford, who was then editor of UK Elle Decoration. It was featured in the mag then other mags spotted it, the orders came and now the extensive range of designs have become some of the most distinct of the current wallpaper renaissance.

Which five words best describe you? Tea drinker, organised, hard worker.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since? I was a technician in a couple of art colleges for many years while I brought up my son; I needed a steady wage to pay the bills. It was only when he stopped going to school that I took the risk and left the safety of a job to see if I could make my way with the wallpapers.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Have faith in your designs, often my work does not sell when I first make it because I’ve not shown it well or in the right place, it can take time for people to find a place for my papers. Sometimes it as simple as I don’t have a good photo of the piece therefore people find it hard to see how it can be used.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Making a living from my work, I am very lucky that I design just for myself, not to seasons, fashions or anything else, just whatever I want and I then hope others will like it too, not many designers are allowed to follow their heart that way and make a living from it.
What’s been your best decision? To give the day job, often the more risks I take, the better the pay off, and that applies to my designs as well as financial risks.
Who inspires you? I love Inger Maurer’s work.
What are you passionate about? Being honest in my work, drinking tea, clocks, my collection is quite large and quite mad.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Very sadly, my mother, she died when I was seven and I never really knew her, she was always off limits to me as a child as she was ill. It's only lately that my eldest sister has started to talk about her and she seems like such a interesting and glamorous and lovely person.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’m not one for dreaming, I am very much a doer, if it needs doing in the studio then I’m there doing it, printing, sewing, paperwork, cleaning, whatever, I was brought up to work hard and when my head hits the pillow, I sleep soundly. The other thing is I really want a greyhound, I dream of that, I had one years ago and she was so lovely. Can’t have one at the moment as I have really silly stairs at my studio and travel there by London buses so it wouldn’t work but when I finally move studios I will have one again, they are such great dogs to look after.
What are you reading? The True History of Tea, I am a mad tea drinker, there is a cup by my side as I type now so my partner thought I might be interested in where it all comes from, just so long as it keeps coming is my main thought.

images courtesy of tracy kendall

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

nancy bird's emily wright

I have to admit that when I first discovered Nancy Bird, and then learnt a little more about its founder and designer Emily Wright I was impressed at how much she has accomplished in such a short period of time. The handbags and accessories are beautifully produced with a thoroughness to detail that's amazing. The fabrics are sourced in Sri Lanka, the textiles screen printed in Melbourne and the leather tanned in Italy. The designs are old school with a modern sensibility. Yes, amazing.

Which five words best describe you? Worrier, dreamer, kind, earthy, curious.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since? After uni I went straight into starting nancybird. I was spending all my holidays making things and selling them locally during uni so it just made sense to keep going. The label came out of the desire to practically use my fine art training, getting artwork out of the gallery environment and into stores, which I thought would have a broader audience. I think it has been both a help and a hinderance coming from a fine art background – it was a steep learning curve for a few years, learning about buying cycles, the way to structure a range, how to cost things properly. But the fine art training has helped in seeing what I do with a different eye – I never saw bags as having to be a certain way, and I enjoy playing with the elements of bag making because I’m an intruder in the world of accessories
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To juggle. Time management in production so that each season gets into store at the right time, as well as the daily tasks which require switching from right to left brain quite a bit. The other more personal lesson is the courage to move through the self doubt when designing a new range. I think it’s a common trait in creative people, and can be a real block. I now consciously turn those thoughts off, and it works. Once I don’t have the blank piece of paper in front of me and am working on a design, I fall in love again and things click into place.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Seeing a collection at a final stage is when I am most proud – they’re like my little children! I’m really so proud of my business, as it was just me working in it for a long time… I’m proud that I’ve created something out of nothing.
What’s been your best decision? A big decision a few years ago was moving production offshore. Before that everything was made here, which I loved, but it became untenable – lack of skills and manufacturers here the main issue. With a bit of a heavy heart I started looking overseas. The issue of Australian made is a tricky one and one that I could spend an entire night talking about, but for me moving offshore has meant the freeing up of design ideas – so much is possible, compared to the difficulty of sourcing and manufacturing here. My designs really grew wings after that, and the quality increased hugely. I have been so impressed with the skills of the people making my range and their unending patience in my complicated designs. We still print fabrics here in Melbourne, and I really enjoy the immediacy of that too, so I feel quite lucky to have struck a balance I am happy with.
Who inspires you? People living by their convictions, and making their own way.
What are you passionate about? Textile design! I love collecting books with a million designs in them, my latest crush is Indian embroidery. A relatively new passion has been furniture – I’ve just reupholstered a couch and some chairs in some of my textile prints and leathers, it has been fun doing something creative just for me.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I have a bit of a crush on Warren Ellis from the Dirty Three, but I’m sure if we met I’d be too shy to talk!
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Spending some good chunks of time overseas, but not for a while. I would love to really explore Africa, I love their textile prints and I would be keen to meet some of the makers over there. Spending more time out of the city, upholstering more furniture and tending the vegie patch are goals for this year!
What are you reading? Off the Grid Homes by Lori Ryker. My partner Rob has a property on the Yarra River outside of Melbourne and is planning to build on it using solar, tank water and composting toilets, and we’ve been reading this book for inspiration and guidance.

images courtesy of nancy bird

Monday, 22 March 2010

artist faridah cameron

Recently I saw the image "Family story" (pictured, top) and I had to find out more. It is the work of Tasmanian artist Faridah Cameron who has a long history of theatre design at events such as the Woodford Festival (you must check these amazing creations out on her website). Now, she concentrates on painting in her studio in Hobart's Mt Wellington.

Which five words best describe you? Absorbent. analytical. idealistic. dedicated. honest. Of course, that could also read: impressionable, critical, hopelessly deluded and tactless.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since? I was a radiotherapy technician. I realised I was in the wrong career, quit, had a family and then studied Fine Art in my thirties. While I was at art school in Darwin, theatre director Neil Cameron came to town and called for volunteers to help on a project, creating huge papier mache sculptures in the water at Mindil Beach and setting fire to them. It opened up a whole new world of artistic possibilities for me. Neil and I started a theatre company together and did huge outdoor ritual theatre events all over the country; it was a way of getting art out of theatres and galleries and seeing art not as a commodity but as a creative activity. We also involved hundreds of people from the wider community, and tried to reconnect them with something more elemental by working outdoors in extraordinary places, from desert claypans to the Yarra River, often making use of water and fire. I did a Masters degree and went back to studio painting, which is what I had originally intended to do, just in the last few years.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust your intuition, but be observant of the results. That way you actually train your intuition.
What’s your proudest career achievement? You know, I don't really make a separation between "career" and the rest of my life. To me it's all one thing - I just live it. I guess I'm proud to be able to say that I've achieved that synthesis.
What’s been your best decision? To live by the things I believe in, instead of taking the obvious and often more socially acceptable path.
Who inspires you? The Dalai Lama. For me he represents spirituality without religious dogma, politics without aggression.
What are you passionate about? Painting. I love its history, its fluidity, its endless possibilities. Music, especially the opera. I listen to it all the time when I'm working. My family. I love them to bits.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Well, I could say Leonardo or Ghandi, but actually I'd really like to meet my great(x4)-grandmother, who came to Australia around 1830. I think she could explain a whole lot.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would quite like for my paintings to be well known and seen as having some lasting value.
What are you reading? An anthology of selected works of Virginia Woolf, a friend's PhD thesis and an encyclopedia of Indian handcrafts. But if you'd asked me last week, it was Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith and a Rebus novel.

images courtesy of faridah cameron

Friday, 19 March 2010

table tonic's louise bell

Some people blaze onto the blogging scene, and one of the most recent stars is Louise Bell from Table Tonic. Not only has her site gained many fans in a short amount of time but she's also managed to launch an online homewares store selling beautiful imported fabrics and bedlinen. Think Mexican suzanis and ikat designs. Louise used to be creative director at ACP Magazine's Cosmopolitan and Cleo.

Which five words best describe you? Organised, pragmatic, resourceful, visual, efficient.
What was your first career job and what path have you taken since? I was a junior designer at Cosmopolitan magazine, and only recently left the publishing industry as Creative Director of Cosmo, a marriage and 2 children later. I have since reignited the frustrated stylist in me and started Table Tonic, an interiors blog, as well as a Table Tonic online homewares store.
What's the best lesson you've learnt along the way? Politeness and persistence is a killer combination - one that will get you anywhere!
What's your proudest career achievement? Being nominated for (graphic) Designer of the Year at the Magazine Publishers of Australia awards (and subsequently being invited back twice as a judge).
What's been your best decision? Going against the flow, taking the plunge and starting my own business feels so right. And at risk of sounding modest, I've surprised myself. Definitely the best decision I've made so far.
Who inspires you? People who exhibit one or several admirable traits: honesty, passion, kindness, patience... And people who are "living the dream", doing what they adore, every day.
What are you passionate about? Quality, beauty and natural materials - everyday objects that not only stand the test of time, but get better with age. Oh, and good food.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I'd love to have had an opportunity to have a grown up conversation with each or any of my grandparents. I lost all 4 of them when I was still quite young.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To live in a foreign country. Like most people, I think a stint in Paris holds stacks of appeal.
What are you reading? Sia Furler's Tweets, The Business Bakery's "Daily Juice" blog archives, and book-wise, I just finished Bringing Home the Birkin by Michael Tonello. It was pure escapism, but also incredibly insightful, being based on a true story. I think I read it in 48 hours.
images courtesy of table tonic

Thursday, 18 March 2010

elki designer emma kaveney

I am a sucker for a Liberty print. I still have several items, including a paisley bag, that I bought from the store when I used to live in London. So it's no surprise that I like these pretty - in a old-fashioned yet contemporary way - baby clothes from Elki. It was started by sisters Emma and Georgina who grew up in a creative home. Emma went on to study visual communication and become a graphic designer while Georgina studied fashion. Emma lives in central west NSW while Georgie is based in Bowral. The sisters import the fabric from Liberty of London and design and make the products themselves.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, creative, dreamer, designer, Elki.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since? I'm a graphic designer and studied and worked in Brisbane. My first design job involved designing furniture catalogues, deep-etching hundreds of images and styling photoshoots. I then moved to Sydney, where I worked as a designer in a design studio in Surry Hills for 3.5 years. My sister and I were both creatively frustrated in our positions and started Elki design. I met a country boy and moved to the country, and my sister moved home to Bowral which allowed us to start our dream of creating our brand and work full time on it.
What's the best advice you've received? If you want something, go and get it. Don't let anything hold you back.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Launching Elki's online store - it was the pinnacle of about 2 years of ideas, designing and planning. Designing and creating all brand elements and products was exhilarating and exhausting, but very rewarding.
What has been your best decision? To stick to our guns about all elements of the brand. We are fortunate that with our skills, Georgie having studied fashion, and I as a graphic designer, we are able to design and manage all aspects of the design process, from concept to sales. We believe this has allowed Elki to be truly unique and special.
Who inspires you? My sister and business partner, Georgie. We are both so similar in thinking and passionate about Elki, yet different enough to bounce ideas off each other and work together. I'm not sure we would have got this far, had we not worked together.
What are you passionate about? I am passionate about good design, quality products, affordability, Australian owned and made, and available to the everyday person. It shouldn't matter whether you live in Bondi or Bourke, these days there should be little limitations or exclusions. We hand make each product and pride ourselves on standing behind each product, because we know where its come from and who made it (us!).
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Coco Chanel, she created an empire, through hard work and determination. Plus I think she would be rather fun at a cocktail party!
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To further extend our products - we have so many ideas and plans. But ideally, our dream is to open an Elki store in regional NSW. To stock other beautiful hand made and unique products, a place where you could grab a coffee and a gift or simply stop by.
What are you reading? Blogs - I spend all day on my computer, so any free moment I have I quickly flick to one of the many blogs I follow. I find reading them so rewarding, there is something new everyday, interesting links and in a snippet I can be pulled in a new and interesting direction.

images courtesy of elki

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

home inspiration... olivier dupon

The world is full of some beautiful souls, and it surely seems that Olivier Dupon from Dossier37 is one of them. He is known to many Sydneysiders for his gorgeous shop Lola Et Moi, which he ran for about three years, and now the rest of the world is getting to know his quirky, colourful and inspired ways through his blog Dossier37. Olivier kindly shared these pics with Daily Imprint of his home in Pyrmont. As he describes it, "Great views, great light... We use the flat as a white blank canvas for our collections of antique and modern artworks and designer pieces."

Which five words best describe you? Perseverance, reliability, compassion, flair, hard work.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? I worked for Christian Dior as a production assistant (in the ready-to-wear department). This led to another contract as senior production assistant. From then, I expanded my experience by working for the extreme opposite of luxury fashion, that is mass market fashion. I spent about 6 years as a fashion buyer for a big French retailer. I then moved to London for 4 years as a product manager for a fashion house. I then relocated to Australia, and this big move was a trigger for my current career. I decided to open my own shop [Lola Et Moi] and to work closely with independent designers. Back to the hand-made, unique and creative scene, which is my true passion.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Opening a successful shop on my own, out of no experience in this particular field, in a foreign country.
What’s been your best decision? Pursuing the person, who has now been making me happy for the past 6 years.
Who inspires you? Whistleblowers and scientists (not the sceptic ones).
What are you passionate about? Common sense, environmental issues and creativity.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Patience is a virtue.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Any billionaire that has no idea how he can make a positive difference in this world.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I will have to get back to you in 5 years' time for that one.
What are you reading? La Délicatesse by David Foenkinos. A french fiction novel (a quirky love story) and probably one of the best books I have read.

images courtesy of dossier37


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