Friday, 30 April 2010

photographer graham atkins-hughes

Some of you would already know that I'm a huge fan of interior designer Abigail Ahern (who I interviewed here). Well, what you might not know is that the photography of that book is by the talented Graham Atkins-Hughes. It's kind of funny because whenever I check out overseas interior publications and see a photo shoot that I love, it's inevitably his work.

Which five words best describe you? Happy, emotional, melancholy, passionate, driven.
What was your first career job and what path have you taken since? Having assisted some of the great photographers of our times, two of the most famous were Annie Leibovitz & Bruce Weber, then one of my first jobs was a shoot for the launch issue for Wallpaper* magazine, that has set the tone of the rest of my career so far, there have been lots of highs and laughs along the way, with some lows but you need those so you know how lucky you are when it’s all going smoothly.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Don’t take it personally. Also you can’t please everyone so you should concentrate on following your gut feeling - it’s usually what is right for you. Don’t think too much: I have always taken my best pictures when I haven’t thought about what I was doing creatively and just shot what looked good. One example of this: I was looking through some old images the other day, and I came across some pictures I took for marie claire on a trip to France. It was an editorial about Chanel perfume and how it was made. It was the month of May, near the town of Grass, and we were taken to a huge field early one morning to see the "May roses" being picked. When we got there we were told that the pickers had almost finished that day's harvest so I jumped out of the car and ran into the field and just started snapping. The women who were picking the flowers I think they thought a was a bit mad because they started to laugh amongst themselves, but the pictures are great because they look really happy in them because they were fighting back the laughter and are looking at me in a quizzical way, the sun is bright and the sky is so blue it doesn’t look real, not to mention the flowers they’re so pink. And then Chanel took us to a Michelin-stared restaurant for lunch, yum yum.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Meeting my lovely wife on a shoot when we were both assistants, and asking her out and marrying her three months later - that was 14 years ago. We have done lots of work together over the years and still do; some of my best images have been created when we work together. Out of all that I have achieved, I don’t think I could have without the lessons I have learned through the experiences I have had working as a photographer. When I arrived in London 16 years ago I had 1000 pounds in my pocket and a head full of dreams. My greatest achievement is I am still here and still dreaming.
What’s been your best decision? To make my hobby my job, and become a pro photographer. I have had great experiences along the road and I am sure there are more to come. It’s exciting and fulfilling and tough all in equal measure.
Who inspires you? Besides my wife, Tim Winter: his images are rich, colourful and so full of fun and fantasy. He’s brilliant.
What are you passionate about? Style: practical design that has usability and beauty in equal measure, and comfort if it’s a piece of furniture to sit on. Great buildings which stand out and blend in all at the same time, not an easy feat but some houses I have shot in the states do just that, Frank Lloyd Wright’s work is a pretty good example.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Arne Jacobson. He designed some beautiful things and made some great buildings. Irving Penn - what a photographer; he was genius.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Visit the jungles of South East Asia to see orangutans in the wild, and tigers in India.
What are you reading? I don’t read a lot. I am much more into movies, and don’t seem to have much time for that at the moment either. We have two little boys Digby, four, and Kit, two. I know it’s an old one but I watched Blades of Glory on TV the other night and it did make me laugh. Will Ferrell is a nut. But the best book I have read is Cod: a biography of a fish that changed the world it’s so interesting I just couldn’t put it down.

images courtesy of graham atkins-hughes

Thursday, 29 April 2010

bedside lighting styling shoot

I can't believe that I almost forgot to post pics of the "Best of the best bedside lighting" shoot that's in the current onsale May 10 issue of real living magazine. It's partly because the shoot was on the same day as fridges, which seems like a lifetime ago. It's also because I was disappointed with the result. A whole box of lights from a wholesaler never turned up and was still lapping the country days after the shoot. As is often the way with these things, those particular lights were the ones I wanted the most. They were sculptural and interesting and were going to take the shot from so-so to wow - or at least I hoped.

It was another agonising shot in terms of getting the right heights and playing with moving books and props a millimetre to the left then right and back again. I was under the trusty guidance of photographer Prue Ruscoe, and she said I was being hard on myself, but I'm still non-plussed by the shot. I think I prefer creating room sets. It brings out the inner interior decorator in me.

These "best of the best" shoots might seem simple but they're actually quite hard. Not only do you have to source product that is new and design worthy but you also have to photograph them from cheapest to most expensive. Maybe I didn't do such a bad job after all. What do you think?

images real living and prue ruscoe

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

artist jodee knowles

The best finds often happen at unexpected moments. While I was sourcing for the shopping shoot for real living (which I wrote about here), I came across a little, tucked-away gallery in Surry Hills. Friends Of Leon might be small - it's a converted corner terrace - but it's hard to miss. The front window had a massive artwork for a Jodee Knowles exhibition. It was amazing and after a little searching I tracked down the artist.

Perth-based Jodee uses pen and inks on paper to create a water colour effect. Her work has been hugely popular. She has been flown out to LA for exhibitions and the singer Pink is a huge fan - she has not only bought Jodee's work but featured it in her music video "Please don't leave me". Jodee's first solo exhibition at Friends Of Leon was a sellout. She is only 24 years old!

What was your first career job and what path have you taken since? I worked at a PR and marketing firm, I learnt so much about communication and how quickly the world must move for success. I am now a full-time artist, I work on my collections most days.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Never assume.
What’s your proudest career achievement? My recent solo show in Sydney. It was my first solo show and was a sellout success. It was an amazing feeling to see how many people enjoyed my work and the response I got was overwhelming.
What’s been your best decision? Pursuing my art and remaining true to my practice. This has lead to great things.
Who inspires you? Solitude - a sweet absence of looks.
What are you passionate about? Immortality, which comes from creating art.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Matthew Barney, Rei Kawakubo, Helnwein Gottfried and Lady Gaga.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Moving to NYC and pursuing my art career.
What are you reading? The Unbearable Lightness of Being By Milan Kundera.

images courtesy of jodee knowles

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

upon a fold's justine fahd

After years of freelancing as a graphic designer Justine Fahd recently took the plunge and started an online stationery shop, Upon A Fold. And it's made quite an impact since launching only a month or so ago. That's partly due to the beautiful ranges she stocks, and also thanks to her gorgeous blog.

Which five words best describe you? In the pursuit of happiness.
What was your first career job and what path have you taken since? It came quite late as I spent the first part of my 20s waitressing whilst trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I went travelling for a while and during that time I stayed with a friend who was a graphic designer. I loved what she did and wanted to do the same so I came back home, got a job in an art supplies store and studied graphic design at Enmore Tafe. Upon completion I landed my first graphic design job in a small studio in Crows Nest where I discovered rather quickly (3 months) that I did not really enjoy being in the same place everyday so I decided freelancing was more for me. It allowed me to move around and work on a variety of design jobs and this kept things interesting. So I freelanced for about 8 years, mostly within the magazine industry, the whole time dreaming of one day opening my own paper shop. Last year I decided it was time to give this paper shop dream a go and was created.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? If something doesn’t feel right, change it!
What’s your proudest career achievement? That would have to be Upon a Fold. I feel happy with myself for chasing my dream (telling my fears to bugger off) and making it happen. It took a while but I got there eventually.
What’s been your best decision? Dropping out of my Science degree (what was I thinking??) to pursue a more creative career.
Who inspires you? At the moment it’s the folded forms from Origata – a folding design institute in Japan.
What are you passionate about? Paper (of course!), breakfast, lunch & dinner, footy, design, quiet time, fairness, blue sky and being happy.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Far too many to choose from but I’ll say the amazing Gita Sahgal (writer, director and human rights campaigner for over three decades) oh and Miss Prissy from David LaChapelle’s ‘Rize’ so she can teach me how to Krump ; )
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Well I have a few but the one I’m thinking about most at the moment is one day opening a real life ‘Upon a Fold’ shop with a gallery inside. A place where paper artists could exhibit their work and paper lovers can come to visit for inspiration and a little retail paper therapy too.
What are you reading? Tokyo by Tokyo by Claska because I’m heading to Tokyo next month!

images upon a fold

Thursday, 22 April 2010

hollywood production designer jon hutman

It's funny what can happen to you on the way to work. The other week I suddenly had to pull over because I had a phone call from Los Angeles to interview production designer Jon Hutman. He's the talent behind the looks for films including Something's Gotta Give and the recently released It's Complicated. Other examples of his work include The Time Traveler's Wife, The Holiday and Quiz Show. He was cheerful and fun to talk to as well as generous with his time.

Which five words best describe you? Obssessive, anxious, enthusiastic, energetic and serious.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since? I was at Westwood Playhouse at 15 years old - and I'm still working in the theatre. I've segued from one to the other: but I'm still ushering people to their seats in a very literal way.
What’s been your best decision? Getting out of bed this morning.
What's your proudest achievement? My daughter.
What inspires you? Usually the script I'm working with and the people I'm working with, and the story we're going to tell.
What are you passionate about? My work. The truth. Taking risks.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I've always wanted to meet Francis Coppola.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? Living happily ever after.
What are you reading? City of Thieves by David Benioff.

portrait via boston globe

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

kids nursery styling shoot

So the latest issue of real living went on sale yesterday. It features two styling shoots I did for the mag. The first was the shopping feature for May - nurseries. I put my hand up for this one as I was excited - and determined - to create cool spaces.

I really wanted to show that you could create a pink girls room (lots of friends say their girls are obsessed with this colour) without it being saccharine sweet. Enter "Pastel Princess" - the last room. I also wanted to do a room with colour - a space that was fun - but still pulled together. This is "Circus Kids" - the second last room. And, finally, I wanted to create a room that I'd be happy to have for Little C - one that was interesting and engaging but with grown-up touches so it didn't scream kids room - this is "Young Explorer" - my favourite of the three looks.

As usual I got completely carried away with the "makes". In "Young Explorer" we (yes, it was another mammoth shoot so I had some wonderful helpers) created a feature wall of explorer maps, painted a budget chest-of-drawers and made newspaper hats. In "Circus Kids" we hung Bholu's beautiful Mavis Monkey wallpaper. And in "Pastel Princess" we painted a grey and white striped wall - click on the image to see it - and a string of pom poms (instead of bunting). We also created a doll's house - inspired by the amazing one that Jacqui Lewis created here - and got a handmade height chart from Belinda Graham at The Happy Home. There's a whole other story to that one, which I'll have to tell you about on another day.

Love to know what you think, and which room you prefer.

images courtesy of real living and chris warnes

Thursday, 15 April 2010

koskela's sasha titchkosky

After hearing real living style director Jason Grant rave about Koskela's shop for months on end I finally visited recently. I'd loved their Dickebush home in Patonga - where you can stay as a holiday rental (and we featured in the mag) - and their product designs, which you can buy at the showroom, so it seemed a fait accompli that I would like the place. Like the place? I loved it. It was like I'd died and gone to design heaven - but very much in the Australian-organic-with-style-and-feeling aisle.

I also love the company's motto: FOLLOW YOUR HEART, TRUST YOUR JUDGEMENT, DO IT WITH JOY. And that the couple behind the business - Sasha and Russel - left highly paid jobs to start Koskela.

What was your first career job and what path have you taken since? My first career job was as the deputy company secretary for the Australian Stock Exchange. I then set up and ran the communications division of the ASX once we listed the company. After doing this for a few years, Russel and I met and decided we both wanted to create our own company. We’d both worked for large businesses and had worked out what we liked and didn’t like about different companies we’d experienced. So we took major pay cuts but took hold of the reins that were controlling our lives.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To follow your heart, trust your judgment and do it with joy.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Getting the Yuta Badayala project off the ground. This is a collaboration – the first of its kind! - with weavers from Elcho Island in Arnhem Land to use their traditional weaving techniques to create contemporary design products. It has been a dream of mine for quite a few years to work with the weavers and is quite a privilege to experience their rich culture. The first works are currently being exhibited at Object Gallery in Surry Hills.
What’s been your best decision? To leave working in big business and start up our own company. Many years of hard, hard work and tuna pasta in the beginning but it is so rewarding to see the business evolve and grow. We are now in our 10th year of business and it is still exciting. I feel as though the best is yet to come and that we are entering a very interesting phase in the history of the company.
Who inspires you? My partner, Russel – he’s Mr Enthusiasm.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would love to see the Koskela concept develop further and have Koskela showrooms overseas.

images courtesy of koskela and anson smart (dickebush)

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Anna-Wili Highfield combines many artistic mediums into her sculpture creations. While some are made from copper piping, the ones she is most known for are handmade from paper that is torn and sewn to create animal-inspired works. There's a nod to her childhood, growing up as the daughter of a puppeteer, and her first job as a scenic artist for Opera Australia, where she worked after studying Fine Art at the National Art School in Sydney. From her studio in St Peters, Anna-Wili works on a commission basis, eschewing the gallery system. It has served her well, and her works are sold into private collections all over the world.

What was your first job and what path have you taken since? Scenic painting for Opera Australia. I learnt so much about the alchemy of painting materials, how to achieve the effects of nature through the process of layers and reactions between paints. I think the time I spent at Opera Australia has really influenced my practice. I now make sculptures from paper that I stain and tear, then sew to create the figure of an animal. The opera influenced my love of materials and the desire to create an impression of the natural world.

What's the best lesson you've learnt along the way? To spend more time making then thinking. I don't like to try to plan a piece. My work evolves most effectively when I just start. I spent the whole of art school paralysed by too much consideration. I am now very prolific.

What's your proudest career achievement? The momentum that I am enjoying. Also that my animals have travelled to the homes of people in London, Paris, New York, Toronto and Melbourne!

What's the best decision you've made? To have a website created so that I enjoyed the encouragement of people seeking my work out and the fun of going it alone without worry of acceptance and critique (and heavy gallery commissions). I love to meet the people I am making the sculptures for, to know who they are and where my sculptures are going. I find this very fulfilling.

Who inspires you? The artists that inspire me are usually representational artists who allow the spaces between things. I love a piece of art that represents a little and then allows your mind to fill in some more. Artists like Luc Tuymans, Gerghardt Richter, Anselm Keifer, August Rodin, I just saw some William Kentridge animated drawings this afternoon, they were heavy and sad but so beautifully constructed and erased. Also my husband Simon Cavanough for his art and who he is. He is also the most helpful critic of my work. Also the music of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.

What are you passionate about? Making beautiful things.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Since I was 16 the person I most wanted to meet was Nick Cave. But I don't think I ever really wanted to. I was standing two feet away at a music festival recently. I saw him and felt like my bones were out of my body. It wasn't fun.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? Simply to be able to keep on steadily making my art.

What are you reading? The Great Gatsby because I'm in New York.

images natalie walton

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

lox+savvy's lisa loxley

I've been watching - and admiring - the fantastical journey that Lisa Loxley from Lox+Savvy is taking with her life and career. The first time we met was at Magnolia Square a few years ago. She was setting up her first stall. Since then I tracked her down to feature in Real Living magazine and we've met several more times (usally with me prying away Little C's hands from her bright and colourful paper goods), including at the recent Life In Style show. Each time I see Lisa I notice how much more confident she's become within herself and her designs. In a couple of weeks she will move into a design studio and she'll soon be heading to New York to show off her paper goods. I can't wait to hear the stories when she returns.

Which five words best describe you? Self-driven, creative, open-minded, thoughtful and quirky.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My first real job was in a shoe store working full time, whilst doing an inspiring graphic design/illustration course at Billy Blue School that was most rewarding. I then realised I had to go back to my graphic arts apprenticeship to enable me get the best out of a hands-on, technical and design experience there was out there. Bringing together my apprenticeship, and the generations in my family that are involved in the printing and paper industry is the professional make-up of who I am today. When it’s in the blood you can’t escape it! At the completion of my apprenticeship, I opened up my own graphic design business, which I still run today and thoroughly enjoy. I am fortunate to say I’m one of those people who love what they do and you can’t really ask for more than that. This has led me to the evolving Lox+Savvy. It’s cliché, but it’s a life-long dream!
What’s your proudest achievement? Finally putting in motion my ideas & scribbles, and bringing Lox+Savvy to life.
What’s been your best decision? In terms of my career, doing the ‘hard-yards’ of completing a four-year apprenticeship in graphic arts, which has allowed me to be the wholehearted, hard-working person I am today.
Who inspires you? A various mix of people in my life play a different role in how they inspire me – morally, spiritually, holistically and artistically. Any person driven by a dream, continues to inspire me.
What are you passionate about? Chocolate, shoe sales, vintage shopping, buttons, recycling, cocktails with my best friend and, needless to say, my work. I’m also highly passionate about the way in which paper plays an important role within our environment.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Mum often reminds me on life’s merry-go-round, “Always be true to yourself and the rest will just fall into place”. This is something I always come back to in thought and reflect on during life’s challenges.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Audrey Hepburn without a doubt – her unique spirit, grace and unforgettable style, and not to mention the important legacy she left behind with UNICEF. She is truly a remarkable woman.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Travelling the world and introducing Lox+Savvy to it!
What are you reading? Catalog: The Illustrated History of Mail-Order Shopping by Robin Cherry – it has classic illustrations, timeless fashion, the colours & designs are classic and fabulous, and a great source of inspiration. The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman – which is more of a picture book, yet so intriguing & fashion of course is so very inspiring. In particular Scott’s ‘forward’ in the book gives an insight as to why he does what he does and how he provokes the capturing of each moment. My fave is on page 151, the ‘Barbieri’ men. Not many of these lovely timeless shops exist anymore! And in between time, I’m also a huge magazine junkie!

images courtesy of lox+savvy

Monday, 12 April 2010

designer maria muniz-villa

The images above are from the work of design agency Villa + Villa. The company does the lot - architecture, interiors and graphics. And one of the partners - Maria - is also an accomplished artist. Her works have been exhibited in the Charles Hewitt and Francis Keevel galleries. Maria is from Argentina but now calls Australia home.

Which five words best describe you? Generous, perfectionist, hilarious, hard worker, dreamer.
What was your first career job and what path have you taken since? Fashion designer's right hand.
What's the best lesson you've learnt along the way? That you can learn things in life from every single person.
What's your proudest career achievement? When 2 of my paintings were selected from among 500 to get into a museum in Argentina, and I got third. Over the moon, that is how I felt!
What's been your best decision? To move Down Under to my adored Australia.
Who inspires you? My husband, for being such a humble human being...
What are you passionate about? Treasures, old and new beauty, all pre-loved objects.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Picasso.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To be at my father's birth place Oviedo. Yes, the little town in Spain, where Vicky Cristina Barcelona was shot.
What are you reading? Do you matter? How great design will make people love your company by S. Emery and Robert Brummer.

images courtesy of villa & villa

Friday, 9 April 2010

photographer francesco solfrini

I will always love photography - the way that you can get lost in an image. It's always a pleasure to look through people's portfolio's and see how they interpret the world. Francesco Solfrini is an Italian photographer who now lives in Sydney. He's self-taught, but no doubt picked up a few tips from his father who won several awards for his photography in Italy.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, loud, instinctive, warm, determined.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since? I was in the advertising department of Toyota Italia. After almost 3 years I came to the conclusion that the corporate environment was not for me (something I had always suspected!). Having a stable job and an everyday life with people who love procedures and boxes to tick, did not bring me the fulfilment I was searching for. After a short stint in a “more creative environment” (an advertising agency in Rome) I decided to face my fears and follow my dreams. I packed my bags and moved to Sydney, to improve my English and work in the Anglo Saxon culture that has moulded advertising into the shape it holds worldwide. I also finally began to follow a lifelong dream of being a photographer. I am now working in a small advertising agency in Sydney and running my photography business in my spare time.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Working in communication in a foreign country after being told by my peers that it would be too hard to make it.
What’s been your best decision? To believe in myself, leave my country and change my life.
Who inspires you? Anyone who challenges the status quo, anyone who fights peacefully for their goals (from Gandhi to Bob Geldof).
What are you passionate about? It can be travelling, art, a new experience or an inspiring person... Everything that brings growth, a new point of view and positive energy into my life.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Always believe in yourself and try. The worst thing that can happen is you’ll do it wrong. So what? You can always try again next time.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? St. Francis of Assisi. I am not very religious but St. Francis before being a monk and a saint was a revolutionary man who questioned his life (he was born from a very wealthy family and he renounced to everything and went to live with the leprosies), the incredibly powerful church of that time and his society. He is renowned as a very peaceful person but he was often torn inside and fought with himself to find his way.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Living the rest of my life enjoying the art created by myself and the people around me.
What are you reading? Terra Nullius, a book about the colonization of Australia and the roots of the existing gap with the Aboriginal community.

photos courtesy of francesco solfrini

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

french bohemian style - emmanuelle flahault

A funny thing happened after a recent photo shoot for Real Living. Both the stylist and art director came back in LOVE. They were so taken with one of the women that we featured in our "Style Tribe" shoot - in the April issue - that I was curious. They described Emmanuelle Flahault as one of the most beautiful women they'd ever met. I looked at the images and agreed she was mightily attractive, but there was something more. Let's say a je ne sais quoi.

So when I went to Life In Style I was determined to track down Nell, as she's known. She was busy - a testament to her beautiful designs and stand for her womens' clothes, accessories and homewares business Nell (she sources European fabrics to create one-of-a-kind designs). But when I met her I could understand what the men were talking about. She radiates calm, happiness and has a definite French flair, and, yes, perhaps a little je ne sais quoi.

Which five words best describe you? Generous, optimistic, cheeky, hard worker and mediator.
What was your first career job and what path have you taken since? Fashion designer assistant.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To breathe when things get tight.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Receiving authentic and lovely testimonials from happy clients.
What’s been your best decision? To move down under.
Who inspires you? Coco Chanel.
What are you passionate about? Travels and tresors.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Barack Obama.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Having a large family.
What are you reading? The unbearable lightness of being from Milan Kundera.

images real living and nell


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