Tuesday, 31 May 2011

paper artist benja harney

He has created paper wings for Hermes. And is currently completing a commission for Kylie Minogue. Six years of hard work and dedication are paying off for Sydney paper artist/engineer Benja Harney. He will be one of the official paper artists at the Paper Convention Collective, which opens tomorrow. A sneak peek of one of his creations is here.

Which five words best describe you? Inquisitive, precise, determined, creative, fun.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I didn't know that the profession of paper engineer even existed when I started making pop-up books at design school. It was just something that tweaked my interest. I love making models and intricate things - the mechanics and technical aspects of creating with paper drive my curiosity. This medium has now become my total passion. I have worked extremely hard over the last 6 years to build up my portfolio and followed a creative interests. I guess I'm lucky that I found paper engineering. It was never my intention to do this as a career - it has been a very organic evolution.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Nothing good came easy. If you want something set out to get it - but be prepared to work hard to get there.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I am just putting the finishing touches on a deluxe limited edition pop-up book for Kylie Minogue. It has been a huge job and I am off China next week to oversee production. That has to rate pretty high don't you think?! The only other comparable project had to be the wings I made for Herm├Ęs. Both of these jobs have required the same amount of dedication to complete.

What’s been your best decision? To trust my design instincts - they usually kick in late at night in my studio.

Who inspires you? Always my friends. But also Patti Smith recently. What an amazing woman and a total inspiration! She was nominated as one of Time Magazine's 100 most important people this year. There is a video interview with her at the bottom of her page on the Time website and she recites one of her poems there. Watch that and you will know what I'm on about.

What are you passionate about? Learning new things. I'm also passionate about being well dressed and collecting old objects that are transparent, like glass and perspex.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I've met so many interesting people already. Can't wait to meet Kylie though!

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I want to buy a small island (which is an ongoing joke but we've gotta have dreams!)

What are you reading? Recently finished Just Kids by Patti Smith - hence the obsession - and now on to Metamorphoses by Ovid (which is a bit too cerebral if I'm honest) but always The New Yorker (which turns up in my letterbox every week).

images courtesy of benja harney

Monday, 30 May 2011

easy weekend projects

March and April were busy months. I styled four of the decorating features in the June issue of real living - as well as wrote the rugs and carpet article. And I styled the 10-page decorating feature in House & Garden. All while pregnant.

The feature above was for the "real ideas" section of real living - projects that you can do over a weekend. These included creating a statement door frame, a privacy screen made from Japanese coloured tape, a guerilla knitting inspired bench, a studded table top and a coatrack made from PVC pipes.

Stylists rarely, if ever, work alone - certainly not on large studio production shoots. And this one was no exception. I had a team of very willing and creative helpers who were busy hot glue-gunning, taping and working with wool. Thanks guys!

images courtesy of real living and chris warnes

Friday, 27 May 2011

designer tim leveson

It was perhaps inevitable that Tim Leveson became an interior designer. His family has worked in the interiors industry for years. And for a good part of his adult life, he has worked with them. But a few years ago he branched out into a couple of projects that were of his own making. One was WS Traders, a furniture design and importing business that focuses on organic shapes, often conceived in new ways. He also has Tim Leveson Interiors, his interior design business where his art school training is evident in bold, confident, graphic spaces. The images above are of Tim's home in Sydney, where he lives with his wife Libby from Petit Batik and their two daughters. (It was featured in real living magazine, as was the portrait of him above, which I wrote about here.)

Which five words best describe you? Lucky, loud, in love, passionate and opinionated.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Growing up with both parents in antiques. Most kids got sent to their bedroom when they were grounded. I went to the workshop to strip paint off antiques with a heat gun. Gave me a great understanding of furniture, surfaces and hard work. Then a stint at university studying visual arts, falling in love with a girl who moved to Sydney, deciding to stay when we broke up and the rest is...
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Use what's available. Pieces or pictures that someone already owns can be appropriated with some colour or a new frame and gives a space depth. As a designer, say what you think. You're being paid to have a constructive opinion. Also, take risks.
What’s your proudest career achievement? To date, knocking a huge opening between a very small kitchen and a light, bright lounge dining in a house on Sydney harbour on the first day of a fitout. The owner, who had lived there for 30 years, started crying when she came to look, because she never believed that one day she would see the opera house from her sink.
What’s been your best decision? To leave a very secure and creative family business styling houses for sale two years and 11 months ago. I helped start Levesons Hired Interiors 15 years ago in Sydney, and although I miss the pace and challenges, I love the longevity of the spaces I work with now.
Who inspires you? Suzy Hoodless, the bush, beach-combing and my mum.
What are you passionate about? Giving my children as many amazing experiences as possible while they're still young and their minds so open.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? That's tricky - probably my grandkids, but I keep thinking Akira Kurosawa, who was at the forefront of early Japanese cinema and whose films where so minimalist that they are like works of art. His biography is a great read.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would love to work on a boutique hotel, using organic forms with some really sharp modern pieces. Also really want to live in a non-English speaking country for at least a year with my wonderful partner and the girls. Did I mention helicopters?
What are you reading? We, the drowned by Carsten Jensen, a great rambling tale about a Danish shipping town that begins in 1849 and follows the lives sailors and their families through the generations until the present. Almost at the last chapter...

images courtesy of tim leveson

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

interior stylist melinda ashton turner

There are many interior stylists who work behind the scenes - or at least away from the bright lights of magazine land. They tend to work for advertising clients or for larger corporations. Their names might not be so well known because they don't do editorial work - where the pay is generally lower but the (public) recognition higher. Melinda Ashton Turner started out as a stylist at Ikea. That involves working on the look of the company's catalogues, as well as its stores. It's a mammoth task, but one where you learn as much as you possibly can. It turned out to be great training as Melinda went on to become style editor at Vogue Living (Australia), decoration editor of Homes & Gardens UK and style director of Inside Out (UK). She has also worked for Elle Decoration UK and Living Etc, and had weekly columns for prestigious UK newspapers The Guardian and The Sunday Times. Her advertising clients are just as impressive. She is now back working in Australia.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, creative, homey, a gatherer, possibly stubborn!

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started at Ikea, planning and decorating stores working along the east coast. It was when Ikea Australia launched the first catalogue outside of Sweden that I was introduced to styling. I was sent to the Ikea studios in Almhult, Sweden where I worked across all the catalogues worldwide for three months and have never looked back. After three brilliant years styling the catalogues and showrooms for Ikea I went freelance. I was then offered a job at Vogue Living as style editor and have since worked, both commissioned and on staff, for some of the top interiors titles in the UK. My experience working on large scale projects has lead me to style and produce catalogues and events for Sainsbury’s supermarkets and Habitat UK through to creative concepts for Portmeirion, weekly columns for The Guardian and The Times as well as designing carpet collections.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To name a few: Don’t overcomplicate an idea. Your first thought is often the right one. Experience can tell you there are a hundred ways to style an image - ignorance tells you there is only one; it’s just a matter of which way you choose at that moment.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Winning Homes and Gardens UK 2010 Design Award for my first flooring collection, a title where 10 years previous I was the decoration editor. Being nominated as Crown Paints UK 2010 Stylist of the Decade. The first time I was commissioned by Elle Decoration.

What’s been your best decision? Returning to Melbourne after an extended two year holiday in Noosa to pursue a career in interiors.

Who inspires you? My husband; he has the ability to approach ideas with such clarity. Anyone who turns the expected into the unexpected no matter his or her chosen medium. I’ve never been so inspired as when I’m a guest tutor at KIAD in Kent and listening to first year design students explained what they planned to achieve. It reminds me the only thing stopping us is ourselves!

What are you passionate about? Whatever I am working on and the idea I could be working on.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Stephen Fry and Ilse Crawford.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Not so much a dream as a quest to reach the perfect work life balance. With spending my time between London and Sydney, I am getting there. I do dream that one day I will speak fluent Italian. Suppose a good start would be to start Italian lessons!

What are you reading? Recently finished reading The Fry Chronicles: An Autobiography by Stephen Fry. I love his use of the English language.

images courtesy of melinda ashton turner

Monday, 23 May 2011

indoor plants can be cool

Ever since I visited the home of landscape architect Daniel Baffsky, I have had a new respect for indoor plants. He had the most amazing fishtail ferns, which integrated beautifully into the interior of his place. It actually made the house seem more welcoming and homely, but was done in an altogether cool way.

So when real living magazine asked me to do a feature on indoor plants I set myself the challenge of creating spaces that were similar to what I found at his home.

I even made an attempt to give cacti a new lease on life.

images courtesy of real living and chris warnes

Friday, 20 May 2011

artist carla fletcher

Carla Fletcher is a rare breed of Australian artist - she has a patron. It's a sign of confidence in the emerging artist, whose portrait of CW Stoneking saw her become a finalist in the 2010 Archibald Prize. Carla is currently exhibiting in her hometown of Melbourne at Tinning St Gallery, and will show at Friends of Leon Gallery in Surry Hills later this year.

Which five words best describe you?
A passionate intuitive, a dreamer, an optimist and perfectionist.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? This winding path started with study in fashion design, illustration and then fine art. Since study I have balanced retail, visual merchandising and design work with making sure I exhibited in both group and solo shows. There have been many amazing studio spaces in different parts of Melbourne where I have meet some of the most eccentric characters! In the past 12 months I have had an amazing arts patron back me (I didn't know they still existed either). This has allowed me to be in the studio full time - and what an incredible gift time is to an artist.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? That if you follow your heart the universe will catch you. (And don't drop laptops - the universe does not catch those.)

What’s your proudest career achievement? This latest body of work has been epic and I'm very proud of it. It includes my 2010 finalist Archibald Prize portrait of blues musician CW Stoneking and this year's portrait of actor Joel Edgerton. They are my largest works to date and have pushed my process and patience into new dimensions!

What’s been your best decision? To not give up.

Who inspires you? Those who are conscious of and respect our planet and all those creatives that are brave enough to keep putting yourself out there.

What are you passionate about? I am very passionate about the plight of our animals, they are as innocent and important as our children.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I'd love a conversation with John Lennon.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? That amazing white, lofty studio space that looks out to that inspirational country view with all that fresh air.

What are you reading? Encounters with Australian Artists by Janet Hawley - I found it at an op shop. It is an intimate insight into the lives of such incredible Australian artists such as Lloyd Rees, Brett Whiteley, Arthur Boyd, Margaret Olley and many more. I have found it very inspiring.

images courtesy of carla fletcher

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

styling shoot: bathroom decor ideas

The bathroom is not only one of the most expensive rooms in your home to renovate and decorate, but also the one that (often) ends up most lacking. Functionality always seems to win over fun. Colours are boring. Ideas get left at the door. So when I was asked to create three bathrooms for the June issue of real living, I wanted to help people rethink how they might decorate the smallest room in the house.

British boho - was all about using wallpaper in the bathroom. It's done often in the USA and UK but not so much in Australia. It was also important to use a pendant light rather than downlights or some other meek option. And ever since I saw Burley Katon Halliday use a tribal rug in a Bondi bathroom, I've wanted to do that too.

Retro brights - okay, so the yellow is strong. But it works with the overall design scheme. Black and white work wonderfully when contrasted with another colour. I also like using a non-traditional bathroom mirror.

Modern beachy - has to be my favourite of the three spaces. That chocolate brown on the wall was so calming to look at that it made me realise I might never want a white bathroom again. I also liked it combined with the tongue and groove panelling.

images courtesy of real living and maree homer

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

artist arite kannavos

The world of art and design continue to blend, and there's another great example in the work of Arite Kannavos. She is a Melbourne-based artist who has also worked as a textile designer. For the past seven years she has focussed on product development for a bedlinen brand. It's not surprising that while she continues to paint (and is exhibiting at the upcoming Melbourne Art Fair, starting Thursday 19 May), she has also launched Canter & Cave which showcases her art on homewares.

Which five words best describe you? Energetic, imaginative, focused, aware, interested.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started exhibiting after I graduated from university, albeit the shows were few and far in between, as at the same time I started working as textile designer and product developer in the homewares industry. Seven years later, I decided I needed to make more space for painting in my everyday life. So I picked up the brush and worked on my second solo show. As result of the new direction my work was taking, I felt inspired enough to launch my homewares label Canter & Cave earlier this year. The creative spirit is not something which you can easily disentangle yourself from, believe me I've tried!
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Keep creating, in any way shape or form. Seize the day.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I'm proud that I can be engaged in my work enough to keep on making works and share them with an audience.
What’s been your best decision? To follow my dream of leading a lifestyle centred around creativity.
Who inspires you? My 1.5 year old nephew is the most fascinating human being I have ever met. Upon visiting my studio, he started inspecting and lifting my works (the smaller ones, of course). I think he has assumed the role of artist's manager.
What are you passionate about? Art, travel, design, nature and knowledge.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My great grandfather. He travelled to New York in the 1920s and came home with this amazing textile piece made up of small flags which is a now a family heirloom. I would love to ask him about the exact origin of the piece.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? There are so many. Exhibiting internationally would be a good start.
What are you reading? I tend to read a few books at the same time but Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch, is sustaining my interest in an amusing way.

images courtesy of arite kannavos and canter & cave

Monday, 16 May 2011

Daily Imprint workshops

There are two questions I get asked more than any others:
1. How do you create and maintain a successful blog.
2. How do you become a stylist.

Over the coming months I'm going to answer these questions at a series of workshops.

The first will be held in the USA at the amazing Studio B in Florida. The location is just beautiful and there's so much to see and do in the area that even if you don't live locally, it could be the perfect opportunity to have an inspiring weekend away.

Pencil in Saturday 18 June into your diary.

It will be an evening of inspiration, insight and ideas.

There will be workshops in Sydney too - this time to be held at Apple, Bondi.

For the diary:
Thursday 7 July, 6.30pm
Thursday 21 July, 6.30pm
Thursday 4 August, 6.30pm

Hope to see you soon!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

designers lichen kemp & jitske wiersma

Lichen Kemp and Jitske Wiersma

Do children today still daydream? There's hope in the shape of Sunday Morning Designs. While the designs are the work of adults, the products can open eyes of all ages to an imaginary world. This is in part thanks to the illustrations of Dylan Martorell, who is the partner of one of the founders - Lichen Kemp. Together with fellow Melbourne creative
Jitske Wiersma, she created Sunday Morning Designs in 2007.

Which five words best describe you? Colourful, illustrative, quirky, funny and hard-working.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Jitske is from the Netherlands originally, and moved to Australia in 1999. She studied gold and silver smithing and printmaking then went into clothing design. Lichen has a background in art installations and curating exhibitions; she ran Outskirts Tshirt Gallery on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. We met through mutual friends and stocking the same stores, and then worked together for a short stint at Lupa Clothing before deciding to go into business together.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Lunch is for wimps.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Stocking a store in Paris, France.
What’s been your best decision? Starting Sunday Morning Designs together.
Who inspires you? Our friends and family.
What are you passionate about? Art and architecture.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Buckminster Fuller.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Designing our own house.
What are you reading? Roald Dahl and The Moth Podcasts.

images courtesy of sunday morning designs


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