Wednesday, 30 November 2011

designer & shopkeeper ross longmuir

It's a testament to the quality of Ross Longmuir's work as a furniture designer that the origins of his business, Planet, go back to 1991. He set out to build furniture with Australian hardwoods in Melbourne, where he was based at the time, and encountered many naysayers for his vision. Determined, he persevered and today is not only a designer but also encourages others in the homewares industry by selling their products alongside his furniture - always with an eye on sustainability. Today the store in based in Sydney, with a recently launched presence online.

Which five words best describe you?

Funnily I don’t really have the objectivity to answer this question! I guess that I’m sort of chaotic but disciplined, creative but hardworking although sometimes I’m pretty lazy too. Quirky things make me laugh and mostly I’m afraid of being boring. Probably I’m over-sensitive.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since?

Twenty years ago I fell in love with furniture design and found that there wasn’t much going on in Australia. In design I always want to make sense, so I began with solid Australian hardwoods, sustainably sourced. Established furniture makers said that this wasn’t possible, so I spent five years researching materials and techniques and found that with the right approach, solid Australian hardwoods can be a spectacular success.

In 1998 I opened a retail showroom to present my vision in my own way. In order to support friends who crafted homewares, I decided to display their work alongside my furniture.

Planet now has an extensive collection of furniture classics and we offer a bespoke and full design service. There are always new pieces of furniture being added to the collection. I am now also developing a range of porcelain vases, soft furnishings using fabrics from around the world and contemporary floor rugs handwoven, employing traditional skills. We still show work from more than 70 other makers.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way?

Listen to your own truth.

What’s your proudest career achievement?

Being able to satisfy clients through creativity. There is genuine delight evident in response to our pieces so often. It’s so great when people instinctually respond from the heart to something that is original. My work is an attempt to highlight beautiful, sustainable, pure raw materials that are finely crafted into useful and original forms. It is life affirming that it is also possible to make a business successful while not compromising creativity or originality.

What’s been your best decision?

By deciding that the world is a bountiful place and that it is not greedy to hope for enough, I firmly believe that we each can be creative by choosing what is good.

Who inspires you?

So many people! Musicians have so much power to change my world daily. I love Pinchgut Opera in Sydney. In particular it's breathtaking that so many people can do the right thing at the right time! Great artwork expands my comprehension. With my own design, I often think “what would Gerrit Rietveld do?” Great architecture is often inspiration for me to create particular pieces. Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre is a special favourite.

What are you passionate about?

So many things! Originality is exciting and inspires others and elevates us all. Individuality should be treasured and celebrated. We all live in such different ways with different values and pioneers out on a limb create the most significant benefits to others. Natural fibres just make sense; they are beautiful and last but still excite me. Centuries of experimentation have given us knowledge of materials that have huge benefits that nourish our environment.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?

Whoopi Goldberg would be so much fun to hang out with. Her forthright sense of humour mixed with such a strong sense of self and great energy is spectacular. She seems to be concerned about moral issues but isn’t at all uptight. On Broadway, a while ago, I saw her in a production of Xanadu on roller-skates! It’s cool that we share a birthday too.

What dream do you still want to fulfil?

I’d love a big garden. It would be fantastic to nurture an environment and have all that green energy around you every day. But I am happy living in the city right now with lots of people interacting, so that will need to remain a dream for a little bit longer.

What are you reading?

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. I’ve rediscovered my love of India recently and a client recommended it to understand more of private family life. It’s about family interactions, just after partition. The common link between different locations, cultures and families is the potential suitors for a daughter. It’s about the largest book I’ve ever contemplated (p1127 currently) and is fascinating. I have some Raj-era Indian blood myself and have travelled there three times for a total of five months so far. To me India is more a collection of countries and with 1.2 billion people, it fascinates me how it operates so well with such cultural diversity.

images courtesy of planet; portrait via ernest fratczak

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

the lowercase giveaway!

Today the talented duo behind The Lowercase (who I interviewed here) are giving Daily Imprint readers a chance to have a bit of fun at the dinner table this holiday season. As part of their launch collection they designed party papermats, which are part placemat, part paper art. They're also lightweight so easy to take along to the park or your local cafe. And perfect stocking fillers!

The Lowercase is offering one lucky reader:

1 x 12-packet Alphabetti Spaghetti Papermat, valued at $24.
1 x 12-packet Checkers Papermat, valued at $24.
1 x 12-packet Punch & Pose Papermat, vaued at $24.

The prize pack is worth $72.

For a chance to win, visit The Lowercase website and leave a comment below. A winner will be chosen at random after comments close at midnight on Monday 5 December. Don't forget to check back to see if your name was selected. (If the winner does not respond within two weeks of being notified, the prize will be redrawn.)

Congratulations!!! The winner is:

Thanks to everyone for taking part.

images courtesy of the lowercase

Monday, 28 November 2011

artist jessica tremp

Photographer Jessica Tremp was born in Switzerland, but has made Melbourne her home since moving there when she was 18 years old. In the past couple of years she has focussed on photography, often using herself as a model in her work. Jessica's photography has featured in various magazines across the globe and she has been recognised in industry-focussed prizes. In 2010 she was a finalist for best emerging photographer in Australia by The Projections. This year she won Gold at the Prix de la Photographie in Paris in portraiture/self portraiture category. Jessica will be at exhibiting at Mick the Gallery in Sydney from 21 November.

Which five words best describe you? Romantic, passionate, animal-loving, stubborn, culinarily-inclined.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I just keep wandering where the path looks pretty, I usually have no idea where it'll lead.
What's the best lesson you've learnt along the way? "In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth." - Patti Smith, Early Work 1970-1979.
What's your proudest career achievement? To be amongst the top five emerging Australian photographers in the arts category in last year's The Projections.
What's been your best decision? Marrying my wonderful husband Michael; musical genius, gentle soul and loud heart.
Who inspires you? It's more a "what" list; a long one at that. Blues, music, a bowl of spaghetti eaten alone, talking with friends after the third bottle of wine, hugs, fights, Peter Singer's philosphies, the animal kingdom, uncomfortable social experiences, Francesca Woodman's photography, Park Chan-Wook's movies, daydreaming of running with the wolves and from "that thing" that we all feel is there but can never quite put words to.
What are you passionate about? All of the above with fierce intensity.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Francesca Woodman, Peter Singer, Frida Kahlo.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? The move to my own piece of land and home in country Victoria, including a donkey, a goat, chickens, many eucalyptus trees, a long kitchen table to host all my loved ones for lengthy feasts and more time to create and stare at the sky.
What are you reading? The poetics of space by Gaston Bachelard, but I break it up with a little David Sedaris here and there.

images courtesy of jessica tremp

Thursday, 24 November 2011

shopkeepers orlando & nicola reindorf

Orlando Reindorf had an idea. After a few wines one Friday night he asked Melbourne artist Al Stark to paint the window of The Standard Store, a shop he'd recently opened with his wife Nicola in Sydney's Surry Hills. It is this kind of spontaneity and self-belief that has seen the couple expand their successful fashion distribution agency, Flying Standard, founded in 2000, into the stylish shop that is standing on Crown Street today. The two businesses promote many fashion labels that previously haven't been available in Australia. Meet Orlando and Nicola...

Orlando Reindorf

Which five words best describe you? Handsome is as handsome does.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I built and designed a trade fair stand for a London company selling Australian workwear in Paris, and I ended up working the stand, I fell into sales, and eventually was sales director for Diesel in London. I then moved to DKNY, but we came here to celebrate the millennium, and on my return to London I felt I needed a change, so I gave up the stability of a full-time job in fashion in London and moved to Australia. Sydney did not seem to offer the same career opportunities to me then so I thought I should set up my own business, using all my London contacts, selling their brands here.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Work hard, be passionate about what you do and don’t worry about success because if you do the first two things right then success will follow.

What’s your proudest career achievement? To date it has to be realising that the best person to work for was myself, starting my own business and making it work.

What’s been your best decision? Business-wise, going to the pub to meet a mate. I ended up meeting another person and picking up a great fashion brand out of the blue – it has made my business.

Who inspires you? Nicola, my wife, Clara, Karina, Jen and Brielle - five super cool women who make coming to work very easy.

What are you passionate about? Life - you only get one go at it.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? The Queen.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To spend more time abroad.

What are you reading? Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks.

Nicola Reindorf

Which five words best describe you? Nostalgic, busy, communicative, Gemini mother.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? A family friend kindly helped me out after I dropped out of fashion design at college(I hated the technical side of it: pattern-making and sewing) and gave me a job as a stylist on commercials and shoots. I managed to get by, and travel, I ended up in Barcelona where I had a shop with some London friends. I then managed the X-Large store in Sydney, then back to London doing lots of things: styling, a kids label, working as a fit model for some great labels. I have been really lucky I have always managed to travel and get work I enjoy along the way.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger: when you look back at the things that have gone wrong you can see the positive outcomes of negative obstacles.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Realising I am living my dream.

What’s been your best decision? The one I made last, which will be superseded by my next one.

Who inspires you? It's a cliché but Orlando and my beautiful sons Cosmo and Zephyr.

What are you passionate about? Living life to its fullest.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I don’t think I want to meet anyone famous. It could ruin my romantic perception of them. I would have liked to have met my grandfather; he died when my mother was a child. He is part of me, but I don’t know him at all.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To be able to balance my urban Sydney life with a more rural European life, drinking rose at midday, strolling through through ancient villages and having siestas after lunch.

What are you reading? Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.

images courtesy of the standard store

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

architect nick tobias

Over the years I've interviewed award-winning Sydney architect Nick Tobias several times for various magazines. He has always been informative, helpful and accommodating, even opening the doors to his own home for photo shoots. In a recent interview with House & Garden his comments on renovating stuck: "Keep things simple. Trends will come and go but good design lasts forever. Remember to keep your home's architecture simple, liveable and timeless." It's a philosophy he has used in his work as an architect, as well as his own home (which I styled and wrote about here for Harper's BAZAAR). Amazingly, he set up his own practice at the age of 22 after studying architecture at the University of NSW. Since then he has had more than 100 commissions, and has expanded his team to include 17 architects and designers. Nick has also been a judge on Channel 9's Top Design, and is the husband of author Miranda Darling, who I interviewed here.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? It really started with designing things for fashion trade shows and catwalks. Since then it's become about buildings, interiors, homes, offices, restaurants, shops, boats, and designing pretty much anything... supported by an amazing team.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Before getting into a professional relationship (client, builder, consultant, etc) test the "vision" match - the success of a project hinges on this.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Only yesterday, being on site at a house which we have been working on for more than three years and finishes in two weeks. It's looking wonderful.
What’s been your best decision? To ask Miranda, my wife to marry me.
Who inspires you? The universe.
What are you passionate about? Creation and diversity - family, architecture and design, art, music, fashion, friends and it all.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Freddie Mercury
What dream do you still want to fulfill? I'm living the dream.
What are you reading? The shallows - about what the internet does to our brain!

images courtesy of nick tobias

Monday, 21 November 2011

artist del kathryn barton

The work of Del Kathryn Barton is instantly recognisable, in part thanks to the success she's had in Australia's most famous art prize, The Archibald. She took out top honours in 2008 and was a finalist in 2007 and 2011. A graduate of the College of Fine Arts, as part of the University of NSW, Del has exhibited many times in Australia and overseas. She's also collaborated with the fashion world, with Sydney-based label Romance was born and more recently has created a limited edition scarf for the 10-year anniversary of fashion store Palour X.

Which five words best describe you? Crazed workaholic (sleep-loving) mummy.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Well, I drew obsessively as a child, and I am still drawing to stay alive 38 years later. One has to trust the work more than anything.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? The best lesson is to know why you're doing what you're doing: meaning and connectivity for me comes from the makingness within my practice.
What’s your proudest career achievement? To be working as a full-time artist.
What’s been your best decision? To become a mother.
What inspires you? Everything! The landscape, my children, sex, Louise Bourgeois, Chris Ofili, Henry Darger, crime fiction, sleeping, swimming, eating, Yayoi Kusama, walking, fashion, television, Ramond Petition, Sally Gabori, art art art, chairs, cactus, Japanese plastic, shells, Tibetan mandalas, the desert (and a tiny bit of sneaky Chanel! when I've been good! yikes!) and film. I watch way too many movies - Enter the void was my standout film this year, it rocked me.
What are you passionate about? My children's wholeness, health and joy, my studio cave, my work, my partner, my work, the natural landscape, my work.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I am a bit weird about meeting people I admire greatly. I get all sweaty and "not myself". But if it could be natural then probably Louise Bourgeois. She seems so fearless to me.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Oh so many. But really sometimes I have to pinch myself cause I am already living my dream. I only ever wanted to be an artist.
What are you reading? I have just come off a marathon of Michael Connelly crime novels - so good.

images courtesy of del kathryn barton

Friday, 18 November 2011

interiors by martyn thompson

Martyn Thompson's photography has featured in some of the best-selling interior books of recent times, including Ilse Crawford's Home is where the heart is. Over the past 20 years he has also been commissioned regularly by publications such as Vogue and Elle Decoration. Now Martyn has just released his own book, Interiors (Hardie Grant), which showcases some of his favourite house features from leading figures in the design world and the stories that go behind them.

How did you arrive at the concept for the book? Many people had suggested I publish a book of the interiors work I had shot, then, talking one day with the co-author, Kirsten Willey, she offered to put it all together.

What was involved in the creation process? I sent a hard-drive of all my favourite stories to Kirsten who then put them together in a rough version of what the book is now - slowly we refined it and then she approached publishers.

How long did it take to come together - from concept to first copy? Just under two years.

How did you envisage the look of the book? I didn’t - Kirsten put it all together. That’s the best thing about it.

What was unexpected about the whole experience? It was so great to have someone else edit and arrange my work. I learnt a lot about the benefits of letting go of control.

images courtesy of martyn thompson, kirsten willey and hardie grant

Thursday, 17 November 2011

photographer martyn thompson

Martyn Thompson is a New York-based Australian photographer whose career has spanned more than 25 years. He started out making garments, and ended up photographing them. Soon his photographic work was in high demand and he moved from fashion photography to interiors. He also relocated from Paris to London before basing himself in New York. All the while he has shot campaigns for the likes of Hermes, Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Tiffany & Co. Martyn has also published several books, including two with Ilse Crawford.

Above are examples of his fine art photography. Tomorrow read about his latest book project, Interiors (Hardie Grant).

Which five words best describe you? A good question for someone else to answer, but anyway: quiet, excitable, honest, industrious, boyish.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I wanted to be a fabric designer. I bought fabric and paint and started doing just that. Then I started to make clothes from the fabrics and began to sell them. I started photographing those clothes and that’s what led to my career as a photographer.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust your instinct.

What’s your proudest career achievement? That my work continues to change and develop.

What’s been your best decision? To let other people help.

Who inspires you? Passionate people: performance artist Taylor Mac, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.

What are you passionate about? Many things. On the broadest level "equality” is a big issue for me. I’m passionate about the creative process. And on a completely superficial level, what I wear.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Brian Eno

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To exhibit more.

What are you reading? Alan Hollinghurst The Stranger’s Child.

images courtesy of martyn thompson

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

fashion designer sheree commerford

Fashion designer Sheree Commerford felt such a connection to the town where she grew up in northern NSW that her label is partly named after the place: Woodford & Co. While country style elements are part of her design aesthetic, she's also got a rock 'n' roll edge. And so for the launch of her first pop-up store in Sydney's Paddington she is exhibiting the work of photographer Guy Webster, who has shot the likes of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and The Doors.

Which five words best describe you? Grateful, curious, loyal, happy and laid back.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Assisting some great stylists which inevitably led to styling and trend reporting. Since then I have gotten back on the path of what I trained for, designing.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Turn a negative into a positive.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Every time I see someone wearing Woodford & Co.

What’s been your best decision? To become a mother.

Who inspires you? My brother Craig, my mother in-law Vicki and my partner Sam.

What are you passionate about? My family.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Ellen

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Living in the South of France!

What are you reading? Rob Lowe's autobiography.

images courtesy of woodford & co

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

designer & decorator jane hall

Not everyone is meant to have just one career. And there are an increasing number of people who take on different roles simultaneously. Take Jane Hall. For many years she's been known for her work as an actress. But in the past year or so she's been moonlighting as a decorator. Just recently she's taken the next step and launched a range of homewares. And, if her track record is anything to go by, she'll soon be launching a book and TV show, which in some ways will get her back to where she started.

[PS Don't forget to check back here to see if you were one of the winners of Katrina Meynink's cookbook]

Which five words best describe you? Caring, perfectionist, independent, explosive, decent.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have been an actor since I was thirteen years old. I began my performing career in The Henderson Kids, and continued to work steadily across TV, film and theatre. Most recently, I spent a four year period on Ramsay Street... In 2010, after years of unofficially helping people revamp their interiors and countless renovations and refurbishments of my own, I tentatively launched Salvation Jane. I help people make their homes the best they can possibly be, not by chucking out everything and starting again, but by 'saving' bits and pieces they already own, and creating a home full of personality without slavishly following trends. This year I designed my first small collection of homewares, under the banner of Salvation Jane Home. The range will expand very quickly, I think!

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To be a nice person. I was raised knowing that being modest, humble and generous are the keys to being a happy and successful person. Always be honest and use your manners... and try to be mindful with money. (This last bit continues to be something I struggle with!)

What’s your proudest career achievement? I feel fortunate to be nurturing two careers: actor and designer/decorator. Surprisingly, there seems to be a great deal of overlap. Whilst I have certainly experienced highlights, I feel that in both areas my best work is yet to come.

What’s been your best decision? I'm a decisive person and not afraid to take a risk. Starting my business and launching a range whilst still acting might sound like a leap of faith, but it has been an amazing year. I firmly believe that what you put into life is what you get out of it, and attempting to satisfy myself creatively in this way has been a brave and worthy decision.

Who inspires you? Matisse, Tricia Guild, Rebecca Cool (Australian artist) and the myriad of independent artisans and designers here in Melbourne. I'm inspired by driven self-starters like Kristina Karlsson of Kikki.K and people who are optimistic, creative, and true to themselves. I'm always inspired by generosity and kindness and a strong work ethic. I'm inspired by my family and friends. I'm constantly inspired by the creatives I've met in this newer career - they know who they are!

What are you passionate about? Colour in all it's glory! Unique, beautiful interiors and homewares. I'm passionate about motherhood. My daughter reminds me everyday about what is really important in life.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would love to go back in time and spend my days with John and Sunday Reed and all the artists in residence at Heide, and in the present, I'd love to spend a week or so following around interiors guru Kelly Wearstler.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'd love to keep building and expanding Salvation Jane. I want to develop the brand and write a book, showing people how easy it is to 'save' their interiors, and a very clever friend and I have written a treatment for a TV show based around all this, which we intend to get off the ground! Aside from that, I want to travel more and see the world with my daughter.

What are you reading? What aren't I reading! My house is littered with every arty/interior/design mag available and my bedside table is stacked with novels. I have really diverse taste in books, at the moment I am reading Alex Miller's new novel called Autumn Laing, and I've just finished Nikki Gemmell's With My Body and Peggy Frew's House Of Sticks. You could say I love an Australian author. And blogs, I'm always reading blogs (this one included!)

images courtesy of salvation jane

Friday, 11 November 2011

jewellery designer aaron ruff

Brooklyn-based jewellery designer Aaron Ruff actually started out studying furniture design at the prestigious Parsons school in New York. And while he had also worked as a carpenter and cabinetmaker, it was when he took a course in jewellery making that he found his passion. Since launching his own brand Digby & Iona in 2006, he has created six collections, and sells his designs in more than 20 cities across the globe. While his work is available online, it's also stocked by Dobry Den in Sydney's Surry Hills.

Which five words best describe you? (I only need four) Dumpster diving fancy hobo.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started as a woodworker and had a small jewellery station set up in my woodshop. As much as I loved woodworking, I was craving to do something more personal and combined with a few nasty accidents on the tablesaw I decided it was time for a transition to preserve my fingers. We were losing our space in the woodshop and it seemed like the ideal time to make a go of it.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Never worry about the marketability of a design and just go for it. My most successful designs are always the ones I make to entertain myself and never intend to actually sell.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Seeing strangers on the street wear wearing my jewellery.

What’s been your best decision? Coming to New York young and starting my own business, I can't imagine where I'd be be now otherwise.

Who inspires you? It's a lot more what than who. Almost all my designs are rooted in my childhood. Anything that interested me as a kid seems to bubble up to the surface in my designs.

What are you passionate about? Nostalgia, old things.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Serge Gainsbourg.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? If I get to do this for the rest of my life I'll be very happy.

What are you reading? Good Omens by Neil Gaima.

images courtesy of digby & iona


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