Wednesday, 31 August 2011
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
At art college I discovered screen-printing and dreamt of becoming a fabric designer, but then read an article about stylists, and thought it sounded like a creative, fun occupation. I didn’t realise quite how hard I’d have to work until I became an intern on various publications in London. Working as an assistant stylist for some of the best interior stylists in London, I became involved in creating imagery for interior books, magazines and catalogues, often shooting in beautiful country houses around England.
What’s your favourite decorating style? I love the interiors of the 50s and 60s – designers at this time completely rethought form, structure and materials. The moulded plywood and bright plastic furniture had a fresh, innovative look. Warm orange, brown and yellow colour palettes had an optimistic feel.
I’ve also always been attracted to country interiors with robust battered leather armchairs and faded spriggy floral print sofas where energetic children, pets and adults alike can happily co-exist in the space. White painted floorboards, rustic trestle tables and logs stacked up by the fire conjure up a cosy feel, which I love.
Swedish homes always look light and elegant. They’re spacious and modern, yet decorative. Simple window treatments such as translucent muslin drapes, white, grey or pale pastel walls, candles and blonde wood furniture in curved shapes are the main elements. I love the combination of natural fabrics in delicate floral prints, checks and stripes in a fresh palette of blue, red, yellow, white or cream.
What’s the most common mistake people make when decorating their home? Trying to combine too many colours and styles - creating a confused look is a common mistake. At the other extreme, playing it too safe is another pitfall. Getting the balance just right is the key to creating a relaxed space. Trust your judgement - you’ll soon know when something isn’t quite right.
Designing a room scheme is really easy, if you follow some simple guidelines. I generally hunt out a beautiful wallpaper, fabric or artwork and use this as my starting point. This pattern will act as the main focus of the room and all other ingredients should complement it. Finally, I add some quirky details to add an unexpected touch, such as vintage ceramics.
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need a lot of money to create your own perfect haven - being resourceful and imaginative is often much more rewarding. You can unearth some real treasures in second-hand shops. Quite often, once vintage furniture is covered in fresh new fabric, or given a lick of paint it comes alive and looks amazing. As long as the basic structure and shape is good, you can’t go wrong.
Where do you look for inspiration? I feel most inspired when traveling and exploring other cultures. By the time I arrive home I generally have a huge collection of photos and souvenirs to delve into whenever I feel the urge to get creative.
For me India offers a never-ending patchwork of possibilities - their vibrant textiles, elaborate architecture and luxurious style is a constant source of delight. I’d love to one day work with Indian craftspeople to design my own range of hand-dyed, embroidered fabrics.
I also often scour magazines for images, which fuel my imagination, and collect them in scrapbooks. It’s heaven for me to visit old-fashioned haberdashery stores – buttons and braids spark my imagination!
When watching films, I often become distracted from what the actors are saying by the beautiful interiors. Films like Something’s Got to Give, starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton is set in a rambling Hampton’s-style beach house. Another film called Evening is mainly set in 1940s America. The house is lavishly decorated with beautiful fabrics and wallpapers – a visual treat!Who inspires you? I love the work of fabric and furniture designers, husband and wife team, Lucienne and Robin Day who were at the peak of their careers in the 50s and 60s, but have been part of the design evolution ever since. (Robin’s best known for his injection-moulded polyprop stacking chair). Their Chelsea home could easily be mistaken for a contemporary interior, but it’s barely changed for over 40 years. It’s as if the rest of the world has finally caught up with their love of simple, pure materials and design with soul.
Being conscious of the environment, and our effect on it, is so important. I try and incorporate “green” products wherever I can, such as cushions made from climate neutral fabric or “eco-ware” biodegradable cork placemats. A favourite book at the moment is Cool Hunting Green by Dave Evans.
Being a girl who loves pattern, wallpaper is another weakness. The most recent addition is a bold pink and grey Flamingo design by Cole and Son that adorns a feature wall in our bedroom. I’m yet to find out what my partner Nick really thinks of this new look!
What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about interiors, friends, family, art, fashion, animals, the environment, organic food. I’d love to build an eco-friendly country house, complete with solar power, where I could live with my family and a menagerie of animals. Being able to design and build a house from scratch would be an amazing achievement - a fantastic legacy to leave behind!
Monday, 29 August 2011
Some of the images above are from her book: The stylist's guide to New York, which was well thumbed during my recent trip there. Looking forward to seeing her next one - Nomad, which you can preorder now.
The interview originally ran here.
Which five words best describe you? Pow (most of the time).
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? First styling job was assisting at 20 on a Sheridan sheets job, ironing for 12 hours a day. I loved it and never looked back. Was out styling in my own right within about a year which took me to New York.
What’s your proudest achievement? I'm not sure if I've had it yet but I suppose the last year I'm pretty proud of: Just finished a book on my style with Murdoch (due out this Christmas 2009), participating in HomeMADE Channel 9 prime-time reality design show as a
judge, Interiors Editor of 2008 launch magazine, Grazia, opening The Society inc. and working with Murobond designing 10-colour palettes 4 times a year.
What’s been your best decision? Moving back to Sydney after 10 years in New York.
Who inspires you? My Mum, my friends & family, artists, filmmakers, historians, explorers, people who think outside the box.
What are you passionate about? Art, film, paint, books, magazines, discovery, travel, beachcombing, beauty in the everyday.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Don't sweat the small stuff. There is a solution to every problem. My job is superfun, enjoy everyday.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?Oscar Wilde.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? So many dreams, constantly expanding & changing them. Life is dreams waiting to be fulfilled. I hope I never run out of them.
I suppose the next on my list is to design products.
What are you reading? Ulysses by James Joyce.
images via Sibella Court
Friday, 26 August 2011
What’s your proudest achievement? Any time that I am able to express myself clearly and succinctly I am a bit proud. It doesn't happen often.
Who inspires you? Right now I am totally inspired by my fellowbloggers and blog readers. I love blogging. In my humble opinion its the best technological creation to date.
What are you passionate about? Life: Mine and everyone else's.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? To just get on with it.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?Songwriter + musician Ani DiFranco who is able to not only express herself clearly and succinctly on a regular basis, but also has the ability of "getting on with it".
What’s next? I will most likely have a shower and then pour myself another cup of tea. In other news, my first book will be published next year, and I have a few fun projects in the making that include more writing, more photography, more travelling, more styling, more drawings, and more music.
What are you reading? Just finished reading Mary Shaffer's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and have just started reading Sean Condon's My 'Dam Life. The two books couldn't be further worlds apart, but both inspire and intrigue me equally.
Thursday, 25 August 2011
What path have you taken to arrive in New York? I did an arts degree with thoughts of being a curator, but kept going back to working with food. I met a food stylist and started assisting and went from there. I worked at Vogue Entertaining magazine as the assistant food editor under editor Sharyn Storrier Lyneham – who was amazing and taught me how to look at things in a different way - not just with food, but this objects and colour as well, as well as Joan Campbell the food director – two very strong editors who taught me that near enough was not good enough. They expected perfection and I got to learn from the best. I became the Melbourne editor of the magazine, then back to Sydney as food editor. After I left to go freelance, I worked for Marie Claire Australia as their food editor and travelled between New York and Sydney as a food, lifestyle and interiors stylist (which was absolutely crazy). After a year, became senior style editor at Real Simple magazine – I wanted to move away from food and explore my other loves interiors and design and prove that it is possible to work over many subjects (in the US it was unheard of to style food and interiors). I was there for a year before being headhunted by Martha Stewart to edit Everyday Food magazine. Which is where I am now.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Every milestone is a great moment until you want the next thing! My first published pic was a buzz, then when I first got the job at Vogue Entertaining I was so excited, it was my dream job. Then, going freelance and making it work. But, becoming an editor in New York is the biggest – it is not an easy step for a food editor/stylist to make the leap in the US to being an editor – and it has been filled with pinch-myself-moments... like being a guest on Martha's show in my third week on the job – that was pretty full on.
What’s been your best decision? Taking the leap and moving to New York – Australia is always home and I miss it so much – the light, the smells and not least my family. But there is just something about NYC.
Who inspires you? Creatively, the list is long... Coco Chanel, Fleur Cowles, Ilse Crawford, Li Edelkoort, Martha Stewart, Alber Elbaz,, Frida Kahlo, Grace Coddington, Rosalie Gascoigne, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Prouve, YSL, my grandmother Rae Last, William Morris, Martyn Thompson, Richard Avedon, Tim Walker, editors Karen McCartney, Sharyn Storrier Lyneham, Tina Brown, food editors and writers Joan Campbell, Elizabeth David, Claudia Roden, Nigel Slater, John Wilson and stylists Sue Fairlie Cunningham, Emma Knowles and all the photographers and stylists I work with.
What are you passionate about? Family, friends, food and cooking, colour and style, objects found, Australia, the sea, travel, equality.
What do you love about New York? The possibilities.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? To take a deep breath and respond rather than react – well, I try. And to trust my instinct.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Grace Coddington or Alber Elbaz
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Own an apartment in NYC, and a beach house in Australia, finish my book, travel more... put my experience as an editor/stylist to use as a buyer for a fabulous collector or store and it would be my job to travel the world finding beautiful things.
What are you reading? Magazine, magazines, magazines – especially old copies of Flair. Also The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris by Alicia Drake.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
What was your first career job and what path have you taken since? I started in advertising, working on brand development for about 6 years, then took a role with Sass & Bide as a textile/marketing designer and have been working in fashion ever since.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Not to get too precious about things. Design is an organic process, you aim for the best and hopefully all the elements pull together for your desired outcome. It's hard when your relying on exterior elements for the final vision. Occasionally you don't get your desired outcome, but you have to make it work.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I'd have to say it was the day I resigned from a job and took the leap to go out on my own.
What’s been your best decision? My best decision was to get a studio and start to back myself. If you don't take the chance why should any one else.
Who inspires you? I have loads of inspirational friends.People who believe in themselves inspire me. My mother is a major inspiration for life. She keeps everything and everyone around her very real. She's such a hard worker and has amazing strength.
What are you passionate about? I am passionate about life, not being too serious all the time. I realised a while ago that I'm a designer not a brain surgeon. Sometimes I think people loose their heads in this industry. And it annoys the hell out of me. I am passionate about people being real about themselves and their circumstances. Life is far to fluid to get too confident on anything.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I'd love have met Florence Broadhurst in her day. She sounds like a real scream or absolute terror. She seemed to play an interesting role her entire life. Enough so that someone came along and murdered her. What dream do you still want to fulfil? I have always seen my self in New York or the south of France with the family for a spat. I will definitely make this happen in the next year or so before the kids settle into school years.
What are you reading? Simple Abundance is never too far from my bed side. Most nights are also full of Spot goes to the park and Where the wild things are. Highly intelligent reading for my 3-year-old. Max, my son, has really taken on the character's persona. Very funny.
images courtesy of pony rider and frontliners (portrait)
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Friday, 19 August 2011
Which five words best describe you?
Pepa: Olive, ochre, burnt orange, caramel and shiraz.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? We meet at The Fashion Design Studio at East Sydney College and had an instant connection. We started the business in 2005 and began working with prints (both digital and screen), however we kept coming back to hand dyeing. In 2007 we did our first “Life in Style Trade Show”. It was nerve racking because hand dyeing wasn’t in at that time. We were really worried people might think we were crazy hippies. However, the positive response was overwhelming and gave us the confidence to expand the business. Since then we have focused on creating commission pieces working with interior designers and architects on amazing large-scale pieces that give a space a personally of its own. We have been lucky enough to work with some of the most talented and well-known people in the country and our work can be seen anywhere from corporate spaces (Macquarie Bank Head Office) to large venues (The Beresford upstairs) to many smaller places in between. We are both really passionate about shibori and feel it is our duty to spread the word about other amazing people using this medium. With this in mind comes the creation of our book “Shibori in the 21 Century” which includes interviews and showcases the work of others. We were lucky enough to interview Australians Akira Isogawa, India Flint, Barbara Rogers and other international artists like Trine Mauritz Eriksen and Shabd Simon Alexander to name a few. The book will be launched at the end of this year with an exhibition and workshop by some of the artists. It is truly a dream come to fruition.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
Karen: To close your ears to the negative opinions of others. Someone somewhere will think what you are doing is crazy and it probably is, however, that doesn’t mean you won’t succeed. Have faith in your own dreams.
Pepa: Feel the fear and do it anyway!
What’s your proudest career achievement?
Karen: 5-metre high by 3-metres wide dip-dyed curtains for Upstairs at The Beresford Hotel. The deadline was very tight and we had to find new and inventive ways to get the job done. It was very intense but lots of fun.
Pepa: The production and development of our dye range “Dye Da Vida” with Tintex Australia. Dye Da Vida translates to dye gives life, which is how we truly feel, and we hope the dye range inspires other to do the same. This in conjunction with our workshops (one to be held at the Powerhouse in October) is my main passion.
What’s been your best decision?
Karen and Pepa: Starting the business. It has been such an amazing ride with personal growth and creativity. Our days are always full of laughter and things are always made easier when you have someone else to bounce things off.
Who inspires you?
Karen: People who are fearless and follow their dreams.
Pepa: Mother Nature and the simplest of ideas.
What are you passionate about?
Karen: Nothing makes my heart flutter more than a beautiful vintage textile, I get goose bumps just thinking about it.
Pepa: Shibori in nature, a mossy sandstone wall, the imprint left after the rain. Interpreting these textures on cloth.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Karen: Astro boy - fearless, a bit tragic but with amazing hair.
Pepa: Antoni Gaudi, the grand scale of his art, his organic lines I would just like to pick his brain for a bit.
What dream do you still want to fulfill?
Karen: Finally (finally, finally, finally) seeing the finished product of our book Shibori in the 21st Century. It has been a real labour of love for us (and our very talented and patient designer Steve Clarke).
Pepa: An international exhibition, our second book (a dyeing manual).
What are you reading?
Karen: India Flint’s new book Second Skin.
Pepa: Kafka on the shore.
images courtesy of shibori
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Fiona Lyda is well-known in the design industry for her must-visit shop Spence & Lyda. But she actually started her career in fashion. It was only after working in LA, and falling in love with the modernist architecture there, that she got inspired to open a shop on her return to Australia. Since then she's become a tour de force in Sydney design circles, and has designed several amazing interiors. One of them - in the Lumiere building - I got to see first-hand and interview Fiona about for real living magazine some years ago. I've never forgotten her layering of paint to create a rust/rain-like finish.
Which five words best describe you? That is a difficult question, impatient x 5 would be some people's answer. I might like to include other more positive traits and I am sure they exist but I don't dwell on it much.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? On completion of my degree in fashion and textile design I went straight into costume design for film. It was a buoyant time for the industry so there was a lot of work, sadly not the case now. The skills I honed there to do with work ethic, attention to detail and speed problem-solving have proved invaluable tools. My work took me all around the world and included a number of years in Los Angeles. The Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena became a major source of inspiration as did the modernist architecture in the Hollywood Hills so my move into production design and then interiors was inevitable. I started Spence and Lyda in an 89 square metre shop on my return from LA. The rest has been dogged determination, hard work and naivety.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? There is a story in the costume design world about a young assistant who was sent on an emergency dash from location at Palm Beach to the city to pick up a pair of leopard stilettos - we are talking early eighties here, don't forget. The shoes arrived back and were taken straight to the actress ready on set only to find the box contained two left shoes. Lesson: you can never over-train, always check the supposedly obvious so you don't find yourself in difficult situations.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Rosita Missoni gave me a note which read, "You are a star". It referred to a huge event we had staged to launch the 2008 Missoni Home collection in a penthouse in the city. The effort involved in preparing the interior and the event had just about killed me so it meant a great deal to know that she understood and approved.
What’s been your best decision? Aside from deciding to have a child, the decision to launch off into the whirlwind that has been Spence and Lyda was undeniably the best. It still inspires me after 12 years; I get to work with great design every day and travel to find it.
What inspires you? Beauty, mainly. Something, almost every day, will catch my eye, be it the light from the afternoon sun on foliage to the pattern of an old sand-stock wall or the fabulous colour combinations in a bird's plumage. I am blessed like that, there is beauty everywhere free for the seeing.
What are you passionate about? Textiles and wood, but I suppose that is no surprise; the showroom is full of both. The idea that interiors can be an enriching element to life, chronicling our journey, and adding pleasure with textures or colours. Not a testament to who we want to become.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I am currently intrigued by Frank Lloyd Wright. I have studied his work over many years but have just read The Women, an account of the muses in his gargantuan life and career. It has revealed both a positive and negative side to him that I would love to understand better.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I am actively fantasising about a trek, all be it a five-star version, up into what is called Little Tibet in northern India. The Himalayan culture is still more or less intact there and the beauty legendary. Stupidly, for a person with my passions, I have only just come to explore India and I cannot get enough. I have dreamt of building a house for many years - not just a renovation: I have been involved in many of those - but an architect-designed manifestation of where my aesthetic is at now. That dream looks like coming to fruition in the next couple of years on a piece of land we have found just south of Kiama. I can't wait.
What are you reading? I am halfway through The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carre, which I found in an airport newsagent of all places. I am also reading a brilliant book given by a friend to my daughter Marlo. A little history of the world is essential reading for all those, young and old, keen to understand why we are where we are.
images courtesy of fiona lyda