Wednesday, 18 January 2012

designer caroline quaine

Caroline Quaine + Katherine Norman

It took a visit to New York to discover the work of Australian furniture designers Norman + Quaine. One of their sofas was in the home of expat stylist Marcus Hay. He had actually owned the piece since living in Sydney, and it was one of the few objects he'd taken with him to New York when he relocated for work.

The sofa had strong Modernist lines and as Marcus is such a collector of vintage pieces, I thought it was one of his many great finds. (You can see it in his post here - and read an interview with Marcus here.) But that's the clever thing about the designs of Norman + Quaine: they nod to the past while being grounded in the world today. The products are also made in Australia, and the founders, Katherine Norman and Caroline Quaine have been in partnership for the past 20 years. The Sydney-based duo have not only created furniture with longevity, but interiors too. Katherine is an interior designer while Caroline is an industrial designer. They have for many years worked with respected retailer Living Edge. Here, Caroline shares some of their story.

Which five words best describe you? Contemporary, simple, bright, layered, quality Australian-made.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? We met working for architects Mitchell Giurgola Thorp on the furniture team for New Parliament House Canberra. We recognised a niche market and started Norman and Quaine in 1990, designing and developing products, working closely with our manufacturers Woodmark International. We opened the showroom in Surry Hills in 1993 and supplied furniture to both the design and residential sectors.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To always provide the best possible experience to any client.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Seeing our furniture in many public spaces.

What’s been your best decision? Probably forming a long-lasting and supportive business partnership.

Who inspires you? Craftspeople in developing countries who produce designs of stunning simplicity and beauty for everyday practical use. People who utilise and adapt skills passed through generations.

What are you passionate about? Travel; beautiful layered interiors combining old and new, contemporary with traditional.

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

What dream do you still want to fulfil? A year living in India.

What are you reading? Have been enjoying reading about the work of Studio Mumbai

images courtesy of norman & quaine

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