Wednesday, 29 February 2012

designers alex gilmour & dominic chong

Individually their achievements are impressive. Alex Gilmour has won the Qantas SOYA award for industrial design, and been a finalist for several others, including the Dyson Australian Design Awards. She has also done a stint in London, working for Marc Newson. Dominic Chong, meanwhile, has exhibited at The Edge (as part of the Australian International Furniture Fair) and Object Gallery, as well as creating designs for the likes of Breville and Siemens. Together the Sydney-based couple created the Evie Group in 2010 and not only create homewares, but also provide graphic design and branding services. Recently they opened a pop-up shop in the Gaffa Gallery, which will be open until March 3.

Which five words best describe you?
Alex: Creative, perfectionist, distracted, ambitious, musical.
Dom: creative, competitive, adaptive, generous, specific.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since?
Alex: After doing quite a bit of freelance graphic work while studying at uni, my first "career" was in production management in the point-of-sale/exhibition industry. Having studied Mandarin gave me a bit of an advantage as the majority of the manufacturing was based in China so I got to travel frequently and oversee projects and problem solve. After working full time for a few years and completing a masters, I missed the flexibility and change of work environments when doing freelance work and decided working full time in the one role wasn’t for me. This is where I left to start Evie Group with Dominic. I wanted something a bit more rewarding and had always wanted to work for myself producing my own designs.
Dom: With my manufacturing engineering background, I worked briefly in an injection moulding company's QA department before I was conscripted into the Singapore Armed Forces in the anti-tank combat unit for 2 1/2 years... it was definitely not as glamorous or easy as portrayed in movies. After that, my strong interest in industrial design led me to Sydney where I completed the relevant bachelor and master degree at UTS while working in a product design consultancy. Thoughts of starting a company with Alex started to creep in my head so after some time in the corporate world directing branding and graphics, we decided to take that step and started Evie Group.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
Alex: How to be more confident in my work.
Dom: Working hard is important but it is also about who you know.

What’s your proudest career achievement?
Alex: Winning Qantas SOYA in 2010 for the first ranges I designed and produced – Emily tea set and Frederick Glassware and having a short internship with Marc Newson in London.
Dom: I always think that this is a journey more than a point in time, so I can't say... and no this is not a cop out. Ha!

What’s been your best decision?
Alex: Quitting a full-time job, taking a risk and starting Evie Group.
Dom: Deciding that design is what I want to do for a living.

Who inspires you?
Alex: The classic and modern designers such as Eames and Tom Dixon, my family and close friends and, of course, Dominic – we work quite well together and are honest in our critiques.
Dom: Alex. Talented people with innovative designs or thought. People who start with humble backgrounds making it. My parents.

What are you passionate about?
Alex: Anything design related, music, and travel.
Dom: High-end watches, furniture and lighting design, hawker food, gaming, debating issues big and small

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Alex: We are actually stuck on this one but the first person that pops into my head is Jimi Hendrix – would love to have a jam with him!
Dom: Jonathan Ive – designer for Apple.

What dream do you still want to fulfil?
Alex: Open up our own Evie Group shop and to keep designing and producing a collective of products for the home.
Dom: Design and produce beautiful products while travelling the world.

What are you reading?
Alex: At the moment I haven’t had much time to read, but in a spare moment I can read a page at a time of Whatever you think, think the opposite by Paul Arden.
Dom: The World According To Vice by Vice Magazine

images courtesy of evie group

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

shopkeeper ken wallis

The inner-city Sydney suburb of Redfern is undergoing something of a renaissance. While it might not have been known as a creative hub previously, it's quickly turning into one thanks to the vision of retailers such as Ken Wallis of Seasonal Concepts. In 2005 he opened his florist-meets-oldwares shop in a 1920s engineering workshop. He has stocked it with unforgettable items such as Roger the giraffe, as well as many finds with a pre-1950s provenance. Word of his shop has travelled far - on a recent visit to Australia, Martha Stewart paid the store a visit.

Which five words best describe you? Enthusiastic, dedicated, supportive, hands-on, collector.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Which career? I reinvent every 7 years! With Seasonal Concepts we started with dinner parties surrounded by flowers and old wares in a Surry Hills apartment.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Remember names and one thing about that person.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Having Martha Stewart at Seasonal Concepts.
What’s been your best decision? Buying 122 Redfern Street, Redfern. It's a wonderful piece of real estate. The house built in 1856 has wonderful energy.
Who inspires you? Sibella Court (The Society Inc) , George Clark (The Country Trader), Jacqueline Hill (Shiftazine).
What are you passionate about? Currently it's Bonsai.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Doris Day
What dream do you still want to fulfil? My country property.
What are you reading? Bonsai: its art science, history & philosophy.

images courtesy of seasonal concepts

Friday, 24 February 2012

artist emma gale

After working as a graphic and textile designer, Emma Gale moved from Sydney to the country to focus on her art practice. Since making a tree change, she has exhibited in several shows and won the Border Art Prize. Not surprisingly, given her career, she likes to focus on colour and texture.

Which five words best describe you? Quirky, inspired, energetic, dedicated, reclusive.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have always wanted to be an artist, I always knew I would be. Always creating as a kid, always drawing.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Follow your true instincts, follow your heart, follow your dreams.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Border Art Prize.
What’s been your best decision? Moving to the country.
Who inspires you? The world inspires me, colour, objects, people.
What are you passionate about? Art, travel, my family, interesting people and their stories.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Frida Kahlo
What dream do you still want to fulfil? More travel, and being able to create my art for as long as I can. As Frida Kahlo once said, "The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to."
What are you reading?
Children’s books, putting my son to bed!

images courtesy of emma gale

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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

shop owner jessica ibbett

Often I hear stories of people wanting to become interior designers. But Jessica Ibbett wanted to go the other way. She had studied interior architecture at the University of New South Wales. And then worked as an interior designer for six years. But Jess wanted to open her own shop, selling wares that were both stylish and sustainable. The result is shelf/life, a beautiful store in Sydney's Surry Hills. It also has an online store.

Which five words best describe you? Loyal, cheerful, honest, observant, easy-going.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I was passionate about studying art at school but was never sure how I’d translate that passion into a career. After a slight detour of one year studying psychology at Sydney University and one year snowboarding in Canada I ended up at UNSW studying interior architecture. I went on to work as an interior designer for about six years before suddenly deciding to realise my long-held dream of opening a shop and running my own business. I didn’t have much retail experience except the casual work I’d done during uni, so the last 2 years that shelf/life has been open have been a huge learning curve for me.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I have learnt many, many lessons in setting up this business but the one that I try to keep at the forefront of my brain is “know your limits”; know how much you can handle and know when to ask for help so you can try to maintain a healthy work/life balance – something it seems everyone is looking for these days!

What’s your proudest career achievement? It’s all the little goals I’ve set for myself and achieved that make me proud – seeing my shop featured in my favourite magazines, doing interviews for blogs I’ve been reading for years (yes, Daily Imprint), customers saying nice things. But just getting the shop open in the first place was a pretty big deal!

What’s been your best decision? To start dating my now husband. I would not be doing this without his support and encouragement.

Who inspires you? I usually get my daily inspiration fix reading the blogs of small-scale independent designers/creative-types like Wiksten, Leah Duncan, Saipua, For Me, For You & Door Sixteen (to name a few!). I like that they are just normal hard-working ladies trying to make a living doing the thing they love.

What are you passionate about? My family and new addition, little pup Buddy. Seeing beauty in everyday things. Eating delicious food. Travelling. Snowboarding. Accumulating more mid-century furniture. Learning more about the world we live in and how best to treat it.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I have no idea! Maybe Jonathan Adler? He looks like he’d be fun to hang out with.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? So many dreams – I feel like I’ve only just started! I want to live a full and joyous life surrounded by my loved ones. A modest house and a big garden with vegies, a couple of dogs and maybe even a goat. I want the shop to look and feel like it does in my head. I want a studio out the back where we can create pretty things like my own ceramics range.

What are you reading? I just finished The Famished Road by Ben Okri so I am just browsing through a range of stuff – Inside Out magazine, Julius Shulman: Modernism Rediscovered, some books on business and the hundreds of blogs I read every day.

images natalie walton

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

designer henry wilson

Straight out of design school at the Australian National University's School of Art, Henry Wilson entered one of his pieces from his honour's year into competition. He made the finals of the Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award. And he has now done so for four years in a row, most recently winning for his A-Joint table. At the end of last year he also launched a design gallery in The Rocks with fellow designer Trent Jansen. Together they run an online store, Trent & Henry. While currently based in Sydney, Henry lived in The Netherlands while studying for his Masters in Man and Humanity from the Design Academy Eindhoven. As well as creating new designs, he often re-purposes existing designs, such as the pieces shown above. Either way, he creates with a view to longevity and honesty.

Which five words best describe you? Curious, restless, frustrated.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? A certain amount of luck and perseverance. I keep a keen eye for detail, moments that I can glean a bit of potential from and use in my own work.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Things never look quite right when you start them. Once the process takes hold, suddenly too many options! The challenge is knowing which ones to leave.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Working alongside my first mentor Dr Rodney Hayward on a the recent Timber Anglepoise project.

What’s been your best decision? Moving to Europe, then - moving back to Australia.

Who inspires you? The geeks of their fields.

What are you passionate about? Materials, industry of all types - both new and old, peoples' quirks.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Michael Pollen, Stephen Fry, Achille Castiglioni

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Everest base camp.

What are you reading? Hidden forms by Franco Clivo, The brain that changes itself by Norman Doidge

images courtesy of henry wilson

Monday, 20 February 2012

belynda henry exhibition opening

On Wednesday I will be opening the 20th exhibition of artist Belynda Henry "Colour My World" at Richard Martin Art gallery in Woollahra. During a preview I was drawn to her sculptures, which are 3D models of the trees and landscapes she paints. The opening night is from 6pm to 8pm - come along, otherwise enjoy her Daily Imprint interview.

images courtesy of belynda henry and richard martin art

Friday, 17 February 2012

architect brooke aitken

While many architects tend to focus on the shell of a building, Brooke Aitken likes to take a more wholistic approach. She believes the interior design is just as important as the facade, and helps to create a seamless finish. It is a philosophy developed during her time working in the UK, with leading figure Anouska Hempel (who is featured in the March/April 2012 issue of Vogue Living). And during her time with Richard Johnson.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, inquisitive, travelled, determined... clich├ęd..

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My first job was with Denton Corker Marshall Tokyo whilst at university studying architecture and I then joined the Sydney office once I had graduated (now JPW). I stayed with them until I moved to England and worked for Anouska Hempel Design. Richard Johnson (JPW) taught me to pare design to simple key elements and Anouska Hempel taught me that the design of large project is as important as a simple object - God is in the Detail. I also learnt that interior decoration is so important to finishing a space – something that the practice of architecture tends to shun in this country. Since returning to Australia I opened our office and we predominately work on residential, retail and office design. We like to work from the external architecture down to choosing the bed linen so it is a seamless design.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To know that your first design idea for a project is often the best and be committed to it.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Actually there are two so far. The first is being the project architect for the interiors of the Melbourne Museum before I turned 30. I look back and wonder why they gave me the job at such a young age! The other is building my home/office on a shoestring budget and staying married. I tell my clients building is one of the most stressful things for a couple to do, but now I can personally attest to it! The fact remains, I can wake up every day and smile that I live in something I love and I’d definitely do it all again.

What’s been your best decision? To open our office.

Who inspires you? So many architects and designers from across the world. Japanese architects such as Ando and Maki, French designers like Putman, Liaigre and Delcourt, Scandinavian architects such as Aalto and of course Anouska Hempel and Richard Johnson have inspired much of my work.

What are you passionate about? Japan – its culture, design, food, people.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Difficult question: there are so many amazing people with stories out there. Maybe Le Corbusier because he had so many ideals which fell so short, yet his buildings still bring me to tears when I visit them.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? A work-life balance.

What are you reading? Life with Picasso by Francoise Gilot. What an incredible woman.

images courtesy of brooke aitken; chair brett boardman; ottoman steve back; bookcase house & garden and prue ruscoe; portrait prue ruscoe

Thursday, 16 February 2012

editors maree oaten & nikki buckland

maree oaten & nikki buckland

Paper is having a renaissance. While it never really went away, it is being celebrated and re-conceived in all sorts of ways. There is now a class of artists called paper engineers. Paper is being used for craft, art, illustration, and so it follows that there is a paper magazine. Meet the founding editors of Paper Runway, Maree Oaten and Nikki Buckland:

Which five words best describe you?
Maree: Passionate, perfectionist, determined, caring, tired.
Nikki: Perfectionist, honest, committed, tenacious, kind.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since?
Maree: I studied design in Brisbane. Not long after graduating I moved to Sydney and worked with a design and advertising agency in Sydney for five years working across a range of "desirable" brands. Towards the end of this time I moved to London with my husband to work and travel. We ended up being there for six years and loved every minute of it. After returning to Australia I started freelancing; in the meantime an old friend and colleague, Anna Johnson, had moved back to Australia from New York and we started "Little Branch". While working on Little Branch I met Nikki, as she had an online store "Paper Scissors Rock" and became a stockist. A few strange coincidences propelled our friendship along to the point that after one particularly long telephone conversation Paper Runway was born.
Nikki: I dabbled in a cupcake business, which was fun but too time-consuming with three young children, before starting an online stationery store, Paper Scissors Rock, which hit the ground running and I loved. But when Paper Runway was born something had to give so Paper Scissors Rock was left behind. A hard decision as I had invested a lot of time building the business but a great decision in hindsight. I also work in family law for half the days and Paper Runway for the other half. It’s a challenge but rewarding.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
Maree: You need to believe in yourself, trust your instincts and get in and make it happen. No one is going to do it for you. Do what you love!
Nikki: Absolutely believing in what we do. Trusting in our instincts and each other. Be careful there are some sharks out there who are willing to take advantage of you.

What’s your proudest career achievement?
Maree: Watching Paper Runway grow.
Nikki: Opening the first box of printed magazines.

What’s been your best decision?
Maree: Marrying my husband Bruce, and working for myself.
Nikki: If I have to choose one it would probably be deciding to surround myself with loved ones (friends and family) that I want to have in my life and letting go of those that I don’t.

Who inspires you?
Maree: My children, my husband, my mother, my family, my friends, life...
Nikki: In no particular order Todd; my mum; family; friends; the beach; nature; books; my dear friend Kerran who was with us for too little a time, who taught me patience, strength and the meaning of true love; my sister; creative souls.

What are you passionate about?
Maree: Paper in all its forms.
Nikki: Honesty is big on my list; watching Paper Runway reach its potential; paper – of course.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Maree: To have had more time with my Granny and 'Pop', they have been a huge influence in my life, no matter how brief they were in it.
Nikki: Audrey Hepburn – she is the epitome of style and grace.

What dream do you still want to fulfil?
Maree: To discover the secret to having the perfect work/life balance.
Nikki: I have to agree with Maree on this one.

What are you reading?
Maree: InsideOut, Frankie, Wrap, Vogue Living, lots of emails and I have been reading Fancy Nancy and Thomas the Tank Engine.
Nikki: Wrap, Uppercase, Isla the Ice Skating Fairy, Yen, Made to Play, Teaching kids to care, Queen bees and Wannabees and 1021 unread emails (at last count).

images courtesy of paper runway

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

designer rebeccca snelling

Rebecca Snelling is a New Zealand designer who has received worldwide acclaim for the furniture she creates with her father, Doug, in their business Workroom. While she has a background in art and design, he has worked in the building and woodworking industries. Together, they make pieces that are made from recycled New Zealand wood and other eco products. More recently, Rebecca has launched the store Douglas + Bec, with her partner Paul Dowie, which not only sells pieces from Workroom but also independent and international designers.

Which five words best describe you? Conscientious, thoughtful, observant, perceptive and resilient.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My father and I started making lamps under the brand Workroom in 2008 and in 2010 my partner Paul and I opened Douglas + Bec.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Don't compare yourself to your immediate market, look wider, draw inspiration globally, and as always stick to your knitting.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I guess it is starting both the companies from shoestring budgets, now both Douglas + Bec and Workroom receive recognition globally.
What’s been your best decision? Opening Douglas + Bec - we really wanted to bring something distinct to the market - concentrating on presenting independent practitioners like our own (workroom) and housing them in a beautiful boutique. This is when both business flourished.
Who inspires you? My father Douglas - his work ethic is infectious and his craftsmanship just keeps evolving. I also heard somewhere - you're not just lucky, the harder you work the luckier you get.
What are you passionate about? I am passionate about my work - we as a family live it, breath it and are lost without it. I want to always produce objects/furniture with integrity and honesty.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Queen Elizabeth - she is so stoic, brave and selfless.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would like to follow my binary creative practice - I am a visual artist by training and this has taken a back seat in the past few years - so a studio dedicated to this part of me would be amazing - just maybe for 2 days a week.
What are you reading? Inbetween baby books - I am a new mother with not a lot of down time - I do like to read cookbooks. I have a new love affair with New Zealand hunter and gather chef Al Brown - so his book Stoked. He catches the pig, cooks it (incredibly) and enjoys a fine Pinot Gris to wash it down - multifaceted - my type of person!

images courtesy of douglas + bec and (portrait) nz house & garden

Friday, 10 February 2012

textile designer suki cheema

While Suki Cheema studied design at the prestigious college Central Saint Martins in London, it was in New York that he got his break. He earned his stripes with the likes of Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren and Diane von Furstenberg. And it was during his time at the latter that he got the courage and conviction to start his own label: Suki Cheema. His specialty is fabric design, which is beautifully translated on rugs and cushions, among other homewares.

Which five words best describe you? Outgoing, fun, driven, energetic, passionate.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After leaving Central Saint Martins, I spent 11 years working in the fashion world for the likes of Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, and DVF. It was my time at DVF that gave me the passion and the courage to start Suki Cheema.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Be all you can be and live life to the fullest.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Seeing my work be produced. It is wonderful to walk into a store and watch someone fall in love with one of my prints.
What’s been your best decision? To start Suki Cheema Home.
Who inspires you? The world
What are you passionate about? Art, travel, life
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? The Dalai Lama
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I really want to start a family.
What are you reading? I don't really read a lot of books. I read magazines cover to cover. Fashion, travel, lifestyle and world. I am just finishing this week's Economist.

images courtesy of suki cheema


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