Friday, 29 June 2012

architect william smart

There is a building on Bourke Street, Surry Hills that catches my eye every time I drive past. It is thoroughly modern, yet integrates almost seamlessly with the surrounding heritage-listed terraces. It is the base for Smart Design Studio, and is representative of what founder William Smart achieves with his architectural practice: thoughtful and thorough design. Since studying architecture at university, and earning his stripes at Foster and Partners in London, William founded Smart Design Studio in 1997. It is an award-winning practice which has created buildings such as the Seven Network offices in Pyrmont and the White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale. In 2012 Smart Design Studio has won Best Residential Design and Best Colour in Residential Design at the Australian Interior Design Awards as well as Best Residential Interior at the Belle Coco Republic Interior Design Awards.

Which five words best describe you? Forward-thinking, detailed, optimistic, technical and creative.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I’ve wanted to be an architect since I was a small boy. After university I worked in France and then London for Foster and Partners before returning to Australia to work on Olympic Park Railway station. I then started my own practice, 14 years ago, and commenced work on small projects where I learnt about detail, collaboration and started to discover again my own design voice. Since that time we have steadily grown to an office of 30 people today with specialist teams for houses, apartment buildings, offices, public buildings or master planning. We do architecture and interiors because the best results are created when the two are seamlessly integrated.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Never taking my eye off the ball: I learnt to keep close to all of our projects to maintain quality of result and efficient execution as well as building a team of people around me who do the same.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Creating our studio: where the culture is great, the people have fun and we’re together building a great body of work.

What’s been your best decision? Building the Smart Design Studio in Bourke St has transformed our business. The building has become a local landmark and gives us a beautiful environment to work in.

Who inspires you? The Spanish architect, Carlos Ferrater. His work is very simple, bold and has an exciting geometry which changes on each different site.

What are you passionate about? Uncompromising quality and being a leader in my profession.

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

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To be at a point where we feel we have enough extraordinary projects to warrant a great book of our work.

What are you reading? Dress your family in corduroy and denim - David Sedaris

images courtesy of smart design studio

Thursday, 28 June 2012

fashion designer jac hunt

There are some fashion brands that launch with a buzz and never seem to lose their momentum. Take Jac+Jack. The label came onto the scene in 2004 after founders Jac Hunt and Lisa "Jack" Dempsey decided to produce luxurious knitwear. They wanted clothes that were modern yet wouldn't date from season to season. Since launching, they have expanded into women's woven apparel, accessories, eyewear, menswear and homewares. Jac+Jack is available at more than 60 stockists in Australia and New Zealand. In March 2010 Jac and Lisa opened a Sydney boutique in William Street, Paddington.

Which five words best describe you? Determined, generous, clear-thinking and, I think, sometimes funny.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I knew very early on that I wanted to be in fashion, so all the way through school I never had to worry about a "career choice" from there it was fashion at R.M.I.T, then straight into the work force. I worked hard and was fortunate to work with a varied assortment of business people, creatives and inspiring leaders. I was like a sponge and wasn't afraid of hard work. I think I learnt a lot along the way and my career over time naturally evolved toward starting Jac+Jack with Lisa Dempsey in 2004. I never felt I was in a hurry and 15 years in the industry has kept me very level headed but always inspired.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Be patient and work hard, there aren't really any short cuts. Be realistic, be creative and stick with a focussed vision.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Starting Jac+Jack in 2004 with my very dear friend and business partner Lisa Dempsey.
What’s been your best decision? I think Lisa and I together are a good combination of push and pull, but we agree on most things, so when we make an important decision it is carefully thought through. Opening our first retail store was frustrating as it seemed to take a long time, but we held tight and tried to be patient, passing on some other sites until we found the perfect one. It was a very good decision, but one that was not easy.
Who inspires you? People who create and also give a lot. Frank Gehry is brilliantly creative, focussed and smart but also incredibly natural, real and very at ease with his achievements (like it's no big deal) - humble in fact. He is incredibly inspiring to me.
What are you passionate about? Business, fashion, art, conversation, the human condition and a couple of vanity projects that will remain nameless.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Frank Gehry
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To reach my potential, both personally and in a professional sense. To be happy and a good person. I hope that Lisa and I can take Jac+Jack to another level creating something unique and inspiring.
What are you reading? Vanity Fair from cover to cover as I am on a quick holiday in Mexico.

images courtesy of jac+jack; portrait bartolomeo celestino

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

designer draga obradovic

Draga Obradovic was born in Serbia but after studying painting in Florence, has made Italy her home. Initially she started working as a model, then turned to fashion design before applying her painting techniques to materials and focussing on textile design. Between 1989 and 2005 she worked for many design studios across Europe. In 2006 she applied her textiles to furniture and has been merging the two mediums ever since. She continues to be based in Florence, and works with her partner Aurel Basedow. Draga's pieces and textile designs are stocked in Anthropologie.

Which five words best describe you? Dynamic, determined, ironic, intuitive, impatient.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I worked as a textile designer for many years but always wanted to create my own collection. I have then refined my painting technique directly onto fabrics in which colour, style and textiles meet, leading itself to a furniture collection, mostly one-of-kind pieces.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Mistakes are our inner deep purposes.

What's your proudest career achievement? I'm mostly proud of the fact that the passion I put into my work can reach so many people far away.

What’s been your best decision? That I have left the known for the unknown.

Who inspires you? I made a chair bearing the names of people who have influenced and inspired me. There is a thin red line that separates the two, you are the product of the first, perhaps without even knowing it, and it's why the latter you choose. Tito, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Pushkin. Also, the Dada movement, abstract american expressionism, cinema, design from the thirties to the sixties, Mark Rothko for his colours, Alighiero Boetti for his playing with coincidences, rock from '70s for the mix of music and contents, Oscar Wilde for his irony.

What are you passionate about? Art in all expressions, dining with friends, wondering about flee markets, destroying my husband's cars, and riding like hell with my Honda up in the Swiss Alps.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? At least one of my past incarnations.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To live long enough for clubbing with my grandchildren.

What are you reading? The corrections by Jonathan Franzen

images courtesy of draga obradovic

Friday, 22 June 2012

fashion designer bridget mccall

There have been several signs along the way that Bridget McCall and her partner Nicholas van Messner are taking their fashion label Life with Bird in the right direction. The first was perhaps not long after they formed in 2002. After designing their launch collection they packed their suitcases and travelled to the UK, LA and New York, and picked up half a dozen stockists. They have been praised by Calvin Klein's creative director of women's wear, Francisco Costa, who has held a dinner in their honour in NYC. In 2009, following a collaboration with Three60 Design and Justin Cooper they won an award at the D&AD Awards, highly regarded in the design and art direction world. Bridget and Nick staged their first solo show in 2005 at Australian Fashion Week and recently celebrated the label's 10th anniversary. They now have four stores in Melbourne.

Which five words best describe you? Organised, passionate, outgoing, determined, humorous.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started Life with Bird in 2002 with my partner Nicholas. My background previous to starting the label was in photography and styling. Nicholas brought the technical design skills to the business and I brought the styling and photographic component. Since then, the last 10 years has seen us play 'jack of all trades' to nurture and grow the business over the years. Now we have an amazing team of people in place and Nick and I both work as the designers and then utilise our skills across separate departments. Nick is very involved with the product and production side, and I'm more connected with the finance and marketing side of the business.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? That you must never be afraid to ask for help and advice from those who have experience. We've had great mentors over the years who have helped us find the confidence to do things. Often we find we're already on the right track, but sometimes you need someone to give you that extra push of confidence in what you're doing.
What’s your proudest career achievement? There have been many - it's very hard to have one. Probably opening our first retail store in 2010 after wholesaling for eight years. Also the show we held pre Fashion Week at the Sydney Opera House this year in light of turning 10 was a big achievement that we're really proud of.
What’s been your best decision? To go vertical and open our own stores has been a huge game changer. It has really built the brand's awareness and has actually grown our wholesale business significantly as well.
Who inspires you? My mum was a fashion designer who worked very hard and was very successful. My dad did too, but 30 years ago I feel it was quite different to how it is today. I was extremely proud of my mum and I remember when I was about six thinking I can't wait to grow up and be a successful career-driven woman. She has helped me on many levels since and I admire her a lot.
What are you passionate about? I'm passionate about my business, my husband who I get to work with every day, my friends and family. Also travel. I love travelling and being inspired by new amazing places and people and food. I can't not put food!
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Coco Chanel would be amazing.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I have many. It's so important to dream. To continue to better the things I already do on a work front. We'd love to open more retail stores, possibly overseas one day. To travel more, and see new places.
What are you reading? I'm just about to finish William Boyd's Any human heart. I've loved reading it.

images courtesy of life with bird

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

jewellery designer & shopkeeper johann kim

Five years ago Johann Kim founded fashion and lifestyle store Pigeonhole. It's now one of five shops in Perth that sells a wide selection of independent labels, including cult Korean stationery brands. One of them is known as Cabin Fever, a cafe cum gallery space down an arcade in the CBD. As well as designing fashion and accessories for Pigeonhole, Johann has also set up a wholesale division and retails online. He is also the Australian distributor for The Impossible Project, a European company that is releasing new films that are compatible with existing Polaroid cameras.

Which five words best describe you? "I want it done yesterday!"
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started out by making jewellery out of beads and wire when I was 19. I think I spent a total of $14 in materials when I created my first collection of earrings and walked around to Perth boutiques with them. It was just a random part-time hobby that I did whilst I was studying, but it developed my interest for boutique stores and independent retail.

I opened my first store when I turned 25. I opened it with a couple of credit cards and a lot of help from family and friends. The store contained a random mish mash of jewellery that I designed, clothing from local designers and design products and quirky items sourced from around the world or collected on my travels. I didn't really know what I was doing, and I'd opened the store in a very random, off-beat location, but stuck at it.

Five years on, I've now got six stores and a little coffee shop in Perth along with a production office in Seoul, Korea and a wholesale showroom and warehouse in Melbourne. It's been a pretty hairy ride and I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing, but I enjoy the journey and trying out new things.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Plant many kinds of crops, you never know which one will succeed, maybe they all will!
What’s your proudest career achievement? I can't pinpoint one particular moment. I prefer to take pride in the journey and the wonderful people in it that make it worthwhile. I have an amazing team of people that I work with, and I think that knowing that such talented and passionate people are working with you, that makes me feel proud to do what I do all the time.
What’s been your best decision? To put on staff that are better or smarter than me.
Who inspires you? People who have found what they love and wholeheartedly do it!
What are you passionate about? Community. I've always hoped that my company could be one that brings people together, gives them a sense of belonging and purpose and empowers them to fulfil their dreams. Business is more than just selling stuff, it is about people and making sure that they find value in the things that you offer them and that you make sure that they are feeling valued as well. I try to take this approach in how we build our team and also how we include our community and customers in what we do. Whether we hold exhibitions or workshops or open up to interns and work experience students or just provide opportunities for people to work in a creative environment. I hope to allow opportunities for people to find meaning and make meaningful relationships with one another through what we do at Pigeonhole.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Jesus. I'd like to meet him face to face.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'd like to open a takeaway food joint. I know that sounds very random, but I just think it would be a lot of fun. I'd also like to get into furniture. These are all things that are probably not too far away. I guess I don't have heaps of dreams as much as I like to enjoy the present and the opportunities that come my way and just like seeing how far things can go with the (sometimes very little) resources that I've got!
What are you reading? Not much other than about a hundred emails a day!

images courtesy of pigeonhole

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

stylist jane frosh

Jane Frosh worked in events for 10 years before starting her own company, Show.Pony. From her base in the Blue Mountains, NSW she creates everything from weddings to shop-front windows. Jane also customises ram skulls, which can be bought through Lisa Madigan. Her country home, where she lives with her three children, and which has been featured in Country Style magazine, is available as a location.

Which five words best describe you? Interest + inspiration = Accomplish. (Then) move on.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I began in the world of theatre working for a large-scale rock and roll/theatre promoter. After learning the ropes I then moved into event production working with a technical production company. After 10 or so years in events I recently started my own events company, show.pony, with my business partner, who also happens to be a designer. Our team produce bespoke events that indulge the appetite for something new and exciting. We treat events as you would an interior design shoot. We look to international trends for inspiration and focus on the world of interiors, design and fashion to bring something new to the Australian events industry. I have noticed over time that through designing and producing amazing, bespoke events, there was an undeniable and growing passion for the aesthetic side of the production. I relish the design and install of decor and the overall styling and consequently have been working more and more as stylist with an events company on the side, than as producer with aspirations of becoming a stylist!

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Of a project, an interior, an event: to trust my judgement. The instant you doubt your creativity and your design you lose your edge and consequently your impact.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I see every single project as an achievement. I put 100 per cent of my energy and passion into each and every job. I take my work super seriously, and feel honoured to have been chosen by each particular client to deliver their "baby", their project. I sleep, eat and live my work. I give it my all, deliver it in the best possible way and then move onto the next. So, I am proud of all of my work.

What’s been your best decision? To trust that I am a good stylist, that I do have a good eye, and that I can deliver good work and creative design in such a cut-throat industry.

Who inspires you? People who are passionate about their chosen path are incredibly inspiring. I just adore the work of the sass & bide girls. A glimpse of one of their style boards can send me into a creative spin for days! Glen Proebstel. What an amazing man and an incredibly clever stylist. He does the "best bed" in the industry. Lyn Gardener. She designs the perfect mash of sophistication and industrial cool. My business partner. His mind for design and his dedication to delivery is truly exceptional. My floral designer. She gets my way of thinking totally. I can email her with "I need something Midsummer's night dream-ish mixed with industrial concrete" and she nails it every single time!

What are you passionate about? Good design and delivering what I propose. Colour. Form. Space (both positive and negative). Learning. Experiencing. Being.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Francis Bacon. The stuff that must of gone on in that man’s head!

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would love to work as a stylist for Vogue Living... just putting it out there! I would also love to travel with my three children. They need to see places like Morocco and India whilst they are still young enough to accept and immerse themselves in different cultures.

What are you reading? The ever increasing pile of interior design magazines stacked on the desk in my studio and Sibella Court's Stylist's Guide to NYC (for the zillionth time) before I head to NY in August to spend some AMAZING time with design guru, Abigail Ahern.

images courtesy of jane frosh; tree house and house exterior courtesy of country style magazine and sharyn cairns

Friday, 15 June 2012

textile designer bec duff

Bec and Cameron Duff are partners in work and life. They have worked in various fields, from film-making to printing, but the project they are most passionate about is Kambamboo, a textile design business they have recently founded. The company is based in the region of the couple's home - Byron Bay on the NSW North Coast. They use local craftspeople as much as possible and, consequently, are able to keep a close eye on production standards. While they don't claim to produce a completely organic range, they always consider the environment in their choices.

Which five words best describe you? Curious, honest, emotional, joyful, driven.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Lots of research, endless family support and a giant leap of faith helped me to launch into the world of Kambamboo. It also helps having an amazingly creative business partner who happens to be your husband. Cameron and I have studied and worked in several creative and non-creative industries including printing, filmmaking, events and online business. We draw from our mix of experiences constantly.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust your intuition and don’t sweat the small stuff.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Jumping in deep and making the dream of Kambamboo a reality.

What’s been your best decision? Keeping things local! We’re lucky to live and work in a very creative community. I love working with such a passionate bunch of people and cherish the friendships we have.

Who inspires you? Anyone who isn’t scared to make mistakes. Also my parents, they are brave and optimistic.

What are you passionate about? Ink and fabric, paintings by Mark Rothko, the ocean, honesty, baking the world's best scones, talking for hours on the phone with people I love, English breakfast tea and, most of all, Cameron, the love of my life.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? It has to be Mark Rothko - his paintings really do something to me. I’ve been lucky enough to see some of his works overseas and it feels like time stops when I’m in the room with his work.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? I would love to create a series of giant artworks. I would love to be fluent in French. I would love to publish a book of family recipes.

What are you reading? Down to Earth by Rhonda Hetzel. I’m finding it really inspiring, the photography is beautiful and there are endless ideas for simple living as well as some great classic recipes.

images courtesy of kambamboo

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


Austin, Texas in the USA has a strong and vibrant creative community. It is where graphic designer Leah Duncan moved when she made the decision to pursue a career as an illustrator. That was in 2008 and since then she has taught herself to sew and create surface pattern design. She has also had her work licensed by Target, Urban Outfitters, Teroforma and Land of Nod.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, silly, introverted, determined, and curious.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I'd always been interested in art, but it never seemed like a logical career path. I originally studied commercial printing in college which had nothing to do with art other than designing our own projects to print on commercial printing presses. We were graded on how well it was printed, not on how well it was designed, but I fell in love with design through the process and it's been my focus ever since. I got a job as a graphic designer after college and worked for an advertising firm, followed by a screen-printing company. The problem with those jobs was that there's only so much creativity involved in that sort of business and you ultimately have to answer to your client and your boss. I knew in order to fulfill my creative hunger I would need to be the one in charge, so when we moved to Austin four years ago I started my journey into art, illustration, sewing, pattern making, and small business.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Learning to say no. I've always been a people pleaser and it's gotten me in over my head on one too many occasions. I've learned that saying no is hard, but it leaves me open to projects that are better suited to my business and gives me time to spend with my friends and family, which to many small business owners is oftentimes a luxury.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Deciding to do this! And everything since then has been a dream come true.

What’s been your best decision? Besides deciding to do this, deciding to marry my husband and adopt my dog were equally as good.

Who inspires you? Everyone. I'm pretty much a sponge who is hopefully squeezing things out in my own voice.

What are you passionate about? Art, illustration, design, animal welfare, food, fitness, and my family.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Frida Kahlo. I just love her bold quirkiness.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Living on and owning a farm. Starting a family.

What are you reading? Imagine by Jonah Lehrer. I find studies of creativity intriguing.

images courtesy of leah duncan; portrait paige newtown

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

designer and furniture maker scott hudson

It turns out that working with his grandfather during his teens was a defining time in Scott Hudson's life. Together they would make things. Henry was a builder and cabinetmaker, and lived in North Carolina. Scott went on to art school before carving a career in book publishing in New York. After a few other detours, he helped start a kids media company and an internet software company focussed on publishing. In 2001 created Henrybuilt, taking the principles he had learnt from his grandfather and applying them to kitchen and furniture design and manufacture. The company makes products by hand and to order in Washington state. It has showrooms in Seattle and New York, and works with customers across the globe. Recent projects have been completed in Brussels and Mexico City.

Which five words best describe you? Would rather be making something.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I don’t know that I have a "career", but the start of whatever it is was definitely working with my grandfather in the summers when I was a teenager – who knew how to do whatever needed to be done. From working with my grandfather it was publishing, to software to Henrybuilt – where the three prior steps all come together.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Again it’s three things that go together: "pursue the highest standard you are capable of pursuing, try to do it in a way that benefits everyone involved, and never give up."

What’s your proudest career achievement? Working with a bunch of great people to build a company where work rises above the ordinary meaning of work and where people who want to excel get the opportunity to develop. It’s a work in progress, of course.

What’s been your best decision? Marrying my wife. If you were to say, "but I mean professionally", I would give you the same answer.

Who inspires you? My kids, and everyone I see that is doing something with excellence and for lack of a better word "style", whether pruning a tree, waiting a table or directing traffic.

What are you passionate about? Designing and building things, whether a product, a company or a woodshed.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I have no idea really, but one of the first people that comes to mind in the moment might be cliché but it would be very interesting to have a drink with Winston Churchill.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? I would like to travel more with my wife, and start an educational/internship program for people who want to build businesses around products.

What are you reading? I wish it were something that would make me sound interesting, but lately I just read in little bits. I just reread a section of Naked Economics.

images courtesy of henrybuilt

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

artist adam lester

Artist Adam Lester was born and raised in Melbourne but moved away from the southern city to pursue his practice. Initially he participated in group exhibitions in Greece and northern NSW before gaining a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 2002 at Southern Cross University. He has continued to exhibit in group and solo shows, and is represented by Jan Murphy Gallery in Brisbane and a guest artist with Michael Reid in Sydney. Adam has won the Bentley Art Prize, and has twice been highly commended in the Southern Cross Art Prize. He has also twice been included in the Churchie Emerging Art Prize exhibition.

Which five words best describe you? Curious, optimistic, happy, nostalgic and resourceful.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started by putting on my own exhibitions in artist-run spaces and then got representation with Jan Murphy Gallery. This led to other galleries giving me a go in other states.
What's the best lesson you‚ve learnt along the way? Momentum is your best friend.
What's your proudest career achievement? It hasn't happened yet, but I guess making a living from being an artist is good.
What's been your best decision? To travel a lot to feed my imagination and belly with new and interesting stuff.
Who inspires you? Self-starters, underdogs. Anyone who is compassionate and honest.
What are you passionate about? Art, food, music, surfing, my kids, tequila.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? The Dude.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To grow old disgracefully somewhere warm, near a great uncrowded surf spot.
What are you reading? Just kids by Patty Smith.

images courtesy of adam lester and portrait of adam lester in his studio, 2010: jan murphy gallery


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