Tuesday, 30 September 2014


It hasn’t taken Sydney-based architectural firm Those Architects long to start collecting awards. Even though Benjamin Mitchell and Simon Addinall joined forces in 2012 the duo have already won the 2014 Australian Interior Design Award for Workplace Design, as well as the 2014 Australian Timber Design Award for Commercial Interior Fitout. The same project, a collaboration with End of Work, has been shortlisted for an IDEA 2014 too (winners to be announced 21 November). But the brief wasn’t without its challenges. A heritage listing for the former Metcalfe Bond Store in The Rocks, Sydney, meant that the designers weren’t able to mechanically fix into or change any of the fabric of the building. The solution was to create a fitout that in some ways mirrored the way the technology company operates - via a “cloud”. Everything was designed to float within the space - to occupy for the medium-term and be able to relocate with minimum fuss. What started out as well-thought-out design with a strong focus on the client’s needs, is now gaining recognition within the broader design community. Ben shares a little more of the back story to Those Architects.

Which five words best describe you? Bad dancer but die trying.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I actually started my career in the Royal Australian Navy serving aboard the guided missile frigate HMAS Melbourne. It set me up with some very valuable tools as I transitioned into my architecture studies at Sydney University. After studying for six years I established my own firm which recently became Those Architects when I amalgamated with my long-term friend and colleague Simon Addinall. Our studio-based practice is underpinned by collaboration and open dialogue in pursuit of quality design outcomes.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I can think of three. Work hard, maintain your integrity and follow your instincts.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Receiving several major awards for the first project completed by the office is my proudest career achievement to date.

What’s been your best decision? To pursue a career in architecture against all the advice I was given.

Who inspires you? Many people. My partner Diana inspires me to be the best man I can be. My kids inspire me to enjoy every moment of this short life. My parents inspire me to live life by your own rules and my brother inspires me to take on a challenge when one presents itself. I’ve also got many talented friends who inspire me on a daily basis.

What are you passionate about? Life. Just so many reasons to get out of bed each day. In particular I’m passionate about rigorously pursuing my architecture career and making a meaningful contribution to the built environment both here in Australia and abroad.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Sir David Attenborough. He has an acute awareness of the natural world and our place within it.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d really like to be in a position one day to act as my own client.

What are you reading? Papillon by Henri Charrière. 

images courtesy of those architects; photography brett boardman

Monday, 29 September 2014


Italian artist Filippo Minelli, who was raised by a deaf aunt while his parents worked, has spent his brief yet extensive career exploring the idea of language, and its opposite, silence. Through his art he tries to express ideas in simple ways, such as his Silence/Shapes series, which gives physical shape to silence through the use of smoke bombs in natural landscapes. Filippo was born in 1983 and by the end of the 1990s was already creating art installations in public spaces. He studied art in Milan and spends much of his time travelling to create new works in places such as South East Asia, Africa, Mongolia, as well as in Europe.

Which five words best describe you? Curious, impulsive, generous, sensitive, wilful.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I'm not sure that I started my career, things come and go in life and I don't like to know what happens next. I like to work hard on what I like, that's the path I've taken since the beginning. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust yourself and keep energy-vampires far from you.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Many nice people and institutions contact me without being introduced by anybody. This means that my works speak for themselves.

What’s been your best decision? Leave everything I had and to keep leaving everything I have from time to time.

Who inspires you? Literally everybody I have met. I'm quite a good observer sometimes, and meeting people for years or for seconds is always a huge source. Decisions and taking action are probably what I'm mostly interested in: that short moment in which people decide what to do and for which reason. And what remains unrealised as well.

What are you passionate about? I'm passionate about things I don't know, which often coincides with places. Traveling has always been a huge source of joy and inspiration for me; I have always looked at traveling as a way to expose myself to the unexpected, and when I'm not traveling I usually hike up on the Alps, as nature is always the most unexpected and transitory thing.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I don't wish to meet anybody in particular, but if I do meet somebody really cool or totally shit I hope to be ready for that.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Having a family in a place I can call home.

What are you reading? I have no time for reading at the moment but the last thing I read four months ago was Beyond good and evil by Nietzsche.

images courtesy of filippo minelli

Friday, 26 September 2014


After 14 years of living overseas - mainly in the UK and Spain - interior designer Jason Mowen was ready to start a new venture on his return to Sydney in 2009. Along with artist Eduardo Santos, he set up a boutique showroom in an enviable double-fronted position in the regenerating suburb of Redfern. It’s a cross-pollinating space that showcases an unexpected mix of antique and 20th Century furniture and decor pieces, as well as tribal and contemporary art. From here, Jason also creates custom furniture and interiors based on an aesthetic cultivated during his time in Europe. After moving to London in 1995, he and Eduardo ran a menswear shop in Covent Garden for seven years before Jason worked for interior designer Jonathan Reed. A highlight of this period was assisting on the new royal palace for Queen Raina of Jordan. Later, after setting up his own studio in Madrid in 2005, he converted a 14th Century Moorish tower that had belonged to the Austrian Archduke Luis Salvador. While most of his adult years have been informed from a life spent overseas, most of his childhood was spent between Maleny and Brisbane in Australia, other than a stint in Papua New Guinea. 

Which five words best describe you? Sensitive, stubborn, hedonist, generous, perfectionist.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? It's been a culmination of experiences and, in particular, people who have shaped my life and career. I've been really, really lucky to encounter, through either work, friendship or love, a small handful of people with great knowledge and taste. I guess it was inevitable a tiny part would rub off on me. They may not even realise it, but it's been one of the most significant and wonderful aspects of my life.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Don't let anyone talk you out of anything.

What’s your proudest career achievement? So far it's probably been opening the shop in Redfern in the middle of the financial crisis on a budget of $15,000! It was as much a miracle as career achievement. 

What’s been your best decision? Moving to London when I was 24.

Who inspires you? The list is long. In terms of style, the French and Italians. In terms of strength and kindness, my mother. I'm also inspired by the classical world - Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. 

What are you passionate about? A lot! I'm Taurean: travel, art, food, love. And Spain!

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I was going to say Jesus Christ, but I'm switching to Elizabeth Taylor. I was invited to her birthday party in 2002 and didn't go, stupidly thinking I'd have other opportunities to meet her. Apart from being one of the great actors of the 20th Century, she was a wonderful humanitarian. What Taylor did for AIDS, giving it a voice when it had none, was incredible. She was a true trailblazer.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'd love to own a c.1960 house in Old Las Palmas, Palm Springs, with a big garden and a view of the mountains.

What are you reading? The rise of the nouveaux riches by J. Mordant Crook.

images courtesy of jason mowen, felix forest and belén imaz (image 2)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


More than three years ago Maxine Smith was watching a group of women from Laos make silk scarves. The idea struck her that she could take them back to Australia - along with other wares from her travels - and sell them to people who treasured handmade and crafted textiles and decorative objects for their home. Maxine spends considerable time sourcing each piece for her online store Barefoot Gypsy, and travels around the globe hunting out pieces she would want in her own place, always with an eye towards ethical pieces.

What five words best describe you? Passionate, enthusiastic, focused.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have always loved travelling and collecting beautiful pieces along the way. In 2009 I was recently separated from my then husband and business partner. Together we had created a building business, which gave me a keen insight into the world of business and architectural design. Now a single mother with five children, I took a trip to Laos. In hindsight, it really was a trip of reflection, a time to think about the future. I was in a community in Laos admiring the silk scarves the women were making which gave them an income for their family when I had that “light bulb” moment and thought what if I could bring in the scarves and sell them to small boutiques and home and gift stores. I haven’t looked back, each day the collection broadening in scope and destinations I source from.

What's the best lesson you've learnt along the way? That you can't do it all yourself.

What's your proudest career achievement? Our newly launched catalogue and the fantastic response it has received from my customers and others in the industry. It is really gratifying when you work so hard on something and people respond well to it.

What's been your best decision? To not waiver in my decision to keep the collection organic and to care where products are sourced. While I often work with vintage pieces, one of my new collections is made in India. I didn't want my products made by women in appalling working conditions or the use of child labour, so I went there unannounced to see who was making the products and the working conditions. Needless to say I was happy with the working environment. I do believe you always need to care how and where things are made.

Who inspires you? A lot of things inspire me but it is the artisans who keep their craft and traditions alive that keep me constantly motivated to continue finding new pieces. I love that I can be part of the process of sharing their craft and traditions with different audiences.

What are you passionate about? People and their cultures. I love the textiles and objects that are part of the communities I discover through my travels and embrace the stories behind them.

Which person, living or dead would you like most to meet? I couldn’t choose just one - maybe we could host a Moroccan style brunch and I could put together the guest list so we could invite all the amazing people I would love to meet in person.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? I would like to design and develop a clothing and soft furnishings range.

What are you reading? I demolish mountains of magazines on interior design. One favourite magazine at the moment is The Renegade Collective, a great source for inspiring tips for small business. I also enjoy trawling through my endless Nomad Textile books.

images courtesy of barefoot gypsy

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


There is a common thread that runs through Bill Granger’s career. The chef and restaurateur is a risk-taker. The first notable instance of it was over 20 years ago when he decided to move to Sydney after a week’s holiday. He had been studying interior design at RMIT in Melbourne, where he was born and raised, but changed courses and enrolled in art school at COFA instead. While Bill went on to make Sydney his permanent home, he wasn’t as committed to his course. “I’m too commercial,” he told Daily Imprint last week during the opening of his latest venture, Bills Bondi. “I love the idea of art school, but commerce got in the way. I’m a shopkeeper’s son.” The entrepreneurial spirit was alive in him, and thanks to a loan from his grandfather, he had funds to open his first cafe. (Each grandchild was given access to a loan when they had reached age 21 provided it was used to start an entrepreneurial venture.) Since opening his eponymous Darlinghurst cafe in 1993, Bill has gone on to open eateries in Japan and England. “The best decisions are always terrifying. The bad ones are often comfortable,” Bill says. “Risk is really important.” 

The interiors of Bill’s latest restaurant are by Sydney-based interior design team Meacham Nockles McQualter, and photographed by Anson Smart (interview here).

Which five words best describe you? Sunny, optimistic, energetic, loyal and risk-taker. Adventurous would be another one - and hungry - I love to eat.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My first job in a restaurant was while I was at university, a cafe called La Passion du Fruit - that was when I was at uni for art school. After working there - I loved it - I decided to open my own restaurant. My grandfather had set up a thing where I could have access to money when I was 21 - it was a loan - it was enough to get something started. A great entrepreneurial spirit.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Good times never last and neither do the bad ones. To be consistent. To be focussed all of the time. Mistakes aren’t a problem. They are something you learn by. It’s okay to fail and make mistakes. Restaurants are really public successes or failures - when you are mixing up business with creative ideas it’s hard to get it right all of the time; it’s a struggle. But you’ve always got to know that without those good ideas there’s nothing. Without that creative there’s nothing. Creative is very undervalued.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Getting into an article in the The New York Times. At the time I didn’t realise it, but when I look back - to be noted as a little business - it was really lovely. When you are doing things yourself, you tend to give yourself a hard time. It was lovely to be recognised. Only in retrospect, though - it was in about 1999, before the Olympics came to Sydney. The article was by an amazing writer called Johnny Apple, a political journalist who liked writing about food. That and cooking at Buckingham Palace was fun - it was so mad.

What’s been your best decision? To open in Japan. Everyone was telling me I was mad but I felt so creatively inspired to do something in Japan. It was fun. Doing what you are passionate about is really important. If you do it just to make money it never works. It has to come from passion and love and excitement.

Who inspires you? My wife Natalie, who is amazingly energetic and disciplined - she is a film producer. She is extraordinary as a person and work colleague. And I’m inspired constantly by art - such as Jeff Koons at the Whitney - design and fashion. I find other creative really inspiring. Christopher Bailey at Burberry - he’s creative and does the business side too. Any business that has creative too is exciting for me.

What are you passionate about? About people eating well. I love feeding people. It still excites me. I love giving kids who don’t like much and getting them to like food. Food is a great communicator. Recipes become part of people’s life and it’s a lovely way to touch people’s life. 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Alice Waters, who is an American chef of fresh, healthy, seasonal food. I would love to meet Alice. She’s opening some things in London, which I’m very excited about. And, Sylvia Plath, strangely. As an angst-ridden teenager I had a moment when I thought, “You can get beaten by things or move on.”

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would like to get back to art. I have started drawing again. I would like to have time to focus on creating artwork in a serious way. Not to show, but to have that time to create. When the kids are older.

What are you reading? Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, a really beautiful book. It’s about all of my favourite things - Italy, set in the Cinque Terre - a great, fun book.

images courtesy of bill granger and anson smart; interiors meacham nockles mcqualter

Monday, 22 September 2014


You never know who you are going to sit next to on a plane. During two years of textile research for the recently launched Hale Mercantile Co, Sharon Patsiotis met a woman who is now her European-based quality controller. This chance encounter is one of several positive turn of events that has the Melbourne-based designer saying HMCo was "meant to be”. 

Which five words best describe you? Excitable, curious, eternally optimistic and annoyingly thorough. Let's leave it at four, anymore and I'll have to add "boring".

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Fate. The inception of HMCo was a little like the chance meeting of my husband (a story for another time). Simply meant to be! My husband and I have been in business together for years. I decided it was time to use my business prowess to do something I could totally immerse myself in that simply didn’t feel like work. I have always been a natural-fibre advocate and a great fan of European craftsmanship. I’m the type of girl who will not shop often, but when I do I'll choose quality over cost and will use my purchase forever or at least until it has holes in it. During two years of research I happened to meet my now European counterpart. From there everything simply fell into place. I already had an inner-city warehouse space, a girlfriend introduced me to Siobhan who has been a part of HMCo since its inception, my manufacturing team have proved amazing, and the caliber of retailers that have given initial support was wonderful. And so the story goes.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learn't along the way? Remain true to your style, and trust your judgement. Don't waiver from the path. I’m lucky though, Siobhan always puts me back on it when I start to stray.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Anyone who has a teenage son knows that they can be your hardest critic. So, having my 14-year-old son tell me he is proud of HMCo and has been showing his friends at school has topped it for me.

What has been your best decision? To always plan ahead. Even if it seems overly optimistic, be ready to move to the next transition phase in an instant.

Who inspires you? My European counterpart Kristine who looks after my business in Europe. She has endured much and yet she is driven, diligent, hard-working, always looks amazing and is simply an incredible human being.

What are you passionate about? I think it is really important that manufacturers come together and start educating people about the ramifications of making non-conscious purchasing decisions. We need to encourage not just design, but also manufacturing all over the world. If we continue to purchase purely for cost and give no thought to origin, then we run the risk of allowing centuries of craftsmanship to die in countries that are renowned for their manufacturing expertise and specialised craft. Ultimately, if we choose not to support specialised trade, what buying choices will the generations to come have?

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? There is a myriad of designers and artists I would like to meet. First one that pops into my head is Paul Harnden.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Spending my winters in Europe.

What are you reading? Whilst I enjoy a good novel, I am afraid that reading of such kind is left for lazy holidays. Mostly I read way too many social media comments, a truck load of interiors mags, oodles of blogs and the occasional newspaper.

images courtesy of hale mercantile co

Friday, 19 September 2014


Moving to the city of Melbourne from country NSW had a big impact on artist Jo Davenport. Up until then she had spent her childhood in and around the Riverina city of Albury. It is where she met her husband, and within close proximity to Splitters Creek, the place she now calls home. And just as the countryside has always been within reach, so too has art. Both her grandmothers painted, and Jo recalls painting alongside the grandmother who lived in Bendigo. When Jo moved to Melbourne to complete a Masters of Visual Arts these two forces in her life merged in spectacular fashion. The result was a graduate show that led to representation with Melbourne’s Flinders Lane Gallery. Jo is also represented by the Arthouse Gallery in Sydney, where she is exhibiting until October 4.

Which five words best describe you? Patient, intuitive, obsessive, interested, eclectic.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have always painted. Both my grandmothers painted. My father is a ceramicist. I grew up in an artistic environment. I live in the country. I studied art at Charles Sturt University and the Riverina College of Tafe in Albury but the catalyst was moving to the city to doing my Masters of Visual Art at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. Being exposed to what VCA had to offer - the lecturers, the library, the other students, the inspiring environment was definitely a turning point in my career. My work was exhibited to a city audience, for the first time, at the VCA Graduate Exhibition and noticed by Claire Harris from Flinders Lane Gallery. My career has taken off from there and I’m now fortunate to be represented by two incredibly supportive galleries – FLG and Arthouse Gallery, Sydney. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Painting is a joint effort between the paint and the artist. Insisting on my own way is often a road to disaster. I’ve learnt that it is in the praxis that a painting takes shape, you have to be open to the possibilities of what can happen on the canvas. I recognise that the best paintings come to me as a gift. That one painting can’t say it all. And to know when things go wrong that courage isn’t always a roar. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

What was the starting point for this exhibition? “An Intimate Landscape” was inspired by a recent trip to China, which renewed my interest in ancient Chinese aesthetics in landscape painting. The idea that landscape painting was no longer about the description of the visible world but a means of conveying what is felt has founded the works in this show.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Being invited to exhibit alongside Sally Gabori and Aida Tomescu in the Action Abstraction Exhibition at the Wangaratta Regional Art Gallery was for me a pivotal moment.  

What’s been your best decision? For my career, it was to do a Masters Degree in Visual Art at VCA.

Who inspires you? My partner and our daughter, they are my rock and my inspiration, they encourage me to live a courageous life. The artists whose work inspires me are William Turner, Edouard Vuillard, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Cy Twombly, Claude Monet, Sigmar Polke, Georg Baselitz and the ancient Japanese and Chinese landscape artists. 

What are you passionate about? Art and, in particular, painting. Paint and how to apply it to the surface; I delight in the response it gives me. The space between a painting and the viewer and what happens in that ineffable expanse can be so moving. I adore my garden, growing things, tending to it and sharing the harvest, all very satisfying. 

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

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I dream about doing an artist residency in Venice at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica. Being surrounded by artistic and inspirational people, and painting the water and the light there. 

What are you reading? I have two books on the go. A little book on Wabi-Sabi by Leonard Koren and Mapping our World Terra Incognita to Australia

images courtesy of jo davenport and arthouse gallery

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


For the second time in the past week someone has revealed that their parents steered them away from architecture. But in each case the lure of the design world was too strong. For Francoise Baudet, she found her way back to her first love after a career in advertising. After 12 years of corporate life she picked up a camera, studied at night and assisted during the day. Now she is out on her own and loving every minute.

Which five words best describe you? Organised, hopeful, passionate, monochrome, family. 

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My parents are both architects and told me never to do architecture. So I studied a Bachelor of Business (Advertising) and spent over 12 years building a career in advertising and branding working on mostly corporate and political clients like BHP Billiton, Westpac Group, Coca Cola Amatil, Queensland Labor Party and Australian Aerospace. However, I could not shake the passion I had for architecture and design. I’ve always had a strong appreciation of design and how it works with nature and effects our lifestyle. And, of course, I’ve developed a love of white, grey and black. I really enjoyed photography as a hobby, so studied it at night and set out to change my career. I was lucky enough to intern with Megan Morton who gave me real insight into the business as well as the confidence to jump in. I also assisted incredible photographers like Richard Glover, Amanda Prior, Jason Busch and Felix Forest. Each are so generous with their time and knowledge. I would not be where I am today without their mentoring. When I’m on location shooting a house, it feels so damn good. I was so nervous in the lead up to shooting my first house, but nothing could shake how comfortable and confident I felt behind the lens capturing the space. If I ever start to question my decision to change career, I get behind the lens and that comfortable feeling comes back.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To throw yourself in and commit wholeheartedly. Keep pushing outside your comfort zone and keep learning. Seek out mentors and listen, listen, listen.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I’ve got so much further to go and I’ve got plenty of goals to achieve. However, so far, my proudest career achievement was getting my first house published. I rushed out and bought a heap of copies of the magazine.

What’s been your best decision? To explore my passion for photography as a hobby with formal study and to leave the world of advertising and enter the world of photography.

Who inspires you? This will sound cliche but I am inspired to work hard for my husband and family - my biggest support team. In terms of creative inspiration, well, there’s so much good juice out there. I am inspired by everyone. I cruise architecture sites and particularly love Pinterest. I get lost in there for hours.

What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about sharing the importance of good design. In this day and age, it’s too easy to buy a house from a catalogue or do a renovation by yourself. I think spaces are incredibly important and shape the way we live and enjoy life. I also like the idea of leaving something valuable for the next person. Architects understand how to utilise the land, light and built form and their influence can transform a living space into something very practical but also extremely beautiful.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Frank Lloyd Wright.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’ve been working on a special project documenting my late Grandfather’s Modernist architecture work from the 1960s. He designed a huge number both private and public buildings during a very unique era of architecture. My dream is to have an exhibition sharing the work.

What are you reading? At the moment I’ve been keeping it more visual and indulging in coffee table books. I am loving Minimalism by Loft Publications, Northern Delights by Gestalten and 50s/60s/70s Iconic Australian Houses by Karen McCartney.

images courtesy of francoise baudet and the ivy


Related Posts with Thumbnails