Friday, 4 December 2015


A couple of months after launching Cultiver, a bedlinen company, the Sydney Morning Herald included the online retailer in a Saturday edition of the newspaper and the response was huge. That was in 2012 and the Sydney-based business almost sold out of its product line over that weekend. “When we launched it felt like an untapped market in the online world, for a more boutique offering,” creative director Nicolle Sullivan says. At the time she had just bought her first home and had a newborn - it seemed like a good decision to create an online business that offered good-quality linen at a more competitive price point. Since then Nicolle says she’s made her way through many huge unknowns one step at a time. “Getting some childcare and help around the house so that I could work other than times when the girls were asleep, as well hiring for the business, made it feel legit and really started us on a path to a sustainable operating model,” she says. Now the business is stocked in a range of retailers and has expanded into sleepwear and a broader selection of homewares.

[This is the last Daily Imprint interview for 2015. Thank you for your support this year. Subscribers will be notified first when the site returns next year with a new look and new features. All the best for holiday season. - Natalie Walton]

Which five words best describe you? Determined, optimistic, resourceful, sensitive, impatient.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My career has taken a couple of unplanned turns through opportunities that came up. I started working in marketing out of university and then left to travel in Europe, settling in London for a couple of years, where I started working in bank and ended up staying in financial markets roles for the next 10 years in London, Melbourne and Sydney. I didn’t go back to work after having my first daughter, and then decided to start Cultiver.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Be open minded and ready to follow new opportunities. And don’t be shy to ask for help.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Having created a business and brought it to this point, where it feels like a tangible enterprise, feels good.

What’s been your best decision? Taking the plunge with Cultiver. There were a lot of unknowns and looking back I can’t believe I was so brave, but it just shows that you don’t have to know every answer on day one. If you believe in your business there are people who can help you with every other part of bringing it to life. 

Who inspires you? I’m inspired by people building great brands, and a lot of working mums given I know the juggle that goes on behind the scenes. 

What are you passionate about? Apart from my family, in a commercial sense, I’m passionate about online retail, and the opportunity it presents for all kinds of businesses in an unlimited market. I get stupidly excited when I see all the packages in the back room of the post office and try to read the boxes to see what people are buying online.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? It would be fun to have a couple of martinis with Dorothy Parker.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d love to do another stint living overseas - I’m open minded as to where.
What are you reading? A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

images courtesy of cultiver; photography annette o'brien, styling alana langan; portrait chris warnes

Thursday, 3 December 2015


When a leading gallerist handed his business card to Gabrijela Iva Polic at her graduate show in 2013, she was a long way from her childhood world. Growing up in Sydney, her family had little knowledge of the contemporary art world and were in no way connected to the arts, although they were supportive of her all the same, she says. Her father was a carpenter and from an early age, Gabrijela would follow him about wearing his spare nail bag, hoping for a task to help. “I never in my wildest dreams thought I would become an artist,” she says. “Ive always appreciated art and beauty. Always have been creative, always making little bits and bobs. I enjoyed making; it was my solace. But it was nothing I ever envisioned I could make something out of.” After getting a regular job and leading a regular life, Gabrijela took the plunge and applied for art school. Since graduating from COFA, she has worked on a range of projects, including creating a series of works for Penny Farthing Design House. However, for the past year she’s been focussed on her current exhibition at The Hughes Gallery, which opens tonight and runs until December 20.
Which five words best describe you? Indecisive - a painter must ponder; disciplined - I can paint or draw for 14 hours a day, seven days a week; undisciplined - but when it comes to an exercise regime or diet I'll fall off the wagon on day three; colour-lover - full appreciation to a great colour combination; pattern-maker - I could paint and draw them all day. Bliss.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I met Evan Hughes of The Hughes Gallery at the opening of my grad show in 2013. We chatted a little, he gave me his business card and then we caught up a couple months later. Evan asked if I would like to be part of a group show in the gallery which consisted of young Sydney-based painters. It ran alongside another exhibition they were holding of Chicago-based artists. Of course, I accepted. It was the first time I exhibited properly so I was quite nervous. The gallery has represented me ever since and I’m now having my first solo show. The plan is now to just keep creating.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Draw every day. Draw as much as you can. It keeps the mind a buzz with creativity. One thing will always flow from another and something amazing will eventually emerge.

What’s your proudest career achievement? My first solo show opens in less than a week. I’m buzzing with excitement and telling anyone who’ll listen.

What’s been your best decision? By far it was the decision to go to art school. It completely challenged my thinking and ideas. I think I did quite poorly in the first couple years, both conceptually and in the work itself. It wasn’t until my third year until I began to get a grasp of concept and ideas, and began to form some sort of language with my work. If I never made that decision I don’t think I’d be at any level to exhibit.

Who inspires you? Any creative with a genius mind who has a strong will and determination. Be it an artist or designer of any sort - there are too many to list. 

What are you passionate about? Wonder and beauty - in both the natural and manmade worlds. From a gorgeous vine thats crept up and completely covered a tree trunk to an intricately carved piece of stone created by a human with simple tools hundreds of years ago. There’s so much beauty about and I’m continuously searching for it.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? David Hockney, the master.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Live, work and solo show in New York. Dream.

What are you reading? The signature of all things by Elizabeth Gilbert.

images courtesy of gabrijela iva polic and the hughes gallery; portrait jacqui turk

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


Georgie Leckey always wanted to be surrounded by beautiful product. After studying textile merchandising at RMIT, she worked in the buying departments of Laura Ashley for many years followed by time in Georges Decorating Department and Wardlaw fabric houses. However, it was after she married a farmer and moved to the country that Georgie started experimenting with bedhead designs on the farm’s wool shed. At first she created them for family and friends while working as an interior designer and eight years later her business Heatherly Design has a working showroom and manufacturing space near Melbourne with five upholsterers and a team of ten. 

Which five words best describe you? Determined, honest, perceptive, loyal, protective.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Following a course in textile merchandising, I was offered a position at Laura Ashley in head office in their homewares buying office for five years. From here I went on to Georges Decorating Dept working with leading fabric house and antique dealers. My passion for fabrics was fuelled when I was offered a role at Wardlaw fabric house who represented fabric houses Designers Guild, Nina Campbell and Osborne and Little. I was surrounded not only with beautiful fabrics but inspiring decorators who knew how to dress a room. My marriage to a farmer took me to the country two hours north east of Melbourne. After having children it was here that I started making bedheads for our home with a staple gun I found in the machinery shed!

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To always back your instincts.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Hard to pick one, actually. Always a thrill to see our designs featured on The Block, House Rules and Reno Rumble; Alex Perry phoning to personally order a bedhead for his home; our designs placed in Sheridan bedlinen stores nationally; and meeting bloggers like Chyka and Bec Judd who visited our showroom and have their own Heatherly Designed bedrooms at home.

What’s been your best decision? Surrounding myself with a team of experts in their fields and accepting that I cannot do nor manage everything.

Who inspires you? My son Hugh for knowing he wants to be a farmer from the grand age of five thus ever since living and breathing everything farming; my daughter Eliza for being so determined to jump great heights on her horse and succeeding; and Princess Mary for grasping a new language and culture whilst having the eyes of the world watch. 

What are you passionate about? My children Eliza and Hugh, my gorgeous husband Will, Heidi the labrador, boating, our garden, interiors and the colour blue.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? The Pope to suggest he move with the times.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? So many travel dreams including Croatia, sailing the coast of Italy, India, and taking my daughter Eliza to New York.

What are you reading? Smoke and Mirrors by Robin Bowles.

images courtesy of heatherly design

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


India Hobson fell into photography because it was quicker than drawing. “I like the immediacy of it,” she says. “The alchemy and pointing at things that other people might overlook.” The UK photographer - who is based in the northern town of Sheffield - started out assisting a photographer before working her way up to shoot features for Kinfolk and T Magazine of the New York Times. “I can't remember when I realised how lucky I am to do what I love for a job but I do think it most days,” she says. 

Which five words best describe you? Observant, sometimes impatient, sometimes incredibly patient, plant-loving, playful and flexible. 

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have been self-employed for seven or eight years now and regularly think, “now I’m doing what I want”, but also that I’ve still got a long way to go. I spend time every now and again resetting my goals and reminding myself of what I want and in what direction to point myself.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To remember that no one will work as hard for me as I can, and to just keep my eyes on what I want to achieve - it can be easy to start chasing someone else’s dream and get distracted.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Honestly, this sounds like an obvious answer but just simply the fact that I can do what I do everyday and call it my job. Paying my rent and keeping food in my cupboards by doing something that I love is the most incredible feeling and I celebrate every little success.

Who inspires you? I work with some incredibly talented people, sometimes once and sometimes quite frequently - those people support me, provide focus and bring fun and variety to what I do. I don’t think there’s one individual that I could pick out; I’m inspired by my friends who have strong work ethics, who manage to be mothers/fathers as well as business owners and by wanting to bring more into my work and make the most of every opportunity.

I’m lucky that I have clients that trust me and like to really go for it when we’re producing something. For example, I work with a local bar - The Picture House - to create their cocktail menus and we have really run away with our ideas. There’s a window for newness and a chance to make something beautiful... so we do.

What are you passionate about? Colour plays a massive part in my work and is so fun to play with. I’m really particular about my colour palette and love to learn about tones - my Instagram is testament to that. I also collect houseplants and that finds its way into my work - I’m building a series of green-keepers at the moment. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I have a list of “dream clients” that I’m working my way towards, but really I think I’d just be happy to keep going, keep doing what I’m doing and see where it takes me.

What are you reading? I’m reading a book by Robert McFarlane at the moment called The Wild Places, which I was given for my birthday. It’s quite factual but poetically written and takes me to a really wild place. I like being outdoors and love gardens, trees and all things growing; when I’m on a train or in-between assignments it’s nice to be taken somewhere where there’s wilderness. 

images courtesy of india hobson

Monday, 30 November 2015


While she has lived all over the world, and studied in Great Britain, it wasn’t until Ali McNabney-Stevens settled in Australia that her art career started to take off. She has always been focussed on an art practice though - from school days to art school when she completed an Honours Degree at Edinburgh College of Art and went on to St Martins for further study. However, it was after Ali met her Australian husband in London and moved to Melbourne, where she is now based, that she started to not only create a body of work, but found a way to cut through with enough sales to make a career out of her practice. This is in large part due to her collaboration with Julia Green of Greenhouse Interiors, a tour-de-force in commercialising artists works.

Which five words best describe you? I’m not really sure; I think I can be many things on different days - just ask my husband - but I’d like to think overall I am kind and easy going… And I do have a tendency to go off track a bit…. I think I’m a bit frank on occasion as well. Gosh, I am clearly not able to articulate myself in five words am I.

How did you get your career start and what path? I met Julia Green from Greenhouse Interiors as a fellow school mother. I saw what she was up to, and knew I needed to be a part of her world. She took an artist’s dream, and turned it into a commercial reality. Many artists don’t know how to do this part, so it was a match made in heaven. The fact that we have become good friends, love each other’s families, and understand what is important to each other, makes it a partnership that is very valuable. My work is now sold through Greenhouse Interiors and my own website.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I haven’t learnt this - I’ve realised it: the best lesson is to do what you genuinely love and like to do, surround yourself with like-minded people, don’t procrastinate - start the art or whatever it may be - and go one step at a time and if you don’t know how to do one part of the equation, outsource it.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Selling my first painting. The notion that someone would pay for what I saw in my mind and felt in my heart is a surreal moment.

What’s been your best decision? To marry J.

Who inspires you? Anyone who is positive - I’m not always, who has a go, and overcomes obstacles to get where they want to be.

What are you passionate about? Getting it right as a parent, and painting the next painting - trying to get better and finding that elusive thing where it all works on the canvas.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My English Literature teacher who lives in Northern Ireland. I haven’t seen him since I left school and I would love to say thanks for being my most inspiring teacher and giving me an enduring love for literature. He has written the most amazing short stories and poems that sit proudly on my shelf; they are the books I would never lend.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? To have a completely perfect Nigella Christmas with all of my friends from all over the world under my roof - all eating and having fun. The food would be amazing, the house covered with fairy lights and candles; it would be the Christmas party of all Christmas parties - and doing all of it without breaking into a sweat and stressing. I’m shooting for the stars - it’s never going to happen.

What are you reading? Stoner by John Williams, loaned to me by my friend Susan, and Eye Spy with my eight year old at bedtime.

images courtesy of ali mcnabney-stevens; photography armelle habib [interview] and styling julia green of greenhouse interiors

Friday, 27 November 2015


While Alexandra Donohoe entered the interior design industry via “the side door”, she took every step along the way to ensure she made it into the building. After missing out on a place in the interior design course she wanted to enrol in at university, she took a place in landscape architecture at UNSW. However, during the first year, after Alexandra fell asleep in the soil science class, she transferred across to interior architecture. During her uni years, she also worked as a receptionist at SJB Interiors+Architecture and also gained experience at other well-regarded practices including Landini + Associates, Bates Smart, Sarah Davison Interior Design and Paul Kelly Design. After starting her own studio - Decus Interiors - Alexandra has worked regularly with leading architecture firms such as Luigi Rosselli Architects [interview]. “Opening the studio was the equivalent of strolling out onto the edge of the cliff and taking a leap across the divide,” she says. “As cliche as it sounds, backing yourself in those moments is essential. If you don’t think it can happen no one else will.”

Which five words best describe you? A nutty, laughing, dancing, brutally honest, push-the-envelope introvert - think that counts as six!

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started as a secretary at SJB Interiors+Architecture straight out of high school. I knew I wanted to work in design but my last years of high school were should I say… distracted? I just missed out on getting into interior design so I started a degree in landscape architecture at UNSW instead. In the interim, I worked at SJB for five years throughout uni and between backpacking holidays before hop-scotching to Landini + Associates, Bates Smart, Sarah Davison Interior Design and Paul Kelly Design. In doing so I experienced the full gamut of interiors. Ultimately, residential is my spiritual home - no pun intended. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? There have been thousands of lessons along the way. I think starting a business from scratch at your dining table and building it centimetre by centimetre forces you to look at how you approach almost everything in life, be it work-life balance, tricky situations, following your heart - and gut, prioritising family and friends, and how you value your own contribution to the world. Life is big and constantly changing, it’s messy, it’s perfect in a totally imperfect way and I’m quite passionate about looking at what drives me to make the decisions I make.   

What’s your proudest career achievement? It’s driving home at the end of the every day feeling immense gratitude for the studio I’ve created from a bit of a pipe-dream and the amazing team of people I have around me. That’s insanely cool. Seeing our work published in respected magazines is bonus.

What’s been your best decision? To work for myself, hands down.

Who inspires you? Pierre Yovanovitch, a French self-taught fashion designer turned interior designer; Josep Font, creative director of Spanish fashion house Delpozo, an architect turned fashion designer. The work of Studio KO. My husband. 

What are you passionate about? What it is that drives us to make the choices we make.  My environment - interior and exterior. Sleep. The happiness of those around me.   

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Anna Wintour. I’d love to know how her mind works and how she handles the spotlight, criticism, pressure. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Designing a house and living in it on one of the Aeolian islands, Italy. 

What are you reading? Tribes by Seth Godin and The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.

images courtesy of decus interiors; photography justin alexander [interview]; archicture luigi rosselli architects [interview]; porebski architects (image 4)

Thursday, 26 November 2015


After finishing her final year at art school, Joanna Logue started to think about representation. She met Kim Bonython at his then Sydney gallery in Woollahra – Bonython Meadmore Gallery - pulling up in a taxi as she didn’t have a driver’s licence at time. As Joanna arrived, Kim was leaving and so she ended up showing him her work on the street. "Kind of in the gutter," she says. "He was quite taken with my work and put me in a group show with John Coburn and some other older generation artists.” After selling her works she was offered a place in the gallery’s stable. While she admits she was young and naive at the time, it was her start on the path to working as a full-time artist. Joanna is now represented by King Street Gallery in Sydney and is also about to participate in a group show at the Anna Pappas Gallery. The works, based on the landscape around her country property in Oberon, NSW, will be on show from 11-23 December.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, curious, sensitive, driven, sensualist.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? When I was a young painter I won the Kings Art Prize and went on to join the Tim Olsen Gallery. I had quite a few very successful exhibitions and was fortunate to be able to support myself through my work and purchase a beautiful historic property in country NSW where I could live and make my work. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To take time out of the studio, even when I am on a deadline, to re-energize, reflect and fill the well. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? Joining King Street Gallery where I share the stable with great painters including my heroes Elizabeth Cummings and Idris Murphy

What’s been your best decision? Moving to my country property Essington Park where I lived for 20 years in relative isolation, deep thinking and making my paintings inspired by the surrounding landscape.

What are you passionate about? Painting, of course. But I am also passionate about cooking - it runs in the family, music, literature, being in nature and cinema.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Brian Eno.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? I would love to go to Antarctica as an artist in residence with Australian Antarctica Expeditions. I think it would be really challenging for the psyche to be butted up against the sublime, artistically and on a personal level. 

images courtesy of joanna logue; portrait frank lindner

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


“It’s always interesting to see people’s reaction when you say you design rugs,” says Christine McDonald. “It’s just not a career that is heard of, but once you tell people who or where you design rugs for – they’ll find themselves kicking up the corner of a rug to see if it was designed by Designer Rugs.” Christine has been with the Australian company for 14 years and has collaborated on many of its successful collections over the years, including working with fashion designer Akira Isogawa [interview]. Along with fellow senior designer, Lia Pielli, Christine has also been designing Designer Rug’s in-house collections as well as creating custom designs for residential and commercial clients. Now, for the first time in its 30-year history, the company is releasing a collection by one of its own designers. Christine designed LØCAL based on the landscape of Wollongong, where she grew up and continues to live. With names like Coal Coast, Hargrave and Stanwell, the designs were drawn from her life growing up on the beach and enjoying the panoramic views from the area.

Which five words best describe you? Loyal, beachy, creative, detailed and curious.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After completing a diploma in interior design, I was fortunate enough to be offered an interview at Designer Rugs. I’d never heard of anyone being a rug designer but I loved interiors and enjoyed the graphic component of design so I thought why not. Here I am 14 years later, still designing rugs. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Not to take criticism of my work personally. Everyone has their own idea of what they had in mind. Some are good at translating that, others not so much.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Taking the leap into creating my own rug collection, LØCAL. 

What’s been your best decision? Not becoming an ambulance officer and returning to Designer Rugs after a three-year break.

Who inspires you? People who don’t dwell or blame an awful childhood or adversity that may have occurred during their life and just rise above the odds.  

What are you passionate about? Family, friends, the ocean, good people, and great design.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Audrey Hepburn.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To have a home with more walls than my apartment. 

What are you reading? The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland. I thought it was going to be funny, but I’m finding it depressing.

images courtesy of designer rugs


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