Friday, 27 February 2015


“I always knew I wanted to be creative, working with nature gave me the tools to explore where this would take me and over time the path crossed over to a more sculptural form of my floral sculpture practice,” says Tracey Deep, a florist turned sculptor and installation artist. She exhibits consistently in her hometown of Sydney and has a base of regular clients who commission her for work to place in public spaces, including Sails in the Desert in Uluru and the Wolgan Valley Resort in the Blue Mountains. Tracey says she started to get private commissions for her wall pieces and sculpture installations through her work with interior designers and architects. The Macquarie Group has also acquired works for its collection. “When I had my first exhibition it created a perfect avenue for people to discover my work and see it on a larger scale,” she says. Tracey will hold her eighth exhibition in September at The Depot Gallery in Sydney.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, sensitive, playful, whimsical, happy.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Worked in different flower shops, firstly with Susan Avery who decades ago gave me my first opportunity to play with flowers. Secondly, with Alison Coates who gave me total freedom to play with nature and explore all possibilities. Then I took off and decided it was time to take my floral practice to another level and started floral sculptures, which is now in its second decade. Through my exploration with nature, my sculpture has evolved over the past decade, inspired by nature and using found industrial, organic and recycled materials, I create works through weaving and transforming pieces from their original state to something totally new. They tend to have a light, playful and whimsical nature, and throw beautiful shadows.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? If you love what you do, you will find your path.

What’s your proudest career achievement? My very first exhibition and every one that followed. My eighth exhibition opens in early September at The Depot Gallery.

What’s been your best decision? To always stay true to yourself.

Who inspires you? Mother Nature is a source of huge inspiration, and a list of wonderful sculptors and artists: Bronwyn Oliver, Rosalie Gascoigne to name a couple.

What are you passionate about? Sourcing materials, playing with ideas, making new works. This is what feeds my heart and soul, and gives me inspiration every day.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Frida Kahlo, such an amazing spirit and soul, produced such inspirational work and was so passionate.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To travel internationally with my art. Would love to create art in different parts of the world, from materials found and rescued in these areas.

What are you reading? Gustav Klimt: drawings and watercolours. I love all artists that have an association with nature in their work.

images courtesy of tracey deep

Thursday, 26 February 2015


Tara Wilcox, left, and Nicola Grey

While furniture maker Tara Wilcox and product designer Nicola Grey appreciate great design and craftsmanship, they also understand that not everyone can afford it. As a result in 2011 they decided to make furniture at an accessible price point. “Both being determined to fill our houses with beautiful furniture but not quite having the budget to do it we began designing and making our own,” they say. “This, of course, caught the attention of friends and family and it just grew from there.” Redfox & Wilcox is based in Nicola’s Collingwood studio where pieces are handcrafted from timber salvaged locally. Originally the business was set up for made-to-order production but more recently it’s expanded to produce customisable pieces for domestic and commercial uses.

Which five words best describe you?
Tara: Optimistic, kind, brave, determined, resourceful, honest. 
Nicola: Pessimistic, realistic, impatient, creative, stubborn.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? 
We started out as a backyard business. Tara found something that she loved to do and with the help from Nicola, who is by trade an interior designer, we slowly progressed our business. We have had so many learning curves along the way but without them we wouldn’t be the company or people we are today.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? 
Communication is key! 

What’s your proudest career achievement? 
Seeing people interact with our products at the most recent Menske project.

What’s been your best decision? 
Starting the business and sticking it out. 

Who inspires you?
Tara: Powerful strong women such as Beyonce, FKA Twigs, Serena Williams, my mother and both grandmothers.
Nicola: Friends and family.

What are you passionate about?
Tara: Music, design, family and friends.
Nicola: Creating things.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Tara: Ray Eames

What dream do you still want to fulfil? 
We've been talking about planning a work trip to California, our work is heavily inspired by mid-century architecture and design.  

What are you reading?
Tara: Monkey Grip - Helen Garner 
Nicola: Arrivederci! - Italian for English speakers

images courtesy of redfox and wilcox

Wednesday, 25 February 2015


About a year ago Melbourne stylist and creative director Marsha Golemac changed her way of thinking. “I began closing the door on a few aspects of my career, which made my focus a lot stronger,” she says. “Since then I have had opportunities that I probably would not have had if I had kept on saying yes to everything.” Part of her success can be attributed to her partnership with photographer Brooke Holm (interviewed here). The duo work regularly across a range of projects and bring a fresh take on presenting products and brands, including Habbot, Lightly and Kate and Kate. “I find the process and the result rewarding – pure and simple,” Marsha says. “It makes me happy.”

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, clumsy, direct, ambitious, affectionate.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I quit my day job as a stationery and homewares product developer over three years ago. I was no longer being challenged and I simply wasn’t using my brain as much as I could have been. I wasn’t happy and the thought of being in a comfort zone was far from comforting. Without knowing what I really wanted to do, I decided to make the change. All I knew was that I wanted to do something that really made me think – really think and something that allowed me to explore this creative side that I had kept quiet since childhood. 

I started with craft-based projects, workshops, visual merchandising, installations, paper art and styling. I wanted it all, I just wanted to create. I put my list of “I want to work with these people” together and called, emailed, sent letters, etc. People were generous with their time and knowledge and within two weeks of quitting my job I was working on a shoot. I found that once I was out on my own I progressed a lot quicker. You have no choice but to keep pushing yourself to be better, to learn more, no one will do this for you. I no longer do a lot of the things I did in my first year of working independently and I am really proud of that because it means I have moved forward. I’ve eliminated the “likes” and now I focus on the “loves” - and that big love is creating beautiful imagery. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Just be nice. I cannot emphasise this enough. I have worked with many talented creatives, most of them collaborative, generous and kind. Though there are people within the industry that believe that being a creative gives you the entitlement to be harsh. Honesty is essential but a bitter attitude doesn’t make you better at your job, being aware, perceptive and committed does. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? I cannot put it down to one thing, rather I would say that I am proud of my progression of late.

What’s been your best decision? Saying goodbye to one career and starting a new one. It’s daunting, it’s risky but oh-so fulfilling. 

Who inspires you? Ettore Sottsass, Sven Lukin, Prostoria, Kenzo, Jay Z, Dan Hocking, Brooke Holm… just to name a few. 

What are you passionate about? My city, my heritage, my work and above all my family.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My dad’s parents.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Travelling through Croatia for three months exploring it’s architecture and urban environments. 

images courtesy of marsha golemac; photography brooke holm

Tuesday, 24 February 2015


“Take your passion and make it happen,” says Melbourne-based designer Cindy-Lee Davies. “Probably watched Flashdance too many times in the 80s.” But since an early age she was motivated to make things with her hands, partly spurred on by her brother who taught her how to weld with scrap metal. They would create ashtrays from clay at a nearby dam and bake them. Cindy-Lee went on to have a studio in a scrap metal yard and at the age of 19 was door-knocking on cafes to sell her wares. “They actually sold and I felt I was going to be a maker of sorts,” she says. Over the years Cindy-Lee has worked for Chanel in Spain and Anthropologie in the USA. She also visual merchandised the windows for Kate Spade in America. However, in 2005 she decided to launch her own business, Lightly, focussing on lighting and homewares. While the product range has grown to more than 100, Cindy-Lee has always been interested in combining traditional craft aesthetics with modern-day technology, as well as supporting local manufacturers.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, organised, creative, honest and loyal.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I graduated from studies in furniture design with past studies in industrial design, lighting engineering and sculpture. I spent over six years working as a lighting consultant for architects and interior designers representing Italian ranges such as Flos, Alcantara, Oluce and Fontana Arte. Before I launched my own company Lightly I spent two years creating film and lighting installations of chairs in St Etienne. In 2005 I started telling my own story launching a company in homage to my grandmother Rosemary Estelle Lightly - my first line being a range of homewares and lighting inspired by doilies and lace - Lightly.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Employ good staff and a team that understands your industry and vision. Work/life balance is very important and constant lesson. When you finish work for the day, finish work.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Staying true to what genuinely inspires me and is honest to my ideology of setting up the business as far as supporting local and small manufacturers, not mass production, sustainable studio environment and original thoughtful design.

What’s been your best decision? To take a risk and start Lightly.

What inspires you? Owning a small business you have a lot of daily demands on you, so I appreciate the space and tranquility to freely think without too many distractions is the greatest motivator. Travel and space is no better inspiration.

What are you passionate about? I am really passionate about people following their passion, it pretty much makes me cry. Generally I am passionate about many things some of them being, creating, health, travel, food and family.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’d like to have long lunch with my grandmother again, Rosemary Estelle Lightly. She passed in 2002 and played a very supportive role in my childhood and how I see the world today. She would be very proud of Lightly and my biggest fan. Also, for inspiration Vivienne Westwood. And Gandhi for a humble word about life.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? At a younger age pre-design I lived in India working in orphanages and with street people. I would like to do something really good again to help people but involve design. We do work with a few small communities and families to get them on their feet but I am thinking something bigger. I love travelling and finding makers of their craft and supporting their industry, honouring and savoring their crafts.

What are you reading? I must admit I watch film more than I read. Best last film was Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky; the interiors are spectacular.

images courtesy of cindy-lee davies; photography brooke holm, eve wilson (portrait)

Monday, 23 February 2015


Melbourne’s Derek Swalwell says he learnt more than technical skills when he started out as a photographer’s assistant. The experience of working with prolific photographers got him thinking not only about his craft but the business side of his career too. Since then he has gained a reputable roster of clients - from architects to leading interior magazines and advertising agencies. His work has been published in Vogue Living, Belle and Inside Out and he’s worked on campaigns for Sony, Mazda, Toyota and Telstra, among others. In recent years Derek has also been building a Singapore client base, which has given him the opportunity to shoot a range of amazing homes in the region. “Although it’s always great to return home to shoot great design by local talent,” he says.

Which five words best describe you? Inspired, passionate, meticulous, competitive, persistent.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Luckily for me I obtained an assisting role with some prolific photographers at the time, and although I intended on entering the profession, this really went a long way to setting me on a path to thinking about the photography as a serious business. I’ve worked hard to develop a style in my architectural work, whilst pushing myself hard into advertising and lifestyle work.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To work hard, take yourself seriously as a competitor, and keep shooting your own work.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Shooting an advertising campaign for Sony. Great location, great product, great team, dream gig. They’re rare.

What’s been your best decision? To run my own studio. My work changed dramatically when I had my own space. 

Who inspires you? Highly creative people. I’m constantly amazed at what some creatives are capable of. 

What are you passionate about? Light, architecture, doing the absolute best I can in every project. 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Julius Shulman, Oscar Niemeyer or John Lautner the architect.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To shoot all over the world for one job. 

What are you reading? Superhouse by Karen McCartney and Richard Powers.

images courtesy of derek swalwell

Friday, 20 February 2015


“For me, the right path is the path you enjoy,” says ceramicist Tara Burke. So when it came to her career, she says there was never any doubt. Ceramics are delightful, Tara says. “I love the intersection of beauty and functionality - the way ceramics allow people to incorporate beautiful handmade objects into their daily routines - whether it be a morning coffee in a handmade cup, afternoon slice on a beautiful plate, or a little vase to pop a flower from the garden into.” She also finds making ceramics therapeutic. “Whether I’m throwing a bowl or pinching a vase, it gives me an opportunity to zone out of the world and into the object for a time.” Tara grew up in Melbourne but moved to Sydney, where she is currently based, and studied ceramics at the Sydney College of the Arts. Her works are available through Saint Cloche gallery in Sydney, and she will have some pieces at Bokeh Gallery in Daylesford from March. Her work can be viewed via her Instagram feed @taracarbonara

Which five words best describe you? Messy, unorganised, enthusiastic, driven and clumsy.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My career is only really in its infancy. I first got a feel for ceramics when I took throwing lessons in Melbourne, which progressed into formal study at Sydney College of the Arts. Making ceramics has always been somewhat of a private affair, and almost always ended with me giving away all of my pieces. Showing and selling my work is very much new territory for me.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Don’t glaze in a hurry, or when you’re hungry.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Given my career is only just beginning, all of my achievements have been the proudest ones.

What’s been your best decision? Dragging myself off the trusty wheel and learning to hand build.

Who inspires you? Kind people.

What are you passionate about? Learning, being kind to others, and cake.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Jon Stewart so I could beg him not to leave The Daily Show!

What dream do you still want to fulfil? All the dreams. 

What are you reading? I just finished reading The God of Small Things by Arundati Roy.

images courtesy of tara burke

Thursday, 19 February 2015


After eight years’ working as an art teacher at high school Emma Cleine found a way to create a business that was successful enough to leave her full-time job. It was during a six-month stint on maternity leave that she set her plan into action. She wanted to return to her art-making ways - but make it a viable business. Emma started selling decorative objects at markets and soon had some stockists. She then came into contact with Melbourne stylist Julia Green, who helped get the word out on Lumiere Art + Co. Now Emma’s business is stocked in more than 70 stores, and has expanded into homewares. She has also been commissioned by national retailers, writer's festivals and televisions programs for her products. Emma is launching her latest range at this year's Life Instyle, which opens today.

Which five words best describe you? Hardworking, thoughtful, fun, inspired, sensitive.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started studying sculpture. Having a fine arts background has been the best start for what I’m doing now. Being an artist is all about resolving and problem-solving and setting yourselves visual challenges. I feel this was the most practical way for me to do what I do. I studied teaching after fine arts and taught secondary school girls for eight years. During this time I incubated all of my plans and things that inspired me. I had six months’ maternity leave from teaching and started Lumiere Art + Co, selling at small markets locally. I picked up a few stockists and from there the business has now grow into a bespoke boutique homewares and artworks company with over 70 stockists. I employ the most inspired gorgeous staff and this year have started taking on the creative of my husband’s furniture business, Industria X.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? It’s natural to doubt what you do but, it’s very important to see the silver lining in every situation and realise that a new day will bring new opportunities and is a chance to start afresh. I have a very naive approach to starting new projects, which is an attribute and a drag! Sometimes I don’t think things through.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I’m always very proud of a new range I make. I do it all by myself  so just to get some new ideas together and see them come to life always makes me proud. I don’t have any formal training in working with textiles so it’s always a gamble when I put together some designs for screenprinting. Every time I see a work of mine in print in a mag or online I am thrilled. If a friend mentions they saw a print or cushion of mine in a shop, it makes me very proud. I don’t take what I do for granted, I am very blessed. 

What’s been your best decision? To work with stylist Julia Green. Julia and I met a few years ago and quickly had an understanding that it’s better to work with like-mined people around you rather than be an island and micromanage everything yourself. I’m successful at what I do because I work with a great team and always look at the big picture.

Who inspires you? I love the work of Australian artists Sally Smart, Miranda Skoczek and Del Kathryn Barton. I always go back to my favourite Australian Modernist female artists Thea Proctor and Margaret Preston. I used to think that inspiration had to come from faraway places and from far-fetched people. I’m now more inspired by those working close to me. 

What are you passionate about? A few things that get me very animated in conversation are the importance of surrounding yourself with good art and design and the importance of an arts education. With these you can make sense of almost anything.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would like to meet my grandmother again. Now that I am a mother and have Lumiere Art + Co, I would love to talk to her about all that I am doing, what I have done and tell her all about my boys whilst showing her some photos on my iphone. I imagine this meeting would be quick like catching up with someone in the supermarket so I would be animated and brief and finish the conversation with a bone rattling hug and kiss. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would like more travel in my life. To travel is to live. So many places I still need to go. In terms of my work, I hope one day I can finally make that transition from homewares to artworks and work towards exhibitions rather than ranges. 

What are you reading? Lena Dunham’s Not that kind of girl. What an inspiration! I wish I knew her when I was growing up. It’s a revelation that she makes being awkward so okay.

images courtesy of emma cleine; photography armelle habib, styling greenhouse interiors 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


Mairead Murphy never thought she could make a career out of illustration. “Drawing pictures for a living really does sound too good to be true,” she says. “It wasn’t until I went to Semi Permanent a couple of years ago and saw all of these amazing and inspiring people speak that I started to seriously reconsider it.” It is also the perfect foil for her design work. Mairead is a trained interior architect and runs the Melbourne-based design studio Maike. She started the illustration offshoot in April last year. “As a small start-up I have been really blown away by how much support and encouragement I’ve had, particularly with the illustration - in a completely new industry where I had no connections or background.”

Which five words best describe you? Cheerful, ambitious, enthusiastic, imaginative, hard-working.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After finishing my interior architecture degree I worked in large architecture companies and taught at Monash University. The scale of projects tended to be relatively big, peaking with the Royal Children’s Hospital. Coming off that project I landed my dream job at an incredible firm and started my Masters of Architecture, but I was completely burned out. When the opportunity to do a project on my own came up, it seemed a perfect way to be able to manage my various time commitments with enough flexibility to get my health back on track. So I took the plunge and launched Maike Design Studio.

I have always had a whole range of different creative interests, so alongside my design work, in April last year I added an illustration stream to my practice. To be honest, it was a mini turning-30 crisis! It had been in the back of my mind as something I would get around to one day and I just thought if there hadn’t magically been time for it, when exactly was there going to be? So I started drawing again. Other than little doodles in the margins of my notebooks I hadn’t really done any drawing since high school and after dealing with straight lines and construction drawings for so long, it look me a long time to loosen up and not be intensely bothered by things that weren’t perfectly straight or symmetrical. I even change my handwriting style in my illustration sketchbook from my design sketchbook to flick my brain into a different mindset! 

Illustration contrasts the longer project times of my design work perfectly. I love the immediacy of creating characters and scenes, they become real as the pencil lines become more exact and their little personalities emerge.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Sometimes, you’ve just got to have a little sleep and then everything will be okay.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Spending every day doing something I genuinely love doing.

What’s been your best decision? I think the best decision has just been to get started. Start drawing, start building, start my practice, start the studio - all of it. I think once you’ve begun something... well, you’ve just got to keep going. It can be too easy not to start something new and daunting, but I’ve found once I get going, daunting turns into exciting and all sorts of new opportunities open up.

Who inspires you? It’s a long list that is always growing. Every day inspiration comes from my husband, who is my all-time favourite person, my family who are all kind, hardworking and terrifically intelligent, my talented friends who produce incredible work of all descriptions and are fun, wonderful people - what more can you ask for!?

What are you passionate about? I love seeing a creative process unfold - something that starts as nothing but the tiniest beginning of an idea is investigated and developed until it is something actually real, functional, thoughtful, and beautiful.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Robin Boyd, Roald Dahl.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Design: I would like to build our own house. I’d like to see what I come up with to frame a lifestyle I am so familiar with. Or design an Aesop store, that would be ace too. Illustration: I’d like to write a book – but given my incredible lack of writing skills, I’d be more than happy to just illustrate one.

What are you reading? Why We Build by Rowan Moore.

images courtesy of mairead murphy


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