Tuesday, 20 December 2016


Emily Besser’s interest in colour and line form has been informing her works over the past six to 12 months. The Sydney-based artist is exhibiting in a couple of end-of-year shows - at Koskela in Sydney until 24 December and Boom Gallery in Geelong until 23 December.

“I love the flatness of paint, but I also love its plasticity, its sculptural possibilities, and the surprises that can happen when lines push and pull and create depth, landscape and new sight-line visions,” she says.

Today Emily she shares her daily art practice. You can read her original interview on Daily Imprint here.

Describe a typical working day My work day begins after the school and kindy drop-offs. There are domestic diversions aplenty but if all goes well I walk into my studio by 11 and don’t leave until 2.30-2.45pm.

What are your preferred tools, materials and equipment? I paint on three different surfaces: primed board, stretched canvas, and paper. There are different brushes I favour for use on each surface but overall my materials are simple: paint, surface and brushes. The simplicity of the materials is reassuring, but also presents a challenge to somehow reinvent them each day.

How do you dress for your job? I wear my usual day clothes, jeans and top, and I get paint on absolutely everything.

What is the current state of your desk or creative space? My studio is a a bit of a mess, but not feral. I’ve always worked in a controlled-mess kind of situation, and I’ve always worked on the floor too. I recently moved into a new studio space where I can now put my paintings up on the walls around me, this clears the floor up a lot but has been an adjustment in terms of visual perspective. I’m still adjusting to this new way of working, and seeing my work.

I’ve never really made tidying up a part of my creative process, the way some artists do. It may be unwise of me but I seem to be able to get by in a seething mess of paint tubes and brushes on the floor. And of course there is order there, it looks messy, but I know where every little thing is, most of the time. 

What's your approach to managing technology - from emails to social media? Social media, like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, is so easy to use, and connects me to a community of creative people. I use it as a personal record, a gallery, a distraction, and a space to enjoy other people’s creativity. I try to use it intentionally rather than as a distraction but this doesn’t always work. Emails, artist statements, invoices, etc require me to set aside time and sit still at the computer, and usually take up a few hours a week. I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed doing it, as I’d rather be painting, but I do get a lot of satisfaction from the admin side of things when it’s done properly and not on the fly. And it is such an essential part of staying connected in my professional relationships with people.

What’s your preferred pick-me-up? A good song, a cup of Earl Grey tea, snacks with almonds and dates.

How do you combat physical or creative lulls? Creative lulls happen all the time and usually always at some point during a painting session. First, I try to push through it, often that works. But I do acknowledge the feelings and if it persists I ask myself why it is happening. There’s usually an answer, or at least an internal conversation about it, which takes away the anxiety around it and makes it workable. Because of the constraints on my time, I have to make the most of the hours I do get to paint, no matter how I’m feeling, and whether I want to paint or not. I don’t bulldoze my feelings but I do treat my painting like work that has to be done, which it is. And I also happen to enjoy it immensely. 

What role does silence or sound play in your day? More often than not I listen to music while I work. Music throws me right into that thought-feeling place where I can work from. I can pick up where I last left off. But some days the thought of listening to music is too much, so I just paint to the sounds around me.

What's the last thing you do before finishing work for the day? I take photos of my work. I usually have to end my work day before I really want to, so taking a photo is a way of keeping the work close to me as I race out the door for school pick-up. It also allows me some perspective and distance from my work, by looking at it in photo form, while I’m away from the studio.

images courtesy of emily besser, koskela and boom gallery

Monday, 12 December 2016


Michaele Simmering and her husband Johannes Pauwen of Kalon Studios were always making things for their home - from door pulls to tables. “There has always been a lot of willing effort to invest our time and energy in our home environment,” she says. Part of the reason was that they were quite picky about the pieces they wanted in their home, and another was that they struggled to find items that they could afford. When the couple, who are based in Los Angeles in the USA, were having some items machined, they were advised to sell them. “It happened at the same moment that we didn’t want to be shut out of our family life while having children,” Michaele says. “That was a huge moment for us.” They signed up to do a trade show and after some press - including being named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential green companies in the world - their business began to grow. “About four years ago Kalon started to take on its own life,” Michaele says. “We were running to keep up with it. That was a big moment as well.”

Michaele was born in Manhattan but raised in Rhode Island and Providence, where she went to college at Brown. Johannes is from Germany, where they both lived for some years. Now they are based in LA, where they started Kalon in 2007. All of their products are made in the US and Europe suing non-toxic and sustainable materials.

Which five words best describe you? One of the words I can’t stop thinking about that all of my family use is very persistent.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Mine has been such a weird non-lineal path. I started as writer. I was doing freelance work and writing. My husband and I met in college in the States and then we went to Europe together. We were in Berlin from 2001 to 2005. And we started Kalon in 2007. Sometime while I was in Berlin I ended up doing work that wasn’t in my field. At that time work was so hard to get by that you would take what you could get.

But there was a creative boom in the city. Everyone was figuring out that Berlin was a city of cultural production. That got me in a certain mind set to think outside of the box. When I moved back to the States my husband decided that we would try to work together from home. We thought we would give it a year and then we wouldn’t need to keep dreaming about it. It’s always worked and we kept it going. In the last the couple of years I’ve realised that it is now my path. This is what I do. But if I think about it - I can connect the dots. I feel somewhat far away from where I started except that it’s a creative process.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I feel that I learn so many lessons all the time. I’m glad I learned some but they are challenging. What I’ve always loved about the creative process is that you can actualise something and watch it materialise. I think one of the best things about having my own company is being able to make the decision for everything across the board. How much you can do if you just really stick to it. The other thing is by sticking to things the way we wanted them to be - it has really worked. Our guiding principle was to design and structure the company the way we wanted it to be.  In some ways we may have been setting ourselves up for failure but it’s been the opposite.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Running the business. I feel the highs and lows and sometimes it feels like “what are we doing”. But I feel proud of how much we have accomplished. When we started anything in green or sustainable design wasn’t very attractive. If you wanted to do anything sustainable you had to sacrifice aesthetics. People said, “You can’t make something out of the States, and you can’t use high-quality materials.” I’m proud that we’ve done it, and we still do it.

What’s been your best decision? Working for myself and doing this. It has allowed me to really flex my creative muscles. And it has allowed me to have a family life and do as much as I can with my kids.

Who inspires you? Johannes really inspires me. We have worked side by side for eight years and I love that I can still be inspired by his process and ideas.

What are you passionate about? You have to be a very passionate person to be an entrepreneur and to do the work we’re doing - it’s really not easy. If you look at Kalon I hope that the passion is clear and clearly stated. I’m totally a workaholic; I live my work. Also, I really love travelling. As a little kid, I really wanted to think about how I could see all the places in the world. Getting out of my own space really inspired me.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I really don’t have anyone that I can think of right now. Several years ago I would have answered that with Cleopatra - but that had more to do with going back to a certain period. But now I’m not really sure.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would love to keep making more pieces and see how far we can take our company. I would really love to finish all the rooms in the house - building furniture for each space.

What are you reading? I am reading Half of a yellow sun.

images courtesy of kalon studios

Wednesday, 23 November 2016


It has been almost 10 years since architect Marika Jarv designed the interiors of Gorrow House in Bondi. Yet they still stand strong and are a testament to her astute eye. As has been the case with a few of Marika’s projects over the years - she predated a trend. She was one half of PrintDolls that created destination bus scrolls before they were endlessly copied. And here she created a bathroom with exposed brass tapware and plumbing, which is now more commonplace. However, her choice of timeless materials and clean lines ensures this space will continue on for many years more.

Marika’s latest venture is An Adventure of the Heart, a fundraising initiative with friend Lisa Brown to help raise funds and awareness for Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. As part of this venture the duo are launching an online shop on Thursday 1 December. Various Australian fashion, lifestyle and homewares businesses, including Imprint House, have donated to the shop and all funds raised will go to the fundraising initiative. 

What was the starting point? The original house was built in the 1960s but, unfortunately, lacked the coolness of that era. Instead it was a labyrinth of rooms, and suffered from a deficit of natural daylight, poor connection to the outside, with very dated finishes and fittings.The brief was to completely transform the inside, open the building up, connect to the rear pool area and create an entertaining haven. The owner was well travelled and an avid surfer, so it was essential the house conveyed a relaxed coastal style, yet had international appeal, specifically reflecting time spent in New York.

What approach did you take? The client was a fashion designer, and was keen to explore unexpected design solutions and to push the boundaries. He has eclectic taste, and so was keen to “mix old and new” and to experiment with a “clash in the house”. The overall aesthetics were a bit of a mish-mash of his broad range of tastes, experiences and interests. It was a collaborative, experimental and at times spontaneous design process.

What materials and palette did you choose and why? The material palette was kept fairly simple and restrained; brickwork, concrete, cement render, timber and brass, but used in a way that perhaps more conventionally-inclined clients would baulk at. Externally, we kept the existing blond brickwork and used cement breeze-blocks as a nod to the past. Internally, the polished concrete floor topping was encouraged to deliberately craze as we liked that effect. In some parts, we retained the existing brown vermiculite ceilings, and simply resprayed them white, as the rough texture juxtaposed against the smooth rendered walls created an interesting contrast. In the bathrooms we installed exposed raw brass plumbing and taps - before they were “in” – this project is almost 10 years old now, black ceramic basins and cement rendered all the walls.

What obstacles did you encounter, and how did you overcome them? Whilst the builders were excavating for the rear deck, we discovered the house had no foundations. A lot of the budget then got swallowed up under-pinning the walls adjacent to the courtyard - it’s never fun to spend money on what you can’t see. Unfortunately this, along with the client’s unexpected decision to relocate overseas before the house was properly finished, meant lots of details - including the kitchen I’d designed - were never completed. It’s disappointing the house never got to realise it’s full potential, but the spatial flow works very well now.

What’s your favourite feature? The opening between the kitchen and dining areas to the rear courtyard. We used a stacking system of externally mounted, timber-framed sliding doors which meet at a corner junction – when they are all pushed out of the way, the lines between inside and out are really blurred.

images courtesy of marika jarv; interiors photography matt russell


Tuesday, 22 November 2016


Tamara Maynes is a maker, stylist and author. After years of living in the country, and Sydney, she is now based in Melbourne, where she is the creative director at The Establishment Studios. Earlier this year she released her book The Maker with Murdoch Books.

Read her original interview on Daily Imprint.

Describe a typical working day There’s not much chance of keeping a routine with my work, so depending what project I’m working on I’ll either spend the day at the studio making props/sets and attending to admin, be on the road sourcing, or on set shooting. I’m usually up by 7am, starting work not long after that and continuing until the late hours of the night. I go through stages where I walk or meditate before work in an attempt at balance, but the lack of pattern makes it tricky to maintain. It’s all-consuming but thankfully I love what I do. 

What are your preferred tools, materials and equipment? Being a maker as well as a stylist, I have a lot of all of these! My Mac laptop is an essential that never leaves my sight, and I rely heavily on my well-stocked tool collection, which includes everything from a needle and thread to a drop saw. Raw materials are one of my passions so whenever I get the chance to explore another type of clay, timber or fabric I grab it with both hands.

How do you dress for your job? Making and styling are both so dirty and physical that black jeans and T-shirts are essential attire for me at work. If I’m shooting I’ll throw on my black trainers, but when I’m in the studio I attempt to jazz my wardrobe up a bit by rotating my favourite collection of boots, coats and hats.

What is the current state of your desk or creative space? Oh please don’t make me answer this question! There is a running joke at the studio about the constant state of complete chaos my office is in. Visitors to the studio tell me they are incredibly inspired by my creative chaos, with eyes devouring it’s every prop and project in mid-process, when in reality it’s bordering on ridiculous!

What's your approach to managing technology - from emails to social media? This is a continued work in progress for me as I find it completely overwhelming. I am constantly apologising for my delayed email replies and spending weeks at a time feeling guilty for not being able to find the time to even glance at social media. Recently I have started making a big effort to write briefer emails in an attempt to respond more promptly, and adhere to a strict social media schedule. 

When and what do you have for lunch? I usually stop to grab a hearty salad between 1-2pm which I practically inhale while I continue to work.

What’s your preferred pick-me-up? A brisk walk to the shop to buy a treat which I enjoy on the not so brisk walk back.

How do you combat physical or creative lulls? Fortunately I don’t really experience creative ebbs, but I do encounter physical lulls, particularly after every shoot. The preparation can be enormous with the painting of sets and general stress involved with meeting a tight deadline, while a shoot itself can involve lugging heavy furniture, and contorting my body to squeeze between lighting stands and precariously perched props. I make a point where possible to spend the day after a big shoot working from the sofa so my body can really get some time out.

What role does silence or sound play in your day? At home I crave absolute silence as it helps me feel relaxed - this is a bit tricky considering I’m married to a musician! Work is a different story, where I find sound, whether it’s the buzz of the studio in the background or playing my favourite music in my office, very conducive to productivity. 

What's the last thing you do before finishing work for the day? I go over my to-do list and schedule with a fine tooth comb to assure myself everything is on track, then I allow myself a good solid dose of eye candy via Pinterest.

images courtesy of tamara maynes; photography eve wilson, sharyn cairns, mark roper, eve wilson; portrait eve wilson 

Monday, 21 November 2016


The world of floristry has changed a lot over the past 10 years or so, as Melanie Stapleton is all too well aware. While it is now aligned with design and creative industries, that wasn’t always the case. “When I started floristry - 24 years ago - it was very much considered a trade,” she says. “The kind of thing you did if you weren’t smart enough to get into uni! Things are so different now the whole industry is far more design and fashion focused. It’s really very exciting.”

Melanie, who is perhaps better known under her floristry name, Cecilia Fox, was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand and began her career at a young age. “I was 16, desperately lonely, unfathomably shy and directionless,” she says. “Flowers gave me grounding, a focus and working in a retail florist shop forced me out of my shyness.”

Seven years later Melanie moved to London and continued to work within the industry before basing herself in Melbourne. Not long after, in 2008, she started a blog, Cecilia Fox, and received emails from all over the world. “A whole flower community opened up to me,” Melanie says. Now she runs a successful business in Brunswick, creating flower displays for individuals and events such as Dot Dot Dash and Gloss Creative who both create marquees for the Melbourne Cup, above, as well as clients such as the Australian Ballet.

Which five words best describe you? Tireless, bold, grateful, unsociable, generous.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? When I was 16 my family moved to the other side of the city; I had the chance to reinvent myself at a new school in a new suburb, but in the school holidays I found a job at the local florist and loved it so much I've never looked back. When I moved to London and I wanted to freelance, I cold called all of the florists I really wanted to work for - before there was really the Internet and long before people had the Internet on their phones! It was humiliating and exhausting but it payed off and gave me the chance to work for some amazing people and on some incredible events. Starting my own business happened slowly. I worked in florist shops part time, I did a yoga apprenticeship, I enrolled in a RMIT textile diploma, I did everything but start my own business until I finally gave in and believed in myself enough.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Listen to your intuition - with everything - staff, clients, jobs. Don’t doubt your self.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I’m really proud to support so many lives with this little business. I’m incredibly proud of my family; I can’t believe that Jamie and I have managed to have two gorgeous babies and an amazing business and still we are still standing.

What’s been your best decision? Moving from my garage into our current warehouse studio. Our business actually exploded into the enormous space.

Who inspires you? We are so lucky to share our studio space with a dynamic group of contemporary artists who are a constant source of inspiration. It’s a joy to see their individual process, their commitment, their tenacity. The good, the bad and the ugly. And, of course, nature.

What are you passionate about? Creating community and obviously flowers. It’s the flowers that keep me going.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’ve never really been one for desperately wanting to meet someone - I’m shy; meeting new people makes me nervous! 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Buy a home or a property for my boys to run around and to plant a field of wildflowers. Be better at business stuff. 

What are you reading? I’ve normally got a few books on the go. The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A Guide to Spending Less While Enjoying Everything More by Annie Raser-Rowland, with Adam Grubb. The Birdman's Wife by Melissa Ashley. No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind By Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson and The Graham Stuart Thomas Rose Book.

images courtesy of melanie stapleton; photography simon shiff (pony bar interior dot dot dash) and myer marquee gloss creative, portrait cassandra tzortzoglou

Monday, 7 November 2016


I think that everyone is born with at least one dependable tool in their toolbox,” says Amber Creswell Bell. For the Sydney-based writer, it has been her skill with words that has provided the foundation for her career. But in recent years, her toolbox has expanded as Amber has diversified and added the title of curator to her name and, more recently, author. 

All of this was made possible about four years ago when Amber decided to work for herself. “I could emancipate myself from other people’s expectations and seize opportunities when and how I wanted, without the need for sign off from anyone in particular,” she says. While it was a practical decision as the mother of a young family, it also opened the door to many possibilities and opportunities. “One day I got it into my head that I would love to curate exhibitions of artists and creatives that I had written about and who had resonated with me – so I started curating quarterly exhibitions, and they were successful beyond my wildest dreams,” Amber says. “I soon found creative people started seeking me out to help them promote their work and burgeoning creative businesses – which I also took on with some enthusiasm.”

Over the course of curating art exhibitions, Amber was mindful to include ceramic works into the mix of her shows. “The fever with which people were collecting these ceramic pieces was really something else,” she says. “While ceramics have been around for centuries and beyond, they are currently experiencing a true renaissance and I think this is because as our lives and days have become more fast-paced, screen-based and virtual, and as things become more mass-produced, humans are seeking out things that are slow, authentic, handmade and tactile.”

Amber’s involvement in the Sydney art scene also helped facilitate an unexpected and exciting venture, writing a book on ceramics. Clay, pictured above, is published by Thames & Hudson.

Which five words best describe you? Tenacious, outspoken, diplomatic, organised, creative.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? When I decided to change careers, it was actually Jamie Durie and his creative director Nadine Bush who first took a chance on me, giving me an autonomous role with them that really helped me get my foot in the door of a new industry.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Don’t sit around waiting for something to happen – you have to make it happen for yourself.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Being offered a book deal!

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

Who inspires you? People who take the path less travelled.

What are you passionate about? Art, plants, the protection of animals, and the preservation of heritage architecture.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? David Austin, the rose breeder.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d love to curate an exhibition of Australian art and take it to the UK or USA.

What are you reading? A Little Life By Hanya Yanagihara. It’s been a heavy-hearted stop/start undertaking.


How did this book come about? I was quite unexpectedly contacted by Thames & Hudson, who asked me if I would be interested in writing a book on ceramics. Would I? I could not believe my ears!

What was unexpected about the process? How meditative and engrossing it was. The book covers 55 artists from all over the world, complete with time zone and language challenge issues so from the outset it did have the potential to become an unwieldy project – but it wasn’t. I found the stories of the artists so fascinating, the book almost felt like it wrote itself and I enjoyed every minute.

What did you enjoy the most? I was pregnant with my third child while writing this book, so it was a lovely project to immerse myself in while growing a baby. 

How is it different from other books? Clay champions ceramics in a way that has not been done. It examines a beautiful cross-section of studio ceramicists from all over the globe, with a diverse range of styles and techniques and peeks into their worlds, telling their stories in a very open and honest way. 

Who was the reader you had in mind while creating it? Without question I was thinking about career ceramicists, just-starting ceramicists, and people who generally appreciate and collect ceramics. But more than that I wrote it for people who enjoy learning about the creative journeys of others.

images courtesy of amber creswell bell and thames & hudson; photography luisa brimble and portrait jacqui turk

Monday, 31 October 2016


Sydney-based interior designer Emilie Delalande managed quite a coup for the first major interior project under the banner of her new studio, Studio Etic. She was given the opportunity to create the design for fashion designer Lee Mathews’ latest store in Armadale, Victoria. However, while her studio was new, Emilie had plenty of experience to draw upon. After moving to Australia from Paris in 2009, she was a designer at Akin Creative for six years and worked on hospitality projects for Merivale, such as the Coogee Pavilion and The Paddington. Emilie also studied set design and interior architecture in Paris and graduated with a Bachelor degree in design - interior design. “I have been interested in architecture and interior design for as long as I can remember,” she says. “As a little girl, I would draw up plans of my future house or build cabins in the garden when I was bored. Growing up in an old farm has certainly played a major role in my appreciation for design and craftsmanship.”

Which five words best describe you? Calm, patient, loyal, attentive and honest. 

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My career started with a valuable internship opportunity in Paris with Jacques Grange. It was only a short time but it led me where I am now and made a big impact on my career. I remember it to be quite a traditional way of working where plans and elevations were drawn by hand. There was a real feeling that the interior designer was not working in isolation but was part of a team which included, clients, builders, suppliers, etc. This idea is the cornerstone of my practice today. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Stay open, positive and focused. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? Creating my own practice. The studio, Etic, takes its name from the anthropological term for cultural study; “emic” and “etic”. “Etic” is the practice of studying a society from an objective position. 

What’s been your best decision? Staying in Australia. I boarded a plane in Paris thinking that I would be back two months later. It was seven years ago. 

Who inspires you? Passionate people. No matter what they are passionate about. I see the spark in their eyes and I am captivated. 

What are you passionate about? Food, history, design, art and architecture. 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Pierre Chareau who designed la Maison de verre in Paris.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Use my skills to help people in need locally or globally. 

What are you reading? Thinking architecture by Peter Zumthor. It resonates deeply with my own experience. 

images courtesy of emilie delalande and photography sean fennessy


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