Friday, 26 February 2016


While Danie Mellor’s work is in galleries around the world and he has won several awards, he says the steps he has taken to get to this point have been incremental. “There hasn’t been a pivotal moment, just gradual development with all the plateaus, highs and lows that everyone experiences,” he says. “Nothing ever takes the place of hard work and a little bit of luck, as much consistency as possible, and a long-term view. And no holidays, I much prefer working.” Danie was born in Mackay and has lived and worked in Australia, England, Scotland and South Africa. He is currently based in Bowral in the South Highlands of NSW. His work was given a 10-year survey at the University of Queensland Art Museum in 2014 and he had a solo exhibition of his works at the National Museum of Scotland. For almost 20 years Danie lectured at the Australian National University and the University of Sydney. He attained a Bachelor of Arts (Visual) with Honours from the Canberra School of Art and a MA (Fine ARt) from the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, University of Central England, UK. Danie also has a doctorate from ANU. His current exhibition A Sensual Instinct runs until 19 March at Jan Murphy Gallery.

Which five words best describe you? But we’ve only just met!

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I went to art school at the Canberra School of Art, and since then have followed a career as an artist. I also lectured for some time at the Australian National University, and then University of Sydney, as well as teaching high school art for a few years. Now I am working full time on my practice.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Have colleagues and friends in your networks that are more talented, experienced and smarter than you in areas you don’t have expertise, and be prepared to share knowledge along the way.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Developing a sustainable career as an artist. It’s been a balance of creating work and maintaining a business.

What’s been your best decision? Pursuing a career as an artist.

Who inspires you? The people I work with, particularly my wife Joanne.

What are you passionate about? Work. And my Land Rover.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’m not much into zombies, so it would be a living person – anyone who is at peace with their selves would be a pleasant experience. Actually come to think of it, I would like to meet Mark Wahlberg, he seems very comfortable with himself and I like his movies. I would also like to meet Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF; I have a bit of a crush on her and I would probably be lost for words, so she would have to do most of the talking.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? To keep working productively and having time to create work that is still relevant in 20 years’ time – my life tends to be quite straightforward in that respect.

What are you reading? I don’t have that much time to read. I listen while I work to online lectures and presentations given by interesting writers, artists, museum directors, curators and philosophers, amongst them Donna Haraway, Jane Bennett, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Jerry Saltz, and Roberta Smith et al.

images courtesy of danie mellor and jan murphy gallery

Thursday, 25 February 2016


Heidi Daburger enjoys renovating homes - and has made a career out of it. Her success has been partly related to imbuing each project with its own stamp. “I want to imbed an authentic signature in each house so that it has its own style - from furnishings to architectural designer details,” she says. However, finding the pieces to create this look wasn’t always easy. In the end, Heidi had to set off to find them herself. “You have to go out there to find it,” she says. Over the years Heidi has found so many pieces - mainly in India and Indonesia - that she created a furniture and homewares store, Haveli of Byron Bay. It’s most recent manifestation is a holiday accommodation business, Haveli House, pictured above. 

Heidi's hope is that one day she will be able to combine her shop with a cafe. This would take her back to one of her former careers - in hospitality. She worked in both restaurants and events, as well as teaching. All the while, she renovated homes alongside her builder brother until she started to import furniture in 2009. Four years ago she focussed on Haveli full-time. “When you do what you want to do, it creates confidence and happiness, Heidi says. “So you know it’s right.”

Which five words best describe you? Loves being busy discovering and travelling.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Decided early at age eight that I wanted five careers - I’m doing number three! Travelling and buying treasures for Haveli.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Attention to detail, be proud and accountable for what you do. It’s a happy feeling.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Graduating from uni as an adult - it’s a big commitment and scary. 

What’s been your best decision? Still searching for that. I’m sure there’s more to improve upon, but opening Haveli was a great decision. 

Who inspires you? Kids in my family - you get to see the good stuff come out and hope you’ve been part of that learning.

What are you passionate about? Chocolate ice-cream and creating beautiful spaces with history, art and authenticity.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Go back and meet myself at eight just to have a chat.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Cafe and home furnishings combined.

What are you reading? Tim Winton.

images courtesy of heidi daburger; photography and stying louise roche

Wednesday, 24 February 2016


Lyndal Hargrave’s fascination with geometry continues in her latest exhibition at Edwina Corlette Gallery. “I’m drawn to patterns that shape our universe - the hexagons of a beehive, the fractals of a fern, the prisms of minerals,” she says. “I’m moving away from hard edge geometry to a more organic, lighter approach.” While Lyndal studied art and teaching at university, and taught for a number of years, for 20 years she juggled art-making and raising a family. However, since 2006 she has been able to dedicate more time to the studio and soon afterwards she was selected for several competitions and won the Mosman Art Prize Insitu in 2011. Her current exhibition New Geometricks runs until 27 February. Later in the year she will exhibit at Gallerysmith in Melbourne.

Which five words best describe you? Authentic, creative, curious, grateful, perceptive.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After four years of secondary art teaching, my husband and I travelled the world for two years before starting our family. I then juggled raising three daughters and artwork for about 20 years - approaching numerous galleries and having many exhibitions along the way. I don’t feel I really gave my career full attention until 2006 when I pushed myself to network with art advocates and put aside my nerves and approached the galleries I really wanted to work with. A magical change came around 2010 when I realised I no longer had to contact galleries, they were now contacting me.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Realising that the unproductive times when all your work seems to fail is always followed by a breakthrough eventually. Be persistent and passionate.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Inventing my complex sculptures using timber coat hangers that have been selected and acquired for numerous prizes including the international Lace exhibition at the Sydney Powerhouse, Gold Coast Regional gallery and Artbank. I love that it was a totally original concept.

What’s been your best decision? Following my heart and moving back to painting after years of sculpture.

Who inspires you? Fiona Hall always inspires me with her depths of creativity and incredible workmanship.

What are you passionate about? My family and friends, working all day in a field I love, travel, and when I can manage it, surfing at Lennox Head.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Nick Cave. I’d love to know how someone so talented and original ticks.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To have my work selected for a major public museum like GOMA.

What are you reading? I confess I haven’t read a novel for ages but do a lot of Googling. Today I read about comparisons for preserving timber, a wonderful article about Eva Hesse and some research on fractals. Go figure!

Monday, 22 February 2016


What began as a business 12 years ago based on a book bag - after meeting a tailor in India - has turned into a burgeoning global empire for Byron Bay-based Shannon Sheedy. She started The Dharma Door after working in a Tibetan refugee community and this sense of wanting to help others while create useful and beautiful products has informed her business ever since. While Shannon has no formal design or business training - she worked in Early Education after finishing school before travelling and working overseas in a range of jobs - she has a passion for homewares and creating Fair Trade products. “I genuinely can’t imagine doing business any other way,” she says. “It gives me a greater sense of purpose beyond designing and selling products. Knowing that for every item we order and sell, there is a woman in a village in Bangladesh who is benefiting in a big way is awesome.” Through fair wages, sustainable work, skills training, the education of children, The Dharma Door helps to contribute to the wellbeing of whole villages and communities, she says. “I’m totally passionate about it!”

However, getting others to feel the same way has not always been easy. “In the early days most people would glaze over as I described what Fair Trade means,” she says. “I was so determined and now, 12 years later, customers often ask for more info and artisan stories. Even on the most challenging days - which are rare, I know it’s what I’m meant to be doing.”

It was after the company introduced homewares to its offering in 2008 that Shannon started to carve out a niche. The Dharma Door also gathered momentum after presenting its collections at trade shows in 2014 and launching The Dharma Door USA. Business growth has always been important. “The more we sell, the more artisans benefit,” Shannon says. Next stop is New York for a trade show in August and The Dharma Door Europe, which is about to be launched. At the same time, Shannon is working on new products for Summer 16/17, including the introduction of fashion into the collection.

Which five words best describe you? Persistent, compassionate, ambitious, perceptive, curious.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My husband Mick and I quit our jobs and travelled to Asia in 2003. We were living and volunteering in a Tibetan refugee community in India when we met a tailor who had a dream of training and generating employment for young women. We wanted to help so we created our 
very first product, the Book Bag to sell in Australia. I was selling them to hundreds of bookstores and decided to expand the range to homewares. After much research, in 2008 I moved all production to Fair Trade groups in Bangladesh because I love the raw materials and artisans skills there. It was a brand reinvention of sorts as it meant finding new customers for our new collections. We continue to develop new products and seek out new artisan groups to work with. I find my work very rewarding and can’t imagine doing anything else. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I’ve learnt a lot of lessons! Patience. Patience. Patience. Trust your instincts. And amazing insights or opportunities usually arise from challenging times. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? It makes me incredibly happy to have developed a thriving ethical business. Striking the balance of Fair Trade production, good product design, quality and profitability isn’t an easy feat. I always have the artisans in the forefront of my mind and I love knowing that we are contributing to the lives of so many people in a positive way. 

What’s been your best decision? Starting The Dharma Door, moving to the Byron hinterland for lifestyle and outsourcing for business. The shift to outsourcing our warehousing and logistics was the result of a couple of negative experiences and is one of the best business decisions we’ve made yet. Outsourcing and technology allow us to work with people who really excel at what they do and the freedom to work from anywhere on the business in a more creative way. 

Who inspires you? Our artisan partners and their resilience; risk-takers; anyone who is passionately following their dreams; people who comfortably embrace imperfection; effortlessly stylish folk and I love a heartwarming-underdog-makes-good tale.

What are you passionate about? Travel, nature, music, history, texture, good wine and giving disadvantaged people the opportunities to have a fair shot at improving their standard of living - the essence of Fair Trade.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My paternal grandparents.  

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Hmmm, so many. A tropical island holiday without devices. Home renovations. Seeing The Dharma Door become a globally recognised brand. More travel. Always, more travel. 

What are you reading? The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts.

images courtesy of the dharma door; photography and styling louise roche at villa styling

Thursday, 18 February 2016


When designing the 30th collection for Dinosaur Designs, Louise Olsen decided to do things a little differently. Each collection for the iconic fashion and homewares brand usually starts with a nature-inspired subject or form. For the Rainforest collection, Louise started with a colour. “Dinosaur Designs has always been known for its colour so it seemed natural in our 30th year to start a collection with a colour,” she says. “I was looking at the relationships between colours that create a sense of lushness.”

Dinosaur Designs has become to Australian design what brands such as Marimekko have become to countries such as Finland. It is synonymous with that country's design history and has managed to remain highly respected within the industry as well as popular amongst the general public.

The story is somewhat familiar now. Dinosaur Designs formed in 1985 when art students and friends Louise Olsen, Stephen Ormandy [DI interview] and Liane Rossler started selling their wares at Paddington Markets in Sydney. They used to paint and screen fabrics but after two years it was apparent that their resin jewellery was the most popular line. In recent years Louise and Stephen, a husband and wife team, have continued on the business and seen it grow to open a store in New York. Yet they have continued to design out of a sunlit studio in Strawberry Hills.

“Creating a collection is a joy from beginning to the end,” Louise says. “Starting with a form always takes you on an interesting design adventure.” Art and design have been constant companions in her life. She was born in Watsons Bay to revered artist John Olsen and his wife Valerie, also an artist. It was when she went to art school that she met Stephen and almost ever since they have been partners in work and life.

Now the duo are focussed on their next collection, scheduled to launch in May. They also have their first book underway with Penguin and an exhibition, which they will show at Bega Regional Gallery in October. They have plans for the London Design Festival too. “We’re excited to be working on some new concepts for Dinosaur Designs that we’ve not done before,” Louise says. 

Which five words best describe you? Inquisitive, considered, passionate, fair, happy. 

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My career started on the kitchen table. The path that it has taken from that point onwards I would have never imaged at that stage. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Be true to your vision and trust your own instinct.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Celebrating our 30th year in business in 2015 and still having a growing, vibrant company. It feels like we’ve started on a whole new chapter.

What’s been your best decision? Change is inevitable in any business if you want it to grow. Having the courage to make tough choices and follow through on them can be hard. But you can’t live in fear, life is about moving forward and that’s how you discover new oceans. 

Who inspires you? Mother Nature and my mother. She always encouraged us to look at the bigger picture.

What are you passionate about? Love – in all its shapes and forms.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’d love to have dinner with Louise Bourgeois, Matisse, David Bowie and Miles Davies. I think it would be the most amazing conversation.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To have more time for my own painting.

What are you reading? Portraits - John Berger on Artists.

images courtesy of dinosaur designs; portrait photography rachel kara

Wednesday, 17 February 2016


Dearna Bond grew up in an Italian family and food was central to her way of life. “My favourite way to spend the school holidays was in the kitchen with my Nonna shelling beans, bottling tomato sauce and making pasta from scratch,” she says. “There was something so honest and intrinsic about the way she cooked, never looking at a recipe but instead cooking by sight, feel and taste. It instilled in me a desire to learn about food and how to create food that was simple yet exciting.” Since growing up in the small rural town of Scottsdale in North-East Tasmania, and completing an arts degree in Hobart, Dearna started a food blog with a focus on wholefoods in 2013 after a few years of travelling and living overseas. After starting To Her Core, she decided she needed to learn how to style and photograph the food too. “I spent hours trawling the internet working out how to shoot in manual, and mostly just practising. And practising and practising,” she says. “Nowadays, I enjoy the creative process of styling and photographing my dishes as much as I actually do cooking them.”

Recently Dearna has just launched a series of food styling and photography workshops with Rebecca Wiggins. The first event sold out within days, however, new dates have been announced. 

Which five words best describe you? Loyal, quirky, independent, passionate, motivated.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started a blog back in late 2013, and since then my readership has grown and with it my reach. My original focus was primarily cooking and recipe development, but I’ve more recently started to delve into discussing food styling and photography after realising I was receiving more emails with questions about that than my food. This has lead me to create a series of food styling and photography workshops here in Hobart.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? It’s impossible to please everyone, so don’t try to.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Seeing myself in print. And also selling out our first workshop in just a few days - Hobart is a small community and it’s always hard to tell how new ventures will be received, so this was very unexpected.

What’s been your best decision? To spend a few years travelling after university. Travelling - with no set timelines or expectations, as opposed to simply going on a holiday - is such an amazing way to not just see and experience the world, but to also learn more about yourself.

Who inspires you? Confident, passionate people who aren’t afraid to follow their own goals.

What are you passionate about? I’m extremely passionate about healthy eating and wellbeing - the food we eat and the way we treat our bodies has such a big impact on our overall health and I’d love to help educate people on how they can eat and live a little healthier, which is what I try to do through my site. I’m also very passionate about gender equality, and also my pup Maggie.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would love to invite Stephen Fry and Nigella Lawson around for dinner - Nigella can be responsible for bringing the sweets! I think both such interesting, passionate people and I could listen to them talk for hours. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d love to live abroad again.

What are you reading? The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley.

images courtesy of dearna bond

Tuesday, 16 February 2016


“Most people absorb things either literally or visually,” Sydney artist Sylvia McEwan says. “I have always been a visual person.” However, while she was born in Melbourne, it wasn’t until she moved to Sydney in the 1980s that she began to explore some form of artistic expression. Initially it was through sculpture, focussing on the mediums of marble and limestone, as well as life drawing. After moving again - this time to Brisbane - Sylvia completed studies in visual arts, with a major in sculpture and became interested in painting. “My artistic development was fuelled by the love for the New York School of Abstract Expressionists, especially Willem De Kooning's strong figurative work,” she says. However, she has enjoyed working in various painting genres from abstract to still life and landscape to figurative. Since 1996 Sylvia has had 16 solo exhibitions in Australia and the UK, and was been a finalist in the Sulman Prize in 2003. More recently she is represented by Artduo and has her work on show at Koskela.

Which five words best describe you? Practical, energetic, cautious, quiet, persistent.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Stepping into my first art class, sculpture and life drawing in Sydney in the 80s, opened up a new and extraordinary world of art that took my breath away. Ever since then I have tried to understand and comprehend it.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Just wait to see how things unfold!

What’s your proudest career achievement? Selected finalist in the 2003 Sulman Art prize.

What’s been your best decision? Moving from sculpture to painting.

Who inspires you? My two daughters, who have incredibly successful creative careers while providing warm and loving homes to their beautiful children and partners

What are you passionate about? My family. My husband, my daughters, their partners and my grandchildren. Living each day as a precious gift.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My first sculpture and drawing course was taught by Rhonda Hartwig in Sydney in the 80s. I would like to thank her for having the belief in me and seeing the potential there.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Each time I finish a painting I am looking for the perfect painting. Of course, it is not that one. I start the next one in anticipation, perhaps the next one is it.

What are you reading? I am always keeping newspaper cuttings of books that have been recommended. I came across quite an old one, whilst cleaning up the studio. It was captioned Best book you have never read. I immediately downloaded it on Kindle. It was titled So long, I will see you tomorrow by William Maxwell. I haven't been able to put it down.

images courtesy of sylvia mcewan

Monday, 15 February 2016


While Amanda Evans started with a big-picture view of her business, Cabin Co, she is looking more and more local towards her direction. After starting out designing cushions and children’s wall decorations, the Tasmanian-based company is about to mark a new chapter in its offering since launching in 2013. Amanda is about to release a new wool collection made locally in Tasmania. “It’s great to be able to support my local community and provide work,” she says. “I am lucky to have some great people to work with me here.” Amanda will launch the winter collection at Life Instyle Sydney. As for the name of her business, she is about to build a barn-style house this year in Launceston. “I love the cabin structure,” she says. “To me it conjures up the feeling of home.”

Cabin Co will be exhibiting at the upcoming Life Instyle Sydney event. Register now to attend and explore Happiness By Design. The trade event runs 18-21 February at the Royal Hall of Industries and Hordern Pavilion.

This post was sponsored by Life Instyle, an event I have attended many times over the years. All editorial content was produced independently. Thank you for supporting businesses that help to make Daily Imprint possible. - NW

Which five words best describe you? Fun, driven, passionate, young at heart, full of energy. 

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started with kids interior wall decals. As my own children grew my focus changed and therefore so did my passion for designing new products. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To trust my instinct and go for it. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? I would say this winter collection. I am so proud that the motivation is for Australian made. I couldn’t be happier with our wool collection for this season. Wool is a natural fabric and is a dream to be able to work with. It’s a quality product that will stand the test of time.  

What’s been your best decision? Focusing on Australian made. It is exactly the direction I wanted the brand to go. 

Who inspires you? My family are always my first inspiration. And more recently time spent on the farm has heavily influenced the winter range. Designing a house has made me really look at how we live in our homes and in turn how we decorate them. 

What are you passionate about? Quality ethical products are always my focus with Cabin Co. That and, of course, building my barn house.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Lisa Messenger [interview]. She has so much energy and passion.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I have recently bought a farm where I am building a barn house for my family. I currently run sheep in the paddocks. The plan I hope to fulfil is to use the wool from my own sheep and turn it into Cabin Co’s wool blankets and throws. Taking the range from my paddock to my customers’ homes.  

What are you reading? Lisa Messenger’s Daring and Disruptive.

images courtesy of cabin co

Friday, 12 February 2016


As part of her upbringing in Sweden, Sara Lundgren was always surrounded by design. And she was always building or creating something. “There is something special about designing pieces for homes, as objects you are surrounded with help set the mood, and express individual style,” she says. However, when Sara landed in Australia seven years ago, it was as an exchange student while she was studying international business. While she fell in love with the natural surrounds - and warm climate - and settled in Bondi Beach, she initially took a corporate path with her career. After working for a small digital agency for a while, Sara took the plunge and launched her own design and homewares business Zakkia at Life Instyle in 2014. “I had not shown the collection to anyone before the show, and having never exhibited before, I had no clue what to expect,” she says. “It was a bit nerve-wracking, to say the least.” But the response to the collection was instant, and overwhelmingly positive, she says. “It was amazing so see people’s confidence in the brand from the very beginning. That was when I knew that Zakkia would work.”

Zakkia will be exhibiting at the upcoming Life Instyle Sydney event. Register now to attend and explore Happiness By Design. The trade event runs 18-21 February at the Royal Hall of Industries and Hordern Pavilion.

This post was sponsored by Life Instyle, an event I have attended many times over the years. All editorial content was produced independently. Thank you for supporting businesses that help to make Daily Imprint possible. - NW

Which five words best describe you? Determined, creative, sun-loving, passionate, motivated.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied international business and marketing at university and worked in corporate marketing for a few years after my studies. I then transitioned to work at a small digital agency where I was fortunate to work with many small online retailers on their marketing and ecommerce strategies. It was during this time the inspiration grew to create something of my own.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I feel like I learn new things every day with Zakkia, and that is one of the best parts of this journey. I definitely think a big lesson is just to stay true to who you are, and if you take the plunge and follow your passions great things happen.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Every time we launch a new collection is a very proud moment. There is a huge sense of satisfaction in seeing designs and products that you have been working on for a long time all come together into a complete collection. Our photo shoot days for our catalogues are usually the first time we see all our new pieces nicely presented together as a whole, and it is my favourite time of the year.

What’s been your best decision? Just taking the step and deciding to launch Zakkia - there has been so much work, late nights, long weekends, ups and downs - but I have not regretted one second of the time spent. Another big decision was when Zakkia grew and I had to make a decision on expanding the team. It is definitely a big step and commitment to bring new people on board to a relatively new and growing business. I’m so glad I decided to do this early on. Zakkia would not be what it is today if it wasn’t for the amazing team we have here.

Who inspires you? Australia has a lot of inspiring female entrepreneurs. I’m also very inspired by the incredibly skilled artisans we work with in Vietnam for the production of our collections. When I started Zakkia, I made a conscious decision to only work with small, family-owned producers for our products, and to have them handmade. One of our ceramics partners is a family-owned studio, which are now ninth generation ceramics masters. These artisans have such a passion for their trade and there is such a long tradition of skills that have been passed down through the generations. Every time I come back from a trip to Vietnam I always feel very inspired - we are so lucky to get to work with such an amazing team over there.

What are you passionate about? By working with our team in Vietnam I have learnt so much about traditional pottery and ceramic techniques, and this is something I’m very passionate about. Having products mass produced in a large factory will save on costs, but there is something so special about a ceramic mug that has been handcrafted using techniques that have been passed down through generations for the last 900 years. When you know how much time and passion goes into making each and every product it is not hard to appreciate the value of handmade products.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Zakkia is actually named after my grandmother, who I only got to meet once at a young age before she passed away. I would love to meet her again.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would love to be able to buy a house to renovate and create my dream home.

What are you reading? Lots. On my bedside table at the moment is a Swedish novel called Jag heter inte Miriam by Majgull Axelsson, gifted by my sister, The Monocle Guide to Better Living, also a Christmas present, the Collective Hub Magazine, and stacks of various home interior magazines.

images courtesy of zakkia; photography sam mcadam-cooper [interview]


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