Thursday, 28 October 2010
Anyone who is truly successful in fashion - or any field, for that matter - creates a look that is distinctly their own. Take Elke Kramer. Her designs are instantly recognisable, and while she doesn't follow fashions, she's always relevant and wearable. It's not surprising that she's stocked by the world's top fashion stores, including Colette in Paris, Liberty of London and Opening Ceremony in LA and New York. Elke is also an illustrator and art director.
Which five words best describe you? Talkative, easily distracted, food lover.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started my label after having made some necklaces for a friend who had a clothing label at the time. I then just had stores approach me with orders, so I had to find a way to produce them. I have been designing seasonal collections of jewellery ever since.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To remember to keep doing things your own way, and not be overly influenced by other people's opinions.
What’s your proudest career achievement? When I was picked up by Colette and the Opening Ceremony stores.
What’s been your best decision? To recently move studios to a new and bigger space... now I have space to hang some plants.
Who inspires you? Women who have their own individual sense of style and purpose.
What are you passionate about? Cooking! I enjoy the whole process from planning a meal to eating it.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Catherine Baba: I love her! She is an Australian woman working as a stylist in Paris, she had to kookiest style. I'd love to see her wearing some of my jewellery.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To buy a lovely house somewhere where I can grow a vegetable patch and a serious garden!
What are you reading? No one belongs here more than you by Miranda July.
images courtesy of elke kramer
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Here's a look at some shots from the latest project on Frontliners, which I created with photographer Kata Varga. We spent a rainy Sunday with Wayne Connolly and Tracy Ellis (as well as their son, Harvey), who you might know from the band Knievel. Tracy is also a writer and editor while Wayne is highly respected in the music industry - he has won four ARIAs. In fact, he picked up his latest award only a few days before we met. Head over to the site and let me know what you think.
images courtesy of frontliners
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
This month on the Fave Finds page for Real Living I featured the work of Reiko Kaneko. She is a UK artist who specialises in ceramics (and ships internationally), although she is a successful product designer too. Her Floaty table was shortlisted for Elle Decoration UK design of the year 2009. Her recently released Arctic Collection is based on designs from Japan, where alcohol is traditionally served in ceramic vessels.
Which five words best describe you? Calmly busy, quietly spoken (except when tipsy) and warm.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started with handmade Egg soldier cups for a store who was interested in them at the graduation show and to my surprise, they sold well and that's when I thought there is something in this. We're now set up so that the designs are made in Stoke on Trent, the heart of British ceramics. We've been working together with small family run businesses up there who still make quality china. These are then sent out to design stores, galleries, department stores and individual homes.
What's the best lesson you've learnt along the way? The more I learn, I realise there is so much more to learn. Which keeps things very exciting and my brain churning.
What's your proudest career achievement? I was really chuffed that Elle Deco nominated my Floaty Ovangkol table for the UK design of the year but there's been so many little milestones that has made me dance around the room.
What's been your best decision? To have just done it, and keep doing it, and I have tried to be as honest and as responsible with my output as possible.
Who inspires you? All those passionate people who create and put themselves out there. Heston Blumenthal puts himself out on the plate, come praise or criticism. David Attenborough inspires awe in people, or Marina Abramovic for breathing art. The Beatles were on a mission to make an incredible amount of music. But then also some of my friends who don't stick to conventions - shunning money and success and living a very honest life.
What are you passionate about? I love beautiful things, particularly delicate things. Artworks, sketchbooks, or food and cooking. I also like the meditative side as I've been practising Kyudo (The way of the bow - Japanese archery) for about 6 years.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I've heard so much about the child prodigy Mozart, I'd be interested to see what he was actually like.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? To one day make the finest bone china in England.
What are you reading? Illusions by Richard Bach - it's a tongue-in-cheek story of a reluctant messiah who has a phobia of crowds. It's become dog-eared as I got it in a secondhand bookshop and I keep going back to it. A wonderful book.
images courtesy of reiko kaneko
Monday, 25 October 2010
It's interesting which days in your life hold strong in your memory. For me one of the shoots for real living that stands out was at a house in Sydney's Dover Heights about three years ago. The place was stunning - all white curved walls and flooding light. The view was a panoramic 180-degrees of the ocean. And Sami Johnson (then known to me as Sam Moiler) was the stylist. She was busy but not flustered. And she created some beautiful spaces. Now that I've done some interior styling myself I'm still impressed with how calm Sami was. Since then she's moved to Byron Bay, worked as fashion editor for My Child magazine, volunteered for a month in a Balinese orphanage, moved back to Melbourne, opened The Assembly Hall and is now developing a range of linen for adults and kids. All the while still showing grace under pressure.
Which five words best describe you? Peacekeeper/creative/messy/visual/compassionate (I'm a sucker for a good cause).
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied photography at The Melbourne School of Art as well as completing a diploma in graphic design. I worked as a photography assistant until I realised that styling was an actual paid profession and I jumped ship. I freelanced and learnt the ropes in Melbourne before making the move to Sydney and taking up the role as head stylist at The Sydney Morning Herald. After spending 3 years at the paper I felt it was time to head back to the freelance world which allowed me to work for various publications, including one of my faves, Real Living. Being the gypsy that I am, this year has seen me move back to Melbourne and venture into the retail side of life, opening The Assembly Hall with long-time friend Jessica Bettenay.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust your instincts, everyone has a different style and way of doing things, you're never going to please everyone... and make a list! Every busy person needs a list (or 2).
What’s your proudest career achievement? Becoming established enough in my career that someone actually wants to interview me. I was once featured on an international blog; it blew me away that someone would be following my work.
What’s been your best decision? Late last year I decided to buy a plane ticket and fly to Bali to work in an orphanage for a month. Not only did the experience change my view of life, the plane ride actually change my life after I married the boy I sat next to on the plane! Truly the best decision I have ever made.
Who inspires you? On a personal level I'm inspired by those that give and live beyond themselves, that put others first and can see beyond their own needs. I've met some extraordinary people on my travels and I'm always inspired (and challenged) by those who live beyond their own circumstances. Professionally, I love the work of stylists Christine Rudolph and Megan Morton, both of who were obviously standing at the front of the line when God handed out talent.
What are you passionate about? Right now, renovating! We just bought an investment property and I'm loosing sleep running through all the ideas I have for the place. I do have an obsession with retro chairs, I collect all sorts of one-off pieces (much to my husband's dismay).... Also, kids. After volunteering for the past few years in kids church programs and in an orphanage, I plan on donating a percentage of the profits from my businesses to children's organisation in the countries we source from.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I've given this much thought and run through all the famous and influential people that might make most people's hit list, but to be honest I keep coming back to my own grandmother. My mum's mum passed away when she was just 15 and even though we've never met her, she is still a huge part of our family. She is spoken about often and I love watching my Pop's face light up when we ask about their life together; I truly would love to meet her.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Have a family, see more of the world and launch my linen ranges (both adult and kids) - plans being put in place as we speak.
What are you reading? The purpose driven life by Rick Warren - amazing: a must read.
images courtesy of sami johnson (nee moiler) and the assembly hall
Thursday, 21 October 2010
I just did another styling shoot today so my head is still in that space and I thought it was fitting to share some more images from the November issue of real living, which went on sale this week. I styled this outdoor table and chair feature months ago but because of scheduling it's only running now.
The day before the shoot I wasn't feeling well, and the morning of the shoot I was almost bedridden with the flu. But I couldn't bring myself to cancel. Not when photographer Armelle Habib had flown up to Sydney from Melbourne for the occasion. Products had been called in, a plan had been sketched out and a location as well as removalists had been booked. How could I back out?!
I didn't. And I didn't take any medication for fear it would make me drowsy. I felt dreadful. Luckily I had some lovely and helpful assistants, not to mention Armelle and her assistant Lucy, who both chipped in lugging furniture indoors and out because did I mention that it rained for most of the day. Well, actually it showered. We would take the furniture out, it would rain, we would lug it under cover again. And repeated this several times. At the same time a cover shoot was underway in the living room of the house which looked onto the garden. "Natalie, can you just stay to the left," called out a voice from inside. It didn't matter that I needed to set up on the right. All in a day's shooting, I'm fast learning.
Thankfully sometimes some shots fall into place. I just plonked a whole stack of goodies on the "Modern Australian" tabletop and walked away. When I turned back to adjust I realised that everything was sitting nicely together; I didn't need tweak. A rare but sweet moment.
images courtesy of real living (photography armelle habib; styling natalie walton)
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
It's interesting how a name conjures more than the words it describes. Especially when it relates to a business. Take Ginger & Smart. I never think of its actual meaning. To me, when I hear those words I think of my friend Jen who often wears the label, and everytime she does, I have to ask what she's wearing. I think of the number of times I've liked clothes in a magazine and checked the captions to discover they're Ginger & Smart. And I think of the two dresses I bought last summer which were incredibly beautiful if not a little impractical for me (white and silk do not mix with Vegemite hands on a two-year-old son). But I had to have those dresses. And so sisters Alexandra and Genevieve Smart are indeed smart women - not only in name but form.
Which five words best describe you? Intuitive, visual, busy, often late.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? The first paid work I had was doing undercut haircuts on girls after school. It was in the 80s and I received $5 for a cut. The Zimmermann sisters gave me my first job in design when I graduated from Fashion Design at East Sydney Technical College. After 3 years I went travelling, living and working in New York and London in fashion and dappled in costume for film. On returning home to Australia I worked as a designer for Lisa Ho.
The industry requires drive, passion and long hours. I realised that if I wanted to balance a family and a career in fashion then I would need some flexibility. My sister Alex and I came together about this time and began Ginger & Smart with a tiny range of products and a big vision. We love the creative freedom mixed with business savvy required to keep moving forward. It still feels like early days on the path for us even though the business is 8 years old.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I've learnt that to switch on creatively you have to learn to switch off sometimes.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I think often our big moments happen when we are in the eye of the storm and somehow numbed from feeling proud at the time... years later we realise it was a good moment. Opening our stores and our first orders from international department stores felt like this. Mostly for me it's the little moments when a bit of magic happens and I feel quietly chuffed. I hope our proudest moments are still to come.
What’s been your best decision? To combine talents with my sister Alexandra and start our business. It works us harder than any employer ever would yet somehow gives us the freedom to be mothers too.
Who inspires you? I'm drawn to interesting people with paradoxes and contradictions. Strong and gentle, feminine and boyish, naughty and sensible, glamorous and earthy...
What are you passionate about? The top 3 would be my husband, my daughter and our business, Ginger & Smart.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would have loved to see Nina Simone play in a dark New York club in the 60s, and I would have bought her a drink. Her music is so beautiful, moving and challenging. Wild is the Wind gets me every time.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I have so many. I would love to live in Paris with my little family for a while and for us to show the collections from there. My husband and I love architecture and dream of designing and building a home one day.
What are you reading? Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen J Dubner, as well as some old poetry books.
images courtesy of ginger & smart
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
As soon as I saw this book, I had to have it. I'm always on the hunt for inspiring kids rooms that are as much about style as substance. You could describe US author Susanna Salk in the same way. She helped launch Elle Decor and became a contributing editor. She later joined House & Garden as a special projects editor. Now she regularly contributes to NBC's Today Show, is a contributing editor for 1stdibs.com, and writes books, including A privileged life: celebrating WASP style and Weekend retreats. Most recently Room for children: stylish spaces for sleep and play was published by Rizzoli.
Which five words best describe you? Energised, focused, compassionate, sensitive, aware.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started at Conde Nast International with all the international shelter magazines like Vogue Decoration and British House & Garden. From there, Elle Decor, then House & Garden. When HG folded, I vowed to not ever associate myself with a magazine again and instead explore opportunities online (I am a 1st dibs contributing editor), television (I contribute on design for NBC's Today show), and books (my third book: Room for Children just debuted this June). I love how today many mediums and worlds can all cross-pollinate one another!
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Don't put off anything you could do right now and if you have a gut feeling about something, stand behind it. Inevitably it will seem like such an obvious good thing in hind sight.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Being able to achieve creative things while still working from home so I can see my family as much as possible.
What’s been your best decision? Moving to the area where we live: its not too rural nor too urban. We're close enough so that I can dash into NYC for meetings but we live on a lake surrounded by gorgeous land. (With a great sushi restaurant 10 minutes away!)
Who inspires you? My 2 boys. Nature, blogs, anything funny or poignant. The first family. People who are truthful and committed.
What are you passionate about? Family and friends, always.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Leonardo da Vinci.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Traveling as much as possible with my family.
What are you reading? Jonathan Franzen's Freedom of course
images courtesy of susanna salk
Monday, 18 October 2010
The November issue of real living went on sale today so I thought I would share with you one of the features I styled: "Store-bought storage". It was not an easy brief, mainly because there are not a massive amount of products that are NEW, which is a requisite for the category. If I was able to make/create/revamp storage, that would have been fine. But the "shopping" section is all about products that you can BUY. After much searching and research I did end up tracking down some good products, though. These included the screenprinted boxes from Bonnie & Neil, as well as some beautiful wooden containers from Citta Design.
I got to work with photographer Maree Homer, which was a real treat. She's not only incredibly kind and caring as a person, but she's highly experienced and so was a great teacher too.
images courtesy of real living and maree homer
Friday, 15 October 2010
Perhaps one of the hardest things you can do in life is change careers. It's easy to take the road that pays well, offers consistent work and is easy because you can do it without having to think, or worry. But when there's something burning away inside, all this common sense doesn't matter one little bit. Heather Nette King knew this. She had been working in PR but had a deep wish to be a writer and stylist for interior magazines. Now, she's cornered the market on the "My Space" page for the Sunday Life magazine. She's also a regular contributor for real living.
Which five words best describe you? Bowerbird, resourceful, unpretentious, colour-loving, reliable.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After school I did the PR degree at RMIT, then worked as a production assistant for a concert touring and actor management company (remember Jason Donovan? I was his PA during the Kylie years – hilarious fun). I then worked as a publicist at Channel Ten for years and years, working on every show from news, current affairs, daytime, dramas, etc. All that time I had a stash of homewares magazines under my desk, but I didn’t really know how to crack into the magazine industry. When we moved to Sydney in 2005 I vowed that as I was moving to the magazine capital of Australia I would somehow wrangle my way in. It was the gorgeous Aleksandra Beare, the art director for Sunday Life magazine who gave me my first break, doing the ‘my space’ page. I built up a folio from there.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Always try to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I can be a bit shy and reticent when approaching people, and have to constantly remind myself that being forthright isn’t necessarily being pushy.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Seeing my first byline in the Sunday Age/Sun Herald was very special, after years of writing press releases.
What’s been your best decision? To stop taking PR jobs to concentrate on styling and writing.
Who inspires you? All of my girlfriends. My mum. My very creative father-in-law Mick King, who at 70, is more out-there than I will ever be. My chalk and cheese daughters – I have a ballet dancing cello player and a guitar-playing Glee-freak. My lovely husband, Jeremy.
What are you passionate about? Colour. I recently spent five twelve- hour days doing a black and white shoot on a white cyclorama and the joy I felt each night when I came home to my colourful home was incredible. A life without colour is like sensory deprivation to me.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Grace Coddington. Her styling is so exquisite it makes me want to cry.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I am currently writing a pitch for a TV show with a very clever and stylish friend. We have a name, a synopsis, a star, and we are currently writing the episode outlines. My dream is to pitch it to, and get it picked up by a network. Then I will most likely have a panic attack at the thought of actually having to make it!
What are you reading? My favourite Australian author is Alex Miller, but I am currently working my way through a pile of orange Penguin classics. It’s a great way to fill any literary gaps you may have. I just read The Bodysurfers by Robert Drewe, High Fidelity by Nick Hornsby, Therese Raquin by Emile Zola and On The Road by Jack Kerouac.
images via heather nette king (my space images mike baker/fairfax; jane hall house chris warnes/real living)
Thursday, 14 October 2010
I often wonder - does being apart from your family and social networks in some ways give you more freedom to pursue your goals? Many people that I interview for Daily Imprint are expats. And while they might lose out on the benefits of being a local in some senses, they get the luxury of time to focus on their raison d'etre. Meet Leanne Carter-Taylor, who moved from the UK 11 years ago to Australia. Four years after landing on our shores she set up a beautiful fashion shop in Sydney's Balmain - DuckEggBLUE. More recently she has created its interior partner Quintessential DuckEggBLUE.
Which five words best describe you? Busy, creative, untidy, determined and decisive.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied fashion marketing & promotion at university and quickly secured a marketing manager's job in the UK for an established high street retailer... it all started from there. I learned the in’s and out’s of retail marketing, buying & visual merchandising, and progressed through the ranks at various retailers' head offices, until I left the UK in December 1999 to travel around Australia for 1 year with a tent and a car! After a few years heading up Amnesty International Australia’s buying & merchandising department, I then opened the first duckeggBLUE store 7 years ago, as I was a frustrated Balmain shopper with no where to shop that excited me or offered covetable ‘objects & clothes’ that I wanted to buy! In 2008 I opened our industrial & antique furniture store, quintessential duckeggBLUE, and haven’t looked back since.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Work hard... it’s not easy... but if you are passionate about what you believe in, then it makes it a whole lot easier.
What’s your proudest career achievement? The opening of our stores, especially the industrial furniture store, quintessential duckeggBLUE. I was always known for owning the fashion store, so furniture made a few heads turn. People don’t realise that I grew up in a house full of furniture and art. My father was a furniture maker & upholsterer so furniture has always been a huge part of my life. The two stores are now 4 doors apart from each other on Darling Street, Balmain, and if I say so myself, and I am not one to sing my own praises, far from it, I am very critical of all that I do, but I do believe that the 2 stores are simply the greatest destination stores in Australia. They both house only the most covetable women’s wear and furniture that can be found anywhere in Australia, all tastefully handpicked for our clients.
What’s been your best decision? Moving and setting up home in Australia. I would never have opened my own business in the UK – retail in the UK isn’t independent boutiques ‘friendly’, as there is too much high street completion. I am extremely fortunate to live and work in Balmain where the locals embrace and support covetable stores like mine.
Who inspires you? Terence Conran, UK fashion designer Sir Paul Smith - his stores are just beautiful, I could set up home in them!
What are you passionate about? My business, my dogs (they keep me sane), selected charities – especially supporting the homeless. My husband is a volunteer at a Sydney homeless shelter once a week, every week. I’m a sucker for buying copies of the Big Issue wherever I am in the world. My most recent copy had U2 on the front cover last week.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Living would have to be Bono. What more can I say – huge fan, some people get it, some don’t! Whatever... Dead would probably be the French impressionist painter and sculptor, Degas, or Andy Warhol. Oh how I would LOVE to own a Warhol!
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Opening up further stores. Perhaps a furniture store in Melbourne, who knows??? Travel - a huge passion of mine. I have never visited Italy so the Almalfi coast is a must, Berlin for its furniture stores, Whistler for skiing, Canada for whale watching, the Hamptons for Autumn....the list continues!
What are you reading? Blogs! Mrs. Press has a great whimsical blog, that’s a little bit cheeky and very girlie... she’s a great writer. Oh to have the time to update my blog as often as Mrs. Press does hers! Paul Smith's blog is also a great read. I never seem to pick up a book at the moment, and if I do it’s what I like to call a "picture book"!!!! Inspiration by Terence Conran has been a favorite for the past 12 months!
images courtesy of duck egg blue
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
I'm always interested to hear stories about people who have more than one "job". Because some would say that you should focus on one thing and do it well. But what happens if you have multiple interests or, dare I say it, talents? Emma Cassi is a shining example of someone who manages to juggle many roles with aplomb. She is a jewellery designer and stylist. Her home has been featured in several magazines and her work is stocked by Anthropologie, among others. Eleven years ago she moved from her native France to London to live and work.
Which five words best describe you? Petite, French, creative, shy, organised.
What was your first job/career and what path have you taken since? The first job I loved was as a waitress in an auberge l'Aubrac, a region lost in the middle of France countryside. I started to make small bags and jewellery when I moved to London 11 years ago. My first office job was junior designer at Country Living magazine. I learned about styling, met photographers and this was my first steps into styling.
What's the best lesson you've learnt along the way? It takes several years before your work or creations get where you want them to be.
What's your proudest career achievement? I always said I wanted to live with what I was making with my hands and I am doing it.
What's been your best decision? Following Bertrand (my husband) from Dijon (France) to London.
Who inspires you? Louise Bourgeois, Sarah Moon, Alice (my best friend who works in a shop in France called Les Appartements de Juju) dressed in Dries van Noten and Isabel Marant.
What are you passionate about? Make sure my children will grow up as passionate people and travel the world with my family.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Today I would love to meet Ramdane but it could change tomorrow... (he is the creative director of the Candle Cire Trudon)
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I really wanted to sell my jewellery in New York and I'm currently working on a collection for Anthropologie. I'd love to sell in Liberty (London) and work with Dries van Noten on a collection.
What are you reading? Only French books at the moment. Les yeux jaunes des crocodiles de Katherine Pancol. I read Murakami because I love Japan.
images courtesy emma cassi, elle decoration uk and sayaka hirakawa