Thursday, 27 September 2012

artist melinda schawel








Travel often informs the art of Melinda Schawel. It was during her first trip to Japan that she became absorbed in that country's art forms, which led her to enrol in printmaking on her return to Australia. More recently, after living in the USA for four years, Melinda is back again in Melbourne, and has used the experience as a starting point for her latest exhibition Torn. The exhibition runs until September 29 at Flinders Lane Gallery in Melbourne. Melinda has been practising as an artist for 15 years, and her work has been collected by the National Gallery of Australia, Artbank and the Royal Museum of Fine Art, Antwerp in Belgium.

Which five words best describe you? Adaptable, independent, tenacious, adventurous, happy.
How have you progressed to a career as an artist? I moved to Japan after graduating from university in 1993 and without language skills or friends to pass the time became absorbed in Japanese arts - ikebana, sumi-e (brush painting), washi (paper making). When I returned to Australia in 1995, I enrolled to do my honours in printmaking at RMIT, and fortuitously landed a job soon after with Port Jackson Press Australia who published original prints. I got the opportunity to work with many talented artists and that’s where it all started for me really. Several international moves, nearly 20 years and 2 kids later, I feel my work/career is still continually evolving. 
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Establishing a healthy balance between work and personal life is key, so that when one breaks down, the other can fill the gap for a while. 
What was the starting point for this exhibition? My return from overseas earlier this year, and a lifetime of transitions.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I hope I haven’t had it yet.
What’s been your best decision? Getting on that plane in 1990 for my first overseas trip. 
Who inspires you? Crazy people on NYC streets, children drawing, Rosalie Gascoigne, Blu, The Moth storytellers, dancers, anyone who has a go at trying something they’ve never done before
What are you passionate about? Music, summer fruits, motherhood, the ocean, beautifully worn surfaces, good friends, making art.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? There isn’t one person that I would single out, but I always thought it would be interesting to get both sets of grandparents and great grandparents together for a lengthy Q&A session. 
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To live in or at least explore all seven continents.
What are you reading? Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point has just made its way back to the bookshelf unfinished. Was recently given Patti Smith’s Just Kids by a good friend, which sadly was the first book I’ve read in a while after becoming addicted to podcasting - Studio 360, Fresh Air, This American Life, LNL.

images courtesy of melinda schawel and flinders lane gallery

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

jewellery designer emilie austin






Jewellery designer Emilie Austin is inspired by Elvis and American culture, but she is unmistakably French. When we first met, her young bilingual daughter sat at the coffee table in their living room eating petit portions of food in small ceramic cups and bowls. There is a way of living that belongs to the French. It involves a particular attention to detail without being overly formal. This is how Emilie lives her life, although she adds a bohemian and rock 'n' roll aesthetic to the mix, which plays out through her jewellery range Elvis Et Moi. During the visit to her home, Emilie spoke about her plans to expand into leather goods. You can catch a sneak peek of her upcoming range here.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, creative, ambitious, optimistic, disciplined.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have always been creative, I just didn’t know how to express it. Then I started to work with jewellery and studying its history. Using my hands was like a revelation, almost like a gateway to my creative nature. Working with metal is humbling, it is ancient, it is traditional, it can last for many years and have many different points of importance for different people. I like to think of jewellery as the missing piece of an outfit, it just finishes it perfectly. Voilà!
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? No matter what - always follow your intuition.
What’s your proudest career achievement? To see people in the street wearing Elvis et moi.
What’s been your best decision? To quit everything and concentrate on Elvis et moi 100 per cent.
Who inspires you? I collect a lot of magazines and literature on rock music from the 50s though to the 90s. I look at what they wear, how they wear it, the rock stars of the years gone by and their style. I draw inspiration from them. A lot of my beautiful friends also inspire me.
What are you passionate about? Arts in every way you can express it. If I have to pick two, I will say cinema and music. I couldn’t live without music and motion pictures.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Elvis would be too obvious, so I would pick Jim Morrison, and will ask him to read me some of his beautiful poems.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? Go to America, take route 66, buy some vintage Santiags boots in Las Vegas, then, of course, Graceland in Memphis. And explore every corner of NY.

images courtesy of emilie austin





Tuesday, 25 September 2012

art consultant romy paltoglou










It wasn’t until Romy Paltoglou's first child was born that she realised how precious time was. This prompted her to combine her business knowledge with her love for underground “street” art – Alleycat Creative was born. The art consultancy links talented underground artists with businesses. The Bridge Hotel in Melbourne, Movember foundation and QV Melbourne are all clients.

Which five words best describe you? Creative, curious, visual, lateral thinking.
How did your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied a bachelor of business and then horticulture. My first job luckily combined both these degrees - I worked with a commodity house trading crops of dry ingredients (nuts and dry fruit). I always had a strong passion for emerging artists in Melbourne yet worked in the corporate world until my first child was born in 2009. Time suddenly became more valuable to me and I chose to align my professional work with my passion for art so I started my business, Alleycat Creative. Alleycat Creative acts like a bridge connecting underground artists (street artists) with architects, interior designers, businesses and private individuals.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Building the relationships (and friendships) with this diverse group of incredibly talented artists.
What’s been your best decision? To leave the corporate world to climb ladders and wear gumboots every day.
Who inspires you? Musicians Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen. Artists. My husband, Pete.
What are you passionate about? Melbourne laneways and the way street art can make unexpected, gritty, neglected spaces shine.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Banksy
What dream do you still want to fulfill? To travel and travel some more. Keep learning and never stop.
What are you reading? Seven spiritual laws of success by Deepak Chopra. I now have an 11-month-old daughter so reading is tricky. This book is the first in a year. It’s short, but rich.


images courtesy of alleycat creative

Monday, 24 September 2012

shop owners amy & brett morris







When I visited New York last year Amy Morris not only opened her home to me (to shoot for Marie Claire) but also her contact list - she organised welcoming drinks with a group of design types at downtown bar Smith & Mills. That's who she is: open, friendly, generous and a total New Yorker. She's also a great conversationalist, who is passionate about design. Amy has been working in offshoots of the industry for years. And just as she embodies so many of the characteristics that signify a classic New Yorker, so too does her husband Brett embody the personality of a Brisbanite. He is calm and laid-back, and has a dry sense of humour. They are perfect foils for each other - in life and their business, Morris EtcTogether they import hand-woven vintage rugs from Peru - after discovering them while on holiday. They will have a new selection of pillows online mid-October too.

Which five words best describe you? Dr Chill and Mrs Not So Chill. I’ll share a story that still makes me laugh because it truly captures us. One afternoon Brett said something funny and I couldn’t stop laughing so he started marching around the room clapping as he said “Brett is Funny, Brett is Fun, Brett is Funny…” and I turn to him and says, “What about Amy?” He didn’t miss a step, continuing his clap he said, “Amy is efficient, Amy is efficient…” We both had a good laugh.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since?
Morris Etc. came out of my love of design and Brett's desire to run our own business. The path we have taken since continues to be an expression of our creative desires. Olga Naiman [DI interview here] and I have started a design consultancy called Anchor Council and are pitching a Brooklyn Café for our first project. Brett still enjoys running the business, exploring his writing and horse breeding.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Photography is everything when selling online. Make sure you hire a photographer who cares as much about the shoot as you do.
What’s your proudest career achievement? In building Morris Etc. we’ve both been surprised by our compatibility despite our extremely different approaches.
What’s been your best decision? Listening to our instincts.
What inspires you?
Brett: Music, a colourful sentence and clear blue water filled with colorful fish.
Amy: Friends, markets, New York and badly designed spaces.
What are you passionate about?
Brett: Racehorses, swimming and travel.
Amy: Design, technology, yoga and travel.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Amy: Brett's late sister, Joanne; Mary Louise Parker; Stephen Alesch.
What dream do you still want to fulfil?
Brett: Breed a racehorse and live half the year in Australia.
Amy: Re-invent/re-design a motel in Australia.
What are you reading?
Brett: The wind-up bird chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Amy: Just kids by Patti Smith

images courtesy of morris etc

Friday, 21 September 2012

designer ali shaw









Sometimes when you need something for your home, and you can't quite find it, an idea might pop into your head for a business. For Ali Shaw, and her husband Ryan, they took it one step further. They decided to start producing homewares. White Horse Home is the name of their company, and they have recently released a range of locally made cushions and wall wares. Candles and other treats are on their way.

Which five words best describe you? After a bit of self-reflection - and then asking my husband: wife, mama, loyal, perfectionist, generous.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I began my career worlds away from homewares - as a trained preschool teacher, then private nanny. My husband, who runs a product sourcing company and has a background in fashion design, and I share a love for interiors and good design. Homewares was something that we always wanted to do. When we moved into our first home we started filling it with things we'd created, and before long decided to turn it into a business.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Still early days, there's so much ahead for us to learn. But I would say I've learnt it's better to ask stupid questions than to make stupid mistakes.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Seeing our products in peoples' homes will never ever grow old. It's a small thing, but powerful all the same for me. Since starting, we've received some great feedback from people in the industry who we really admire, so that has been a great encouragement to grow our little range into something bigger.
What’s been your best decision? Professionally: to quit my day job.
Who inspires you? Anyone who takes a risk and isn't scared to think outside the box. Thankfully, a lot of our close friends fit into this category.
What are you passionate about? So many things. But most of all, our little family. We have a beautiful two year old daughter, Luxe. She makes every day so much fun.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’d really like to meet Richard Branson. I admire his relaxed attitude to business, and how he’s committed to making his ideas happen. His books are a good read.  
What dream do you still want to fulfil? So many dreams but one is to move to the country. As much as we love the city, to build a home and studio on a nice big farm (near the coast) is a dream we're working towardsIn the meantime, drawing house plans and regularly fleeing down south keeps a smile on our faces.
What are you reading? Gee. Well it's terribly intellectual: a mix of Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy and Angelina Ballerina. These are Luxe's two favourite books. And even though I can just about recite them both entirely, I wouldn't have it any other way!

images courtesy of white horse home

Thursday, 20 September 2012

ceramicist hayden youlley






Hayden Youlley took a leap of faith during his studies at the respected Sydney art college COFA. He had never worked with clay before, but he decided to major in ceramics. It was a decision that has paid off. He's been working with the medium ever since, and has picked up stockists such as Pure and General for his launch "Paper Series" collection, photographed by Amanda Prior (read her interview here). Next up, Hayden plans to release a range of lighting.


Which five words best describe you? On top of the world!

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After completing a Bachelor of Design from the College of Fine Arts UNSW, majoring in ceramics and applied object design, I was working part time and spent the rest of my time completing my first range of ceramics. That process took about 10 months, from start to finish. The whole time I was focusing on the goal of being able to quit my day job and spend the rest of my days having fun throwing mud around the studio. So far it’s all going to plan.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Start small, jump in headfirst, ask for help and learn as much as you can while you go.

What’s your proudest career achievement? It’s only been six months since I started the company. It’s all still very new. When it happens, I’ll be sure to let you know.

What’s been your best decision? Making ceramics the undergraduate major of my design degree without having ever touched clay before in my life. I followed my gut feeling and that totally paid off.

Who inspires you? My family and friends. They never stop encouraging and helping me to be better.

What are you passionate about? Soccer, surfing, hand-crafted design and ice-cream.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Wikipedia is telling me its Bernardo Buontalenti from way back in 1565. The first person to create gelato - absolute genius. This guy deserves a big hug!

What dream do you still want to fulfill? Surf the backdoor of pipeline on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

What are you reading? At home: a short history of private life by Bill Bryson


images courtesy of hayden youlley and amanda prior

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

leah robins's surry hills apartment


There are some people who talk the talk. Then there are those who walk the walk. You've met Leah Robins previously - when I interviewed her here. She spoke about simplifying her life and de-cluttering. Well, her home - shot by Warnes & Walton - in the latest real living magazine shows just how she did that - going from a three-bedroom house to a one-bedroom apartment.

When I interviewed Leah she also said something that stuck:

"The house has so many qualities that we aim for when sourcing products for The Minimalist," Leah says. "It was built to last, using traditional techniques and transcends most fashion trends and styles. It is unique and one of a kind."

images courtesy of real living magazine; photography chris warnes/warnes & walton; styling natalie walton/warnes & walton

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

interior stylist graham moss






Graham Moss, an American who grew up in Australia, has always had an eye for detail. He spent his childhood creating murals on his bedroom wall and building makeshift furniture from his toy building blocks. After a career in the corporate world, Graham accidentally fell into interior styling. It turns out he was a natural. Since then Graham has started his own interior styling business in New York and has worked alongside interiors and lifestyle guru Martha Stewart. Also, his home in Harlem was recently featured in Vogue Living.


Which five words best describe you? Meticulous, empathetic, diverse, progressive, lateral.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? This career started completely by accident. I was working in corporate branding for many years, and used my own living environment as a means of creative expression. After my place was discovered by Vogue Living and various blogs, people just started asking me to help them with their own environments, to the degree that it somehow morphed into a full-time job.

The path that's presented itself has been one of creating residential interiors in the city of New York - the architectural envelope and the decoration of them. Each situation is totally different and I am constantly invigorated and challenged by the unique circumstances of every project.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To always test limits - those of my clients as well as those of myself. It almost always pays off and makes for a better quality, more exciting and satisfying outcome.

What’s your proudest career achievement? One day out of the blue I was asked to co-host the Martha Stewart radio show - it was surreal, a true honour and a privilege to even be asked. Martha is a real inspiration in terms of her own life achievements. I love how she actually possesses true skill and talent. She is in charge of an empire and yet she still appears to get her hands dirty, literally and figuratively. I'm hoping one of my current projects is going to be a bit of a milestone. It's a beautiful apartment I am working on for a couple with eight children!

What’s been your best decision? To take risks - not just in my work, but in most aspects of life. As long as they're considered and 'educated' risks it's what puts you ahead of the pack I think (if they pay off, of course.)

Who inspires you? I love Kelly Wearstler and I love Jonathan Adler. Not just their style but also what they've achieved with their brands by being themselves and not straying from that. They also seem like fun, genuine people I'd like to know!

What are you passionate about? I'm passionate about keeping things real, keeping things in perspective, seeing things for what they are, staying as down to earth as possible.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would love to meet some of modern history's true style icons. Especially the ones who've broken ground successfully, and the ones who've got strong personas with a touch of the eccentric genius about them like Andy Warhol, David LaChappelle, Katherine Hepburn, Picasso, Yves Saint Laurent.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I still have not quite managed to find a healthy balance between work and relaxation - a few more holidays and a little less work would be a dream come true.

What are you reading? I just finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - amazing, uplifting, what a life lesson. I want to read it again! I’m about to embark on The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.


images courtesy of graham moss; portrait vogue living (via busy being fabulous)

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