Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Christien Meindertsma

Shots of Christien Meindertsma's incredible rugs, handknitted from the wool of 18 merino sheep (on very oversized knitting needles)... I want one! - All images from Christien Meindertsma's Flocks website

After seeing Christien Meindertsma's gorgeous 'Urchin' knitted poufs in all the Milan photos around the place, I found myself googling to find out a little more about her. She's done some amazing projects... I love Dutch Design! The more I read, the more I am engrossed by the work coming from this part 0f the world...

Dutch design is well documented for being kooky and playful. On a deeper level, I also find that so many Dutch designers have a really thoughtful, considered and almost holistic approach to their work. I often read of designers and companies working on projects that would almost be considered art installation or performance art elsewhere... yet in Holland they are encouraged and embraced as respected and marketable products and ideas! A great example is Marije Vogelzang's work in food design (I mentioned her fantastic company Proef a while ago). The same can certainly be said of the work of Christien Meindertsma. (note - I just discovered both of these fantastic young designers studied at the famed Design Academy Eindhoven... interesting...)

Christien's ongoing Flocks project sensitively explores issues of consumerism and the lost connection between primary industry (farmers) and final consumer. Christien works with farmers to create garments from individual animals - ie the wool of one sheep is used for the creation of one cardigan, and the fur of one rabbit is used for one pair of mittens... The animal's ear tag and details are then attached to the final product made from it's wool. The result are simple, beautifully designed knitted garments and homewares, with a real sense of history and connection to their origins on the land.

Flocks cardigan (above) and close up details of sheep 006 from the cardigan (below)

Mittens - notice the rabbit's eartag attached!

Urchin Poufs knitted in heavy felted wool (as seen at Milan Design Week this year)

Oh, and I don't know why this is important but on Christien's website is says she was born in 1980. AAgghh! Over-achiever alert! Little details like that always make me sit up and take notice!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Milan 2008 favourites

Lampara by Rodolfa Gracia Yus for Cafe Bistro - seen at the Remade in Italy exhibit - via DesignBoom

As I mentioned the other day, Milan Design Week came and went this year with lightening speed... I'm still catching up on all the photo galleries, and can't understand how the lucky Salone-goers get to everything in 5 days... and still party all night! It seems to me like you'd need at least 2 weeks to see it all!

Core 77 has the best coverage of Milan Design Week 08, in my opinion. Features include a comprehensive photo gallery (306 images) and a great little collection of 'drive by' videos of individual exhibits (the closest you can get to being there without being there!). Core 77 coverage always maintains a great balance between all the big-name important stuff, and the fun stuff - parties, kooky satellite events and, of course, a fair chunk of all-important people watching! This year they've also got a round up of ALL their Milan posts in one place, listed by category and content. No more wading through advertisements to get to the good stuff. Love it.

Other great round-ups at Inhabitat, DesignBoom (massive photo collection here grouped into categories by designer) and MocoLoco.... some more of my fave pics from all over below.

Urchin hand knitted woolen poufs by Christien Meindertsma - shown at TuttoBeNe - top image via inhabitat, bottom image from Core 77

Bouquet Chair by Tokujin Yoshioka for Moroso - via Inhabitat

Guerrilla Containers by Stone Designs - from the Spanish design exhibit - via Core 77

Layers by Richard Hutten - via DesignBoom (look familiar??)

Merijn Van Essen’s Grow Sphere encourages human interactions with plants by lighting up when you approach the sphere - via inhabitat

corian loves missoni - via designboom

Veneer Bag by Cecilie Manz for Japanese company E & Y - via Core 77

Plaited Fence (those are plastic bags...!) by Martin Azua for Droog - via Inhabitat

Saving Grace glass light shades (designed around energy saving light globes) by Adrian Rovero for Droog - via Inhabitat

George - oak three tiered chest of drawers by Gareth Neal

Monday, April 28, 2008

Interview - Lara Cameron

Melbourne textile designer Lara Cameron - photo by Marcel Lee at Bulb Studios

Lara's latest pattern design (just posted on her blog last week)

my favourite of Lara'a patterns - 'Riverside Birch'

more pattern design - 'seaweed'

cute kitchenny pattern design

a gorgeous lamp Lara made using one of her own prints - this pattern is 'adventures with riverside friends'

'Riverside Birch' lamp

gocco-printed notebooks printed by hand

Somehow, Lara Cameron slipped under my radar until only a few weeks ago. I've seen her stunning work around town and on the web... but for some crazy reason, it took me a little while to stumble across her blog. How does this happen? Shameful! I must make more effort to keep in the loop!

Lara studied Multimedia at Swinburne in Melbourne, and after graduating started work as an interactive and graphic designer. She still does all that grown-up computer stuff... but her true love is fabric design, and her stunning work is gradually gaining her a lot of fans. Her work is a careful balance of Japanese-influenced playful illustration, with Scandinavian-inspired clean lines and unfussy patterns. Her colour combinations are always spot-on - my favourites are her mustard yellows and deep teal greens... but I've always got time for a bit of dusty pink too!

Melburnians (and possibly Sydney-siders too?) probably saw Lara featured in The Age's M magazine last weekend in a feature about young Australian designers to watch! There's also a lot of Lara on the web.. get your fix at her gorgeous blog, her online shop, or trawl her beautiful photos on Flickr. But first - read the interview! An insight into Lara's creative inspirations and her blossoming business, plus, of course, a round-up of her favourite spots in Melbourne.

Tell me a little about your background - what did you study and what path led you to what you’re doing now?

I started off studying for a Bachelor of Multimedia majoring in Media Studies, at Swinburne Uni. Once I graduated I worked for myself as an interactive and graphic designer, which I still do on the side.

Then about 2 years ago I started a design blog, where I was posting about random creative stuff that I was doing. It was supposed to be a means of encouraging myself to experiment more – I was feeling a bit stale. I began experimenting with pattern design, and really enjoyed the mix of creative & technical skills that it required to get a design to repeat seamlessly.

Anyway, I got so many positive comments from my blog reader about my patterns, that I decided to do something about it! Textiles was actually the most viable – I could start off with a short run, unlike other printed products. And hence my textiles business began!

Your work is so varied! From illustration to corporate graphic design work, to working on your own range of gorgeous fabric designs… How do you balance these different elements of your business? Do you find they complement each other well?

I really enjoy working on a wide range of projects – it keeps me on my toes. Currently it’s a good mix of the more ‘boring’ work that pays well, and then the more rewarding, personal work that doesn’t pay quite so well. There’s a lot of overlap in the skills required which is good.

Lara's workspace - photo by Marcell Lee at Bulb Studios

You are one of a growing number of home-based designers with popular blogs! Do you see your blog as a way to connect with other like-minded designers, or with potential customers/clients? How much of your web-presence is a personal outlet, and how much of it is based on promoting your work?

My blog is definitely a key way that I connect with both like minded designers, also potential customers. I’ve met some fantastic fellow textile designers through my blog (Shannon Lamden, Kristen Doran, Bianca Van Meeuwen, Danielle Smeets) and heaps of other lovely creative folk around the world. I do also use it as a way to connect with potential customers, but I try to just be myself at the same time. I don’t use it as a place to talk about my personal life and problems, but I do try to keep it from being too salesy.

You have had some really interesting international collaborations – such as your letterpress cards printed in the US, and your work available through Moo in the UK. How have these international contacts come about? Do you have plans for any other creative collaborations in the future?

All of my international collaborations have come about through blogging / online communities. Lynn from Satsuma Press and I used to read each other’s blogs. As for Moo, I uploaded a photo of some Moo cards I had printed to a Moo Flickr set, and they contacted me as a result!

How do potential clients/customers find you? Do you ‘market’ yourself?

Apart from posting on my blog, I do no promotional work at all – it’s great! People find my blog and my work through word of mouth. If they like it they keep coming back and tell other people. ‘Sidebar links’ on other people’s blogs also help people to find my site.

Which designers, artists or creative people are you inspired by?

All of the other designers in our little fabric mafia (Shannon Lamden, Kristen Doran, Bianca Van Meeuwen, Danielle Smeets). Also Cloth Fabric Australia, Spacecraft, Holly Daze and Heather Moore (Skinny La Minx) from South Africa.

Where else do you find inspiration?

I’m generally inspired by Melbourne city: it’s people, architecture, cafes and fantastic art/craft/design communities. I’m also inspired by nature & organic forms, and urban environments. Most of all I’m inspired by all of the fantastically creative folk in the blogosphere.

some of Lara's sketchbook pages

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Ooh I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a typical day! When I’ve just received some fabric back from the printer my days are spent rerolling bolts of fabric, taking product photos, listing items in my shop, cutting and packing orders and lugging them to the post office. It’s a nice change from the other days where I spend a lot of time at the computer.

What are you most proud of professionally?

Hmm that’s tough! I guess I’m most proud of how much I have developed professionally in the last year. Where I was then and where I am now are two completely different places – it’s changed me as a person too. I’m a lot more confident and content in myself.

What's the best thing about your job?

Complete creative freedom and control :)

And the worst?

Currently, probably the isolation of working alone. But that’ll change soon when I finally move into some shared studio space.

What would be your dream project?

Oooh, probably to collaborate with someone like a wood worker who I could make awesome homewares products with. Like beautiful wooden handmade benches with printed seat cushions on them, and lampshades with beautiful wooden bases or lampshade frames.

What are you looking forward to – professionally or personally?

Just seeing where my business goes next. I can definitely see how it could grow and improve, and I look forward to making that happen, bit by bit.

Melbourne Questions –

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

It wasn’t the fanciest meal ever (still delicious), but it was the environment that totally did it for me – a bowl of soup for lunch at the new Auction Rooms cafĂ© in North Melbourne. The fitout is awesome.

Best fabric shop in Melbourne?

Hmm, I don’t actually frequent fabric stores that often! Some of my favourite crafty stores in general though are Meet Me at Mikes, Thread Den and Patchwork on Central Park (they’ve all been very supportive).

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Ideally, having brunch with my girly friends at The Hot Poppy in North Melbourne :)

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

The derelict yet beautiful, parquetry floored ballroom inside Flinders Street Station. I’ve only ever seen photos but I would LOVE to set foot inside that room one day.

Thanks so much for your time Lara! - Lucy :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

anzac day

Mina Perhonen fabric... I think? forgive the vagueness - this gorgeous print has been sitting on my desktop for quite some time...

A little apology to all the lovely readers who visit here from all over the world... I feel guilty not posting but today is a public holiday here in Australia (Anzac day), and I have gotten into the habit of not posting on public holidays! Probably quite silly given that so many readers are elsewhere in the world but anyway...

I'll be back next week with many exciting things in store... not 1 but 2 interviews with a couple of very talented young ladies... a fair whack of textile design... the usual Melbourne recommendations, and a round-up of my favourite web-finds from Milan Design week... Exciting stuff!

Have a great long weekend... mine will be all about home cooked dinners, bathroom DIY and hot water bottles. Mmmm toasty. See you Monday morning! :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Journal Canteen

Sooo... Journal Cafe was already my favourite cafe in the CBD... great food, relaxed atmosphere.. busy but not too busy... and, of course, a fantastic fit-out. So it's surprising it has taken me this long to finally visit Journal's lunchtime offshoot - Canteen.

Journal Canteen is the successful result of a very simple premise. It's a no-nonsense lunch spot - it's tucked in a room upstairs off the main street (the clientele aren't passers-by, they're regulars), it's only open for lunch (12.00-3.30 weekdays), it has a limited but very tasty menu, and the service is super-quick (you can be in, fed, and out again in 30 mins). On offer daily is an antipasto selection, a soup, 3 mains and 1 dessert option. The staff are great, but they don't encourage lingering - there's no reading material... and not even a coffee machine - but you can order a stovetop espresso, or pop downstairs to Journal after your meal for a caffeine fix. Canteen is all about great food, plain and simple - no fanfare, no fuss.

Design-wise, Canteen has all the hallmarks we've come to expect from the CBD's boiling pot of independent cafes and eateries... The interior is typically utilitarian - the space is furnished mainly with communal tables and school chairs (yeah, getting a bit everywhere but they do look good). The large, older style windows offer excellent natural light... and the kitchen is open and visible to the dining room - so you can see, hear and smell the chefs at work. Love that! In fact, apparently the CAE offers cooking classes and demonstrations in this very space in the evenings... which would be great! Must research that.

Overall... a great lunch-time experience. I recommend the entree-sized antipasto. The perfect combination of meats, cheeses and vegies... just enough variety for 1 hungry person, and the best value on the menu at just $15.00.

Journal Canteen
Level 1, 253 Flinders Lane
Melbourne CBD

pssst - another great review by Gourmet Traveller is here

Delicious antipasto. highlights - thinly shaved marinated zucchini, creamy eggplant in a napoli-style sauce, and roasted red capsicum with tasty salami... mmm..

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

technical difficulties...

Yikes... I'm having some technical difficulties with blogger... it seems many of my photos are invisible. I am working on it!

In the meantime, all photos seem to work if you click on the article's header, to view each article independently.

Sorry for the inconvenience! I think there are just too many photos on here at the moment... it's stressing blogger out. Will probably need to shrink and re-upload a lot of them....boooorring. :)

Vogue Living May/June

My favourite shot this issue - so stylised... love the limited colour palette too. Can't go wrong with black/white/red.

More red spots here, in the form of 'Growing/Falling' wallpaper by Ilias Fotopoulos. I love the gradual dissipation of those tiny dots into nothing... beautiful, brave and unique.

Both shots above are from the stunning Bachelor-pad of famed New York interior designer Thomas O'Brien. I'm sure I've seen this exact spread before... must have been in an international mag. Oh well... still gorgeous.

This shot from a feature on the Sydney home of Interior Designer Michael Bechara

The latest Vogue Living arrived at my door yesterday... this issue is all about polka dots and spots - on everything from fabrics to wallpapers (love it!), Aussie expats with extravagant homes in France (gorgeous yes, but 'bohemian'... not really), and Sydney-siders with just a tad more money than taste (yes that means you Justin Hemmes).

This issue is a smidgen(?) less exciting than usual... generally the features drip a little too much $$$ , whereas I tend to prefer a bit of balance by inclusion of the odd creative, eclectic, vaguely attainable-looking interior. ANYWAY can't be too scathing... it's still choc-full of the eye-candy we've come to know and love from Australia's best interior magazine.

One of the best shots in this issue... this little image was hidden way up the back in the social pages. It's taken from the opening of Hub's new-ish store in Sydney, and features a pom-pom installation by Sandra Foti. I want one!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Milan 2008 - Anouk Omlo

Helica Carnea by Anouk Omlo (profile view)

Helica Carnea by Anouk Omlo (top view)
All images via Inhabitat

ooooh another year of Milan Design Week has already been and gone, and once again I haven't made it there! Maybe next year. Luckily there's so much coverage on the net, you can get your annual fix of international design without the jet lag (or price tag).

Inhabitat's 2008 Milan coverage started with the gorgeous ceramic work of Dutch designer, Anouk Omlo. Her ‘Helica Series’ reflects the shift in high end design towards handcrafted, decorative flourishes, and a gradual move away from the minimalism that has saturated the market in recent years.

The Helica Series is inspired by the mathematical repeating patterns found in nature. I love the soft pink/brown hues, and the delicate shapes of each pointed petal... gorgeous stuff. What do you do with it? I don't know. Does it matter?

Omlo's work is exhibited as part of the Dutch collective Design Factory Brainport Eindhoven, and can be found in the Zona Tortona area. (actually the Design Factory website is worth a browse for more kooky dutch designs...)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Interview - Wei Ying Ang

Ever since she picked up a camera, Melbourne-based photographer Wei Ying Ang began to see things in a new way. The world around her became a richer place, suddenly full of moments she felt an urge to record and remember. Ying sees her craft as a way of glorifying everything that is beautiful and worthy of notice and appreciation in the world - a child's effortless and beaming smile, a twinkling green expanse of ocean, or the simple beauty of a tangled string of light globes.

Ying's passion is travel, and travel photography is her first love. Her website and Flickr account are full of stunning travel shots so candid you feel almost part of the scene. Her fashion and corporate work, though, is no less engaging - again, the shots are characterised by a candidness, and an almost voyeuristic feel. The framing of each shot seems so unstructured - spontaneous, even. These shots aren't perfect - the figures might blur with movement, the location might be grubby, the stylist's hand might be visible at the edge of the frame... but it's these imperfections that give Ying's work a natural-ness not often seen in high-end fashion photography.

Ying discovered photography quite by accident - she never intended to pursue such a creative career... and it took some convincing to show her parents that a career in photography was a worthy outcome after years at uni studying business and political science! I think it's so brave to step away from years of training, and pursue something completely different, based only on a burning passion that you can't ignore! It's also inspiring to be reminded that you can make a career out of what you love - regardless of your training or experience. Just get started!

(But read this interview first!)

Tell me a little about your background - what did you study and what path led you to what you’re doing now?

I actually never went to university to study photography. In fact, I had never envisioned myself in a creative field as a working professional at all. All my tertiary education was originally in the general sciences, business and political science. Photography was a by-product of a trip to Europe after I finished my post-grad in Asian Studies, when I was 22 years old. As soon as I started taking pictures, I knew I was hooked and nothing else could come close to matching this desire to paint with light, so to speak.

What are some of your projects/clients that we might be familiar with?

I’ve participated in a few general group exhibitions in Australia, including the CCP Autumn Kodak Salon and the Schubert Ulrick Prize, as well as 2 solo exhibits – one in New York and one in Queensland, where I went to high school. A couple of my clients include Circle on Cavill and one of my favourites, the girls behind the fashion label Sewn.

Working for yourself can be really difficult for creative people. What are the challenges you have faced working for yourself – do you struggle with the business side of things, for motivation to get started on a project, or marketing yourself? Do you collaborate with other creatives?

Working for myself has actually been wonderful. I never intended to start my own freelance photography business in the first place, so it was a pleasant surprise when everything just seemed to fall into place and people started to hire me to do the thing that I loved the most. I began my website almost in the same fashion as one would print a book. Its purpose was merely a viewing platform for pleasure, not commercial purposes. It eventually evolved to fill the growing demand for clients to see a wider variation of my work and a way to keep updated with my portfolio. Also, I think that I’ve been exceptionally lucky with the business side because I was originally trained in that industry and am used to meeting deadlines and working to a brief with clients. I’ve always been a people person as well, so there are definitely plans in the future to collaborate with more creatives, especially other photographers.

which designers, artists or creative people you look up to or are inspired by?

I am so inspired by other photographers that work in all different sectors of the industry. Photographers like Nan Goldin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, di Lorcia, Juergen Teller, Dominic Nahr and Ryan McGinley, not to mention countless others that put themselves on the very edge of what they do to bring different perspectives on the great variation and diversity of human life, never fail to amaze me. Film directors have a huge impact on me as well, particularly the music video work of Chris Cunningham, Mark Romanek and Michel Gondry. I am also having a little love affair with documentary photography at the moment and would like to do more of that in the near future.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

No days are typical! I travel so much and am always in a different place doing different things and each job is always different because as a creative, you are always called upon to bring something new and fresh to the table. I spend a lot of time taking pictures, even when I’m not “working” on a client job. I will probably go and take up to 100 photos a day, just by seeking out or creating situations that are a little left of centre, with everything from costume hire and getting friends to dance around in the streets to ice-skating on a Friday night in the suburbs. It also keeps me from getting bored… which can happen pretty quickly.

What are you most proud of professionally?

I would say I am most proud of winning acknowledgment from my parents that photography is my chosen career. It was a long 4 years of dogged determination before they would accept that 5 years of tertiary education in several “respected” fields had yielded a photographer… a skill set that I ended up teaching myself and learning on my own anyway. In terms of being proud of my actual work, I find that my ego tends to take a back seat to my passion for the actual craft. I’ve always known that even if I was so bad that I couldn’t get any work as a photographer, I would still be taking pictures in every spare moment of my day, in and around my “day job”.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in my personal life. My photography tends to reflect the best parts of me. When I am at my most positive and inspired in my personal life, you can see that clearly in the pictures that I take. It’s generally the human experience that I draw the most inspiration from and I find that as I delve deeper into the field, the greater the scope of experience seems beautiful to me, even if the general consensus is negative.

What's the best thing about your job?

I don’t know if my job is any better from anyone else’s. It depends on what really makes an individual tick, doesn’t it? Photography for me is just another voice for me to speak with, and also a way of pointing things out to my viewers, things that I love or am interested in or would like to explore further. It’s also a necessary conduit for me to experience the world at a safe distance that has more to do with my own psyche than gaining pleasure from the actual act of taking a photograph.

And the worst?

The growing demand of photoshop overkill and unrealistic expectations from clients that have very little knowledge of what it takes to put together a particular image.

What would be your dream project?

Wo… I have so many that I’m not sure I could be unfair to all of them by choosing one and calling it the best… I suppose it would be pretty cool to land a job that essentially took me to all the various, obscure hidey-holes of the world to document the different rules of engagement laid down in various communities and sub-groups, whilst emerging with a clear body of work that unified the whole in a collective blanket of the human condition. Did I also mention a huge budget?

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years time?

I’m actually not very sure. I’m at a bit of a curve in my career at the moment where I can feel an imminent change in direction, but I am just not so sure about the direction that it is going in. It’s very exciting though, because as I get older and more experienced with the medium, I am more confident about the different capacities that I can work in.

What are you looking forward to – professionally or personally?

I’m looking forward to evolving. Photography is a long-term visual project for me and I find that it’s importance lies more in retrospect than the immediate results. In a more tangible sense, I’m looking forward to bringing more depth into my work and choosing projects that will take a longer and more intimate look at my subjects, instead of the fleeting observation of a passer-by.

Melbourne Questions –

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

At home. I invited a very fussy foodie friend of mine to come over and cook a birthday dinner for me and some friends. Duck and mushroom risotto with a seared scallop and beetroot salad.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

That word again, typical… Perhaps at breakfast somewhere in South Melbourne with my family and a copy of The Age.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?
Don’t know if it’s much of a secret, but I love Industria on Gertrude St, Fitzroy. The only place worth going to buy test tubes and old anatomy posters!