Friday, July 4, 2008

Interview - Liane Rossler

Liane Rossler in her Sydney studio.
Image kindly supplied by photographer Daniel Boud of Boudist

Spicy Dinosaur dinner - how about those colours!?

Dinosaur Designs vases - more incredible colour

gorgeous gumball necklaces

A few weeks ago you may remember I wrote a little piece about the latest range from fantastic Australian company Dinosaur Designs. I have been a huge fan of Dinosaur Designs for such a long time now, so I was more than a little bit star-struck when I received an email out of the blue from Dinosaur Designs co-founder Liane Rossler thanking me for the write-up! Wow!

So... I have to admit I shamelessly seized the opportunity and asked Liane if she would be interested in doing a little interview for The Design Files... and to my (further) excitement she accepted!

Dinosaur Designs are one of my absolute favourite Australian design-based businesses for a number of reasons. Liane Rossler, Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy founded the business in 1985 after humble beginnings as art students selling their handmade creations at Sydney's markets. Their incredible path to success is well documented in Australia, and is such an inspiring story for any hopeful young designers/creatives!

One of Dinosaur Designs' many strengths is the fact that all their work is absolutely unique - handmade and hand-tinted, no two products are ever the same. The integrity of this approach is truly admirable in an industry so often consumed with mass-manufacture and cost-cutting. DD's signature style is instantly recognisable - an eclectic blend of chunky, textural shapes inspired by organic forms, combined with the most intuitive, incredible use of colour.

As a business, Dinosaur Designs strikes the perfect balance between art, craft, design, small-scale manufacture and shrewd business strategy. Their popularity never wanes, their collections are always true to the signature DD aesthetic - yet their style evolves with each new range to incorporate new materials and broad influences. Dinosaur Designs is an extraordinary company, who just go from strength to strength with each new project and collaboration they undertake.

I feel very lucky to be able to share this interview with Liane Rossler of Dinosaur Designs - Thankyou so much for your time Liane!

Images from Dinosaur Designs' latest range - 'Delicate'

Tell me a little about your background – what path led you to where you are today?

I studied painting and drawing at city art institute in Sydney (now COFA). I completed a Bachelor of visual arts degree and postgraduate degree in professional art studies. I met my 2 partners Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy while studying. We thought it would take time before we could support ourselves as painters, so started a stall at Paddington markets making and selling hand painted clothes. Then we introduced hand painted jewellery to compliment the range. We enjoyed making the jewellery more, and so developed the range more. We were at the markets for 18 months, and when we left art school, we moved to a little studio and started to wholesale. After a couple of years we opened our first store in the Strand Arcade, followed by one in Paddington the following year. Then one in Melbourne, and 6 years ago, one in New York. We also wholesale nationally and internationally. (more details on the Dinosaur Designs website).

Dinosaur designs has become one of the most successful and respected design-based businesses in australia. What do you think are some of the reasons for your incredible success and achievements? Did you ever expect your designs to be as popular and as well known as they are today?

Oh…thank you! I guess we had an original product to offer, and we are continually excited and inspired to design new pieces. Quality and method of production and the way we run our business are also important to us. We never really thought about how popular it would be, but still get a thrill whenever we see people wearing or using our pieces.

Dinosaur Designs seem so prolific – especially given your work is handmade and each piece is unique. You stock stores in Melbourne, Sydney and New York, and you exhibit and distribute your work all over the world. How is your workshop/studio structured to keep up with demand – do you have a large team creating the products? Do you and your partners still play a hands-on role in the design and creation of the pieces?

We design new ranges and launch them in our stores every couple of months. Because we hand make every piece, we can make new colours and produce different techniques every day. We have a total company staff of about 60, and everything is produced at our Strawberry Hills studio. Each piece is hand made with love and care. We have a great team, and it is a wonderful environment to work in. The three of us still design all the pieces and plan the concepts of the ranges. The dd team then do the production - mould making, casting, sanding and finishing.

Dinosaur Designs accessories. top image - striking glossy polished resin bangles and rings, bottom image - timber veneer bracelets and beads.

You’ve collaborated with some very well known international designers, and worked on varied projects including installations, textile and rug design and even camera and laptop designs! What’s next for Dinosaur? What would be a dream project?

It is really exciting to work on collaborations with other companies – it has been great to design pieces and have other people do the manufacturing. Designer Rugs were fantastic to work with, and we love doing the installations and other projects. My dream would be to do a hotel one day and design and make everything for it.

Dinosaur Designs rugs for Designer Rugs - left - 'Sunrise', right - 'Banana Split'

Which designers, artists or creative people are inspired by?

I love contemporary art, architecture, design, but also great thinkers in any field. Inspiration is everywhere. I always find something interesting and inspiring to listen to on ted talks (

Where else do you find inspiration (travel, film, books, architecture, etc)?

I’m constantly inspired by art and nature. Just seeing how the light falls on something, or the way colours are sitting together in everyday life is constantly inspiring. I love films – especially documentaries, and ‘thoughtful’ architecture. Often the most simple things are inspiring.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

It’s pretty mixed. Design. Meetings. It is good to be open to what the day brings, because sometimes you need to be open to the opportunities can occur. You plant a lot of seeds as you go along, and sometimes they pop up.

Bangles and rings from the wood veneer range of accessories

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud to be able to have creative freedom in design and the way that we run the company.

What's the best thing about your job?

As above.

And the worst?

Love it all :)

What are you looking forward to – professionally or personally?

I’m looking forward to seeing the world become more sustainable, and seeing the mind shift move away from the economy being the most important thing.

Bangles from the Bamboo range

Sydney questions –

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

Seans Panaroma at Bondi. Perfection.

Where would we find you on a typical saturday morning?

At home doing painting or craft with the kids, or taking a walk around centennial park.

Dino Breakfast

Sydney’s best kept secret?

Mmmmmm…..that’s a tricky one. I think you can find pretty much everything here if you look for it.

Dinosaur vases. left - 'Bamboo' range, right - classic range


  1. oooh lucy!
    one day we will have a table spread like that and you can walk over for breakfast!
    arrrrgggghhh, so close...*sigh*

    well done, x.


  2. Thanks so much for getting that interview and asking brilliant questions!! She is incredibly inspiring!!

  3. Hey Ju, thanks so much! :) I was very excited when Liane accepted my request. I have been a Dinosaur fan for such a long time! She was so friendly and really lovely to deal with :)

    Hey, your blog is looking so professional! I am jealous :) I like all the little sub-categories in the side bars and you even have ads running... wow! You must give me all your tips about getting online advertisers! x

  4. I've loved these designers for over 10 years,always have amazing pieces.

    I remember when I was younger i would love walking into their Paddington store and seeing all the gorgeous colours.