Tuesday, June 30, 2009


THAT STORE mainly sells super-cool denim (including cult US label Earnest Sewn, London's Superfine, and Nudie - as well as Aussie T shirt queens Bassike). I like the fit-out of the Melbourne Central store (pictured) - especially that battered leather couch! Nice touch.

Apparently THAT STORE owner Peter Degotardi designs the store fit-outs in collaboration with Chris Grinham from Humphrey and Edwards Architects. More photos here. (Sorry I cannot find an actual website anywhere for THAT STORE...? weird).

In Melbourne, stores are at Melbourne Central, Westfield Doncaster and at 334 Chapel st Prahran. In Sydney - 128 Oxford st Paddington, and at Chatswood Chase, 345 Victoria Ave, Chatswood.

Magnolia Square in Sydney

Magnolia Square Sydney retailers - Electric Firefly (lights top left), Bride and Wolf (laser-cut wall deco), Ella Sanders (hot water bottle), States of Nature (timber brooches) Redberry Design (cylindrical lamps).

You may have noticed my newest sponsor Magnolia Square, whose ad popped up here a week or so ago! Thanks so much to Nic from Magnolia Square for her support :)

Magnolia Square is a carefully curated pop-up retail event, showcasing the work of Australian artists, designers, craftspeople, and artisan food producers. Products range from homewares, to jewellery, clothing and accessories, textiles, stationary and gourmet treats... and the 'Tiny & Small' area also showcases super-cute products for little people!

After 3 successful years staging the event in Sydney, this week Magnolia Square makes it's debut in Sydney! For a full list of Sydney retailers see here.

If you're in around do pop in to check out the work of 50 boutique retailers from both Sydney and interstate - showcasing craft couture, great local design and a little bit of cute!

The Teahouse at Royal Randwick Racecourse

Thursday July 2nd - 2pm - 9pm

Friday July 3rd - 10am - 5pm

Saturday July 4th - 10am - 4pm

ps) Magnolia square also has a cute little blog here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Paris Match - The Australian Ballet

Top image - Olivia Bell in Suite en Blanc (photo - Justin Smith). Bottom image - Rachel Rawlins and the cast of the Australian Ballet in Suite en Blanc (photo - Jim McFarlane)

Last week the very sweet marketing / publicity team at the Australian Ballet generously offered me a double-pass to go and see their latest show - a double-bill entitled Paris Match. Lucky me!

It was AMAZING. Truly. I have never been to the ballet before (can you believe?)... but even knowing nothing about the intricacies of the choreography and history of the pieces performed, I was totally blown away.

Paris Match links two distinctly different performances. First, a mesmerising classical 'white ballet' entitled Suite en blanc. Think beautiful, jutting white tutus, traditional romantic themes, spirited, emotive performances... and of course, gravity-defying grace and movement.

After interval, the mood changed completely - Australian choreographer Stanton Welch's Divergence (1994) was sexy, provocative, at times humourous - and filled with electric energy. In stark contrast to the earlier piece, the dancers wore striking black costumes - including tutus recast in metal mesh (material usually reserved for air-conditioning ducts!) and breastplates structured from car upholstery! (Costumes designed by Vanessa Leyonhjelm). I wondered what the more old-fashioned audience members were thinking as the dancers punctuated the performance with the odd pelvic thrust or sassy shoulder twitch! Controversial!

Robyn Hendricks in Divergence (photo - Tim Richardson). That's one of those industrial mesh tutus!

Costume sketch for Divergence by Vanessa Leyonhjelm

Divergence (photos - Jim McFarlane)

PS) Did you know that the Australian Ballet has a fantastic behind-the-scenes blog? 'Behind Ballet' is a really well edited mix of news from the inner workings of Australian Ballet. For instance, after opening night last week, one of the principle dancers, Yosvani Ramos, blogged about his performance - even sharing his pre-show nerves and fear of ending up in the Orchestra pit!

Yosvani Ramos in Divergence (photo - Jim McFarlane)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

New look - and Twitter!

Hi hi! Hope you guys like the new look... it's not perfect... but I have been known to never do anything for fear of it not being perfect... so I thought best to get on with the mast-head change and tweak it later, instead of doing nothing at all. I was so sick of that last one. The gorgeous art-deco style font reminds me of the signage on the Guggenheim Museum. Would love your thoughts!

Also... as you can see I just signed up to Twitter! I was in two minds for a long time... but I just took the plunge! It's a weird mix of terrifying and addictive, all rolled into one. I need to learn the ropes. Anyway, if you are on it... please follow me! And I will follow back :)

Husk sale windows

Noticed these nice windows in Husk in Carlton yesterday... it's just tissue paper! The pom-poms are as big as watermelons though.

So simple but so effective! These would make such pretty party / event decorations...

*UPDATE - Fantastic blogger and loyal TDF reader Kate (aka captainkk) has kindly hunted down instructions for making these tissue-paper pom poms! I think Martha's are the best (of course), but there's also more info here and here. Thanks so much Kate! x

*2nd UPDATE! Aimee McCallum of Tiger Peacock emailed me today to let me know that these instore displays are her work! Beautiful work Aimee! Everyone loves your pom poms!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Interview - Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge!

Grace Bonney - photo by Anna Wolf

Oh man. I am so excited about this one. Finally today I get to share an interview with a full-time blogger who needs no introduction - Grace Bonney!

I was, of course, planning to post this whilst I was in NY, after meeting the lovely lady myself. But you know how it is when you're on holiday... so much to do, so little time, such unreliable internet access. So instead I will wrap up my travel coverage with this fantastic insight into the inner workings of the Design*Sponge mastermind!

I have to say a huge thankyou to Grace for her time... because she's one busy lady! She's shared so much fantastic detail about her background and the day to day running Design*Sponge in this very candid interview... aren't we lucky!?

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

Looking back, my past managed to combine in a way that makes total sense, but living through it at the time I felt pretty all over the place. I always loved art and writing, so I majored in Journalism at NYU for two years. Then I decided to transfer to a smaller school in VA and changed my major to Fine Art, with a focus in Printmaking. After a year there I could feel that my future wasn't going to be with traditional fine art. I remember the day I discovered "Trading Spaces" on television - it opened my eyes to the idea of design, furniture design, and interior design. I didn't even really think about those as fields I could go into. So I focused my printmaking on drawing interiors and spent my free time making over friends' dorm rooms and designing (and building) my own furniture for our room.

When I graduated I decided to pursue music (because I was also a radio DJ in college) and quickly learned that wasn't for me. So after a summer spent following the bass player from Phish around (I worked on his solo album in 2003) I left the label and went to work in for a tiny PR agency that dealt with mid-century design firms. I loved working with the artists but hated PR, so I started the blog for fun. I never, ever expected it to take off. When it became a profitable site, I was able to leave my job and take freelance jobs with House & Garden, Domino and Craft Magazines. All of those have since closed so now D*S is my full-time job.

Shots from a gorgeous D*S sneak peek - this time it's the Jewels of New York. Swoon.

Design*Sponge is the ultimate craft / design blog. Your site is one of the most popular in this genre, and you have a loyal fanbase to whom you are a huge inspiration (me included!). What were your initial goals for Design*Sponge? Did you ever expect the site to grow in the way that it has?

Thanks! When I started blogging in 2004 there was only a handful of us talking about design, so I thought about it purely as a place to meet people who loved the same things I did. I've focused really hard on keeping that spirit over the years and it's helped me keep a level head about the site's growth. So I tend to avoid long-term goals and just go with my gut. I rarely plan content more than a month ahead of time so I like to keep the site an accurate reflection of what I'm loving at the moment - so it's definitely changed as my interests expand to include craft projects, cooking and gardening. Overall I hope it just remains a place where people can go to find interesting design-related content. I try not to lean too heavily on the blog - I definitely see a life for myself outside of the laptop so I'm always trying to find a way to learn new things and share them with other people, in whatever form that may take.

You generate a huge amount of content daily – it must be an incredible juggling act balancing the research / writing and emailing and follow ups! How do you structure your week to ensure everything gets done efficiently? Do you allocate certain tasks to certain times / days?

Each week is different, but it's a definitely full-time job. At least 6 days a week, from 7am to 8pm. I feel strongly about giving readers content that they haven't seen everywhere else, so I place a premium on original content. So, I had to branch out to bring in a few editors who could help with regular columns. I quite simply couldn't keep things going without Anne (Sneak Peeks and Regional Roundup columns), Lauren and Derek (DIY projects), Kate (DIY projects), Kristina (Recipes), and Sarah (Weeder's Digest gardening/floral column).

I basically pre-load half of the day's content the night before, and finish the rest in the morning. Then the rest of the day is devoted to email, research, filming videos out in the city, meeting with designers, and conducting interviews. These days the biz ladies series takes a fair chunk of time too- it's tough, but worth the effort, to find experts who are willing to share their time for free. I'm so grateful that many of them to- it's really great to be able to offer some support to independent designers.

Stunning Hellebores from the D*S Weeders Digest column

Which significant tasks do you outsource to help you manage the demands of running the site?

The editors I mentioned above handle 4 major weekly columns like the home tours, diy projects, floral projects and recipes and I handle any other content that appears. I'm not a fan of advertising networks so we now have a small in-house team that handles the advertising part of the site - I like to stay as far away from that part of things as I can. So without those people I'd be a mess. I'm still a mess, but they help me find a few hours a week to do non-work activities. I think this team we work with now is ideal and I'm not looking to grow anymore - I just wish there were more hours in the day for me to chip in some more. I'm always thinking of some other project or column I want to work on, but simply don't have the time or energy for.

...from the new-ish D*S recipe column

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

It changes every week, but here are some predictable tasks:

1. Email (all day, every day, giving advice, helping people find affordable design objects, giving interior design tips, reading submissions, etc.)

2. Research
(this takes place all week, on weekends, when I'm in bed - I always have a laptop or iPhone attached to me, looking things up or sending emails about new columns or people/places to feature.)

3. Coding/Writing (
i try to pre-load content so I can clear out my inbox as often as possible. but I normally hit my gmail file size quota once a month. it's a zoo with all those big image files)

4. Interviews/videos
(i usually email/phone/visit someone to interview them about a column or there work a few times a week- it's my favorite part of the job)

5. Biz Ladies (i'm running this column right now so i'm always emailing business advisers, accountants, store owners and artists to work with them on their columns. then i have to code and upload their work)

6. Biz Admin
(payroll, taxes, etc. running a small business means there's always paperwork to do)

7. Real Life
(i try to get in an hour or two of cheesy tv while i work- it makes me feel more normal. lately i'm trying to replace those hours with coffee and friends. it's much healthier. still no room for the gym. whoops)

D*S sneak peek - David Alhadeff of The Future Perfect. I love this one to death.

What is the best thing about your job?

Setting my own schedule. Hands down. I work all day every day, but I can start that day or end that day when I want- and at least no one's leaning over my shoulder telling me what to do. It's usually just my cats leaning over my shoulder crying for me to give them treats.

more from the D*S recipe column

And the worst?

Not knowing when to stop or say no. I'm getting better, but I need to balance my life a little. I think when we start a family in the coming years I'll be forced to slow down - that's my plan. Until then I plan to work as hard as I can for as long as I can. I really enjoy working so it's not a bad "worst" to have.

You do such a great job of promoting independent creative business, local designers and artists. I know it’s hard to choose favourites, but at the moment, which designers, artists and/or creative people are you inspired by?

Oh man, it's tough to pick someone. It changes weekly. I just left Bklyn Designs so I'd say some people there: Palo Samko, Horgan Becket and Dan Funderburgh.

Where do you find inspiration outside of the blogging community – ie books, fine art, your environment, travel, your family and friends?

Books, fine art and travel have, for good and bad, become part of my blogging life, so the only thing I keep separate tends to be my friends and family- so they mean everything to me. I try to meet up with friends who live in my area a few times a week- they provide a much needed dose of life-outside-the-laptop.

Design*Sponge's sneak peek of Lisa Congdon's kitchen

What are you looking forward to?

My honeymoon in Montana. We leave to go camping right after ICFF, the stationery show and surtex so it will be a much needed break from the madness that is design season in nyc.

NYC Questions

What and where was the last great meal you ate in your local area?

Hmm...I eat out a lot so that's a tough one. I never leave Little D Eatery without a smile on my face so I'd say the coca-cola ribs at Little D. Followed by apple caramel bread pudding. delicious. Worth the trip to Park Slope from anywhere else in the city.

You favourite shopping strip in NYC for a dose of design eye candy?

Oh man, my favorites aren't close to each other to be honest. Williamsburg would be an easy pick - but right now I prefer Red Hook. I like to visit Saipua, the vintage stores there, Erie Basin, Baked bakery and the artists studios that are sometimes open. Then you can get dinner at the Good Fork - perfect day.

But I really love ABC Home in the city - as well as Michele Varian. All my favorite small shops closed - like the Hable Construction shop - that was hands down my favorite shop in nyc.

*oh yes I was so disappointed to find out that Hable Construction had closed when I visited NYC! So sad :( - Lucy

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Picking up wildflowers and fresh food at the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket in Brooklyn. If it's nice out I'll try to get in a good scooter ride with Aaron, but most of the time we end up working. That's why vacations are important to us - we spend so much of our weekend working that it's tough to get long stretches of relaxation.

NYC’s best kept secret?

I feel like nothing in ny is secret anymore. Blogs, daily newsletters and the internet in general means nothing is an insider secret - everyone blogs, twitters, or emails about a new place the second it opens (or the weeks before it opens). But in general I love to walk neighborhoods that aren't as packed - like Red Hook or State Street in Boerum Hill. In Manhattan? No idea- everything there feels packed so I try to stick to the outer boroughs.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New books to covet

I have come back from my travels with an Amazon wishlist as long my arm... I fell in love with so many beautiful books whilst I was away - but I must say I was quite impressed with my self-discipline, more due to the size of my suitcase than the strain on my wallet! Anyway... here are a few I am desperately coveting...

I am secretly hoping some amazing design book publisher (Taschen, are you listening?) wants to send me a whole lot of new books to review. ;)

New New York interiors - Taschen (photos above)

Went to the Taschen store in Soho and was completely blown away... such stunning books, and incredible prices. How do they manage to price their books so reasonably? This New New York Interiors book very nearly came home with me. (My boy talked me out of it, quite rightly). It is full of eclectic, bohemian (yet of course somewhat extravagant) interiors... You know, that kooky/classy look that always seems to typify apartments that belong to supermodels? Swoon.

The Design Hotels Yearbook 2009 - Gestalten

We spent 6 blissful days in Bali at the very end of our trip, and were lucky enough to kind of accidentally end up in a completely incredible hotel - it's not often you arrive at your accomodation and it looks even better than it did in the pictures! ANYWAY, we also found out when we got there that it was a member of the Design Hotels group - so lucky for me there was a copy of the Design Hotels Yearbook 2009 in our room! I spent every spare moment flicking through it - and now I REALLY want a copy of my own!

The yearbook is a fabulous book which showcases 170 of the world's best designed hotels. Lots of boutique, smaller hotels are featured - and it's not just about lavish extravagance... the focus is more on unique design details and character-filled spaces. There's also some fantastic insightful profiles of some of the creative minds behind these establishments, such as designer/hotelier Marcel Wanders.

PS) Design Hotels also have a fabuous website - beautiful images of all their hotels, plus a series of short films entitled 'made by originals', which profiles some of the designers and hoteliers whose hotels are featured... beautifully shot and put together. Truly worth a visit!

crEATe - Gestalten

I am the first to roll my eyes when it comes to 'trend forecasting'... but... reknowned UK trend forecasters The Future Laboratory actually do know stuff. Their new book, entitled crEATe, is all about eating design and the current experimental trends in food design and hospitality. And of course my favourite lady Marije Vogelzang is featured... !

PS) The Future Laboratory website is also definitely worth a browse...

Brooklyn Modern - Rizzoli

I have been wanting Brooklyn Modern forever... but of course actually being in Brooklyn made me want it even more! It's a gorgeous book, filled with images of some of Brooklyn's most interesting homes.... OH and 2 more reasons to fall in love with this book - Lena Corwin's stunning brownstone home in Fort Greene is featured (the perfect-est home in the world, seriously), and also Grace Bonney contributed a passage on Brooklyn's design renaissance!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

San Francisco Shopping Guide - Valencia st

Shopping Guide Map - Valencia st, The Mission (ahhh, feel so much better now I am reunited with my textas!)

The thing with San Francisco, is that everything is quite spread out. It's not as instantly accessible as I expected... you can't just wander around aimlessly and hope to uncover the most gorgeous little coffeeshop or quaint little shopping strip. Instead you have to do a little bit of research... which we kinda learnt the hard way!

San Fran dolls houses! - top and bottom left photos by Joanna Forever on Flickr

No on told us that the best place to hang out in San Francisco is Valencia st. Sure, a few people said we should check out 'The Mission' area... but it took a good frustrating hour or more of traipsing up and down Mission st looking at cowboy boots and dodgy $1 shops to realise that Valencia is where you wanna be!

Street art in The Mission

Anyway, it was so exciting to (finally) discover some of the city’s best loved indie design shops and little creative hubs dotted along this busy main road - including The Curiosity Shoppe, Little Otsu and much more!

...But the absolute highlight of this area was visiting Dave Eggers incredible Pirate Shop at 826 Valencia. If you have no idea what I'm talking about you MUST watch this video. Pleeeaase watch it. 826 Valencia is an absolute inspiration... as is the charming Mr Eggers. It was so so so great to visit this magical little place for ourselves. Photos and other highlights below!

The Curiosity Shoppe - 855 Valencia at

The Curiosity Shoppe - images found on flickr here and here

The Curiosity Shoppe was our first Valencia st discovery... a small but gorgeous little shop filled with all those curious necessities - like stick-on moustaches and knitted apple-jackets. Genius! There's also a cute little exhibition area down the back which showcases the work of local illustrators and artists, and a small but fantastic little library of craft and design books. You can also browse a lot of their current stock on their website.

Little Otsu - 849 Valencia st

The shots above are alas not by me... Little Otsu were re-doing their window display during my visit. Instead these shots of an earlier window display are from a gorgeous set by Sweetiepiepress on Flickr. My shots below.

More gorgeous paper goodies and printed matter from Little Otsu, including the cutest recipe cards (which I couldn't resist!) by Susie Ghahremani.

My heart was all aflutter when I stumbled across Little Otsu on Valencia st... I had heard so much about this fantastic independent publishing house and their collaborations with many talented artists and designers, it was so exciting to visit their store in person! It was also great to see the work of artists and bloggers whose work I've admired for so long but have only ever seen online - stunning screenprinted posters by Claire Nereim (blogged here before), illustrated stationary by Susie Ghahremani and beautiful paper-cut illustrations by Nikki McClure.

It was also lovely to meet Yvonne Chen, founder and co-owner of Little Otsu... she was super lovely and only too happy for me to take some photos to share here! Yay for that. :)

ps) you can also shop online with Little Otsu (gorgeous, unique finds that you won't see anywhere else in Melbourne!)... and they also have a super-cute blog.

826 Valencia Pirate Shop
- 826 Valencia st

Pirate Supply Store! So fun!

Pirate necessities - including Peg Leg oil (of course)

Top image - the kids writing workshop at the back of the pirate shop, bottom image - pirate noticeboard - 'have you been impressed against your will??'

Oh my. The excitement. Even my boyfriend had fun at 826 Valencia! And that's saying something. Dave Egger's incredible pirate supply store / kids writing workshop needs to be seen to be believed. You really must check out his TED video to truly understand the magic.

Highlights included witnessing unsuspecting customers being 'mopped' by the cheeky Pirate Store attendant... discovering all kinds of pirate paraphernalia that you never knew existed... and chuckling at all the hilarious instructional notes and signs everywhere. HILARIOUS. You must have a good long browse of the website. Promise?

Paxton Gate - 824 Valencia st

Exterior of 826 Valencia and Paxton Gate next door

One again my fella seems to have made his way into my photo...! This is Paxton Gate - showcasing taxidermied animal heads and strange prehistoric-looking plants!

Right next-door to the fabulous Pirate shop was Paxton Gate - a store which had fortuitously been recommended to me by a reader only a few days before I arrived in San Fran! (Thankyou Melinda!).

Paxton Gate is a unique shopping experience - a very eclectic mix of taxidermy and scientific ephemera such as fossils, crystals, incredible corals and deep sea crustaceans and shells... as well as kooky plant life (think venus flytraps and other almost prehistoric-looking flora). It's all beautifully displayed - you could seriously lose hours just browsing at all the unexpected little details. I don't quite understand their target market, but it seemed pretty popular when we visited!

Regalito Rosticeria - 3481 18th st (just off Valencia)

I try not to include too many random eating-spots in these design/shopping guides... but it just seems so handy to know where to stop for lunch if anyone happens to be re-tracing my steps at some point in the not-too-distant future!

We had such a truly delicious modern Mexican meal at Regalito Rosticiera, I thought it was well worth a mention. The food is surprisingly light and interesting... not your usual heavy Mexican Fare. If you eat meat, I highly recommend the 'Papas con Chorizo' (potatoes with Chorizo). So tasty!

- 572 Valencia st

Monument is a 20th Century furniture store with a fantastic range... kinda pricey but these are quality collectible pieces, beautifully restored and (unfortunately) worth every penny! Well worth a browse... and you can check out their current stock online here thanks to 1st Dibs - an incredible online marketplace which brings together some of the best vintage and collectible design pieces worldwide! It is a truly fabulous website for 20th cemtury interiors especially - if you don't know it, you're missing out!

Clothes Contact - 473 Valencia st

I can't say I usually have the patience for op-shopping (or as they say in the US, thrift-store shopping)... but of the many, many vintage clothing shops along Valencia st - this bustling, colourful little store really caught my eye! The main drawcard seems to be their 'thrift by the pound' policy - ie all sales are charged by weight! They just weigh your items in bulk on scales at the checkout, and charge you accordingly. Awesome! No website I can find... but some more info and customer reviews here.

Farnsworth 20th Century Modernist Design - 393 Valencia st

Another great little 20th Century Furniture store - a little smaller, less showy perhaps than Monument... but no less interesting. Some key collectible pieces (including a wonderfully aged classic Eames leather / rosewood rocker and ottoman - divine!), but also slightly kookier finds including interesting ceramics and other small accessories.

Four Barrell Coffee
- 375 Valencia st

OK so San Francisco has this weird thing going on with Coffee. There seem to be a lot of 'high concept' coffee stores around this town... most of which you have to queue up outside for AGES to get a coffee... and also most of which don't really sell many snacks or lunch stuff at all... just coffee!? I found it a bit weird, as I have no patience for the kind of hyped-up, self conscious coffee 'manifesto' thing... but perhaps that's just because we are so spoilt in Melbourne with all the good food and good coffee (which you can surprsingly usually buy in the same place - without even queueing up!!). ANYWAY, it seems San Franciscans are more than happy to wait 15 minutes for a cup of painstakingly produced coffee, so who am I to judge...!

Four Barrell Coffee in Valencia st seemed one of the popular options, and had a shorter queue than most! The space was huge and quite cool and industrial inside - thus even more frustrating when we found out they don't do lunch! :(

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Home Stretch

View from 'our' (shared) rooftop in the East Village

Fire escapes never looked so good.

Painted building... can't remember where sorry!

Top - Construction debris squished into tiny little roller trolleys, presumably as a result of working in building with small lifts/narrow hallways. Bottom - exterior of the incredible Comme de Garcons store in Chelsea. We went to see art - but ended up shopping. What can you do?

More stunning greenery on the streets of NYC. Top image taken in Chelsea... Bottom image is a close up of a stunning Dogwood tree (thanks for the botanical info Mum!). I am so in love with these gorgeous trees which seem to be all over New York . I am definitely going to have to find a Dogwood tree in Melbourne...

Ok so this is the last day of NYC stuff, and I am flying home today! I'll be back in Melbourne at 2pm tomorrow.

Anyway, I can only apologise (again!) for the sketchy posting these last few weeks... I have been so inspired by this trip and still have lots to share, including a San Francisco shopping guide which I have been feverishly trying to finish, and an interview with everyone's favourite design blogger - Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge! All this I promise will be up later this week, but in the meantime, I hope you don't mind today's very lazy post - essentially just a collection of random NY photos and observations...

From this Wednesday I'll be back to regular posts every morning, Monday - Friday! Promise ;)

Giant scribble? I don't know what this is about... but I like it.