Friday, July 31, 2009

Interview - Jason Grant, style director of Real Living

Real Living Magazine, September issue (out now) - and Style Director Jason Grant!

All shot styled by Jason Grant for Real Living Magazine

Real Living Magazine, September issue - and Style Director Jason Grant

I was most excited to get an encouraging email out of the blue from Real Living Style Director Jason Grant recently! Thanks Jason!! I am always very chuffed when super-talented magazine people up in Sydney write to say they like to visit The Design Files. How amazing is that?! :)

Of course I couldn't pass up the opportunity to interview Jason, whose styling work has appeared in Inside Out, Living Etc and various commercial catalogues before he took on his current role at Real Living. I think what appeals most about his current work at RL is that he's so good at pulling together stunning looks without the hefty pricetags - although I'm sure given a bigger budget he would quite happily go crazy at Hub, Space or Living Edge!

It is also super fun to follow Jason around on Twitter! (No, the novelty factor has not yet worn off!). Recently he was in Melbourne during the design festival... and I must admit I did feel I was kind of accidentally stalking him. Not on purpose I promise! But we just always seemed to be visiting the same places! Twitter can get creepy like that.

ANYWAY huge thanks to Jason for his time with this interview! All these shots are styled by Jason for Real Living Mag. Must get the latest issue!

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

I never knew what I wanted to be growing up but always had a flair for things creative. Working in the homewares industry I discovered design and romance with a shop keeper, and I discovered my passion for vintage furniture. I really fell into styling and was lucky to be given a break (those responsible know who they are). Styling is the ultimate in expression - creating concepts and bringing magazine pages to life. After freelancing for a number of years and working predominantly on Inside Out magazine, I have also been lucky enough to have stories appear in Living Etc magazine and work in home catalogues for David Jones.
Currently I am enjoying the role as style director at Real Living magazine - check out our great new look!

Can you list one or two favourite shoots / creative projects you’ve worked on recently? (Include images if possible!)

I like my last job to be my favourite, I like to feel like I'm progressing/improving, I like to look forward and not back, I tend to look at what I would have changed/ done differently when given the chance to examine my work. A recent shoot I love is from our upcoming September issue full of clever ideas.

What does your role as Style Director for Real Living magazine entail? What does a typical day at work involve for you?

The role of style director involves many things from cover shoots and decorating stories and house shoots, to meeting and working with many talented creative people. But I guess the biggest challenge that I enjoy is hunting out the best affordable fabulous items! When you have restrictions you have to think harder and find clever solutions.

How would you describe your interior decorating/styling aesthetic in your own home? How does this compare with the aesthetic you bring to your commercial styling work?

I could never live in a brand new home - I like character and charm, I love mixing old and new.

My own personal style is always evolving, however some things are a constant - I'm a big fan of the handmade, individual pieces, I love quirky whimsical things that tell a story or make me smile. Bohemian, vintage and eclectic are much over-used words in interiors magazines, but are the best fit for my style, I also love typography and plastics animals. Oh and I'm also a fan of white painted timber floors and not so perfect walls - I love a blank canvas.

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

I live in a very creative happy home with amazing people, 2 other stylists and a schoolteacher.

Artist David Band - an amazing artist who lets his artwork do all the speaking.

Rachel Castle of CASTLE bedlinen and textiles - super cool and a fabulous go-getter.

Artist Miranda Skoczek for her bold colours and infectious laughter.

Karen McCartney - editor of Inside Out for her impeccable style and grace.

The team at Real Living - one of the most hard working bunch of people I know.

Where else do you find inspiration – ie books, magazines, your environment, travel, your family and friends?

Inspiration can come from the everyday, but sometimes can be triggered from the smallest things - a thought or even a word. I enjoy bouncing ideas off people and talking about “stuff”, I'm a glutton for all kinds of art , fashion, interior and design magazines and love a good blog.

What would be your dream creative project?

I guess outside the realms of magazines I would love to be the creative force behind a big brand.

What are you looking forward to?

SUMMER, a sleep in and a cuddle.

Sydney Questions –

Your favourite fossicking spots in Sydney for unique furniture and home accessories?

Bondi, Surry Hills and Rozelle Markets

Mitchell Road Auctions
Dust in Darlinghurst
Object Gallery
All Hand Made Gallery
Chee Soon & Fitzgerald

Oh and there’s two stores I love but I cant tell you about! One has Sydney's best affordable offering of quirky old wares and one of a kind vintage finds… the other one involves a pair of chairs…

What and where was the last great meal you ate in Sydney?

The best meals for me are casual shared meals with friends.

So it’s a toss up between the sang choi bao and the duck wraps at Fu Manchu...
...and the salt and pepper squid and green papaya salad at Phamish.

Also I cant go past a pork and fennel sausage roll from the Bourke Street Bakery, along with all their sweet treats - I rarely like to queue for anything but this is the exception.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday Morning?

Well after a well deserved sleep in, my first move is towards a coffee, and in the summer months straight to the beach. Weekends are for relaxing.

Sydney’s best kept secret?

I get to uncover many secrets and travel sydney extensively, and often uncover things those who have lived here far longer then I have know about. Redleaf Pool is a favorite not so well known beach.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lightly Pop-up shop!

Lightly Pop-up shop in Melbourne's CBD

Did you know that Melbourne-based design studio Lightly have a pop-up shop in the CBD at the moment? The temporary shop sprang up in the midst of State of Design madness, so you'd be forgiven for letting it slip under your radar until now :)

However, it's definitely worth a little visit in you're in the city sometime over the next week! Whilst Lightly's popularity and reach is increasing exponentially, with a growing list of stockists across Australia, it's lovely to see the whole range beautifully displayed under one roof!

The Pop up shop will vanish on August 8th - don't miss out!

Lightly POP up gallery and shop
24 Crossley st

Melbourne CBD


Monday - Thursday 10.00am - 6.00pm

Friday - Saturday 11.00am - 7.00pm

and the winner is...

Thanks so much to everyone for reading and commenting on the Bluebird Papergoods post!

The lucky winner of the gift-pack giveaway is Mazspazz! Congratulations! :)

Sorry to all those who missed out - I wish I had a pack for each and every one of you! I hope you guys know I really, truly appreciate your readership! x

Salvador Dali : Liquid Desire exhibition at the NGV

Salvador Dali - Liquid Desire at the NGV. The layout and design of the exhibition is so thoughtful and cohesive - bold black stripes and a huge central flower arrangement characterise the 'Renaissance' room.

The design and layout of the NGV exhibition mirrors the variety and versatility of Dali's work. Above, the jewellery room is upholstered in plush red velvet panels. My favourite piece? The 'Royal Heart', a motorised jewelled brooch in which a ruby encrusted heart actually 'beats'! This piece was created to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

So it's not exactly NEWS but now that all the design festival business is over it seems an opportune time to remind everyone to go and see the amazing DALI exhibition at the NGV if you haven't already! It is seriously stunning and absolutely exhaustive... much more generous in size than many comparable international shows which have made the trek out to see us in recent years!

And if you thought Mr Dali was all about melting clockfaces and bleak landscapes, think again! Liquid Desire showcases the incredible variety in Dali's work, which included set design for both film and dance, textile and fashion design, jewellery design, illustration and graphic design for high profile publications such as US Vogue in 1937.

The exhibition also shares some thoroughly entertaining insights into the kooky character himself. One quote which got me giggling - when Dali compared Jackson Pollock's work in the late 1950's to 'indigestion'. He went to on appoint himself the new 'saviour of modern art'! Hee!

A huge thankyou to the NGV marketing team who sweetly gave me a double-pass to visit and review the show!

Salvador Dali : Liquid Desire

NGV International (St Kilda rd)

13 June – 4 October 09
Open daily 10am – 5pm and until 9pm Wednesdays

Ticketing - Adult - $23, Concession - $18, Child - $11, Family - $60 (2 adults + 3 children).

PS) A word of warning. This exhibition has been VERY busy. The inside scoop on NGV attendance for international blockbusters like this is that the opening month is crazy-busy, the closing month is even more crazy-busy, and you're safest to time your visit slap bang in the middle of the exhibition season. So August is looking good! Oh, and if at all possible, avoid the weekends! (But don't miss out!)

Salvador DALI, Study for the ballet Bacchanale (c. 1939). Fundacio Gala-Salvador Dali, Figueres. Copyright Salvador Dali, Fundacio Gala-Salvador Dali, VISCOPY, 2009.

Dali's set design for Afred Hitchcock's 1945 feature film Spellbound was influenced by Freudian psychoanalysis. See how similar the finished set adheres to his original creepy drawing!

Dali's zany design for the 1939 World Fair in New York! Dali's pavilion, entitled 'Dream of Venus' incorporated 'liquid ladies' swimming in huge water tanks, and topless beauties reclining on satin-draped furniture. Bizarre mannequins and sculptures were positioned alongside backdrops of burning giraffes and melting watches. The ceiling was covered in suspended open umbrellas from which bats and telephone receivers dangled. Remember this was 1939! Can you imagine the uproar??

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Paddington pad on Apartment Therapy

Was just alerted to this fab Sydney house tour on Apartment Therapy (via @jennymbutler on Twitter!). The Paddington pad belongs to advertising exec Matt Eastwood (who is also on the Gruen Transfer).

I have been struck with a severe case of double-jealousy.

1st - Why does my house not look like this?
2nd - Why do I not have such gorgeous Australian house-tours to share on this site?

Must work harder! x

Bluebird Papergoods and giveaway!

Gift cards by Bluebird Papergoods

Received an email recently from Melbourne-based author, freelance writer and liquor licensing consultant Nicole Hopkinson, whose latest project is a stationary line called Bluebird Papergoods! It's good to know I'm not the only crazy Melburnian trying to juggle about 4 different seemingly unrelated jobs and creative side projects! (Nicole wrote the very popular Global Shopper books which outline the very best in online shopping, all whilst working a fulltime dayjob!)

Bluebird Papergoods specialises in correspondence stationary and gift cards for all occasions - with a few unusual celebrations thrown into the mix ('happy divorce' being one of the stranger ones!).

Nicole has kindly offered a giveaway for one lucky TDF reader! If you would like a giftpack full of stationary goodness from Bluebird Papergoods, please leave a comment on this post with your name and email address, and I will pick names out of a hat tomorrow! xx

*please note the competition has now finished! Congrats to winner - Mazspazz!

Be Still soft furnishings

Handmade cushions by Sarah Robinson - aka Be Still

You may have noticed my newest advertiser over there in the ad column... Be Still is the Etsy shop of Australian-born, Bangkok-based Sarah Robinson. Sarah is, by her own admission, an industrial designer gone soft. (Soft furnishings, that is!)

Sarah is mum to a 2 year old, and her favourite past time since moving to Thailand is to trawl through the enormous fabric warehouses in Bangkok. As well as browsing all the stunning Thai fabrics on offer, Sarah has discovered many well-known international designer brands such as Zoffany, GP&J Baker and Lee Jofa textiles. ALL these fabric houses are incredible and each link is definitely worth visiting separately I promise!

Sarah currently makes exquisite hand-made cushions and napkins using the beautiful fabrics she finds - a range which has so far developed quite organically with no planning until now! In the coming months she hopes to develop other soft furnishings which co-ordinate with the existing range. I love that Ikat cushion (below right)! Gorgeous gorgeous.

In addition to the Be Still Etsy store, you can also find some of Sarah's handmade products at Mac Pelican in Hawthorn. Thanks so much to Sarah for her support... (My first Etsy advertiser!). Please share the love and pop over to check out her lovely range!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Seven Seeds

Seven Seeds in Carlton strikes the perfect balance between super-cool and utterly unpretentious.

I visited Seven Seeds the first time a couple of weeks ago with my dear beautiful friend Nina M. Nina has impeccable taste in most things - but especially when it comes to coffee and food, and she swears by anything and everything Melbourne hospitality veteran Mark Dundon puts his name to!

Mr Dundon's previous highly successful projects include Ray in Brunswick, St Ali in South Melbourne (before they changed hands and started that crazy showy coffee-siphoning thing...!), and arguably the CBD's best coffee shop - Brother Baba Budan. Suffice to say, Mr Dundon seriously knows his coffee - and it particularly adept at knocking up wicked lunch/coffee spots in the most unlikely industrial spaces!

But the best thing about Seven Seeds (and all of Dundon's previous establishments), is that the coffee, the food, and the service is utterly faultless everytime - YET, the atmosphere is completely unpretentious. No fuss, no fanfare (and no raised eyebrows when I order my usual weak coffee!) - just perfect coffee and delicious, simple food in a relaxed yet very stylish environment. It's a rare and beautiful thing.

Avocado and Fetta on (Dench) toast never tasted so good. Seriously.

Seven Seeds is located down a non-descript laneway in a strange pocket of Carlton between Melbourne Uni and the CBD. I wanted to keep it a secret, because it is so fabulously good.. but seeing as it's already been on Three Thousand I figure it's common knowlege already!

Do yourself a favour and GO VISIT before Mark and business partner Bridget Amor sell up and move onto the next project...!

Beautiful Nina snoops into the coffee grinding room! It is HUGE and takes up half the warehouse!

ps) Melbourne Gastronome has reviewed Seven Seeds here (and shares some more great photos)

Seven Seeds
114 Berkeley st


Monday - Saturday 7.00am - 5.00pm

Sunday 8.30am - 4.00pm

Monday, July 27, 2009

Udessi online gallery and store

Handmade ceramics by Kim Wallace of Udessi

Udessi is a new-ish online store showcasing a fantastic, varied range of contemporary Australian art, craft and design. It belongs to Brisbane-based Dutch ex-pat Kim Wallace, who I had the pleasure of meeting in Melbourne last year (at Joost's fabulous Greenhouse in Fed Square!). Kim was in town to visit the Melbourne Design Market (amongst other things), and we took the opportunity to meet - excitedly sipping our coffees from recycled jam jars whilst chatting about Australian craft and design, blogs and the magic of the internet :)

A graphic designer by trade, Kim curates the carefully-edited selection of homewares, textiles and limited edition artworks in the store. The collection also includes some of Kim's own beautiful handmade ceramics (pictured above).

Kim is really passionate about supporting local Australian artists and designer/makers - check out Udessi's great blog to learn a little more about the artists Kim represents, and the events Udessi attends and co-hosts in Brisbane such as 'ABCD' (Artists, Bloggers, Crafters, and Designers!).

Great work Kim! Must get up to Brisbane sometime to see all the creative happenings up there for myself! ( I really need a reason to spend a few nights here!).

Some pieces currently for sale at Udessi - gorgeous handmade cards by Lisa Tilse of The Red Thread, limited edition 'Mr Armadale' print by Melbourne artist Tiel Seivl-Keevers aka - Tsk Tsk (only $15!), and Bird Sounds in the City No. 5 by Chinese-born, Melbourne-based Shuxin Liang.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ditte Isager

Beautiful photos from the folio of Danish(?) photographer Ditte Isager.

Such a pity that the stylists for these shots aren't credited... love love the rich colours and kooky details...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Julie Paterson at Safari Living (+ interview!)

Julie Paterson of Cloth Fabric spoke to an enthralled audience of around 35 people at Safari Living in Melbourne last night.

Last night Safari Living in Prahran hosted an absolutely fantastic evening with Julie Paterson of Cloth Fabric. It was such a perfect, intimate, low-key event - Julie spoke to around 35 ladies (yep, not a boy in sight!) about setting up her business, the inner workings of Cloth Fabric, and her personal creative process... answering lots of questions patiently and thoughtfully.

Julie is such an inspiration - Cloth Fabric now employs 6 people and produces a variety of fabrics which are all hand printed in Australia - in a rusty tin shed in rural NSW, to be exact! Cloth supplies stockists all over Australia and exports internationally, as well as maintaining a retail shop in Sydney's Surry Hills. ('The overheads are a bit higher now I have a fancypants shop!' say Julie). Julie also produces custom pieces for boutique clients, and has recently gone into collaboration with Jamie Durie on a range of outdoor soft furnishings - 'He's alright, really' she says!

Despite her incredible notoriety and success, Julie was refreshingly candid about her challenges and achievements over the years, and won the crowd over with genuine charm and the odd self-deprecating jibe!

Thankyou so much to Julie for her time with this interview! If you're in Melbourne you really must get down to Safari Living to check out the full range! It's such a beautiful space brimming with colourful ceramics, textiles and general eye-candy... some photos of the shop are at the bottom of this post! :)

Top - Julie in her Sydney shop, Bottom - assorted Cloth paintings, fabrics and soft furnishings.

Assorted Cloth fabrics - and it's not all abstract and geometric you know! Julie also shared some of her contemporary floral prints, characterised by the oversized, robust shapes and striking colours. Top Left - Burlap stack (printed on recycled coffee bags), Top Right - Rough Rose, Bottom - Wattle.

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

I had a crush on my art teacher when I was 16. She was a textile designer. I decided I was going to be like her and I am. Except I’m not blonde.

What have been some of your favourite designs, special projects or collaborations?

I love it when people buy my little paintings. It always gives me a bit of a buzz because really I just paint for myself. Secretly I would love to be a painter but I can't help but create textiles. So I make painting as the beginning of the creative process from which the textile ideas develop. The paintings are like my children – for a while they have to stay in the studio until they are old enough to go out alone. When they make it to the shop they get handed over to my staff who hang them in small groupings so they wont get lonely. And when they move on to a new family its always a special moment.

Some of Julie's paintings which she shared with us during her talk. Many of these works have formed the basis of her fabric ranges over the years... the one on the left is on a piece of old lino floor! I also love the little ones on rough weathered timber...

More of Julie's unique paintings

Where do you turn for inspiration – nature, travel, books, magazines or the web etc?

My inspiration comes from the everyday.

I carry a small sketchbook round all the time. I write in it a lot describing colours, atmospheres, buildings, the weather, people, sounds, images glanced at the edge of my vision all sorts of stuff that comes into view. I make small, quick summary line drawings and sometimes if I’ve got the time I will do little watercolour sketches.

I refer to these books constantly. Somehow I remember things I might have done years ago and refer back for the detail when the time is right. The information collected in these books is my raw unedited source material. I guess these books are the store houses for my creative memory.

Which designers, artists or creative people do you admire?

Hard to be specific – I admire everyone who has an unwavering faith in their creative endeavours and is prepared to keep on producing the work they love regardless. And I love the restrained Japanese aesthetic, the pared back natural Scandinavian look and I love the raw direct emotion of central Australian aboriginal art.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Drive to the shop with the dog around 8.30 – 9am
Answer a few emails, make a few calls, have a meeting or two.
Work on some product development with my staff
Take the dog round the block at lunch time
Go to the studio do some creative stuff getting my hands dirty in the late afternoon
Do a bit of exercise or a swim if its nice before it gets too dark
And a bit more work in the evening if I feel like it.

LOVE Julie's re-worked piano stool, upholstered in Cloth fabric. When Julie revealed the hidden print under the seat during her talk there was a collective gasp in the audience! Such a beautiful detail!

What would be your dream creative project?

My favourite projects are boutique eco hotel developments where I get to work with the architect and designers collaboratively on all my favourite things - the artwork, fabrics, rugs and furniture.

What are you looking forward to?

Getting more time to paint and write.

Sydney questions!

Where do you shop for the tools of your trade?

Where I shop

The Typical -
Local artshops like Bondi Road Art,
dye specialist shops like Batik Oetoreo

The Unlikely -
In the back of my cupboards,
In the boot of my car
Just incase I left something there from last time

The Favourite -
Hardware shops
Stationary shops

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

Jimbaran Indonesian in Randwick

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

On a perfect typical Saturday morning I would be in my studio
On a run of the mill Saturday morning I would be doing my laundry thinking about going to the studio.

Sydney’s best kept secret?

I don’t have any secrets because I'm hopeless at keeping them.

Julie answers questions at Safari, guests enjoy a closer look at her paintings.

How beautiful is Safari Living? I had forgotten how lovely it is. Must visit more often. How about those pendant lights???
Stunning colourful ceramics and glassware at Safari Living. I may or may not have broken one of these glasses accidentally last night. Agggh! Very embarrassing.

Safari Living

579 High Street
Prahran VIC

o3 9510 4500

Clothshop (Cloth Fabric retail shop)
35 Buckingham street
Surry Hills NSW

o2 9699 2266

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Characters and Spaces

Subversive text in Centreway Arcade

'I'll put a Girdle Round the Earth' mosaic on Collins st by Neo-classical mural artist Napier Waller

The stories behind familiar logos

So I've been blabbing about State of Design for a week now... and festival fatigue has now well and truly sunk in! There's just too much to do and see for one little blogger! Aggghh.

BUT I tell you what is an absolutely fantastic thing to do - plus you can do it anytime at all... and it's completely free!

Characters and Spaces
is a self-guided walk around one CBD block, presented by the Communication Design Program at RMIT. The beautifully designed written guide and map can be found in the central pages of the SoD program, or otherwise can be downloaded here. This fantastic guide peels back the layers of graphic design and typography that can be found in the block between Collins, Swanston, Flinders and Elizabeths sts, telling stories of logos and signage we Melburnians pass everyday and barely think twice about.

It is so great! No matter how well you know Melbourne, I promise you'll be amazed at how much more there is to learn! Its nice to know there's still lots of secrets left to discover in this village city :)

The Majorca Building signage

I bet you've never noticed this lovely cursive type from the old Graham Hotel signage on Swanston st, near Collins! Neither had I!

Manchester Unity Building - always gorgeous.

Cute signage in Campbell Arcade (aka the Degraves st Subway)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Melbourne Design Guide

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few weeks you'll know that the eagerly anticipated new Melbourne Design Guide was launched this week! It is truly the bible of Melbourne design - outlining not just design-focused retail, but also galleries, studios, snippets and recommendations from local designers, bars and cafes with a design-sensibility... anything and everything visually stimulating in this beautiful city!

If you're heading to Melbourne anytime soon I would honestly recommend by-passing the Lonely Planets and instead picking up a copy of this fantastic locally-produced resource! It's absolutely exhaustive... I can only imagine the hours it must have taken to pull together. It's also beautifully designed by Chase & Galley... and feels like a well-loved journal, laced with hand-drawn details and layered collage-style illustrations.

If you visit the website you can actually flick through sample pages of the book and get a much clearer view of the stunning layout etc... much better than the scans I've included here.

Oh oh and guess what? They wrote up The Design Files! Yaaaaay! I was so excited when I read that! (They also mentioned my fella's bar, Mr Wilkinson in Brunswick... So editor Viviane Stappmans and her team are seriously in my good books for at least 3 years! :)

Buy the book online for only $40 including postage! ($55 international).

Mr Wilkinson and The Design Files both get a mention! Wooo!