Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Interview - Paige Russell

Canadian designer Paige Russell - she'll be showing her beautiful ceramics range this week at Designboom Mart in Melbourne!

North American Wild Life Series of stoneware vessels

The Spout Collective - I love these so much... they have such personality!

You know how when you go to a Design Market or trade show in Melbourne, it's great to see so many fab Australian designers in one place, and you always find lots of goodies to spend your cash on... but sometimes (and don't take this the wrong way...) there is just a little niggling feeling that you've seen a lot of the stuff before? ...and then you begin to get an insatiable hankering for something NEW!?

Well, that is where Designboom Mart comes in! Designboom Mart is run by Milan-based super-site Designboom. It's a cross between a design market and a group exhibition - and presents a unique opportunity to meet 40 international design professionals personally! Visitors can purchase intelligent, quirky designed pieces from their makers - and participating designers have the opportunity to meet new customers, manufacturers, distributors, press and curators. It'll be at the Melbourne Exhibition Building in Carlton this weekend, in the same location at Design Made Trade. So you can get your fix of local design and international talent all in one place!

Designboom has curated annual mart exhibitions in New York and Tokyo since 2005. This is their first time in Melbourne!

Canadian Ceramicist Paige Russell is one of 40 international designers who'll be showing their wares at Designboom Mart in Melboure this week, and I feel very lucky to give you a sneak peek of her beautiful work, and an interview with the designer herself!

Paige Russell is online here
She also has an Etsy store here
and a fantastic blog here

So much bookmarking to do. But make sure you visit Paige at Designboom Mart in Melbourne this week! In addition to the stunning range you see here, she'll also be unveiling some brand new products for the first time...

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

Growing up I was always busy making things; cookies, cakes, snow forts, cardboard cat apartments and air band instruments, newspapers, and flower arrangements. My sister & parents were very supportive and involved, sharing their creativity with me. I feel so lucky for that.

When I graduated, I moved from Kelowna to Vancouver and did a fine arts foundation program. From there I went to Parsons School of Design in NYC for Product Design. It was there that I met production ceramics and here I am today, still loving it.

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

I usually say the Spout series is my favorite, but today, just a few days after Canada Day, I’m feeling a tad patriotic and I’m going to say the Bad Beaver vase. To me it represents a bit of Canadian Mythology. And a recent special project that I had so much fun doing was the 3D sheep cracker project I did for my guest writing on Design*Sponge 2 months ago. I think I would also be perfectly happy being a food stylist…

Bad Beaver vases - cute!

3D sheep cracker project for Design*Sponge guest blog! Love it!!!! (Very Marije Vogelzang!)

Many designer/makers often say they love the creative side of the job, but struggle with ‘business’ and ‘salesperson’ side of things… how do you balance the creative work with the day-to-day tasks involved in running a small business?

I wish I could say that I’m the exception and that I have it all together… but the truth is that like many creative minds, I find it a challenge to wear all the hats that owning/running a business requires. I’m still learning how to navigate that and am going to be taking some delegation steps very soon that will hopefully help out with the balancing... But for now, ‘one foot in front of the other’ is how I make it work.

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

There are definitely a few magazines that I rely on - Living Etc., your Australian Vogue Living, and Dwell. When I have time online I check out Bloesem, Design*Sponge, Grain Edit, and Oh Joy. (Your blog was an exciting new find to add to my list!) My shelves of vintage finds whispers things to me from time to time. And if all else fails, my go-to spot that never lets me down is the shower. Water + me = direct line to the collective consciousness idea pool!

And if that doesn’t work and I’m really really stuck, I take twenty minutes and watch Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk from this year’s TED conference on nurturing creativity. (She’s the author of Eat, Pray, Love) It’s brilliant. And SUPER inspiring.

Some of Paige's earlier work

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

Anyone following their dream is a hero to me. It’s not an easy path! But the ones who amaze me most of late are Hella Jongerious for her prolific playfulness, Piet Hein Eek for his clever reclaimations, and Christien Meindertsma for her soft & thoughtful explorations. And searching for images of Christien’s work is how I found you, so I’m extra grateful to her!*

*aww thanks Paige! :) I'm so glad Christien introduced us! - Lucy

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Most days I start with checking and answering my emails, doing the daily post for my blog paige + modern, and then I grab my amazing assistant, who also happens to be my mother, and it’s up to the studio to whistle while we make.

Inside Paige's studio in British Columbia

What are you most proud of professionally?

I think being part of the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum’s ‘Inside Design Now’ triennial in 2003 is the list topper for me. It was pretty exciting to see my work in that environment, in the company of such amazing designers!

What would be your dream project?

One would involve going back in time to build a Mid Century ice fishing village with Walter Widmeyer on structure duty, Charles & Ray Eames on furniture, Alexander Girard on textiles & other bright d├ęcor bits. I would make custom hot beverage sets & fireplace tiles. Yes!

A (slightly) more realistic one would be to start a design camp on one of the Gulf Islands that would have kids & college students workshop-ing together to create tree forts, sustainable forest based products, and other such goodness. And all without (gasp!) computers. They’d be kicking it old school Macgyver style.

My inspiration for this is Gever Tulley’s Tinkering School. They are making some serious magic happen down (up for you) in California for a few kids. BC could use some of that goodness!

What are you looking forward to?

I can’t wait to come down under for the State of Design show and see how you guys get it done in the Southern Hemisphere! I love experiencing new places and styles and from the great bits of Australian design I’ve seen, I won’t be disappointed!

British Columbia Questions!

What do you love about living in British Columbia?

The trees, the lakes, the mountains. She is a beauty she is.

And to see what I love about living in Kelowna, check out the city guide I did for Design*Sponge. (here and here)

Paige's ceramics studio in British Columbia

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

Ooooh, it was at local Kelowna favorite, Raudz. They use mostly locally grown/raised ingredients and put lots of creative thought into the taste combos & presentation. Very yum.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Working my one shift a week at a local tea shop, owned by a high school friend, called Chai Baba’s. I do it to get out of my studio and interact with the public. It’s also just a great space to spend time in.

British Columbia’s best kept secret?

Definitely the Gulf Islands, with their big rain forest trees, very talented back-to-nature folks, and rocky beaches. They are worth a visit!

Designboom Mart

Trade only days - Thurs 16th and Fri 17th July - 10am - 5pm

Open to the Public - Sat 18th, Sun 19th July - 10am - 5pm

$10 entry (includes entry to Design Made Trade)

Melbourne Exhibition Building, Nicholson st, Carlton

Thanks so much for your time Paige! Very much looking forward to meeting you soon! x


  1. Thanks Lucy, as always a super interview! This post has made me want to attend DesignBoomMart... I'll def be dropping by on the weekend now.

  2. She's a clever girl, ain't she? Love that work

  3. Paige is awesome. Love the interview.

  4. Wonderful interview!

    I LOVE the wallpaper behind the North American Wildlife Series pieces!