Friday, March 5, 2010

Interview - Aimee McCallum

Aimee McCallum in her gorgeous North Fitzroy store, Tiger & Peacock.

Love these canopies in the window of Tiger & Peacock - made of course by Aimee!

Some of Tiger & Peacock's gorgeous wares, sourced internationally by Aimee and partner Mark.

Windows at Husk by Aimee

Another Husk window by Aimee

Although we only met last year, I've been admiring Aimee McCallum's incredible work for many years - and chances are, you probably have too! Aimee is responsible for the stunning window displays in Melbourne's Husk stores over the past 7 years... and let's face it - no one does a window quite like Husk! I've often walked past the windows of the Carlton and Hawksburn stores and snapped a quick pic on my phone - Aimee's work never fails to turn heads and draw a smile from passers by! From her incredible oversized knitting needles, to her soft hanging tissue pom poms (blogged here last year!) or cascade of hand-folded fans.... Aimee has such a brilliant way of bringing together colour, texture and hand-made elements to create awe-inspiring results.

Aimee's visual merchandising clients over the years have included so many brilliant Melbourne retailers - such as T2 Tea , Klein's Perfumery, Safari Living and Husk. In recent years Aimee's passion for travel and design have also encouraged her and partner Mark Azzopardi (an architect) to launch Tiger & Peacock - a wholesale business importing stunning gifts and homewares sourced from around the world.

...and as if Aimee wasn't busy enough scouring the globe for Tiger & Peacock treasures, and dreaming up Husk windows... late last year the pair added one more feather to their bow - they launched their very own retail store! The Tiger & Peacock shop is such a gorgeous little space in North Fitzroy, full of dazzling trinkets, homewares and furniture. Currently the store is manned full time by Aimee herself - who you will often find hiding behind her sewing machine at the counter whilst she tinkers away on her next eye-catching window installation!

Thanks so much to Aimee for her time with this interview, and for all the stunning shots of her work! If you're in the North do pop in to Tiger & Peacock in st Georges Rd and say hello!

Tiger & Peacock

187 St Georges rd

Fitzroy North

Ph. 9489 8105

Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Aimee's famous pink pom poms!

Tell me a little about your background – what path originally led you to Visual Merchandising, product sourcing/wholesaling, and now to opening your very own shop?

I think I was just meant to be a visual merchandiser. When I was about 8 years old, while I was re-arranging my side of the bedroom I shared with my sister, my Mum told me “Aimee you're going to be a Visual Merchandiser or an interior designer " - Well here I am!

From a young adult I have worked for many business doing instore displays and window displays, I started in T2, Kliens Perfumery, Husk for over 7 years and of course now Tiger & Peacock.

Before working for Husk I wanted to make sure I had chosen the right career for my self, so I lived in Italy for about three years teaching English to children. I loved this job but I felt like I was missing something creative in my life.

So over the many years during my work for Husk I developed a very strong style, which my partner Mark recognised and encouraged me to explore. With all of his positive support, this moved us to do something of our own; so with Mark's strong background in Architecture and me with multiple years of VM and retail experience, we sought to make our dream happen. The vision that has come to fruition is a collaboration between Mark and myself. Over the past two years with Tiger & Peacock we have found we really balance each other as a team to create a unique co-corporate image. Product design, sourcing, interior design and distinctive installations have all been the fruits of the tree we both planted.

More treasures at Tiger & Peacock!

You have created some incredible windows for Husk and other retailers over the years, which I’m sure many Melburnians (myself included!) would have noticed and admired…! What is it that makes a great window in your opinion?

I think that Melbourne has an abundance of outstanding windows. I believe that it’s about keeping a consistent standard, which involves a number of important elements; *Knowing your client, be different , think BIG , volume, and VERY IMPORTANT- Create your own style, this is how people remember you. And be passionate!

Husk windows by Aimee

What has been one of your favourite windows and why?

I really had to have a good think about this question as I have loved doing so many…… so after much thought I would have to say my rope knitting with huge wooden needles. I did this window just after returning from Malta, so I had so many good memories running around in my head. I felt that my thoughts and memories would be knitted into the three huge scarfs (about 1 X 3.5 meters). It was a winter window, but because it was knitted with bright orange rope, when people looked they would smile! I love it when my windows make people smile - it means I have done my job and if they buy … it means I need a bonus!

There are my favourite Husk Windows too! Did you know I snapped some of these pics way back before I even had a blog!? That's how long I have been an Aimee McCallum fan!

What does a typical day at work involve for you at the moment? How do you structure you time between Tiger & Peacock and your VM clients?

I plan my week well in advance which could typically consist of constructing a new window, calling clients and customers to keep them up to date with our new products or pure design and construct work which can involve anything from sewing, folding paper to weaving. Throw in 101 other daily tasks and that would be my normal day!

Various Husk window makings...

A very colourful Husk Christmas window

Your distinct eclectic, handmade aesthetic is clear in both your VM work and in the beautiful interior and stock at Tiger & Peacock.. but what about your sense of style at home? How do you decorate your own personal space?

At the moment it looks like a bomb has hit it! Time is not on my side with home decorating! Maybe I should tell you what I would like it to look like….. Clean lines, Moroccan inspired decorated with the craft we have collected from around the world.

Where do you turn for creative inspiration – travel, local and international design trends, magazines, books or the web etc?

At the moment I need to look beyond things like magazines and Internet. Over the years I have collected every scrap that inspires me - this ranges from material to magazines & packaging and even beautiful things from nature. The best form of inspiration for me is a bike ride along Merri creek or a walk in a park. I do also love to keep up to date with blog spots like Design Files X

Aimee enthusiastically showed me her reference folders and trinket collections which she turns to for inspiration...

Which designers / creative people do you admire?

My number One is my partner Mark Azzopardi - he inspires me on many different levels of creativity.

My Dad - he is where I got my creativity from. He's an amazing artist - my favourites are his watercolours.

I consider myself to be a good cook, which is a creative outlet and that is thanks to Mum.

I always love to know what Zaha Hadid is up to - an amazing woman in the world of architecture.

What would be your dream creative project?

If I could ask for any project it would have to be a Chanel Catwalk!

What are you looking forward to?

Tiger & Peacock Expanding ……and a trip to Turkey. But most of all quality time with my family.

Melbourne Questions

Your favourite Melbourne shops?

Tiger & Peacock, Casa Iberica (Fitzroy), The Mediterranean Wholesaler (Sydney Rd), and any Hardware Shop …..

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

The Banquet at The Moroccan Soup Kitchen. Yum yum.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Tiger & Peacock or Edinburgh Gardens North Fitzroy.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

Pastrami Roll from La Paloma. Oh my god I have to go and get one now!! I love it because when your there you feel like you are somewhere in the Mediterranean .


  1. I have always loved Aimee's pom poms, great interview

  2. Thanks so much for this Lucy.
    I recently discovered Aimees shop and spent more than I should have...loved meeting the woman behind all those gorgeous windows!

  3. Thanks for doing this interview, Aimee's work is very inspiring. I must check out her shop.

  4. What a fabulous interview with an amazing person. Would love to visit her shop one day.
    Thanks so much for inspiring me today.

  5. This Adelaidean was not familar with Aimees work or store. Can't wait to check out Tiger and Peacock on my next trip to Melbourne. Thanks Lucy, loved this interview

  6. Wow! I've been reading about quite a few people I have worked with over the years lately from back in our old retail days - including Aimee! Its so fantastic to see the wonderful things they are doing now.
    Thanks again Lucy x

  7. This article is great, Im heading down to Melbourne at the end of the month from Sydney, after 3 years, so I was trawling your site to find some inspiring Melbourne design and hot spots. Thanks for the tip, Ill be doing some serious window shopping!

  8. This is sooo inspiring and I really like (apart from everything else) the comment to be different, create your own style and be passionate. All things I'm trying to work at on my little stall on Greenwich Market in London :-) Love your blog, thanks for all the inspiration. Carole x