Monday, March 31, 2008

Mr Lincoln

Mr Lincoln

Sarah and Louise in their brand new shop

stunning posies on display

100% biodegradable flowerpots made from cane - plant them in the soil, and they'll break down completely in 24 months.

Mr Lincoln is a variety of red garden rose. It's also Fitzroy's newest florist, at 102 Gertrude st Fitzroy.

Sarah Nolan and Louise Cooper opened their little shop on Feb 11th. They're both experienced florists who've worked here and overseas for many years, but Mr Lincoln is their first shop of their own. It's a gorgeous little place, and I've no doubt we'll be hearing a lot more about them soon enough...

What sets Mr Lincoln apart is their focus on sustainability. Sarah and Louise have set Mr Lincoln up to be a completely environmentally friendly business. They avoid excess packaging at all costs - they'll wrap your flowers in unbleached fabric (which you can return for recycling), and they refuse packaging when buying their stock at the wholesale markets. They recycle all their green waste, and almost all their stock is local (ie from Victorian growers), to minimise the carbon footprint that comes with stock transportation.

Considering all the packaging that most florists use - cellophane, papers and ribbons etc, its no wonder these two likeminded florists have banded together to offer something different. It's such a great idea, and something I'm sure locals will embrace.

Mothers day is the second Sunday in May - which seems a little way off I know... but it'll creep up before you know it, and when it does, remember to pay Sarah and Louise a visit!

ps) must apologise for the photo quality... can't understand it. I think my camera must have been on a strange setting. whoops.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Gertrude st Shopping Guide

If I only had 1 recommendation for a day out in Melbourne I think I would suggest a trip to Gertrude st, Fitzroy. Such a great collection of small boutiques, breakfast, lunch and dinner spots and small galleries... a truly eclectic mix. If you stroll along the route on the map above, you'll easily fill up an afternoon... but if you're up for a full day you could also venture down Brunswick st for more shopping... or if it's getting dark I'd avoid Brunswick st (which gets a little ugly as the sun goes down) and head into the city for drinks or dinner...

ps) must apologise to Melburnians who probably won't be surprised by any of my suggestions! I thought I should include even the most obvious choices for any out-of-town readers who might be planning a trip... Also sorry didn't manage to get all the opening hours down... blah.

*later addition (not on the map - sorry)
Crumpler Bags
87 Smith st Fitzroy (Cnr Gertrude st)

Crumpler doesn't just design a great range of bags, camera and laptop cases... They are also fantastic at fostering local creative talent - they often collaborate with local young creatives for their super-kooky marketing campaigns, and sponsor many Melbourne indy/artsy events (including tertiary Film Festival ‘U Film Fest’ and the Enhance TV ATOM Awards.) They’re good guys. These days, in addition to the extensive Crumpler range, you can also order a custom made design – The Fitzroy store has an adjoining workshop where your unique design can be turned into the Crumpler bag of your dreams.

1) Aesop - # 242 Gertrude st.

Aesop needs no introduction really... beautiful botanical-based skincare and haircare products, stunning simple packaging, and, importantly, beautifully designed interior fit-outs. I like the pared-back aesthetic - they often make use of their signature packaging to form part of the fixtures (as with the central display bench above), and they use a lot of raw materials such a plywood, cardboard and polished concrete etc. In the top image you can also see their custom window installation by possibly Melbourne's most publicised floral/event designer - Joost Bakker.

ps) there are some more excellent shots of the interior fit-outs of Aesop stores worldwide on their website - go to 'thinking', then 'design inspiration'.

2) Dr. Follicles Barber Shop - # 240 Gertrude st.

Very kooky little barber shop for boys. Great retro fit-out - traditional barber chairs, retro wallpaper, kitsch prints on the walls, and a generally fun, laid back atmosphere. The haircuts are cheap and allegedly very good, but the main drawcard for locals seems to be the free stubby of Coopers Beer with every haircut! You don't even need an appointment. Worth peeking your head in for a look at the decor, even if you're a girl (and I'm assuming most of you are) ;)

Nice little write up of Dr. Follicles here on the Abbotsford Blog (who knew?)... bit out-of-date now but it's a good summary.

3) Birdman Eating - #238 Gertrude st

Good cafe for breakfast and lunch... cute fit-out. Always busy. Good review here.

4) Fatto a Mano Bakery - #228 Gertrude st

Great rustic bread and baked goods. The bread is dense and tastes good for you! For a cheap lunch while you stroll grab a homemade pizza slice... mmm.

5) Obus - #226 Ger

Obus is a well-respected all-Australian made fashion label. Their design philosophy is simple - they set out to create 'intelligent, tailored clothing for modern thinking women'. Obus features natural fibres and exclusive prints, and is manufactured locally in Melbourne. (This is very rare these days!) Interesting fabrics and cuts... I also love those hexagons on the window (temporary display only).

6) Ladro - # 224a

Ladro is just for dinner... sorry. But I couldn't write a Gertrude st guide without including it! It's become such a well-known Fitzroy eatery - and with good reason. Great pizzas (slightly pricey, yes, but worth it), delicious salads and appetisers, great atmosphere (although does border on slightly wanky at times), and, again, great interior fit-out (these things are important!). Love the light fittings especially. Make a booking or you won't get a table!

Open Wed-Sun 6pm - 11pm.
Phone - (03) 9415 7575

7) Books for Cooks - #233 -235

Books for Cooks is Australia's largest cookbook bookshop. It's a great little shop that stocks
over 20,000 new, out-of print, second-hand & antiquarian cookery books, books on food writing, food history, food science, wine writing, food & wine guides & many other food related areas. They stock books for professionals, students, enthusiastic amateurs, novices as well as children.

8) Enoteca - #229

Enoteca is a wine bar gaining quite a reputation these days. Great for an early evening drink while waiting for your table at Ladro. They also serve tasty bar snacks and tapas -
things like marinated olives, antipasto such as cured ham and pork terrines, and a range of cheeses.

Open Monday - Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner til late, Sunday for lunch and dinner.

9) Spacecraft - #225

Spacecraft have carved themselves a bit of a niche in Australia for their signature screenprinted homewares and bedlinen. Stewart Russell, who set up the company, was born in Scotland, studied fine art in England and Canada and currently lives and works in Melbourne. Russell has an impressive CV - In London he was director of London Printworks, a contemporary arts organisation with an international reputation for its exhibition program, commissioning a series of artists and fashion designers to discuss issues through the medium of printed textiles.

Spacecraft's style has always been characterised by their layers of botanical silhouettes in fantastic colours, but in recent years they've also added architectural images, photographs, and more graphic geometric patterns to the mix. They've also branched out by applying their images to clothing, accessories and simple timber furniture. The store has an interesting industrial interior fit-out, which includes a screenprinted pattern on the polished concrete floor, and colourful printed timber cubes which stack to form the counter (image above).

10) Industria - #202

Oh oh am I allowed to have a favourite? I think I am. And it's Industria!

Sue and Quinton Puckley opened Industria nearly 10 years ago... which makes them probably the longest standing current residents in this little round up. In that time Gertrude st has seen a lot of changes, but Industria hasn't changed much at all. They inhabit a vast space, filled to the brim with ex-industrial furniture, old medical equipment - including stainless steel trolleys and cabinets, vintage medical models and diagrams, chemistry equipment and glassware, vintage maps and signage, vintage lighting (including those ever-popular aluminium tram/bowls club lights)... the list goes on. They were sourcing and selling this eccentric collection of industrial pieces long before the demand was as great as it is now... and in recent years they've also incorporated a vintage clothing section, and vintage jewellery and accessories, and have also added reproduction industrial furniture to the mix.

Industria is a bit of a Melbourne institution. It's a truly unique shop. If you're visiting Melbourne, you have to promise me you'll visit!

Open Mon-Fri 11.00-5.00, Sat 11.00-6.00, Sun 12.00-5.00.

11) Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces - #200

Before its gentrification in recent years, Fitzroy was a hub for local artists, and Gertrude st was full of artists studios. Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces continues this tradition. It was founded in 1983 as a non profit contemporary art complex of gallery spaces and studio facilities, for the purpose of supporting artists in the early stages of their careers through exhibition, studio and public programs. They also house sixteen low-cost, non-residential studios for local artists, and a residential studio for visiting international and interstate artists.

From 14th March until 12th April, the Main gallery is showing 'Oblivion Pavilion', with works from Marley Dawson, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Matthew Hopkins, Emily Hunt, Tim Schultz, Raquel Welch, Curated by Amanda Rowell. For other upcoming exhibition see here.

Open Tue - Fri 11am-5.30pm, Sat 1-5.30pm

*later addition (not on the map sorry)
197 Gertrude st
(03) 9415 6101
Dinnertime only (sorry)

Anada is the current darling of the restaurant scene in Melbourne and with good reason. The well-publicised pedigree of co-owner Jesse Gerner includes London's Moro and The River Cafe, and a stint at MoVida in Melbourne. It’s my new favourite Restaurant in the whole of Melbourne. Seriously. Think Movida-style tapas, just a bit cheaper and a bit easier to get in to (Movida requires a booking up to a month in advance these days). The food is excellent and I think reasonably priced. A delicious, generous meal and wine for 2 can easily be had for under $100.

12) Deans Art - #188

Not much needs saying here. Deans Art have everything for the aspiring and professional artist. And its cheaper than Eckersleys.

13) Arcadia - #193

I have a love/hate relationship with Arcadia. The food is usually great, the interior is so nice and homely, the atmosphere is relaxed. However, the staff, I think, have gotten just slightly too aloof in the last year or two... they're just a little less attentive than would be ideal. A bit too cool for school, ya know? The food is yum though... good for a cheap, cheerful lunch.

14) Title - #183

Title is a great little shop with a select collection of music and film titles. Mostly its indi and/or slightly obscure stuff... lots of fun discoveries to be made here. Also another cute interior - more with the plywood fixtures... it's getting a bit everywhere but it still looks good.

Open Mon-Fri 11.00-7.00, Sat 10.00-6.00, Sun 11.00-6.00.

15) Porters Paints - #167

Whenever you read an article in a good interiors magazine about some gorgeous, eclectically styled interior space, the designer always seems to say they swear by custom mixed Porters Paints. Porters Paints is a well-respected Australian-owned company specializing in innovative paint finishes for both interior and exterior applications. They're famous for producing lime washes and traditional paint finishes, all of which are handmade and colour blended using time honoured traditions.

Peter Lewis named the company after his grandfather, Fred Porter, who was a builder in Sydney in the early 1900s. Apparently he had a special affection for the look of traditional paint finishes used throughout Europe, and often used them in his work. Shortly after his grandfather's death, Lewis discovered a number of old diaries with the recipes for these traditional paints. It was then that he decided to start a company which would produce paints of this quality, combining traditional methods and modern technology.

16) Left - #161
Left is an unique Melbourne fashion boutique for a number of reasons. They carefully select their exclusive stock... Most of which you wont find anywhere else in Melbourne, or Australia for that matter. The cryptically named Italian 'm.A+' label, in fact, is so exclusive that you'll find it at only 3 places worldwide. And one of them is Left. Cool huh? They also stock the Comme de Garcons' diffusion line, Y's by Yohji Yamamoto, and other selected high-end brands. The staff are true professionals - they know their fashion, they look incredible, and they're not snobs. They're true fashionistas.

OH and the interior design has won a few awards... it's fantastic. Wander in and check it out. The staff are just as happy to chat about the interior fit-out as they are their stock.

17) Artisan Books - #159

Artisan Books specialises in books, periodicals and exhibition catalogues relating to art, craft, design and culture. Their staff are experienced and helpful... and are usually more than happy to help you find even the most obscure of titles. They also exhibit a range of craft/artworks (think weavings, basketry and ceramics) in their in-store gallery.

Open Mon-Fri 10.00-5.30, Sat 11.00-4.30.

18) Seventh Gallery - #155

Seventh Gallery is an independent, artist-run exhibition space. Sometimes it has really interesting exhibitions... sometimes nothing you'd write home about. But the 2008 calender is looking quite interesting - check it out. The spaces houses 2 exhibition spaces - the front gallery (with window frontage), and the recently renovated and more intimate back gallery. From 25th March - 5th April the front gallery is showing 'A Particular Nothing' by Alex Penfold, and the back gallery is showing 'My Melbourne' by Shiau-Peng Chen. (oooh that link is worth a click...- I like those geometric shapes).

19) Three Quarters - #128

Three Quarters stocks lovely art deco and 20th century furnishings. Scandinavian stuff, retro stuff. You know the drill. It's good though.

Open Tues-Sat 11.00-5.30.

20) Moustache - #124

Vintage clothing. According to my sources, they apparently have a great selection... Bit pricey for vintage, but the best places usually are.

21) Alice Euphemia - #114

Alice Euphemia is no longer in Gertrude st! Closed down 10/9/08 :(

22) Dianne Tanzer Gallery - #108-110

Dianne Tanzer Gallery
represents a group of select artists. They usually show super contemporary pieces... lots of large scale stuff... a bit of craft-based stuff. Great variety. There are a good collection of images on their website.

Open Tues-Fri 10.00-5.00, Sat 12.00-5.00.

23) Circa Vintage Clothing - #102

Circa is a vintage clothing store with a difference - You won't find cowboy boots and peasant blouses here. It's true vintage - ie pieces from as early as the 40's and 50's - really classic pieces. Unfortunately that means a lot of tiny sizes. Especially the shoes :( But you know. Beautiful pieces. And everything they sell has been lovingly restored back to its original glory - because really, if you buy something with a broken zipper are you really ever going to get around to fixing it?

Circa is owned and run by Nicole Jenkins, who has worked in costume hire, film, theatre and a few fashion companies here in Australia and in the UK. She studied Costume Design and Construction at Perth Technical College and the WA Academy of Performing Arts and ran a Sydney vintage clothing shop - Glebe’s “Albert and Gladys” - in the late 1980s.

Nicole's website is also a bit of a blog, which is regularly updated and features Nicoles' latest finds, stocked items as well as more general lovely images of vintagey things.

Open Tues-Sat, 11.00-6.00.

24) Mr Lincoln - shop 2 / # 102

Mr Lincoln is the newest kid on the block around here. Actually when I dropped in they weren't entirely up and running, so they didn't want me to take any photos just yet. I think they were still waiting on some workbenches for the shop. Anyway... what I do know is this - They're a really cute little florist... the walls are painted black with white hand-writing on top (lovely), and there are gorgeous white Birch branches leaning up in the window.

I promise I will go back very very soon and uncover some more information. Before they get a write up in The Age... or ThreeThousand. Agghh. The clock's ticking.

25) amor y locura - #77

amor y locura scours South America for the most beautiful antiques and relics... There's lots of distressed wrought iron ware, fantastic antique timber doors and gates, the odd lamp, religious iconography and framed mirrors and artworks. It's an eclectic and unique mix... they also restore a lot of the pieces themselves - amongst other things they can create glass-topped coffee tables from some of the wrought iron relics, and upholster stunning antique chairs in fabric of your choosing. This treasure trove is definitely worth the extra few steps beyond Brunswick st, so make sure you don't leave it out!

Open Wed-Sat 12.0o-5.00 or by appointment.

26 ) Robio - #73

Last but not least, Robio is a Japanophile's playground - vinyl figurines and robot toys in all shapes and sizes, T shirts and hoodies, books and magazines, artwork, accessories... check out their comprehensive website for photos of a lot of their stock.

Open Tues-Sat 11.00-6.00.

*later addition (not on the map yet - sorry)
Cottage Industry
67 Gertrude st Fitzroy
(03) 9419 2430
Open 11am - 6pm Wednesday-Saturday

Cottage Industry is owned and run by Melbourne craft queen Penelope Durston. Inside this cosy little boutique you will find hand made clothing, quilts, homewares and accessories… many created from vintage tea towels and tablecloths (sounds strange, actually they’re stunning). Almost everything here is made by Pene Durston herself. She’s a craft machine.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Interview - Natalie Walton

Feels silly to say it, but every once in a while I come across someone that I just find myself really inspired by and drawn to (in a professional sense of course!). It doesn't happen often but when it does it re-energises me, fills me with new ideas, renewed motivation - and even longer to-do lists! At the moment, that someone is Natalie Walton.

I was so excited to read Natalie's fantastic guest blog on Design*Sponge a few weeks ago... It was wonderful to see some great Australian content reaching international readers! Of course I immediately checked out Natalie's own blog, Daily Imprint, and became an instant fan. It's no surprise that I find Natalie such an inspiration - as deputy editor at Australian magazine Real Living, she makes a living out of inspiring others.

Natalie's favourite Real Living cover - love those colours, and that Noguchi lamp on the dresser...

I admire Natalie's ability to successfully juggle so many creative endeavours - constantly tackling new challenges at work, sharing daily bursts of inspiration on her blog, waking up an hour earlier in the mornings to work on her novel(!!) - talk about motivated!

Real Living feature on Natalie's renovation of her own apartment in Sydney - gorgeous pictures and an amazing transformation on a very tight budget!

Read on for one of my favourite interviews yet! I particularly love Natalie's description of the creative people that inspire her - simply, 'women who are living the dream'. Now that's something to aspire to!

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

Writing has always been a passion of mine. So too has reading – obviously, they go hand in hand. I never really knew “what I wanted to be when I grew up” but I knew it had to be something to do with these two activities. I studied English Literature at university and it seemed logical to put a practical spin on what I’d learnt, so I went on to complete a Master of Arts in Journalism at the University of Technology Sydney. I started out as a financial reporter – of all things! – and slowly worked my way through the ranks to get on a title that I could be passionate about – interiors. In one of my many moments pondering what direction to take in life during my late teens, I actually considered becoming an interior designer. On reflection my job strikes the perfect balance.

Working at a gorgeous interiors magazine seems to be what many people would consider a ‘dream job’! Is it a dream job in reality? Was it what you always wanted to do? Has it lived up to your expectation?

Interviewing creative and passionate people; writing on topics I’m interested in (eg, how to buy art); travelling to other cities and documenting my experiences; reading interiors magazines; brainstorming feature ideas; trying to make the best magazine possible – of course it’s my dream job! I never had one particular concept on a pedestal as being my “dream job” but I knew it had to meet certain criteria. And this role definitely ticks all the boxes.

Above - excerpts from Natalie's recent travel feature on Brisbane - I love the personalised feel of these stories... also love seeing her husband Daniel in these shots!

What's the best thing about your job?

All of the above!

And the worst?

Not always having the time or resources to achieve all the ideas I have in my head – but then that’s also part of the thrill. There’s always a race against the clock – and budget!

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Every day is really different and that’s what I love about this role. So often in previous jobs once I’ve learnt what I needed to know a certain level of boredom has crept in. Whereas this has yet to happen at Real Living – there’s just no time! But, generally speaking, I research feature ideas, write articles, help organise photo shoots, read proofs and make corrections to ensure we’re putting the best possible issue out, help devise a schedule of which features will run when, plus a million other things.

What are you most proud of professionally?

Being deputy editor of real living which is put out by Australia’s largest magazine publisher – ACP Magazines.

What would you say defines ‘Australian style’ (in architecture/interiors)?

There is a casualness and relaxed nature to Australian style. And I think we often shirk away from saying this as if it means that our style is insignificant. In fact, I think it’s the perfect blend of British (fashion forward and edgy) and American (classic and conservative) style.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in people who are passionate and enthusiastic about what they do, especially when it’s in a creative field. But I recognise that not everyone can have an “interesting” full-time job, but if those people don’t have some outside interest – whatever it is: birdwatching; photography; vintage car restoring – then they’re not people I really want to be stuck talking to at a barbecue. Above all, I want to learn. If I’m not learning, I’m bored.

Which designers, artists or creative people do you look up to or are you inspired by?

There really are so many. That’s why I’ve got a blog dedicated to them! I look up to people who work on a smaller scale – such as those I featured on my recent guest blog at Design*Sponge (Real Living editor Deborah Bibby, Dumbo Feather publisher and editor Kate Bezar; interior stylists Clair Wayman and Megan Morton; interior book authors and editors Karen McCartney and Shannon Fricke; illustrators Kat Macleod and Emma Magenta; and “creators” Jodie Fried of Bholu, Kristina Karlsson of Kikki.K, Marnie Goding of Elk Accessories and Virginie Fontes of Honey Bee Homewares and Toile a Matelas) – basically women who are living the dream. On a larger scale I love women who seem to have no fear: Vivienne Westwood, the late Isabella Blow, Anna Wintour, Coco Chanel, Gertrude Stein, the list goes on. As for men, I’m in love with Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, TS Eliot – I can’t seem to move beyond the modernist period.

I read that you are writing a novel! I don’t know how you find the time! What can you tell us about this ‘labour of love’?

I wish I could finish! I’m so ashamed to admit that it’s a project that’s been going on for more than five years now. But during this time I’ve moved countries, travelled around Europe, got married, had a miscarriage, fallen pregnant again (fingers crossed, I’m now 28 weeks’ pregnant), changed jobs more than four times and started a blog. Excuses? I’m still trying to work that one out. When I’m being good I get up at 5.30am and write for an hour in the morning, when I’m being bad I don’t. At the moment I’m bad – but I’m hoping to finish it – I’m SO close! – during maternity leave. It’s taking so long because, to me, how something is written is just as important as what is written. Every word is there for a reason.

What are you looking forward to – professionally or personally?

Professionally, I’m just focussed on getting all loose ends tied up before I go on maternity leave in June. Personally, the birth of my first child… and getting that novel finished.

And to steal one of your own interview questions(!) – what five words best describe you?

Passionate, impatient, indefatigable, knowledge-hungry, word addict.

Sydney Questions –

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

I believe meals made with love are the tastiest – so home-cooked meals (when someone else is doing the cooking) are the best. But I still can’t forget the first time I had zuppa di cozze at Gelbison in Bondi; spaghetti arrabbiata with crab at North Bondi Italian Food and every cheese and cherry strudel I’ve eaten (many!) at the Gelato Bar in Bondi – yes, it counts as a meal to me.

Your favourite bookshop in Sydney?

Ariel in Paddington for making the rest of the world seem that much closer. And second-hand bookshop Gertrude & Alice in Bondi for filling my shelves.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

I love Saturday because it is “my” day – my husband works – and so I try to fill it with quality “me time”. I start almost every day with a walk down to the beach (used to be a run but the bump is a bit in the way at the moment) then I read the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald, clean the flat (that part I can do without) and write my novel – bliss!

Sydney’s best kept secret?

The Museum of Contemporary Art. I’m not sure what the attendance figures are like at the moment but there was a time when it was struggling to get funding and there was talk of it closing down. I’m so happy it didn’t and wish more people would check it out (not just tourists) because to me it is the best way to give my brain and imagination a good shake up and super-charge of creativity.

below - excerpts from Natalie's travel feature for Sydney and Melbourne.

Natalie's next challenge is just around the corner - she's expecting her first baby in the coming months! Good luck and congratulations Natalie :) It's just the start of another exciting chapter...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Maira Kalman

All images in this post unless otherwise specified are by Maira Kalman - for The Principles of Uncertainty column (The New York Times).

Maira Kalman is an illustrator, author and designer living in New York.

The more I read, the more things I like about her. These things include:

1) She's prolific, and her work is fantastically varied. (that's 2 things actually)

She's written and illustrated a number of children's books and other publications, designed and illustrated various covers for The New Yorker magazine, designed fabric for renowned NY fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, designed textiles and accessories for Kate Spade, designed sets for the Mark Morris Dance Group, and has also designed a range of clocks, umbrellas and other high-end accessories for the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Phew.

3) There's something incredibly engaging about her painting style.

Maybe it's because each illustration tells a story. Thoughtful handwritten observations accompany her detailed, vibrant and slightly naive renderings of everyday life. She gives the most simple of subjects a life of their own... and she paints everything - portraits, landscapes, still lifes, and food. I really like the food pictures actually.

3) She looks friendly


During 2007, Maira Kalman was responsible for a fantastically popular illustrated column for The New York Times, entitled 'The Principles of Uncertainty'. You can view this brilliant collection of works here on Kalman's New York Times blog. It's so worth a browse. I love January for the words about the sun exploding ('Knowing that, how could anyone want a war? Or plastic surgery'?), November for the wonderful snippets of Paris, and please go all the way back to July for the old people who have difficulty walking. (Jess Leski are you reading? You would LOVE July.)

A selection of illustrations from this column have also been published in hardcover.

ALSO weirdly enough I was just hunting around for an interview with Maira and there's a great one here that was just posted this week! Fantastic.

'My secret for drawing is not a secret. It is sitting down and drawing. I do the best I can which means I try not to do it right but just to do it as I feel and as I see.' - Maira Kalman (via the newly bookmarked Inspiration Boards blog).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Japanese Books

Selected pages and front cover of one of my favourite Japanese books. It's about paper craft and collage, it's published by Pie Books, and I have no idea what the title is(!) but the ISBN is 4-89444-471-2.

Japanese books are one of my few internet shopping indulgences... occasionally I'll order up big on Amazon Japan or Yes Asia... and the thrill of receiving that package and flicking through the pages of perfectly styled photographs, carefully selected paperstock, beautifully sketched diagrams and indecipherable kanji just gets me every time!

I can't put my finger on why these books are so seductive (especially given that I can't read a word of Japanese) but I'm not the only fan! Crafting Japanese is a great resource for selecting and buying Japanese books... a vast number of contributers post images of their purchases with the ISBN numbers here, which is the easiest way to track and buy these books if you don't read Japanese. There's also a pretty good selection on Flickr... try searching for 'Japanese Books' or 'Japanese craft'.

Most of the books in my little collection are craft project books with beautiful shots of handmade bags, purses, cushions, baskets, printed fabrics or papercrafts... and gorgeous sketched diagrams to accompany each project. These delicate, hand-drawn little diagrams are usually enough to work out the construction of each item. But if you're not handy with a sewing machine (or if, like me, you're just a little short of time and motivation!) the photography and prop styling in these books is so stunning I guarantee they'll still be an inspiration! If craft isn't your thing, there's also a wide range of inspiring interiors and travel titles - for a kooky Japanese take on subject matter like shopping in Stockholm or Parisian kitchens! (images below)

above - cover and pages from 'Paris Kitchens', ISBN 4-07-24600-7

above - cover (top left) and pages from 'Lotta Jansdotter's Travel Style', ISBN 4-07-244191-0

Oh, and did I mention that most of these Japanese books are usually surprisingly cheap? Seriously... I don't think I've ever paid more than AU$30 for one. Best to order a few at a time to save on shipping though... (not that you'll need my encouragement).

Thursday, March 20, 2008


'Alice's Tea Party' was held at Ozone Living Design Center in Shinjuku, Tokyo, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of English tea brand Lipton’s presence in Japan. This incredible event design featured custom made shrunken and oversized furniture - inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. I think this is my favourite of Nendo's projects, and won them a Gold Award at the JCD design awards.

Chocolate-pencils - a collaboration with Japanese patissier Tsujiguchi Hironobu. diners can shave the chocolate shavings onto their dessert using the sharpener. 'Pencil filings are usually the unwanted remains of sharpening a pencil, but in this case, they're the star!'

'Meguro Office' interior fit-out in Tokyo

Some examples of Nendo's product design. On the left - 'Ribbon' stool produced by Cappellini (winner of a red dot award 2007), on the right - Bowls from Nendo's 2006 '1% series'.

Unique climbing wall design for the exclusive Illoiha fitness club in Omotesando, Tokyo. Winner again of a gold award at the JCD design awards 2006.

I first read about Japanese design outfit Nendo in *Wallpaper magazine a year or two ago, and they struck a chord with me immediately. I was so inspired by their multidisciplinary approach - their impressive portfolio of work includes architecture, interior design, event design, furniture design, product design and graphic design. I LOVE this varied approach to design! It's worth a visit to their website to trawl through through their portfolio... such an impressive and varied collection. It must be an incredible place to work!

Nendo is made up of 6 designers from varied backgrounds - but Oki Sato, who set up the company in 2002, is an architect. He created Nendo only 2 years after completing his architecture degree in Tokyo, and I just read on his website that he was born in 1977 - which means he's only 30!! Aggh.

One of Nendo's ongoing projects is their 1% series - a series of products made in limited editions of only 100, so that consumers can experience 'the joy of owning 1%'! (pieces from this collection available at the 1% website)

ps) There's an interview with Oki Sato here (Mocoloco).