Monday, June 30, 2008

Patrick Blanc in Melbourne

Hotel du Département [government headquarters] in Hauts-de-Seine, France
Marché des Halles in Avignon

In case you missed it, the incredible green-thumbed Patrick Blanc (of 'Vertical Garden' fame) is coming to Melbourne. It would be highly unlikely that anyone could have missed this actually, as his visit is getting more publicity than you'd expect if the Pope were coming to town. (Although, I for one, am waaaay more excited about Monsieur Blanc's imminent arrival than I would be about a Papal visit).

Patrick Blanc's incredible soil-less, sustainable and often permanent Vertical Gardens are famous for injecting biodiversity into built-up environments across the globe. The results are always spectacular.

We're very lucky that someone clever at the Melbourne International Design Festival (or, probably more likely, someone clever from the Melbourne Central marketing dept.) has coaxed Mr Blanc out here, and that the Melbourne CBD will host one of his incredible installations. Melbourne Central will proudly display a living, breathing vertical garden from July 17.

Also The National Design Centre is hosting a lecture with Patrick Blanc on Friday July 18 at Fed Square as part of the festival. Tickets are only $10 - so book early!

ps) There's a great article with more info on Patrick Blanc's incredible work at PingMag here. (all images here from PingMag)

'organic wallpaper' in a private home

Friday, June 27, 2008

Design Lecture Series featuring Stefan Sagmeister

Stills from the Design Lecture Series of films featuring Stefan Sagmeister at Zoom-In Online.

I just received an email from the co-producer of a great website called Zoom-In Online.... She mentioned my post a while ago about the fantastic Hillman Curtis film documenting Stefan Sagmeister's ongoing project Things I have Learnt in My Life so Far, and wrote to let me know that Zoom-In Online recently posted not one but THREE videos covering an event called 'Design Lecture Series' in San Francisco, featuring Stefan Sagmeister!

I had previously embedded one of the films here, but the audio was a little distracting, so I have removed it... however please do visit the following links to watch these little films, they really are worth a look. Here's the first film... The other 2 films can be seen here and here.

What a great find! These films offer a terrific insight into Stefan's work and his background - lots of footage of Stefan himself talking to camera, slick editing, and cute animated segments throughout that clarify the chronology of Stefan's career to date. The films are edited into perfect bite-sized chunks - just the right length to watch at work with the headphones on (shhhh!).

The more I see of Stefan Sagmeister, the more I like him. Clearly he's an incredible designer, and is famed for thinking outside the square, but also, he just seems like such a nice guy! Plus - I can't imagine a more endearing accent... (not entirely relevant to his creative output, but you know).

Zoom-In Online offer daily coverage of the latest happenings in culture, entertainment and technology through regularly published videos, podcasts and blogs... well worth a thorough browse.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Morrison store, Chadstone

Morrison store, Chadstone

Morrison - Winter 2008 range

Bit slow on the uptake with this one (they've been open since March), but I have just been introduced to the stunning new Morrison store in Chadstone.... (I know I know - Chadstone, boring...) But this shop is so beautiful! It's like a little oasis amongst all the bright lights and hustle and bustle...

Fit-out - textured milky walls, limed blonde oak floorboards, and beautiful ceiling to floor grey linen drapes in each fitting room.... not to mention that stunning light fitting in the centre of the store - delicate hand-crafted ceramic shades clustered together like scrunched paper bags. Simply stunning... they sourced this feature from a European designer (agghh.. not sure where from exactly... Denmark? or Belgium possibly...)

Range - earthy, muted colours, natural fibres (some organic) including linen, cotton, wool and leather, and structured, slouchy styles - classic and comfortable. Great accessories too - including bags and jewellery by many European designers exclusive in Australia to Morrison. It's so refreshing to see product that you don't see everywhere else!

Incredibly, the entire Morrison clothing range is all Australian-made. This is such a rarity these days, and is a truly admirable policy, especially for a new fashion house in a very competitive market. In fact, Morrison's prices are extremely reasonable, proving it is possible to manufacture locally and still keep costs fair.

Morrison are from WA, and just opened in Melbourne in March. Check out their website for more info, but more importantly, get out to Chadstone and visit the store. You won't be disappointed.

(Thanks for the tip-off Jess!!)

shop 412
Chadstone Shopping Centre
1341 Dandenong rd, Chadstone

ph. 9568 3700

(park near David Jones)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mud Australia sample/seconds sale this weekend in Sydney

ooohh hello.

I just received an email from the gorgeous Mud Australia... no good for Melbourne folks I'm afraid, but anyone in Sydney this weekend can snap up a selection of Mud's beautiful ceramic tableware at heavily discounted prices from their samples and seconds sale! Aggh. Wish I could make it.

Apparently there will also be big savings on discontinued Chilewich placemats, runners, bags, floormats etc etc.

Saturday, 28th June – 10am to 4pm & Sunday, 29th June – 10am to 4pm
15 Sloane Street, Marrickville 2204 (off Sydenham Road) NSW

They accept VISA, Mastercard, EFT and cash.

Lou Doillon for Lee Cooper

It all started when Adidas hooked up with Stella McCartney in 2004. H&M followed suit, and then came the Designers for Target juggernaut - including a Christmas homewares collection by Tord Boontje, and a string of high profile collaborations, still going strong with their current lingerie range by Collette Dinnigan.

Top Shop's got Kate moss, Lover loves Levis... and now - Lou Doillon for Lee Cooper.

Personally, I'm not that taken with the collection... but the website is fantastic! I know its not entirely original, but I love the eclectic scrapbook and turning pages... cute concept and well executed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

online shopping - Oak NYC

Lovely things I just spotted on the website of NYC's super-cool fashion boutique Oak. Their online shop is full of beautiful pieces for both Men and Women, and they ship to Australia. I'm smitten.

I am getting the feeling that the US, UK and probably the rest of the world in general has waaay better online shopping opportunities that we Aussies do. I know, I know, online shopping should be a moveable feast.... but... a lot of online shops do not ship to Australia! (not pointing the finger at anyone in particular). What's wrong with us!? Is our money no good to you? aaah. Anyway... I am gradually discovering more online boutiques with open-minded shipping policies... and, with the current US/AU exchange rate how it is, its hard not to be tempted!

If any US readers have any more recommendations for good online shops, please share!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pieces of Eight new exhibition - My Pet Rock

David Parker: Ring, white gold and lemon citrine.

Bridget Bodenham: Various stone-ware ceramic mortar and pestles/nutcrackers.
Justine Austen: Necklace , silver box catch and pyrite crystals threaded on silk.

Heyyy I hope my interview with Melanie Katsalidis on Friday sparked some interest... her gallery in Fitzroy North is such a treasure-trove of exquisite finds... I'm not usually a fancy jewellery girl, but there really is something special about Pieces of Eight.

If you need another reason to visit, Pieces of Eight are launching a new window exhibition this Tuesday (June 24th) entitled 'My Pet Rock'. An eclectic, international group of jewellery and object makers exhibit works that explore ideas of sentimentality in relation to material things... including concepts of what makes something precious, and what invokes attachment to personal items. The exhibition will run until July 19.

'My Pet Rock' is the first of many exhibitions at Pieces of Eight which will showcase the work of international artists alongside local talent - contributers from as far as Canada, the UK and Argentina are represented in this show.

Pieces of Eight
635 Brunswick st
North Fitzroy

Open Tues - Fri 11.00am - 6.00pm
Saturday 11.00am - 5.00pm

Friday, June 20, 2008

Interview - Melanie Katsalidis

Melanie Katsalidis in her studio behind the Pieces of Eight Gallery in Fitzroy North

Pieces of Eight gallery and shop

The Design Files is such a great way to contact and meet some of the most incredible creative people.... I find myself constantly inspired by the people I have the good fortune to research and interview for this site... and today's interview is no exception! Melanie Katsalidis is someone I find incredibly inspiring on so many fronts... she established her gallery and shop Pieces of Eight, in North Fitzroy in 2005, enlisting her architect Dad to turn a beautiful old industrial building on Brunswick st into a gallery, shared studio space, and a first-floor apartment. When you see what has evolved at Pieces of Eight in under 3 years, you'll understand my enthusiasm!

Pieces of Eight is a gallery and artist studio specialising in handmade contemporary jewellery and object based work made by Australian and international artists. Melanie carefully selects the artists represented at Pieces of Eight, and curates regular exhibitions, as well as managing the day-to-day needs of the retail side of the business. She also manages the shared studio space behind the gallery, in which 6 jewellers (including Melanie herself) create their work. But first and foremost - Melanie is a jeweller, and although she struggles to find time to create her own work these days (understandably!), its her background as an artist that gives her a unique approach to the running of a creative business.

Melanie's vision for her business is so clear and uncompromising... even the smallest details are carefully considered. For instance - Melanie showed me how she designed the jewellery display cases in such a way that the locks are invisible, hidden underneath each section of cabinetry. This took some careful planning and sourcing of the correct hardware - but I completely understand Melanie's fastidious attention to detail! After all - although everything on display at Pieces of Eight is essentially for sale, the space is run more like an art gallery than a retail space. One continuous display case runs across all walls of the shop at eye level - so you're not bombarded with product as is the case in most retail spaces. Each piece on display is unique and handcrafted... and Melanie knows the background of every single artist like the back of her hand! During my visit, she reeled off information about each piece of work so quickly and so fluently I could barely scribble it down in time!

But of all her successes, I think Melanie's greatest achievement has been the creation of a collaborative working environment as a central part of her business... I would love to work in such a wonderful, inspiring space! It's clear that Melanie's passion for object-based artwork and jewellery extends far beyond her own creative output, and I think one of the gallery's greatest strengths is the support it offers local artisans and jewellers.

Read on for an insight into Melanie's creative inspiration, the challenges she faced in setting up her business.... oh, and there's about a million photos too. :)

Current work by Rachel Gorman - a collection of ceramic stud rosettes (top), and enamelled copper and silver brooch (bottom).

Images from the incredible workspace of Rachel Gorman (who shares the studio behind Pieces of Eight with Melanie and other jewellers).

More of Rachel Gorman's beautiful workspace - I love her ordered collection of delicate trinkets and materials...

Work by Laura di Florio and Alida Cappellata forms the current window display at Pieces of Eight, entitled Through the Window. Both artists use photographic media as a central component in their work - di Florio's work uses layers of photographic images and perspex, whereas Cappellatta uses discarded metal film canisters to create delicate forms inspired by the organic forms. This exhibition runs until June 21st 2008. More info here.

Work by Japanese-born, Melbourne-based jeweller Yuko Fujita... I love the organic nature of these pieces, and the muted colours. Yuko creates these using silver, ceramic and handtinted silicone (those coloured 'cup' shapes are actually squishy and flexible silicone pieces!). The result is truly stunning and so unique. Yuko Fujita is having a solo show at Pieces of Eight in September this year... stay tuned!

More from Yuko Fujita - for some reason her work reminds me of underwater creatures like anenome and seaweed...

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

After studying the International Bachelaureate, I was still unsure about what career I wanted to pursue, so I studied Arts at Melbourne University, majoring in Art History and Cinema Studies. While I really enjoyed the course and the campus, I missed physically making things and so I began making jewellery as a side project and selling my work through a few independent fashion stores and craft shops. As I came to the end of my Arts degree I knew I wanted to get some formal training in jewellery and pursue it further, which led me to study Gold and Silversmithing at RMIT University. After this I got some business skills by doing the NEIS course and working full time as a jeweller with a part time job in retail on the weekends. The opportunity came up to establish a big shared studio at 635 Brunswick St, and before I knew it I had also made the commitment to open a gallery in the front of the space. It just seemed like the right time and place.

You’re a jewellery designer, and you also manage and curate the work of other jewellery designers for your own gallery/studio. How do you balance your own creative output with the running of your gallery and workshop? How do you find these two roles complement each other?

Trying to fill the two roles is a huge challenge. The gallery currently takes most of my energy and attention as there are so many aspects of the business to manage. As I result I find myself spending less time at the bench as I have less time and head space to make my own work. However I am probably now more time efficient than I ever was, and my plan is to give myself more time for my own jewellery/artistic practice as we become more established.

Being an artist myself means I probably make different decisions than a strictly business-only person. Firstly I have an understanding of materials, process and the realities and pressures of being an artist. I also am happy to do certain things that I deem important, but may not be financially driven, like the way we produce a catalogue for every exhibition we hold. This is about documentation and giving longevity to the work which will only be exhibited for four weeks, although it’s taken months to put together.

Melanie's own workspace... including her dentist's drill (seriously!) with all the necessary attachments. Who knew jeweller's used dentist equipment!? The bottom image here is Melanie demonstrating using the drill... bzzzz. ouch!

A lot of creative professionals say that they love the creative side of their job, but hate the paperwork and the ‘business’ side of things. Do you struggle with things like marketing and promoting yourself or your store, keeping your accounts in order, managing staff or other designers? What advice would you offer emerging designers about establishing a creative business?

The business side for me is very important and needs my constant attention, but my passion is for the more creative aspects of the business like curating the exhibitions and helping artists develop their work for the gallery. The business side however can be really interesting and it has been a huge learning curve for me, and I love seeing the results of the huge amount of energy I have put into things.

Since I have been on a tight budget I have had to do many things myself that I will be happy to delegate to others in the future. Doing things like marketing, advertising and book keeping myself has meant I’ve been in total control of all these aspects which make you think critically about the business and how you are running things. Although I look forward to passing these jobs onto professionals in the future, I at least now have an understanding of how these things work.

I would advise emerging designers to look into leaning some basic business skills if they want to have their own business. The government run NEIS course I highly recommend, or go to Small Business Victoria. Also, be professional in how you market yourself and approach clients/galleries. Have your own business cards, a blog or website and take good quality images of all your work.

How would you describe your own style of jewellery design?

Clean, architectural, geometric and fluid.

Melanie's own work uses silver, gold, oxidised silver, and well as powder coating (that's the red you see in the images above). Powder coating is an industrial technique where paint is essentially 'baked on' to metal surfaces at high temperatures. Melanie has also started using black pearls in her work more recently.

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

So many, it’s hard to list! I have very broad interests in diverse things, and although my work is very different from these people, I am inspired by: Droog Design, Japanese contemporary culture, artist James Turrell, Tadao Ando’s Chichu Art Museum, artist Anish Kapoor, jeweller Sally Marsland, jeweller Manon van Kouswijk, Caravaggio, Mesopotamian sculpture, musician Goldfrapp, chef Karen Martini, the modernist house at Heide and the gardens, the people around me, my grandmother’s crazy knitting projects, being in love.

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

I love my home which is my sanctuary, my retreat. I really enjoy travelling and would ideally travel twice a year. I am currently very drawn to Japan and have been there my last two trips overseas. My dad is an architect whose influence has been more subliminal than direct. My creative friends are always inspiring to be around, as is the workshop behind the Pieces of Eight gallery where 6 jewellers work independently. I buy lots of magazines and especially like IDS, Another Magazine, Urbis, Dazed and Confused, Surface, Object, Russh and Monument.

Michelle Cangiano is a jeweller as well as teacher at RMIT. Her pieces incorporate acid etched illustrations which are then embossed onto silver sheets to create delicately textured surfaces. In the top image you can also she her carved, faceted shapes made of painted huon pine.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Checking my emails while I eat breakfast, opening the gallery, making cups of tea between taking care of lots of little things. Often I meet with artists who are dropping off new stock or showing new works, tend to customers and reply to lots of emails! There’s also lots of other things to do like clean jewellery, photograph work, re-arrange displays and work towards the up-coming exhibitions.

Lucy Folk's whimsical designs are all inspired by food! Much of Lucy's work employs a fascinating technique called 'electroforming' in which a particular food item (pretzel, dorito, burger ring etc) is encased and preserved within layers of 24 carat gold. This means inside each pendant/brooch/earring is the actual piece of food! Incredible! Lucy also carves super-light, soft jelutong wood into food-inspired shapes like salami slices and fruit pieces. Be sure to visit Lucy's gorgeous website for more lovely images.

What are you most proud of professionally?

Establishing Pieces of Eight and the reputation we’ve been cultivating.

Pieces of Eight display cases

Object-based work by Melbourne printmaker Julia Silvester. The top image is part of a beautiful collection of work combining layered lasercut timber, printmaking and illustration... The bottom image is from a series of glasswork Julia has sandblasted with medieval botanical imagery.

What's the best thing about your job?

Meeting great artists, visiting their workshops and selecting new artists to represent. Also curating the exhibitions is always an interesting process and hugely satisfying.

And the worst?

The stress can wear me down and getting sick is my body’s way of making me stop.

What would be your dream creative project?

Something which gives me the chance to travel and select participants for an exhibition here in Melbourne, and then the exhibition would travel to various fantastic galleries internationally, with me in tow!

What are you looking forward to – professionally or personally?

Expanding and growing the business. Developing my own work. And throwing a great big party when I get married early next year!

I love these chunky, faceted silver shapes by Krista McRae. I also really love the display layout - Krista created the clear faceted display blocks for her work to sit on. They complement the work so well! Beautiful.

Krista McRae's beautiful (and very tidy!) workspace in the Pieces of Eight shared studio - I love those faceted silhouette shapes on her wall...

Melbourne Questions –

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

My birthday dinner in April was at Kin in North Carlton, a new restaurant run by old family friends who’ve known me most of my life. Amazing, memorable food.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

If I’m not working in the gallery, I’m making pancakes for my fiancé and myself while trashy music videos play on the TV. Otherwise enjoying a late, long brunch with friends. My current favourite café is Mixed Business on Queens Pde, Clifton Hill.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

Cocoro Japanese restaurant and ceramics on Smith St, Fitzroy. Great food, lovely people and on a Sat night you can watch the drag show at Trade Bar across the street which is quite entertaining, especially without having to listen to the music!

Object-based artworks by architect Mark Szulgit and artist Julia Adzuki. Mark is originally from New York and Julia is Australian, and the pair are partners in work and in life. They're now based in Sweden, and are gaining international recognition for their ice sculptures and involvement in Sweden's famous ice hotel!

A big thankyou to Melanie for all her time with this interview! Be sure to visit the Pieces of Eight website and also their blog for lots more info, as well as in-depth profiles of some of Melbourne's most exciting contemporary jewellers and artisans.

I should also mention that Melanie is taking part in Craft Victoria's 'speed dating' development event for craft practitioners entitled Making out, which takes place on August 15th at Craft Victoria in the city. The event is an opportunity for emerging craftspeople and designers to present ideas and gain advice from established craft and design professionals like Melanie! More info here if you'd like to participate.

LASTLY, Pieces of Eight have just confirmed they'll be taking part in a studio open day with Craft Victoria as part of the 'Month about Making' festival in August. So if you want to see more of Pieces of Eight behind the scenes, pop down on Thursday August 21st between 1.00pm and 5.00pm!

Pieces of Eight
635 Brunswick st
North Fitzroy

9497 8121

Open Tues - Fri 11.00am - 6.00pm
Saturday 11.00am - 5.00pm

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Metro 5 Award show 2008

I mentioned the Metro 5 Award show recently when I interviewed Melbourne curator and art consultant Sophie McNeur. Sophie recommended the Metro 5 Award show as an excellent event to view and purchase affordable pieces of artwork by some of Australia's most promising emerging artists. The show brings together 25 finalists in Australia’s richest national art prize for young painters - on June 24th one of these talented young artists will be named winner of the $50,000 Metro 5 Award prize.

The award exhibition is now in full swing, and runs until July 6th.... Be sure to drop in before it ends! Here are just a few of my favourite images from the show (more on the Metro 5 website).

Vincent Fantauzzo - Room 2304, 2008
Oil on canvas
121cm x 76cm

Vincent Fantauzzo's portrait of Heath Ledger won the people's choice awards at the Archibald Prize this year.

David Capra - Self Portrait, 2008
enamel and glitter on board with fimo frame
27cm diameter

David Eastwood - Gold Room, 2008
acrylic on Linen
152cm x 183cm

(I've know, I've already shown this example of David Eastwood's work in my interview with Sophie, but I love the piece so much I couldn't leave it out!)

Jacqueline Liza George - Bubbleboy, Still Life, 2008
oil on canvas
101.5cm x 91.5cm

Metro 5 gallery
1214 High st

Open Tues-Fri, 10am - 5.30pm, Sat-Sun 11am-5pm

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tsumori Chisato styling

Just stumbled across these images I filed away a long time ago. Tsumori Chisato is a Japanese fashion designer who started her career working for Issey Miyake... not sure what she's been up to recently as I can't seem to find much of her work online since her Spring 07 collection (link above)...

Anyway... sorry these images aren't entirely current but isn't the styling stunning? I am such a sucker for overhead photography... not sure why but it always seems to appeal to me. Love the combination of colours and patterns too...