Friday, August 29, 2008

Brother Baba Budan

Brother Baba Budan, 359 Little Bourke st, City - this photo from their website

BBB interior - photo by me

Do you know how many Melbourne designers/creative people I am currently waiting on to respond to INTERVIEWS for this site?


7 interviews sent and none yet returned. Two of those people have had over 3 months to respond. Numerous polite reminders later, still no answer. (This is after they have initially agreed and requested for the questions to be sent through).

What is going on?

I can only apologise that once again today there will be no interview here for you to read :( blah. I'm sorry.

Instead let's look at my new favourite Melbourne cafe.

Brother Baba Budan is the most recent offering from the Troika/Ray/st. Ali clan. They sure know what they're doing. Great coffee, lovely little space, intimate (ie seating for just 15 people!), friendly atmosphere. And chairs hanging from the ceiling. What more could you want?

Yeah I know its not exactly breaking news but you know... still worth sharing the lovely photos :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Spontaneous vegetable photography.
How about that colour? Beautiful.

Design Now!

Design Now! is the national design graduate exhibition, presented by Sydney's Object Gallery and sponsored by Living Edge. It's at the Melbourne Museum until October 5th, and is situated in a gallery adjacent to the Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award on the first floor of the Museum.

The exhibition is small but extremely varied... spanning fashion design, architecture, industrial design, animation, wallpaper illustration and furniture design. Delicate handcrafted glassware by Louisa Vilde and Lee Mathers actually border on fine art... and seem a little out of place I must admit. Similarly, Viktor Legin's domestic water meter and Benjamin Campbell Forsyth's Molecular Diagnoistic Device(!) were both incredible examples of engineering achievement... but.. in all honesty... weren't much to look at from a design perspective and seemed a little incongruous with the rest of the show...

Still, there were some stand-put pieces. Denae Trickey (great name!) from RMIT showed some incredible clothing designs. Her 'Lifepod' jacket and bodice (pictured) are designed with intricate origami-style folds to create a sense of containment and sanctuary for the wearer. Interesting concept and cleverly executed.

Denae Trickey's 'Lifepod' jacket and bodice

Sian Power's illustrated 'Hidden Nature' wallpapers, stole the show... her 'Poppy' print featured on much of the exhibition's promotional material and signage, and she is also recipient of the Living Edge Travelling Scholarship award. The 'Poppy' wallpaper design combines illustration and photographic elements, referencing images of death, decay and regeneration. Her bright poppies burst against a smoky backdrop of gothic imagery... it's a really effective and well balanced composition - and almost reminds me of a more macabre version of Florence Broadhurst's stunning red Poppy print (under 'floral collection' in the wallpaper section). More info on Sian's work here (on the Living Edge Blog). She's one to watch!

Sian Power's stunning 'Hidden Nature' Wallpapers

Karin Colpani's Something to Write Home About (2007) again seems more of an art piece than a form of functional design... although I do like her concertina book made from postcards, which addresses notions of home and place through the correspondence of others.

Design Now! was again designed with a low-tech (and presumably low budget!) aesthetic. Cardboard boxes and plywood 'palettes' form recycled display shelving for exhibits of all kinds.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Craft City Citizenship Award!

Pssst... the lovely ladies of Craft City have kindly bestowed upon me a Craft City Citizenship Award!

Check out their little interview with me here!

....and if you're not a Craft City reader be sure to check it out... 'specially if you're a Melbourne craft lover.

Thanks Pip - you're a ray of Melbourne sunshine! :)

Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award

Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award at Melbourne Museum - nice low-tech exhibition design featuring ply-wood trestle tables at various heights and product information displayed 'pin-board' style on the walls...

It's been open a few weeks now, but on the weekend I finally got around to visiting the Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award and Design Now! (National graduate design exhibition) at the Melbourne Museum in Carlton.

The Bombay Sapphire Design Award exhibition showcases the best contemporary functional design produced in Australia each year. Selected works by each of the 10 finalists are exhibited, including their actual submission piece for the award... this means there was a lot of product on show that wasn't exactly new... but you know... that's forgivable. :)

It wasn't a large exhibition, but there was some fantastic stuff to see.... familiar sights included Anthony Dann's Paper Tiger (Mitsy?) stools, Nick's Rennie's Squash bowls and Dimple tableware, as well as Bernabeifreeman's Totem Light - which was much more beautiful in actuality than it appears in pictures. Less familiar exhibits included Stefan Lie's Demicube Shelf (2007), and Edward Wong's fantastic 3 o'Clock, 9 o' Clock Chair (2007) - my favourite piece hands down.

Stefan Lie's Demicube Shelf (2007) - a lacquered MDF shelving system that comprises 5 different sized half boxes. These box-shapes either attach to a wall or to each other to form a freestanding unit. A nice, innovative take on a familiar idea.

Bernabeifreeman's Totem Light (2007) uses a new sustainable hemp-product with resin-like qualities. The smooth, translucent finish of the material encases defines cut-crystal patterns within.

Edward Wong's 3 o'Clock, 9 o' Clock Chair (2007) incorporates a collapsible flap that transforms the posture of the chair from 3 o'Clock to 9 o 'Clock. Cute name, slick product.

Tomorrow I'll follow this up with images from the graduate exhibition Design Now!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fat AMAZING website

'Fatland' navigation page

Animated sequence depicting the GPO exterior in Melbourne's CBD (love the rain and lightening!)

interior - Fat GPO (Melbourne CBD)

interior - Fat GPO (Melbourne CBD)

Been researching some Melbourne shops for a Brunswick st shopping guide this week... which means many hours spent on Google Maps, Google street views (awesome!), the whitepages online etc...

In doing my research I visited the Fat website for the first time.

Oh. My. God.

WOW! It is INCREDIBLE. I think it is the best website I have EVER SEEN. Seriously.

It is SO well designed, so full of interesting detail, so beautifully put together... with a sense of humour but a killer sense of style too. It was designed by a web/graphic design company called Tundra based in the incredible Curtin House (OF COURSE).

For non-Melbourniuns, Fat is a super-cool fashion boutique here in Melbourne, originally set up 10 years ago (yes, can you believe it?) to showcase local independent fashion design.... these days its still rocking… though their style is a little more refined and a little less grungy now I guess...

Fat stocks a great range of Australian brands including local favourites Lover, Claude Maus, Princess Tina, Ksubi, as well as many others... not to mention a kooky collection of funky unexpected nik naks. All 4 Melbourne stores also have a fantastic interior fit-out - an eclectic, retro feel, complemented by a red/white/green/black chequerboard(?) vinyl floor, retro-style timber screening, hand-blown glass pendant lamps and custom ceiling graphics by Melbourne artists Pandarosa!

On the amazing WEBSITE you can check out the interior of each store in 360 degrees, and click on the products on each shelf/rack to learn more about the brand. A-w-e-s-o-m-e.

Have I adequately described my enthusiasm?

interior - Fat Fitzroy

Animation - Fat Fitzroy exterior

Fat Forest

Monday, August 25, 2008

everything is ok

I received an email last week from US graphic designer Christopher Simmons, who shared this cool little design project with me...

Everything is OK began as a small project in Christopher's San Francisco-based design studio. The goal was to assemble a list of resources encouraging positive action in various forms. They launched a simple website, and to promote the site, they created barricade tape with the incongruous message "everything is ok."

The response to the tape was overwhelming, and it soon became apparent that people were more interested in the barricade tape than the project it was designed to promote! It's such a simple piece of design, but I guess the reason it works so well is that it has a thoughtful concept behind it.

You can now buy the tape from the Everything is Ok online shop (US$10)... and then you can wrap up your whole neighbourhood in it, and send the photos in to the Everything is Ok photo gallery!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Interview - Pandarosa

Rich Text - group exhibition @ RMIT, Melbourne 2007

above 3 images - JR Duty Free shop, interior graphics
JR Duty Free - graphics

above 5 images - Farina Kitchen and Bar, Adelaide (large-scale wall graphics, identity and menu graphics etc)

I have learnt many things this week. I have learnt that's somehow it's easier to keep on top of blog-related obligations when you're working fulltime, than when you have a whole week off (go figure?).

I have also learnt about the incredible Pandarosa. The enigmatic Pandas sent me a very mysterious email with some examples of their work - I was instantly smitten (and baffled as to how they had slipped under my radar all this time)... so it seemed an interview was in order.

Pandarosa are a Melbourne-based creative duo, otherwise known as Ariel Aguilera and Andrea Benyi. Ariel and Andrea originally come from Chile and Hungary respectively, and (via Monash Uni) have joined forces in Melbourne to form a unique artistic collaboration. Their work spans illustration, fine art, animation, commercial interior design and installation... Their body of work is INCREDIBLE and - I hate to use this term as if its some kind of benchmark for Australian design - but their style is unmistakably international, and their execution truly world class. Yeah, you heard me.

The people from Hotel Fox in Denmark seemed to think so too. (Not to mention Artichoke Magazine, Tokion, Frame, Volkswagon, Puma, Euroluce, Fairfax... and on and on).

I could go on but pictures speak better than words... so please read the interview and enjoy the beautiful work of Pandarosa.

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

Shortly after graduating from Monash University we decided to start our own practice. This came after a 6-month stint of going to interviews, presenting our graduate folios & being told we were too ‘arty’ or too ‘creative’?

From the beginning of the practise we made a conscious decision to target ‘creative/ artistic’ industries (festivals, galleries, dance and theatre companies, and various others). As we felt they were a unique niche sector, which wasn’t getting appropriate visual representation at the time. We obviously knew this clientele wasn’t going to bring in the big money but we were happy to trade finance for creative control over the projects.

The early days were tough, cold calling people, sending promos, and working many other jobs, but slowly we began to get a response from the ‘cultural’ sector & began doing various projects for galleries, theatre companies, photographers & the independent music industry.

Actually during his time in Melbourne, Ed Fella contacted us out of the blue to tell us how much he loved a poster he’d seen, which we created for a friend’s band. He later visited us at our studio & told us his story. Things like that made those early ‘more creativity, less money’ days all worth it.

The rest as they say, is HIStory.

Custom ceiling graphics for Fat in Brunswick st. Fitzroy

It seems you have been exhibiting together as Pandarosa since about 2005 (is this correct?). How did this ongoing collaboration come about? What challenges have you faced in setting up and running your own creative business?

Actually we had our first exhibition back in 2001 @ the Platform Artists Inc. space under the old Spencer St Station (before its was re-named ‘Southern Cross’).

This side of our practice (exhibiting) is something that has evolved quite organically, due to the work we did for galleries, theatre, dance groups & collectives in the early days of the studio. They opened doors & opportunities in which people offered us exhibition spaces. One of the most memorable exhibitions was when Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces asked us to take over the main gallery, as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival back in 2004.

The challenges with setting up your creative business R many, but probably the biggest is clear communication, not only with clients and collaborators, but also with each other. Apart from that there’s the usual timelines, budgets & amount of education you sometimes have to go through with some clients regarding the design process.

Temporary window installation for Space Furniture in Richmond

Where do you turn for inspiration – books, magazines or the web? Do you pay attention to trends in the broader design world like fashion, film, etc?

Those things definitely help but in our case we seem to pay more attention to things like drying leaves during autumn, reflections in water, cloud formations, wild life documentaries, sculpture, architecture…

Don’t get us wrong we still spends a ridiculous amount of time checking out blogs and forums on the net for inspiration, but at the same time we’re the type to wake up in the middle of the night because a mosquito is annoying us, get rid of it & then stay up taking photos of the amazing full moon night sky view from our bedroom window instead of going back to sleep.

We don’t think (or we’d like not to) that we pay attention to trends as much as innovative aspects within the broader design world. U know people who R trying to push the envelope & make something unique, not necessarily new, just different.

Custom graphics for Haworth Furniture showroom

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

I always hate this question, as there is no way we could possibly mention every1 we R inspired by:

Here goes a list in no preference order whatsoever:

Dadaism, Egon Schiele, Radiohead, The Whitest Boy Alive, Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Audrey Beardsley, Miranda July, Stefan Sagmeister, Phantom Research Foundation, Speto, Friends With You, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Mingus, Thelonious Monk, The Bad Plus, Dj Krush, One Self, Swoon, Black Star, Gilberto Gil, Fela Kuti, Pavel Klushantsev, René Laloux's Planete Sauvage, & many others.

Hotel Fox (Denmark) - exterior

Hotel Fox (Denmark) - Lobby interior installation

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Coffee, email check to make sure there is no disasters which need fixing around 10am, music on the record player shortly after, get our ‘to-do’ list out of the way & if the day is sunny, a bike ride down to the river.

What are you most proud of professionally?

The fact that we are still here creating & that people appreciate what we love to do.

What's the best thing about your job?

The freedom to set your own schedule.

P&A, Box Arts Space exhibition 2006, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne

And the worst?

The long hours that comes with that schedule.


What would be your dream project?

One that gives us lots of variety and creative freedom
Unlimited creativity and unlimited budget

What are you looking forward to – professionally or personally?

To listen more, understand better, communicate clearer & drink more water.

Art Trail

Melbourne Questions –

Best gallery to discover interesting new artwork/illustration in Melbourne?

A bit of a self-promotion here but our illustration agency ‘the jacky winter’ have just opened ‘Lamington drive’ a new gallery representing Australia’s best illustrators.
89 George St, Fitzroy
Go check it out for birds (& Pandas) of all types!!

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

The wonderful ‘spicy lamb’ borek @ Victoria markets for $2.50!!

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Riding our bikes on the way to the flea markets in the hope of finding some more bikes!!

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

Not sure if it’s a secret, but I believe St Jerome’s is still doing $2 soy Lattes!!

above 3 images - The World of Two Nocturnal Pandas, Helium Cowboy Artspace 2008, Hamburg, Germany

Pandarosa are represented by Illustration agents Jacky Winter - you can view more of their work on the Jacky Winter website.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

James Merrell

Sibella Court mentioned London-based photographer James Merrell in her interview a few weeks back... His folio is fantastic and very diverse - a mix of eclectic interiors and moody portraits, and even the odd food still life too. Lots of rich textures, interesting layers of colour and pattern... and people and places with real character.

The prolific Mr Merrell has also popped up this month on the Australian Vogue Living's contributer's page, having shot their gorgeous feature on Rebecca Hossack's London home (one of these pages is below in Tuesday's post... bit blown out but you get the idea).

James Merrell's site has a fantastic collection of images, but is a little mysterious and lacks any kind of detail about the artist himself... however the website of his NY agent Judith Miller has a brief bio...