Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The streets of Darlinghurst are so green and full of lush plant life. I love these cascading planter boxes - aren't they stunning? ....got me planning all kinds of garden renovation when I get home!

Just a quick THANKYOU to all the Sydney folk for your wonderful suggestions and recommendations... had a fabulous day in Surry Hills / Darlinghurst today checking out all the good interiors shops (many of which were recommended by you!). Many photos and a little shopping guide to come next week! (would love to post it whilst I'm here but those shopping guides really take a lot of my time!).

Anyway, thanks again... I am here til next weekend so keep 'em coming!

Tomorrow you can look forward to some international news... just to shift the focus slightly :)

Twentieth Century Modern

Twentieth Century Modern is a fabulous little vintage furniture shop just around the corner from where we're staying in Darlinghurst. It's small, but absolutely jam-packed with the most incredible pieces - beautiful sideboards, a stunning selection of ceramics and glassware, and a great range of Meadmore pieces and Featherston chairs, which are getting harder and harder to come by.

We dropped in on Saturday and met Ken Neale who owns the shop... he was so lovely and very entertaining - at one point he excused himself and left us to look after the shop while he ran across the road, saying he had left something in the oven! He returned 5 minutes later with a steaming roasted artichoke, which he proceeded to devour enthusiastically whilst patiently answering all our questions in between mouthfuls! (The most wonderful part of this somewhat surreal exchange was the fact that Ken had perched his plate of artichoke on a table right alongside an original Louis Poulsen Artichoke Pendant lamp!).

Stunning 50's sideboards. They looked Danish to me but Ken said they're actually Australian.

brightly coloured glassware and nik naks

More colourful smalls and a set of gorgeous Featherston dining chairs

Isn't this Achille Castiglione record player gorgeous? It's got such character. Reminds me of something you'd see in a James Bond-style boudoir...

Curved 50's plywood chair by Sydney's Kalmar Industries(?)... hope I spelt that correctly.

top - loved these Australian 50' armchairs in the window (sold I think! sorry!). A little bit Featherston in style but slightly more angular and contemporary in shape. bottom - set of nesting tables by Arte Studios. Love the black against white.

more colourful nik naks, and below, another lovely Featherston armchair

Monday, September 29, 2008


This week I am in glorious Sydney for a little holiday, and of course, a lot of design reporting! You all probably know that I'm a Melbourne girl through and through... I do love Melbourne's wide, leafy streets and the eclecticism of our beautiful city.... but I have to say, there's also a lot to love about Sydney!

Sydney is so different to Melbourne - it's a lot more slick, it's much less bohemian than Melbourne.... all in all it just feels a bit more polished. But the main drawcard - it's just so picturesque! We've had incredible not-a-cloud-in-the-sky days all weekend... and as for Sydney harbour, the bridge and the Opera House... breathtaking. Of course I've been here before, but I'm blown away everytime. This city is truly picture-perfect. (unfortunately 500pixel-wide images really don't do it justice).

My gushing about this wonderful city probably also has a lot to do with the fact that we're housesitting the most stunning apartment in Sydney's leafy suburb of Darlinghurst. Lucky lucky! The apartment building is known as 'Republic 2' and was designed by famed Sydney architects Burley Katon Halliday. Talk about lifestyles of the rich and famous. Ahhh... I could get used to this!

Darlinghurst's 'Republic 2' apartment building - exterior

view of the pool area from our balcony, with Harry Seidler's skeletal Horizon apartment building twinkling in the background.

odd angle - this is 'Republic 2' exterior from the street below. Love those cascading gardens on the rooftop penthouse!

another view from the balcony.... ahh. How will I ever go home?

Perhaps next week I will post images of the apartment's interior... it. is. incredible.

ps) Sydney-siders I would love your recommendations of good shops, restaurants, etc to visit... - please leave me a comment!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Interview - Michaela Webb

Round Paper Models, 2006

Assorted work for the National Gallery of Victoria
above - books and pamplets for the NGV

A 'beautiful poster that people would not throw away' for the Faculty of Architecture and Planning, University of Melbourne (notice the architectural 'crease folds', allowing the poster to be folded into any number of 3D shapes).

Michaela Webb is co-director of the fantastic Studio Round, an award-winning graphic design studio based in Melbourne. Between running her own studio, and acting as co-president of AGDA Victoria, it seems she's one very busy designer! I'm also convinced that she's extremely efficient, because she responded to my interview in record-time and with no reminder emails at all... You know what they say about busy people! :)

I heard Michaela speak at the fantastic Design Capital conference back in July, and I was truly inspired by her unique approach to her work. I furiously scribbled notes as she spoke passionately about her work for Wolff-Olins and Spin in the UK. She emphasised the human aspects of design - thinking about people, and the individual outside of the 'brand'. She talked about design as 'creating an experience', and lamented the common marketing approach of 'shouting' at consumers.

Michaela Webb seems to me to champion a fresh approach to graphic design... an approach which recognises that the future of design isn't about branding and homogenising. Instead, Michaela's design aesthetic is generous and not controlling... it's about risk-taking, provoking a reaction, and ultimately creating work with depth and integrity.

A big thankyou to Michaela for her time and efficiency!

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

My father would always encourage me to draw and build things with him from a very early age. I started a fine arts degree but kept looking at what was happening in graphic design. After two years of fine arts I joined some of the design students and visited Melbourne to attend AGIdeas. I then decided to swap over to graphic design.

I worked for a few years and then lectured full time in an undergraduate design degree. This was an amazing experience, almost like postgraduate study, writing briefs, analysing and reassessing the process of design.

Then I travelled to London where I started working at Wolff-Olins, a large branding company with 80 designers on one floor and a staff of 200. I then moved to Spin, where I worked for nearly 4 years. My time at Spin was brilliant. I managed to travel nonstop, working throughout Germany and other parts of Europe. For me, the highlight was probably the wide variety of cultural accounts I worked on. These included Whitechapel Art Gallery, Christie’s Contemporary, Deutsche Bank Kunst, Anthony D’Offay Gallery and Haunch of Venison.

You have a worked with some incredible companies overseas, and have collaborated on many exciting projects including identity for the much-publicised Tate Modern museum in the UK… how has your international experience influenced your creative style and your approach to doing business in Melbourne?

Business in Melbourne is different to design in the UK. Here the market is less mature and you are often required to educate people about the value of design. In the UK, people already know the process and understand the value design contributes to business and culture.

Studio Round has come a long way since you first started in 2002. What goals did you initially have for your design studio and how has the company evolved over the last few years?

I work with my partner, so our first goal was to stay married. Our second goal was to stay afloat.

We didn’t really have a plan when we moved to Melbourne. We just loved the place and decided it was where we wanted to be. We now work in a studio space in Flinders Lane and have 7 people working with us. The studio now has more structure, which funnily enough allows us to be more creative. We also have a lot more people we can work and collaborate with.

Harper Lane broadsheet

Harper Lane stationary

In addition to running your own studio, you are also co-president of AGDA Victoria. This seems like a lot of work! What does your role at AGDA entail, and what initially appealed to you about being part of the Association?

It is a lot of work! My role varies from sitting on the Design Victoria Advisory Board to helping organise events, newsletters, workshops, etc. Organizations like AGDA are an extremely important part of raising the profile of Graphic Design as an industry in Australia. But I have done it for 3 years and it’s now time to step back and let someone else take the reins.

I LOVE THIS STATIONARY for the Anna Schwartz Gallery in Melbourne... so so simple but so strikingly beautiful. I am assuming printing right to the edge of the paper like this is veeeery pricey.
More stunning black and white minimalism for Anna Schwartz

When you approach a brief initially, 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, architecture etc?

Usually all of the above, it depends on the brief. I sometimes just start drawing very rough sketches.

I take a lot of inspiration from art. But also architecture, books and film. The web is an encyclopaedia of information and opens many new windows. They are all great tools and sources of inspiration.

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

There are lots of people creating great work. Probably Graphic Thought Facility and Kenya Hara stand out the most. They have a beautiful way of thinking, a simplicity about their approach, and a love of tactile objects. The artist I love most at the moment is Christine Hill.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

6.00 walking along the Yarra river near the Fairfield boathouse, breakfast at home around 7.00 and (hopefully!) in the studio by 8.00am. It is so good to get there before everyone else so I can catch up on emails!

I usually stay till about 7.00pm. It is non-stop most days, in meetings, discussing ideas with the team, and designing too of course!

...love the variety of these catalogues and invitations for City of Melbourne and City Gallery

What are you most proud of professionally?

Being able to work with my partner and keep the studio producing great work. There is no one job that is a favourite.

What's the best thing about your job?

The freedom of being my boss.

And the worst?

Having to commoditise design with a value.

What would be your dream project?

A client with an unlimited budget that loved the design process and wants to take risks and continually push solutions. They also want to produce a book about the process. I do love designing books.

What are you looking forward to?

That dream client turning up…

Melbourne Questions –

Where do you shop in Melbourne for the tools and materials of your trade – ie sketching materials, computer equipment, reference publications?

Metropolis, Brunswick Street Bookstore, NGV Bookshop Fed Square

The Melbourne Design Guide - lovely 'scrapbook' aesthetic complete with rubber bands and bulldog clips.

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

Cumulus Inc., Flinders Lane. The food and environment are exceptional.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Julio, great cafe down by the school yard in North Fitzroy… or in my garden.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

The Narrows Gallery and our rooftop.

The Melbourne Design Guide on show at the State of Design festival 2006

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cardboard Bar

Hey hey. Can't seem to keep up with all the design happenings in the world right now... London Design Festival coverage is all over the net and I am struggling to keep up!

Anyway these images from Designboom grabbed me instantly... yeah yeah cardboard boxes again but the execution of this temporary 'Cardboard Bar' is great and a little more slick than the usual low-budget cardboard installation efforts :) Love those pops of orange amongst all the brown 'bricks'... so simple but so effective. Not sure how the exterior elements will hold up in the London weather though...

This is by interior architectural consultants B3 Designers, and was constructed on site at their East London studio. According to Designboom, for the opening night guests were served cocktails in cardboard cups and encouraged to wear cardboard clothing!? Coolness.

H for Hannah

I like these ceramics by H for Hannah... the delicate illustrated details are lovely.

Hannah Morrow is a UK born, LA based ceramic designer. Her debut collection 'Stickers' (above) is playful and gorgeous... this range is about updating the ceramic tradition of the souvenir. Hannah says "I have been fascinated with both souvenirs and stickers since I was a child and loved the idea of a bowl or plate covered in stickers". I also like her more recent jewellery-inspired range (below). A little more restrained in its execution, but still a lovely playful idea.

I was also interested to read on her website that Hannah and I have something in common :) After graduating from university in the UK, she moved to New York and worked as a prop stylist and production designer on independent films and magazines... interesting! aaahh makes me want to jump on a plane to New York and see what prop styling / film work I could get!

Hannah also has a lovely little blog here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Welcome to Cocker Alley

Melbourne's city laneways are full of surprises... in addition to all the gorgeous little shops, cafes and bars popping up in every spare centimetre of grubby back-alley realestate, the Laneways Commissions project encourages local artists to exhibit artwork and create site-specific installations just waiting to be discovered by the inquisitive passer-by...

I just stumbled across this one last week in Cocker Alley (just off Flinders Lane, at the rear of the Nicholas Building). The drainpipes are entirely covered in gold leaf... God knows how they painted the ones right at the top. I hope it involved a cherry-picker and not some kind of gravity-defying climbing act.

The installation is entitled Welcome to Cocker Alley, by Bianca Faye and Tim Spicer, and as the plaque says, "can be viewed from 15th of August 2008, until it dissolves completely over the following year".

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Galerie Montmartre

Shelley and Stephan of Galerie Montmartre in Fitzroy

I have been getting lots of emails recently from Melbourne retailers and suppliers inviting me to visit their showrooms... it makes me feel very special and sure beats rocking up unannounced and trying to convince people to let me take some photos!

My latest outing was to the beautiful Galerie Montmartre in Fitzroy. I've been meaning to feature these guys for ages... so when Shelley sent me a note recently asking me to pop by it was the perfect excuse to get my act together and finally pay them a visit!

Galerie Montmartre is owned by the gorgeous and super-friendly Shelley and Stephan Trbuhovich. They are truly the loveliest couple - as soon as I walked through the door we were chatting and laughing like old friends! They made me feel so welcome and answered all my nosy questions without any hesitation!

Stephan's love of vintage posters started back in 1995, whilst the pair were living in San Francisco. His interest was sparked quite by accident, after he noticed some posters hanging in a cafe. He began doing some research, made a few personal purchases, and before long, the pair began buying posters to sell. In 1999 they moved to New York to pursue their interest, and began gathering a bit of a following. It was here that they planned to take the plunge and move the business to Melbourne. In 2001 they made the move - they bought up big in the US, shipped everything back home, and set up their online shop.

For a long time Galerie Montmartre operated as wholesale business - stocking Melbourne shops (such as the fabulous Tarlo and Graham), and selling direct to local architects and designers. But in 2007, despite the cautionary warnings of friends(!), they finally made the move into retail - and I'm so glad they did! Their showroom just off Brunswick st in Fitzroy is just stunning... all white walls, industrial windows and a gorgeous timber pitched roof - the perfect backdrop for their striking range of bold, graphic prints.

And I know I'm waffling... but just before I sign off, there are some important things you should know about the posters at Galerie Montmartre. All of their beautiful prints are original, sourced by Stephan from Europe and America. There's no reproduction going on here! Some of the more expensive posters are extremely rare, and when they run out... they run out. This means buying an original vintage poster from Galerie Montmartre is an investment, just like buying original artwork. Just in case you needed any further encouragement.

Check out the photos, then pay them a visit!

Galerie Montmartre
rear 197b Brunswick st (enter via Moor st)

03 9486 8686

Stephan tries to look busy at the counter while I snap away...

In addition to the large collection of posters on display, the airy Galerie Montmartre warehouse space is filled with quirky collectables and beautiful industrial furniture. Love that aged leather armchair under the window...

colourful vintage ceramic jugs line the shelves just outside the showroom office

Monday, September 22, 2008

Graffiti Chair

Hello! Hope you all had a lovely weekend :)

I will start the week with this fabulous collaboration between Melbourne's newest furniture designers Yellow Diva, and Melbourne-based graffiti artist Phibs. Yellow Diva's signature cartoony shapes are so well complemented by Phibs' expressive artwork... love it!

The graffiti chair is a limited edition project, and was conceived for Fringe Furniture - launching at the Melbourne Museum this Wednesday.

Get ready to be seeing a lot more of this product... I predict extensive local media coverage :)

Fringe Furniture 2008
at Melbourne Museum until Oct 12th
open 10.00am - 5.00pm

Yellow Diva
51 Victoria Crescent


Ph : 03 9421 8844

Friday, September 19, 2008

Interview - Kate Rhodes

Kate Rhodes in a forest

Kate's favourite image of all time, taken in Santiago, Chile. The perfectly designed object - the mobile public library. "I try to get it into every talk I ever give" says Kate.

An image by Roseanne Bartley from Kate's first show at Craft Victoria - Solutions for Better Living in 2007. This is a necklace.

Another 'necklace' by Roseanna Bartley from the same Craft Victoria show. This was an interactive work where visitors drew links on the paper template necklace.

Kate Rhodes is a whirlwind. I first met her briefly during the Melbourne International Design Festival, after having reviewed her Melbourne Unbuilt walking tour for the MIDF blog. Since then I've learnt a lot more about Kate's work and her career to date - and I know I'm famously prone to gushing, but it is absolutely no exaggeration to say that what Ms Rhodes has achieved at the ripe old age of just-turned-30 is nothing short of astounding.

In her relatively short career, she's held the role of curator for the National Gallery of Victoria, Craft Victoria (who flourished under her creative direction), and The National Design Centre. She's recently made the move into the world of print media with the newly appointed position of Editor at Artichoke Magazine, simultaneously maintaining her role as Adjunct Curator at Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design in Sydney. AND she also lectures at RMIT in the school of Architecture and Design.

Is this not the most INCREDIBLE CV you have ever read? I am in awe.

Refreshingly, Kate is also incredibly down-to-earth, endearingly self-deprecating, and so generous with her ideas and her extensive knowledge of Australian art, craft and design. She's utterly passionate about her work, and her unique, quirky aesthetic and sense of humour is clear in the varied collection of images she collated to accompany this interview - how about the self portrait? Love it.

I am convinced that Kate will, in years to come, be recognised as one of the most influential people in Melbourne's cultural and design sectors. You heard it hear first!

I feel very lucky to be able to share this interview with you :) Thanks so much Kate!

You’ve achieved so much in your career thus far and you’re still not yet 30! Tell me a little about your background - what did you study and what path has led you to what you’re doing now?

I wish I had written this on Monday when I was 29 but today I’m 30 and 3 days! I completed an Art History degree and a Masters of Art Curatorship at Melbourne University. In 2005 I started a Masters in design, focusing on fashion. The following year I left the NGV where I had been a Curator of photography and contemporary art to be Curator at Craft Victoria. In the last year I’ve also worked as a Curator at the National Design Centre and now I’m Editor of Artichoke Magazine, Adjunct Curator at Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design in Sydney and I teach in the school of Architecture and Design at RMIT. Around this I’ve done lots of volunteer and part time work in galleries, worked as a research assistant, completed internships and done a lot of writing.

Key image from the thesis Kate is currently writing at RMIT, on the aesthetics of poverty in fashion.

What are some of your projects / exhibitions that we might be familiar with?

Right now I have two shows that you can check out – How You Make It which I curated at Craft Victoria looking at fashion designers who make work using conceptual and experimental systems. The show is touring this year and next. The other is Melbourne Unbuilt which is on permanent display at the National Design Centre. Melbourne Unbuilt is a self-guided audio tour to see building projects that don’t exist, but which are reanimated through the voices of the architects who designed them. From the NDC you pick up a map (a wonderful object designed by Warren Taylor) and an i-Pod and tour the unbuilt architectural past.

* note from Lucy - I reviewed the fantastic Melbourne Unbuilt walking tour during the Melbourne International Design Festival for the MIDF blog... check out my review here!

An image from Kate' Melbourne Unbuilt walking tour - this is an unbuilt proposal for Melbourne's Flinders St. Station.

You’ve recently made the switch from art curator to magazine editor – how did this change in direction come about? How do you plan to use your experience in the cultural sector in your new role as editor of Artichoke Magazine?

Editing and curating are similar approaches to hunting down interesting work. The most obvious have to do with things like selecting; refining; making connections; telling stories. I see Artichoke as a gallery in pages. There are special things about magazines that I really like and I’m also coming up with things that will start in the magazine but which will also exist as exhibitions.

A work by artist Annie Wu from a show Kate co-curated at the VCA in July this year

What does a typical day at work involve for you at the moment?

Being appalled at our public transport system is the first thing that tends to happen each day. Sadly. I hit the office – look at the beach from my desk and smile because I now get to work on a huge mac computer! I spend lots of time researching for the best, most interesting design projects and ideas for the magazine and then find someone to write on them for us. I’m writing and cooking up ideas for pieces that aren’t out in the world but which come out of my head. Part of my job is to also go to lots of studios, lectures, launches, openings and parties. Tough isn’t it!

Also from the Solutions for Better Living show at Craft Vic. Amazing work by Kiko Gianocca entitled Sand to Wear (2005). You clip the bag and put the sand in your shoe. A new accessory.

What are you most proud of professionally?

Pride can be a hideous thing but I really do love my show Melbourne Unbuilt and I’m happy to say that out aloud.

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

I’d like to be in more of a position to ask “How would Slavoj _i_ek ask that question?”. I’d like to be better at asking questions philosophically (and be as clear and as funny as he is).

Where do you find inspiration - either for your curatorial projects or in your role at Artichoke?

That would be telling! I have lots of sources for finding out about good things but it is safe to say that inspiration comes from things that are good ideas and these are lying in wait everywhere. It is a thrilling day when the world seems to be giving them away everywhere I look.

Image from the last show Kate curated at the NGV, called Remote Control. This piece is by Gregory Crewdson.

What's the best thing about your job?

Where do I begin! That I get to spend my time thinking about work that I think is great, that I pretty much hang out in the realm of ideas and ask others to write about them and then I get to bring all that great stuff together. Someone’s going to catch on to me soon I fear.

Kate was co-ordinating curator of the V&A's Guy Bourdin exhibition when it came to the NGV in 2004.

And the worst?

Like everyone else, the worst is when I have to spend anytime thinking about stuff that is awful or silly or mean.

What are you looking forward to – professionally or personally?

I look forward to knowing more.

Melbourne Questions –

The best place to see the work of emerging artists in Melbourne?

On the street. Melbournians are great dressers. Folk wearing homespun outfits are my favourite emerging artists.

One great example of Melbourne architecture?

I never tire of the modernism on Collins Street.

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

Crunchy whole prawns at Cumulus.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

With my man in our gumboots picking things out of the garden or puttering around in our little baby boat amongst the serious boats.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

How bad our train system is. Melbourne is a wonderful city but I get super tired of hearing about how great it is when it is falling apart at the tracks. On a less grumpy note, everyone should know about eating salt and vinegar chips on the rocks at Williamstown beach after a swim, if they don’t already.