The Design Files | Australia's Most Popular Design Blog
The Design Files covers Australian design in all its forms – from architecture and interiors to gardens, food, fine art and craft. Regular features on the site include Australian Homes every Wednesday, Tasty Tuesday every Tuesday, and Interviews with talented local creative people every Friday.
After such a wonderful reception, we’re heading back to the venue soon, with a new line-up of events: Meet The Makers @ Mercedes me!
These sessions are a little different, though; with just 15-30 tickets available per session, Meet The Makers will enable you to get up close with our creative guests, observing their techniques, hearing about their career path, and, in some cases, you’ll even have a chance to get involved. Hope to see you there!
Saturday, August 4th, 11.00aM – 12.00pm
Having amassed a cult following, the weaver creates vibrant, textural woven artworks, using a distinctive circular loom.
Meet Tammy and observe her unique creative process, in an intimate event.
Perdita Collyer, Global Supply Chain Manager at T2 with the supply chain team. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.
Perdita and Christian Shaw, T2’s Global Logistics Manager. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.
Inside the T2 offices in Collingwood. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.
Today T2 boasts 66 stores across Australia and a slew of global stockists. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.
There are few products which sit alongside us as we experience the spectrum of emotions that is life. A cup of tea — whether sipped nervously during a job interview, enjoyed by a bride on the morning of a wedding, or made for a loved one travelling through grief — can do wonders in terms of silent communication. It was this love for tea and the connection it fosters that drove T2 founder Maryanne Shearer to launch the business way back in 1996.
Within a year, the company was wholesaling into some of Melbourne’s best restaurants, a tactic that increased international recognition and appreciation. ‘T2 has come a long way from the early days, when the tea was hand packed in the back room of the Fitzroy store, to having a global network of suppliers and copackers,’ says Perdita Collyer, T2’s Global Supply Chain Manager. Today the company boasts 66 stores across Australia and a slew of global stockists sharing the brand and its tea to a worldwide fanbase. ‘With fast growth, we have found the need to be very forward focused in our planning, and to invest in our supply network early to ensure that we can keep pace with demand for our amazing products.’
This forward-focused attitude was present in 2004, when despite only 52% of Australians even using the internet (ABS), T2 chose to launch its online store. ‘We had only a handful of orders placed in that first year,’ admits Christian Shaw, T2’s Global Logistics Manager. Back then ‘orders were hand packed under very manual circumstances, relying on the keen eye for order accuracy.’ Despite the labour required, the launch focused the company on the customer’s overall online shopping experience, something Christian says is still ‘at the forefront of every decision-making process’. Today, ‘all orders are managed through our Warehouse Management System, that adds efficiency and accuracy to a fast-growing environment, while still keeping our “hand packed” traditions, ensuring that each and every T2 customer’s experience is still at the forefront of everything we do.’
It’s this absolute commitment to meet (and exceed) customer’s expectations that has led T2 to become a globally adored company. Yet it hasn’t come without its challenges, in particular attempting to sell a food item across various countries. ‘I think the biggest challenge has been when we expand internationally, as each market has different requirements, and the requirements continue to change as new legislation is passed in each market,’ says Perdita. ‘From a supply and brand perspective, this has meant a lot of work to navigate the different requirements and produce product that is compliant globally. Key to this has been our Quality and Compliance team, who work very closely with our Product team to ensure we tick all the boxes for compliance.’
Investing in expertise has been key. ‘Our biggest investment has been in people and systems,’ says Perdita. ‘Whilst Supply had always existed as a function in the business, it wasn’t until 2015 that we invested in expanding the team. In the last three years, we have grown our function within the business to help unlock value and opportunities as we expand our global footprint.’
If giving advice to budding food business owners, Perdita stresses that success results from finding the right suppliers and forming genuine relationships so that logistics, and consequently, customer experience is not left vulnerable. ‘Invest in passionate people and find a great network of suppliers — we are only as good as the experience we can offer our customers, and that starts with ensuring we produce a fantastic product and get it to our customers on time.’
With an ever-expanding fanbase and new teas coming out all the time, what’s next for this innovative and iconic company? ‘T2 loves to experiment which means we are always brewing up something new!’ says Chris Janko, Lead Creative at T2. ‘With every cup we brew, we’re shaking up the way people drink tea, inspiring a global community of tea lovers to reimagine their world, sip by sip, cup by cup.’
Shop T2 Tea online or find your nearest store here.
Inside the T2 offices in Collingwood. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.
Perdita stresses that success results from finding the right suppliers and forming genuine relationships. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.
TIPS TO HELP YOU RESPECT YOUR REVENUE 1. Start as You Mean to Go On
As the team at T2 relay, part of their success is due to their early investment in their supply chain, and processes that met (or exceeded) customer’s expectations. Regardless of your size, consider what’s working for your own supply and logistics, what are the common roadblocks and how could they be automated, delegated or eliminated. This may mean meeting with Fulfilment and Logistics providers like Fulfilio (Australia) or Shipwire (US), finding a mentor within your industry, or investing in a Supply and Logistics consultant to help you improve the way you work.
2. Under Promise, Over Deliver
Poor supply chains and ill-considered logistics can break a company. In a line made famous by Top Gun, don’t let ‘your ego write checks your body can’t cash’. If you promise next-day delivery, that means the very next day. If you go hard promoting a launch date, show up on time (Hello Apple Airpods). Ensure your marketing function has access to live inventory reports so that customers aren’t left clicking from an Instagram post through to an ‘unavailable’ product page. Remember, it takes years to build a reputation and seconds (or in the social media era we live in, one post) to break it. It’s far wiser to under promise and over deliver than to make a promise and break it.
3. Do Your Research
Are you planning to sell your products internationally? If so, do you know which language text must be displayed in? Are any symbols used globally recognised? Is the product name offensive in some languages? Is your product compliant with laws of that country? If you’re manufacturing in China, have you taken into account Chinese New Year? These are just some of the questions product-based businesses should be asking themselves well before promotions go live. Research to avoid future remorse.
4. One Team, One Dream
We’ve all been there. You’re excited about a parcel being delivered, but then it’s late and when you contact the brand you bought it from, you’re sent off to deal with a third-party; becoming a ping pong ball in a game of blame. Strong brands take the time to build relationships with their fulfilment and supply chain providers, so that when things do go wrong they’re fixed quickly. They also invest in the best solutions for their customers, such as partnering with a company like Parcel Point for simple returns, displaying clear online returns policies, offering instant chat or a phone number for customers to make contact, and having a back-end that makes live inventory, customer purchase information and product forecasting simple for all staff.
5. Own Up to Mistakes
No business is perfect and at some point, your supply chain or logistics process will stumble. When this happens it’s best to admit your fault to customers rather than shy away from it. I recently had an issue with a pair of Melody Ehsani earrings, but rather than ignore my email or point the blame at someone else, they were quick to apologise and had another parcel organised and on its way to me within minutes of receiving my email. This would just not be possible without a high level of internal focus on supply and logistics. Rather than make me dislike the brand, it only made my love for them stronger.
Fiona Killackey is a business consultant and coach and the founder of My Daily Business Coach, a consultancy that provides business coaching and consulting, branding + marketing workshops and creative ideation. Fiona will be teaching a new workshop this August in Sydney for people wanting to start a business, Loving Mondays: How to Plan and Start a Business.
Due to its location in a high bush-fire risk area, Mick and his team used naturally fire resistant Blackbutt cladding to meet requirements. The timber will weather over time and blend into its environment. Photo – Christine Francis.
With a fixer upper to renovate, Ballarat based couple Sam and Sarah approached local architecture firm Moloney Architects, attracted to their contemporary aesthetic and sustainable design principles. It wasn’t long before they were invited to view one of the firm’s recently completed projects in nearby Invermay. ‘Within a few days, they had put their house on the market’, architect Mick Moloney tells us. And so began the origin story Two Halves House.
Then began the search for the perfect block of land to build their forever home. After a few months, a site was secured. Sharing many similarities with the Invermay project that had originally sparked their imagination, everyone agreed this sloping site capturing spectacular south-valley views towards Ballarat was *the one*.
While the brief was relatively simple in its requirements – a four bedroom home with enough room for future kids and plenty of entertainment – the site itself presented its challenges. Rigid building restrictions and the way the land was subdivided meant the proposed building could only be oriented north-south, whereas the most logical orientation was east-west. Rather than letting these difficulties dictate a less than perfect result, Mick and his team truly leant into every challenge, and it’s their intelligent design response that has earned this house notoriety.
Mick and his team proposed building the house in two equal pavilions, at two different heights, connected by an internal linking structure. This split-level response allowed the house to settle into the sloping site, rather than perch on top of it. ‘Separating the pavilions vertically allowed us to follow the slope of the site, and minimise disruption to the flow of the landscape,’ Mick explains, ‘…This project shows that it’s possible to work with the landscape and still create the spaces required for modern family life.’
As well as considerations for Sam and Sarah’s future family, Mick notes the owners’ love of entertaining as a major factor in the open-plan living area (zoned in the second pavilion). A built-in bench traces the perimeter of the entire living level, extending the natural experience of sitting around the kitchen island into a conversation area.
The house ‘hosts a full gamut of events and parties’ according to Mick, the owners making the most of this socially-designed house by opening their doors to a number of community events including the first Ballarat Open House in 2017. The fruitful relationship between Moloney Architects and their enthusiastic clients to create a truly innovative new home, has given this house a social life of its own!
Charlie Wilde (Cantilever Director), Travis Dean (Cantilever Director), Mark Simpson (Design Office Creative Director) and Damien Mulvihill (Design Office Creative Director). Photo – Haydn Cattach.
Joinery details and materials: Stainless work tops offers a robust, practical surface that will patina with age. Photo – Haydn Cattach.
Detail of ‘Niche’, which has been developed with a variety of applications in mind. A recessed zone built into the Black element, it can perform as a discreet work zone, an appliance zone, or a home bar element. Photo – Haydn Cattach.
‘The Shelf’ is offered in four distinct accent colours, and four sizes. Photo – Haydn Cattach.
Cantilever director Travis Dean describes the project’s development and slow and organic. In 2014, Cantilever collaborated with Melbourne architecture firm Design Office on the Kalex Townhouse project ‘Park and Raphael’, where a specific spatial configuration required innovative solutions for the kitchen design. Travis describes being inspired by Design Office’s conceptual strength of ‘relating function and form to spatial dynamics’ and the emphasis on user experience.
As a result of this project, Travis and his team invited Design Office to collaborate further, using the ‘Park and Raphael’ project as a platform for the development of what has become Tableau, Cantilever’s brand new kitchen system. The collaboration plays to the strengths of each firm, with Design Office taking the lead on the conceptual and aesthetic elements, and Cantilever applying their expertise in material development, prototyping and practical application of the design.
With its soft lines and tactile forms, the Tableau has a sculptural quality, and a distinct lack of ‘chunkiness (we love that!), amplified by an intense attention to detail. Travis particularly highlights the unique handles used in Tableau, which was the result of six distinct designs and twelve iterations of the prototype! (These guys really do not do anything by halves!).
Part of the cleverness of the design, too, is in its flexibility, as the system is comprised of Bench, Block, Shelf and Store functions, to ensure adaptability according to space and individual needs.
For Travis, the strength of Melbourne’s manufacturing industries provides an ideal environment for this type of experimental prototyping. ‘Melbourne’s diverse cultural heritage, inherent creative and trade cultures and “isolation” has fostered grass-roots business to get established, and generational companies to emerge,’ he tells. We couldn’t agree more!
Salmon, Yuzu and Nashi with Sesame Mayo on Tempura Shiso Leaves from the ‘Raw Beauty’ feature in Donna Hay’s 100th issue. Photo – Chris Court. Styling – Steve Pearce.
From the magazine’s chapter on ‘Inspired – Herbs’ featuring Donna’s Crispy Potato With Parsley and Rosemary Salt recipe. Photo – Anson Smart. Styling – Steve Pearce.
The 100th issue special edition cover – out now! Photo – courtesy of Donna Hay.
The inimitable Donna Hay alongside a stack of all 100 past issues! Photo – Stewart White, courtesy of Donna Hay.
Check out the recipe for Chocolate Ice-Creams With Torched Meringue and Chocolate Sauce in the new issue. Photo – Chris Court. Styling – Steve Pearce.
Whipped Lemon Taramasalata with Salmon Roe and Pickled Zucchini Flowers from the magazine chapter ‘Raw Beauty’, in Donna Hay’s 100th issue. Photo – Chris Court. Styling – Steve Pearce.
Chocolate, Raspberry and Coconut Panna Cotta Bars from the ‘Wholefood Bars’ chapter in Donna’s 100th-anniversary magazine. Photo – Anson Smart. Styling – Steve Pearce.
A spread from the ‘Raw Beauty’ feature in Donna Hay’s 100th issue. Photo – Chris Court. Styling – Steve Pearce.
In 2011, a mere three years into launching this little ol’ blog (if we can still call it a ‘blog’?) I had the IMMENSE privilege of interviewing THE Donna Hay.
It was a defining moment, and one that made me realise that perhaps, just perhaps, I was onto something. To think that an editor as esteemed as Donna Hay even knew about TDF, let alone would agree to an interview with me, was a seriously big deal.
Seven years later, here we are again and I am no less starstruck to have had the opportunity to interview Donna Hay for the second time! This time, though it’s bittersweet. Because after 17 years in circulation, Donna Hay magazine’s 100th issue (on newsstands now!) will be their very last. It’s no exaggeration to say, this really is the end of an era.
The magazine made Donna Hay a household name both here and abroad, reaching subscribers in 82 countries around the world. But Donna is more than just a magazine editor. Over the past twenty years, she has authored 26 best selling cookbooks, selling over 6 million copies worldwide, and has hosted TV series screened in over 17 countries. She’s developed her own tableware and kitchenware ranges, and has even developed a home baking mix range – a bestselling product line available at supermarkets across Australia. Did I mention, she also served as creative director for Oprah Winfrey’s ‘Welcome to Sydney’ party, in 2011? Safe to say, it’s been a BUSY decade or two for Donna!
It was such a pleasure to chat with Donna earlier this week about the incredible success of her eponymous magazine, the defining memories she has had along the way, and of course, what we can expect from her next!
What were your initial goals when you first launched Donna Hay magazine in 2001 – did you ever expect the incredible success and notoriety the magazine has had?
Not really! I’m not much of a planner, I’ve always been more head down, focussed on the ‘now’. I never really had a long term plan for the magazine. It’s been an incredible ride and I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved.
It’s been 17 years and 100 issues – WOW that’s one hell of an achievement! What have been one or two major milestones along the way?
I’ve never been one for major milestones. It’s been more about a constant revision process, or refining what we do every step of the way. For instance, we haven’t really focussed on major re-designs, but every issue we’ve tweaked and improved on our last. For us it’s always being about finding ways to simplify, refine and elevate what we do, every day and with every issue.
Over the years you’ve worked with some incredible photographers, stylists and creative collaborators. Can you outlines any key creatives who have been integral in developing that distinctive ‘Donna Hay’ style?
Over 17 years I’ve met and worked with so many incredible people. One key collaborator has been photographer Con Poulos – he shot our very first cover, and I’ve worked with him on and off for twenty years.
Chris Court is someone I’ve worked with since the early days. I think we first booked him to shoot deep etched wine bottles (!) – he was a real newbie at the time. He’s another wonderful photographer I’ve worked with for many years, along with his sister, stylist Sibella Court, who is a great friend.
I’m sure, like us, many readers and subscribers will be devastated to learnt that Donna Hay magazine will no longer continue in its current format. So… what can we expect next!?
I don’t really look back, I always look forward… I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved but I’m also really excited to explore some new projects. It’s been 17 years of having a bi-monthly deadline – which can be a really hard slog. I’m looking forward to having more time to explore other opportunities and creative projects.
I honestly don’t know what’s next. I have two cook books coming out later this year, and it’s the first time I’m launching them in all markets at the same time, which is really exciting.
I’ve got a big following in the UK, and Europe, and we’ve never been able to release a cookbook over there at the same time as here. Usually there’s a delay, due to translation and different versions being released in different markets. But I’m really excited that this year for the first time, these books will be launched at the same time both here and globally. So, if I’m talking about a specific recipe or technique online, it’ll be relevant to Australia, and the UK, and Europe all at once.
I’m also looking forward to being able to give back, and having time to spend on some more community focussed projects. I often get asked to speak at special events or schools, and you just have to say no all the time because there isn’t time to do everything. So I’m looking forward to being able to do those things.
And finally, can you share one single memory which has really stuck with you, and been a defining moment in the Donna Hay journey?
I’m not sure if there’s been one single moment… although there was one time I do remember going in to an important meeting in a big publisher’s office in New York. It was a really big office and they had all this reference on display, and I remember seeing some of our imagery on their moodboards and thinking… wow, you never know who is looking at what you do! That was a moment I realised we were really doing something that was being noticed on a global level.
I am still really passionate about print, and people are still buying print magazines and books. I think there will always be a place for great content.
Stylecraft have long been providers of the best in contemporary design for commercial spaces, and in 2017 the company branched out to offer a finely curated selection of residential pieces, in their Sydney-based showroom. Following the success of this venture, the brand has now opened a residential showroom in Melbourne’s beloved Flinders Lane.
StylecraftHOME enlisted award-winning design firm HASSELL for the showroom fit-out, who translated the blush-toned Sydney reference into a luxe/industrial Melbourne look! The aesthetic also draws strongly upon European influences – a golden bannister heralds the ascent between the ground level and second floor, with copper arches encircling the portico space. The bannisters are laden with leafy foliage, and terrazzo floors invoke a very continental scene!
StylecraftHOME describes how the lighting is deliberately theatrical to ‘create an enchanting and sensory experience, with vantage points and hidden areas that unfold throughout the space.’ The showroom is also designed to feel like a home, with visitors moving through in a manner similar to experiencing the different rooms of a house. Mid-tour you can take a seat on a Tacchini Face-to-Face sofa, or Sesann armchair!
The kitchen is the heart of a home, and this is also true in the StylecraftHOME, where it provides a space for meetings. Meanwhile, the library is used by consultants to work with clients on upholstery and fabric selections – sink into some Japanese and Scandinavian inspired Ritzwell furniture, and design your dream home!
StylecraftHOME Melbourne Showroom 145-149 Flinders Lane Melbourne, Victoria
Opening Hours Monday to Friday 8:30am – 5pm Saturday 10am-4pm
The ‘jungly lounge room’ of Marita McCausland’s Oakleigh home. This is where most of the plants live, adjacent to big, west-facing windows that allow for lots of light. The pink chair was purchased 7 years ago for $50 on eBay and re-covered with Warwick pink velvet fabric. Kip & Co floor and couch cushions. Noguchi coffee table. Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.
The loungeroom ‘shelfie’. In the top-right is the ‘IT plant’, according to Marita, a Monstera Adansonii. Artwork ‘Sweet Peas and Studio Table’, by Elizabeth Barnett purchased from Modern Times. Kip & Co cushions and grey tassel blanket. Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.
Established cascading plants. Left – Hoya Krimson Princess. Right – Devils Ivy. Wall colour painted in Dulux Biro Blue. Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.
Marita and her two girls, Eve (6) and Frankie (5). Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.
Dining space, where plants can soak up light from the bay windows. Douglas & Bec pendant suspended over dining table. Custom-made Armadillo & Co rug. MRD dining chairs. Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.
‘This bath is not just for the human babies but my plant babies too! Much of my watering is done here,’ Marita tells us. Kip and Co pink towels. HK Living rustic wooden stool. Plants (left to right): Hoya (above), Indian Rope Hoya (on stool, Monstera and Rubber plants in bath. Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.
Bay windows, where every day is started with a cuppa. Ruby Star Traders fabric and rattan chair. Kip and Co cushions. Styling – Annie Portelli. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.
Eve’s bedroom (featuring Tosh the Spoodle!), which is actually a converted front loungeroom with fireplace. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.
Entry hall. HK Living rattan bench seat with black detailing. Artwork ‘Amber Glow’ purchased from The Colour English. Plant is a Mother-In-Law’s tongue in a Toast & Honey white pot. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.
Master bedroom. Original Coco Flip pendant. Kip & Co bedding and chunky knit blanket. Plants are Birds of Paradise and Ficus midnight beauty tree. Artwork left to right (purchased at Modern Times): ‘She Began III’ limited edition screen print by Caroline Walls. ‘She Began IV’ limited edition screen print by Caroline Walls. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.
Homemade kids cubby next to the greenhouse. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.
Martita McCausland and family purchased their 1940’s white weatherboard house in Oakleigh four years ago. They were immediately wooed by the expansive floor to ceiling bay windows (and we can see why!), the abundance of natural light warming the house, and the sprawling backyard.
When Marita and Stuart first purchased the property, though, the home came with the original ‘charm’ of the era. ‘It was like a rabbit warren’ Marita describes, ‘you opened the kitchen cupboards and there was no bottom in them…literally the earth!’ When planning their renovations, the family designed the open-plan lounge, dining and kitchen around the bay windows as a centre piece. This area is now truly the heart of the home, as Martina describes how ‘the light filled living space is the central hub for our little family’.
A sense of warmth and cosy comfort extends through the entire house via Marita’s generous jungle of plants, and cheerful application of colour. She explains ‘my style is a very relaxed, happy vibe. I try not to get too serious about it.’ The white weatherboard sings with the addition of bold colours, textures and patterns. Marita draws upon the best of the ’70s, with her love of colour, patterns and plants. ‘I’m a 70s baby, and grew up with indoor plants everywhere’ she confirms.
Drawing on her expertise in botanical styling, Marita describes the value of adding greenery to truly transform a space. ‘Decorating and furnishing can be expensive, so I find that playing around with my indoor plants often fills and void and makes up for lack of beautiful furniture!’ (We agree with this sentiment, but honestly, this home also has SUCH beautiful furniture!).
In addition to those impressive bay windows, Marita cites the custom made Armadillo&Co rug under the dining table as an especially beloved item in their family home. The playful pink floor covering is a perfect counterpoint to the vibrant green plants, and deep indigo dining room walls. ‘I’m definitely not one for a neutral colour palette!’ Marita describes.
For Marita, home is a place for relaxation and joy – and not to be taken too seriously. ‘I just buy things I love and throw it all together, which I guess gives it a slightly eclectic feel’ she muses. In less capable hands, this ad-hoc approach could result in a slightly haphazard aesthetic – but Marita’s mastery has produced a truly beautiful family home.
Marita is keen to give a shout out to her amazing friend, stylist Amber Lenette, for coming over at the crack of dawn to help spruce her home before our team arrived!
Lemon Pickle from Tamil Feasts. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Surface and chopping board from The Establishment Studios. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.
Tamil Feasts crowd-favourite Lemon Pickle. Surface and chopping board from The Establishment Studios. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.
Tamil Feasts chefs (left to right) Niro, Richman and Nirma preparing a meal. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.
We started out making our own lemon pickle to serve at Tamil Feasts. The customers loved it!
Then we decided to make a production run to sell at CERES Harvest Festival. This was a runaway success, so we now sell our pickles and spice mixes at all of our feasts – people usually buy a couple of jars at a time for gifts and for their store cupboard!
Our chai mix has been another crowd favourite, especially in winter. We are looking at branching out into more products for retail sale next!
Place the lemons and salt in a pot and bring to the boil, and then cook on a low boil for 20 minutes.
In a separate pan, eat the oil and add the mustard seeds, heat until they pop.
Add the onions, garlic, fennel, cumin, chilli and fenugreek and cook for another few minutes until onion is soft.
Add the curry powder, turmeric and rosemary and cook for another minute, until the spices are aromatic.
Add the spice mix to lemons, combine and place into your favourite jars… and wait for at least 3-4 days, but the longer the better.
Note: You can sterilise the jars for extra shelf-life of the pickle.
How can you support Tamil Feasts?
‘Come along and enjoy a delicious feast, bring your friends, meet the guys and welcome them into the community! Sign up to volunteer and learn how to make the best curry in town,’ welcomes project coordinator Emma McCann.
‘Each night one of the men will share their own personal stories with our diners. They also love visiting tables and chatting with people about everything and anything. Through food and sharing their stories, they are breaking down barriers.’
Run by not-for-profit CERES, Tamil Feasts are very popular and bookings are essential. Check out the website for more information.
Ali feels her visual language has matured, evolved, and that painting now comes more easily to her. Photo –James Geer.
Ali is inspired by Australian flora and fauna, from King Proteas to sculptural leaves. Photo –James Geer.
Ali is now using oils almost exclusively and is working on board as a new surface. Photo –James Geer.
Since we last caught up with Ali McNabney-Stevens, the UK-born Melbourne-based artist has been industriously showcasing work in various group shows, a solo exhibition at FortyFive Downstairs, as well as Denfair. All that, in-between moving house and renovating – we’re working on a tour of her new Bayside 1980s gem, which is currently being transformed in-line with a ’Palm Springs vision’!
Ali found time to take five with us, introducing her latest body of work and reflecting on the inspiring workshops, books, and friends that have supported the evolution of her art.
Can you tell us about your artistic inspirations, process, and how you create your paintings?
My inspirations come from my everyday now and in the past. Books I have read, flashes of a landscape that have stuck in my memory – for example, the garden’s described in The Long Afternoon by Gile Waterfield.
I participated in a workshop with Luke Sciberras in Hill End, New South Wales in October last year. Until that point, I’d never really grasped the colours of the Australian landscape. That visit had a profound effect on my working colour palette, making me see colours that had always been there, but hidden from my view if that makes sense – distant hills turning into deep violet hues, shadows casting olive greens… there are literally endless shades under the Australian sun.
Then there’s also the influence of my experiences of people and place in my work… all of these have woven together to bring me to the here and now.
Since we last spoke, you’ve moved studios. What’s your new space like?
A tree-and-seachange to Bayside has brought a lot of contentment in more ways than one. I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful sunny home studio, which I find preferable to leasing away from home.
My processes have certainly changed a lot since then, I’m now using oils almost 100% of the time and working on board as a new surface. And I feel, my mark making has become more intuitive.
How long have you been working on your forthcoming exhibition ‘Weaving The Here And Then’?
It has been an ongoing labour of love and in short it’s a culmination of artistic and personal experiences and learnings that have brought me to this point – My very transient existence before I moved to Melbourne 16 years ago, having three children, experiencing six house moves, one build, one in-progress renovation, family loss, not feeling at home, making new friends, building my business and working it all out…
Memory plays such a part in my day-to-day paintings that there is no way I could weave together my thoughts and work without considering the ‘then’ and adding that to the ‘here and now’. It’s taken about a year to pull it all together.
Was there a particular moment or person that inspired you to begin this body of work?
Of course, there are always inspiring people around and I have had the good fortune to meet many of them. These individuals have played their part, either knowingly or not, in helping to shape, inspire and improve me. However, this is ultimately me putting my work out there to stand on its own.
I will say that my best friend, Paula Mills, from South Africa has been my main source of inspiration and support. When I first met Paula she was a mother of three very small children like me and yet she still found time, actually made the time and space to do her artwork. I wasn’t doing any of that and I realised through Paula that putting my work on the back burner was not going to work. I am forever grateful for this and her friendship.
In what ways do you feel these works compare to your previous works?
I feel my visual language has matured, evolved, and now comes more easily; it’s more spontaneous the work, almost as if I now have my true narrative ( its taken years to get to this point). I can now tell my stories instead of having to think how to write them as I go. I feel an ease with oil paints and that adds a vibrancy, and life, to the work… I hope!
After 10 years of designing for retailers, the Melbourne-based creative launches her own range of products on Wednesday. Photo – Benjamin Long. Styling – Michelle McIlrath.
Georgie’s new range is expressive, energetic and colourful. Photo – Benjamin Long. Styling – Michelle McIlrath.
All of the designs are hand-painted during an intuitive process. Photo – Benjamin Long. Styling – Michelle McIlrath.
Believing there’s no such thing as too many cushions, but wanting to offer something a little different, all Georgie’s cushions are round and feature contrasting designs. Photo – Benjamin Long. Styling – Michelle McIlrath.
Working in her Ringwood home studio. Photo – Benjamin Long. Styling – Michelle McIlrath.
Being a full-time mum, finding local resources not only allowed Georgie to support local businesses but made managing the manufacturing process manageable. Photo – Benjamin Long. Styling – Michelle McIlrath.
Along with the cushions, eight art prints are available, inspired by Georgie’s childhood memories of Western Australia. Photo – Benjamin Long. Styling – Michelle McIlrath.
Originally hailing from Western Australia, from a young age Georgie Young had a flair for design. At the age of 21, she made the big journey across the Nullarbor to Melbourne, to pursue this passion.
‘I had a single friend (with open arms) here at the time, and a desire to study Screen Print Design at RMIT Tafe,’ the designer recalls. Following this, she undertook a degree in textile design, also at RMIT, and after graduating, landed a job at Dryen, a family-run homewares company in Moorabbin. She stayed there for nearly seven years, totally immersed in the world of designing bedlinen, cushions and sheets for some of Australia’s biggest retailers.
Today, ‘going to work’ feels a little different! Working from a lofty studio on the top floor of her home in suburban Ringwood, Georgie has revelled in the opportunity to design on her own terms. Here, Georgie has returned to a hands-on design approach, developing her distinctive painterly patterns by layering ink, watercolour and gouache. ‘I tend to start by painting something quick and a bit loose in ink, then adding interesting shapes and details over the top with gouache,’ she explains. ‘I also move lots of shapes of tracing paper around to work out compositions’.
Right now, much of Georgie’s creative output happens after hours when her son is asleep – hence the name of her debut range ‘Sundown‘! ‘I’ve also always been fascinated by the colours of magic hour, that hour before the sun goes down and everything is dripping with a beautiful golden light,’ the designer adds.
Being a Mum has also informed the scale of Georgie’s new business, and was a key factor in her choice to manufacturer locally. A trip to India in 2015 to meet potential suppliers proved overwhelming, as the minimum order requirements were so large. Further research lead Georgie to discover that Melbourne has many affordable manufacturing resources she could tap in to, from fabric printed in Abbotsford, to cushions sewn in her own neighbourhood of Ringwood. We love that!
Georgie’s debut range includes six mix-and-match circular cushions, featuring hand-painted botanical patterns, and soft velvet trims. Alongside these, there are eight art prints, inspired by Georgie’s childhood memories of Western Australia: hiding in her Mum’s gorgeously lush garden, and painting every flower she could find!
Georgie Daphne’s Sundown will be launching on the July 18th. She will also be exhibiting at Life Instyle in the newbie section, 1st Life Instyle from August 2nd to 5th. For all the creative local shopkeepers out there, be sure to pop by Georgie’s stand, and say we sent you!