Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category
This interview has been long in the making – since December last year! What with busy schedules on both sides, co-founder of Father Rabbit, Claudia Zinzan, and I finally came together to talk about the birth of her homewares store which she shares with her partner, Nick Hutchinson. With a background as an interior designer, Claudia, established Father Rabbit with partner Nick, a camerman in the film industry (who’s worked on major silver screen flicks Silvia and The Fastest Indian) – the perfect partnership in love and work. The pair have enjoyed well-deserved success and media attention, following the launch of their real life, bricks’n'mortar store a year on from initially establishing the on-line store in 2010. With a creative eye for beautiful design and an obvious appreciation for the beauty of well-made everyday objects for the home and garden, and skincare, Claudia manages to successfully juggle family life (with a little toddler) and the Father Rabbit store which has taken over half of their Auckland villa!
What was the catalyst which motivated your desire to diversify and take on a homewares business in addition to your interior design consultancy? With the opening of the on-line store in December 2010 and the recent opening of a real-life ‘brick and mortar’ store, it was always part of our vision to open an actual space where people can experience your wares in their natural habitat. We have always imagined ourselves with a family run corner store and a business that was created with our ideals. We wanted to sell everyday products that elevate the mundane tasks around the home; dish brushes, toothpaste, storage, baking equipment, linen, and general home wares. We really had to start with a website, because that is all we could afford and naturally we wanted to test and build up the brand before opening our house up to our customers. The website gives us a great platform to clearly communicate the Father Rabbit brand, and now it’s an avenue to offer the entire product range giving us the luxury of keeping the store a bit more of a conceptual brand experience (rather than trying to cram everything in a small space). Our customers all have an element of the rabbit in them – either fastidiously neat, or trying to be! It’s wonderful to see how they react to our retail space. At once, just what they expect and also what they may aspire to achieve in terms of orderliness or aesthetic. Customers that come in are very chatty and responsive because it is our home, it doesn’t have such a “shop” feel. We often have cups of tea or coffee on the go, or wine after 4!
With the shop and on-line deliveries sharing quarters in your home, how to do keep defined boundaries between work and family? The house does have two separate flats so we live on one side and the shop is on the other. It is fantastic to be able to leave home and walk around the front of the house to work, but on the flip side when we do have a day off it’s hard to leave it all behind… these days are usually spent weeding the front garden and keeping the house maintained outside ready for another retail week ahead. What’s awkward is when I walk out on Sunday mornings on our day off to get the paper in my pyjamas… I hope nobody notices!
What have been the highlights of creating and running Father Rabbit? The highlight has been seeing the growth of our brand. We honestly thought it would be a quiet little business that would tick along slowly. It was such a joy to be able to paint our house totally white, including the roof, floors and front door for Father Rabbit! Our house was a bit paint sad before that! We love sharing in visitor’s genuine lovely responses and the fascination that we live on the other side of the house!
What do you find the most challenging aspects of running your own business? Hard bits have been getting our head around retail systems, managing staff, and little things like wrapping quickly and efficiently but meeting the rabbit’s Standards Of Wrapping too! Remembering to order enough bags; all those little details that help our operation run smoothly! I felt sick the first time the till receipt roll ran out, mad panic. I have the hang of it now.
With your background in interior design and with your partner Nick in the film industry, it must be a match made in heaven for your joint business venture? My partner Nick (and father of my child!) works in the film industry as a focus puller, so you could say he too has an eye for detail! Nick was raised in a Father Rabbit sort of household, so he really gets the brand and he is an enthusiast for things done properly. We do work well together, thank goodness, only realizing this in hindsight! We didn’t even think about what if we didn’t! Nick often takes the photos and we use photographer, Louise Hyatt as well.
How did the alter ego of your company develop? Rabbit, or Father Rabbit, has been my nickname for years (after a memorable night in a French Restaurant Au Pere Lapin). We just thought it had such a great ring to it… “Father Rabbit’s General Store”. Over the years he has developed into a really defined personality, reflective of the particular way we aspire to do things. It was wonderful to see him come to life through the website, and experience first hand the way people react to, and resonate with him.
Reading about Father Rabbit’s delightfully detailed character traits, like how he “irons his pillowcases and tucks his sheets in with hospital corners” and is “disciplined” and “discerning”. Are these qualities you aspire to, as well as a way of expressing the ethos of your homewares business? We aspire to, but don’t always exist in such meticulous splendor in our half of the villa. At times we measure up to Father Rabbit’s exacting standards, and it’s at these times when we are happiest. Those fleeting moments when the books are in order, the beds are made, the garden weeded and the clutter cleared away.
Father Rabbit styles and provides table settings from their homeware range in collaboration with The Vitrine for Juliette Hogan’s new S/S13 collections at a media breakfast in Auckland. Photos: Karen Ishiguro
I see you offer an exciting new range of linen tea towels produced exclusively for Father Rabbit and illustrated by textile designer Angela McKay. Can you tell us about how the collaboration can about and how you came across Angela’s work? Angela McKay works in our store! She’s a recent design graduate and her illustrations are amazing. She came to me with her travel journal of illustrations and it was such a perfect fit. It’s been a really rewarding experience to help promote her alongside the Father Rabbit brand.
How would you describe your personal style? Is it similar to Father Rabbit? I love the orderliness of Father Rabbit’s style. I appreciate the calming qualities, though personally I am open to a bit more expression through vibrant colour and pattern.
What qualities do you look for in products you buy for your shop? Our pick of products are practical and pleasing in both form and function. There’s an underlying sense of quality and timelessness, they’re tried and true with an understated and calm aesthetic.
How much time do you currently devote to each of your businesses? Sometimes it feels like I never switch off… especially with work and home essentially in the same place. Currently I am working 6 days a week in the store, which is a bit trying. We are looking for a retail star to take over some of these aspects.
What are your most recent products to arrive at Father Rabbit? Sort of Coal, a Danish range of water purifiers, hair and skincare products, and a beautiful range of stationary from Sydney based Follow Paper Co, that we’re really excited about.
Can you give a preview of what’s to come? Father Rabbit Children’s PJs (ages 1 – 6) are due to be released this month! Super soft in white and grey with our design on them (baby rabbit by Angela McKay) in collaboration with G. Nancy.
Father Rabbit styling shoot which appeared in the Christmas edition of Australian based Fête magazine. Photos: Louise Hyatt
Father Rabbit Co-founder, Claudia Zinzan, shows off her styling talent with Father Rabbit homewares for Fête magazine. Photos: Louise Hyatt
What are a few of your favourite art and design pieces in your home? I love our old mantle pieces on the wall, which are all mint green, peeling paint. I love our wall paint colours too; Aalto Royal White, Aalto Umpire, Aalto Zinzan Chalky Pea Green (our own colour!) and Aalto ½ Division. In my old life I was a colour consultant. I am a bit of a colour palette nut!
What are your top three new year’s resolutions for 2013? This year I am going to take regular breaks, I burnt out, and wasn’t as productive at the end of last year. That really is my only resolution. I have lots of goals but not really a resolution sort of person. I have zero willpower!
What are you most looking forward to in the coming year? All the new exciting, fresh products coming in! We have really worked hard to find new things that aren’t always available in New Zealand. Plus we are doing our own range of pyjamas and more bed linen! We have a couple of exciting secret developments too! (watch this space for developments! – ed.)
What are your top favourite design/style blogs you’re visiting these days? The Design Files and Milo and Mitzy Travelling Wares by Sydney based New Zealand stylist, Kara Rosenlund (two fantastic style blogs which are at the top of my blog roll! – ed.)
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I recently had the pleasure of swapping emails with the gorgeous Jenny Schenal, one half of the husband and wife illustration duo behind illustration and stationery studio Shhh My Darling. Based in Rome, Jenny and her equally talented hubby, Graziano Farinaccio, met seven years ago working for the same animation company, fell in love and left the company to begin an exciting journey together as both husband and wife and creative partners in their own business. Their charming hand drawn imagery is based around the theme of love depicted by adorable animal couplings which are seen in their unique bespoke letterpress wedding stationery, greeting cards, and animal prints. I was curious to hear about the young couple’s impressions of our country and cultural scene when they visited New Zealand earlier this year.
Coming from Rome, what inspired you to visit New Zealand? Even though we both grew up in two different parts of Italy we live and work in Rome. Gra is from a small town in the South and I am from the North – two very different contexts, but somehow very close to each other in terms of a genuine country lifestyle, if you know what I mean. Arriving in Rome we were both escaping a reality that didn’t fit too much with our aspirations and wishes. We were looking for a second quick escape this year by visiting a country that could inspire us having a break from the chaotic life in Rome, so we decided to go to New Zealand where we have a couple of friends that helped us to discover the beauty of this country. We loved it so much that we decided to stay here more than we had planned!
Where did you live in New Zealand and how long did you stay here? We spent five months there living in Auckland most of the time, working on our projects and traveling around the country whenever we had the chance!
What would you say are the three greatest differences between Italian and New Zealand culture? New Zealand is a relatively new nation – young, lively and open-minded. Much more international than our old, tired country. It’s a perfect place to breath new vibrations and trends, this is why the world looks at this small country with great interest. Life rhythms: in Italy sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the pace, people have a very stressful life. When arriving in New Zealand you naturally slow down. There’s not too much traffic, short cues in post offices… I think the most difficult thing was understanding that when you enter in a cafe you must sit down and wait. Then it takes around ten minutes to get your coffee and if you’re not prepared in the beginning, this seems a crime! You get stressed! “What?? Ten minutes for a coffee??? Bring me the manager!” After a while you start to appreciate this quiteness and would like the italian waitresses to take a little longer than 90 seconds to bring your espresso saying, “There’s no rush baby, I can wait.”:)
Describe some of your highlights here. Oh, well! Gorgeous food, so beautiful that you start devouring them first with your eyes before your mouth! We loved having breakfast at Meola Kitchen in Westemere, where a dear friend works, or at Little & Friday cafè or at Coffee Supreme in the weekend, breathtaking landscapes and wild nature everywhere. One day we met a seal taking a nap while we were walking on a seashore! We rented a minivan and travelled around the North Island which is something we’ll never forget!
What did you miss out on the first time around that you plan to do on your next visit? Unfortunately we hadn’t the chance to visit the South Island, which is such a shame – that will bring us back soon!
Do you find there are different things which inspired you in NZ as opposed to Italy? As I said before, New Zealand is a very inspiring country. The music scene is very interesting and populated by great bands. Contemporary and country styles are perfectly melted together to create that current country-chic taste that you can see on the 80% of Pinterest pins.We found more international influences in New Zealand than in Italy which is very important for what we do. Although European countries vary; full of traditions and marvellous art, but not so open to new inspirations, although things start slowly beginning to change.
With Christmas just around the corner, how will you spend the festive season? Oh my! There is a lot of work to do during Christmas time! Nevertheless, we always find some time to spend with our families and friends, eating calorie rich traditional foods, drinking mulled wine and wearing old heavy woolly jumpers. We usually invite friends over to our home and play a special ‘Scary Raffle’ in which everyone wraps terrific gifts they received for Christmas they want to get rid of. Sometimes you win back a ugly gift of yours, sometimes a terrific one from a friend’s aunt. We laugh a lot anyway!
What most looking forward to in 2013? Seeing our brand grow and spread, visiting and being inspired by New York – never been there yet!
Click here for Shhh My Darling’s FREE Christmas patterned gift wrap download!
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I was recently interviewed for the ‘What I Do’ section in the Sunday Star Times’ glossy broadsheet, Sunday. Each week a different member of society is interviewed about what it is they do for a living. One week it may be a mortician, the next it may be a bus driver, giving an insight into jobs people may know very little about or not even realise existed. Last Sunday it gave a glimpse into the day of a visual merchandiser and writer of Mint Style Studio blog – yes, that’s me folks! The photograph was taken by the very talented photographer, Kirk Hargreaves, from The Press, make-up by the very clever ladies at MAC in Ballantynes, and my lovely mannequin was styled by me in apparel from the Contemporary Lounge at Ballantynes with accessories from Karen Walker, also from the Contemporary Lounge.
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There are some stylists who have a distinct style that’s uniquely their own, a look all of their own that one can spot a mile away. Stylists like New Zealand’s own Katie Lockhart (interviewed here) and Australia’s Sibella Court, whose immediately recognisable aesthetic, one artfully pared back and refreshingly simple, the other, dense layers rich with historical and collectable elements, creating character and depth. This ability to leave the mark of your own personality on your work as a stylist, is a quality I admire and strive for in my own work. So too is the ability to adapt to each individual client, gliding effortlessly from one persona to another, in order to tell different stories in a visual capacity, depending on the needs and demands of each client. This skill is evident in the varied work of New Zealand stylist, Anna Church, whose broad portfolio includes art direction for New Zealand household design houses Trelise Cooper Interiors and Citta Design, and editorial shoots for a host of New Zealand magazines including Your Home & Garden and NZ House & Garden.
What sets Anna apart from many, however, is her innate talent for ”art of aesthetic arrangement”, as she aptly refers to her profession, which elevates styling to the next level: art. In Anna’s first art series, For NZ Sake, the highly collectable Kiwi Crown Lynn crockery is artfully arranged to form the native Maori symbol, the Tiki, representing our two merging cultures. With Anna’s newest series At Your Service, English tea sets and aged fabrics are arranged to create ‘service medals’; both a witty play on words and tribute to a bygone era in our society of high teas and returned servicemen. A huge thank you to Anna for sharing her thoughts and insights with such candour and generosity!
Tell us a bit about your background. How did your journey lead you to become an interior designer and stylist? After returning from London (where I’d lived and worked with horses for a couple of years) I went back to study at the National College of Design & Technology in Christchurch. With a diploma in Graphic Design and Multimedia in hand, I then moved up to Auckland and found myself working for a well known home textiles brand, Linens & More, for many years. My role was to develop the creative direction for the company. I did everything, from packaging design to advertising campaigns, from styling to developing a theme for their seasonal catalogues and showroom. That was where I discovered my passion for styling. I loved that it took me away from creating on a computer screen to a more tactile, hands on approach. It also fueled my fetish for endless titivating and arranging, as well as my love of sourcing novel, interesting and beautiful things! I had stumbled upon my perfect role.
Your collaboration with photographer Kevin Emirali to source homes and produce production imagery for interior magazines is a fantastically proactive way to secure work. Can you tell us a little more about how this process works? Do you provide magazines with the whole package by writing the copy for these editorials as well? Which magazines have taken on your work using this method? Yes, Kevin and I really enjoy connecting with lovely people and spending a day in their beautiful homes photographing and titivating them to be camera-ready. It’s like playing for the day really and the homeowners seem to love it when I find and move their bits and pieces around (some of which may not have obviously been out on display or used or positioned in that way before) because it often gives some of their things a new lease on life.
Citta Design‘s,New York Stories (top, l-r) and last summer’s Cuba range styled by Anna Church
Your series of still life art works, For NZ Sake, and your latest, At Your Service, are very clever concepts. Can you tell us a little about how the creative process unfolds when creating a concept for artworks like these? Gosh, how are these artworks dreamed up? Well this may sound flaky, but these ideas just pop into my head really and I run with them! But, sometimes it’s just half or three-quarters of an idea so my brain has to work overtime for the complete concept to form. I get there eventually (it may even take a year or two) and this makes the end part of the project so much fun as I finally get to go on a treasure hunt for the objects I need to create the works. Then the hands on, creating side of the vision pours out and, hey presto, a gravy boat, a Crown Lynn vase or an iconic Jackie Howe singlet is formed into something else like a Tiki, a medal or a Map of New Zealand.
Do you photograph the still life pieces or do you enlist a professional? Kevin Emirali photographs each series for me. I am very lucky I can call upon his genius to capture my ideas!
What are your top three styling tips? Styling is very instinctive for me so I find it a little hard to answer to this question. First tip I guess would be to always be on the look out! If you have the urge, just start gathering bits and pieces of interest to you – random is always best. You may not have a place for them then and there, but a place can always be found. Experiment with clustering different types of objects and put furniture in new places and see where its leads you. Don’t be afraid to titivate until it feels right. Use different heights, comical or unusual objects used in a different way is always fun. Stand back and scan a room, there are often treasures to be found gathering dust at the back of a shelf for sure! And nothing can beat adding a posy of flowers or foliage to any arrangement. I actually like it when flowers are past their best and start wilting and browning off – they start take on a whole new look again.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received concerning your career? I don’t think anyone has given me advice career-wise, other than saying “Go for it”, what ever it may be! But the advice I give to myself is that if an idea tickles, and nags, and refuses to go away don’t ignore it. Give it room to breathe and let it grow. I believe that within the exploration of any idea there is the possibility for it to become a tangible reality. Go with what your passion is; it seems there’s a career waiting in the wings for any path you can dream up these days!
What advice would you give to a stylist starting out in the design world? Don’t be afraid to lots of work experience, even if it’s unpaid. This is the best way to make contacts, prove your worth and gain credibility.
What would be your ultimate creative dream project or collaboration? An ultimate dream styling project would be to work on an Anthropologie catalogue. But I must say I have been lucky enough to have collaborated on some dream projects already in my career. Working alongside Trelise Copper on her interior fabrics range is one. Drool…I love her fabric choice. I also really love working on the Citta Design catalogues. I can fully immerse myself in styling heaven for two solid weeks of the year.
Who in the creative world do you most admire and why? Artist Michael Parekowhai, because his work is so broad and accesses a range of media that intersects sculpture and photography, interior designer and stylist Katie Lockhart because I love her individual, quirky style, interior stylist Sibella Court, who has introduced the world to fantastical styling, and Trelise Cooper, a woman with a clear vision with an astute business sense, but also with the ability to listen, collaborate and work alongside other visionaries.
What’s the most recent design or art piece you’ve purchased or been given? I have some wonderful friends who are talented artists and the walls in our house are covered with their pieces. I have a couple of original works by Nikki Apse, many Penny Stotter prints, and my most recent acquisition (which my husband and I bought for our forth wedding anniversary) is an Emma Wright piece for above our bed. The painting is called Passage Through. It is mixed media on board, finished with furniture resin and is based on the idea that two people in a relationship, while independent from each other, journey though life together. As well as being independent, the two reach out and connect adding to the beauty of life and the world around them. The quatrefoil shape denotes the four aspects of humanity – mental, emotional, spiritual and physical – and so is a reminder that when in a relationship those four things need to be honoured for life to really hum. Each friend/artist’s work is quite different so it makes our collection rather diverse. I love that but most of all I love that they are by people who mean the world to me.
What’s your favorite Sunday ritual? We have started a family ritual of making home made pizzas. My mum comes over and helps bath and read stories to the kids (she has just recently moved to Waiheke Island) and Nick, my husband, creates these amazing pizzas from scratch, dough and all! They are divine! The goal is that in future each family member, including Molly (currently 2 1/2) and Thomas (7 months) will be able to create their own as a Sunday tradition.
What are you most looking forward to in 2012? Professionally, I would like to work towards creating a new series of prints as there are a few ideas swimming around in my head; I just need to catch one! Personally, I am loving watching and observing my little ones grow, and how they create and interact with the world around them. It’s quite magical to watch and I find myself learning from their ‘living in the moment attitude’. It’s wonderful to be a part of and I wouldn’t swap it for anything!
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If you read the Sunday paper you’re bound to be familiar with Karlya Smith’s lively repartee on fashion trends and canny concepts for product styling in the Sunday Magazine. Karla’s expertise runs the gamut of roles within the world of style; fashion editor, costume designer, stylist and art director for fashion, food and interiors, where illustration also plays a part. Her work has graced the covers and pages of Fashion Quarterly, Urbis, HOME NZ, North & South, and Metro. Her ad campaigns have included New Zealand menswear brand Working Style and most recently Dulux’s new collaboration with Fashion’s queen of quirk, Denise L’Estrange Corbet (reviewed here). Karlya generously took some time out to answer my long list of questions which revealed a woman who’s struck the perfect life/work balance and counts her lucky stars her passions and work happily coincide.
Tell me a bit about your background. How has your life journey brought you where you are today? I worked as a fashion editor and costume designer in New Zealand before spending a couple of years living and working in London.
Like many creatives, you have a wide skill set to draw upon which has led to many diverse job opportunities. Are their some types of work you prefer than others, and why? I enjoy any job where I call the shots! For example Jeremy (editor) of HOME gives the best brief. “Paint” he will say, and I take it from there and do whatever I like styling and concept wise. I like drawing, because I can stay at home and don’t have to rush about. It’s nice to draw in the morning in a robe. The same goes for writing. I like the jobs I do because of the variety, so I couldn’t possibly favor one.
How much does travel feature in your working life as a stylist? I find it hard to travel and work. I like to travel internationally at a slow pace as I get terribly air-sick. If I go to Europe I stop in Asia for a few days at least, usually longer, so the pace of travel for work doesn’t really suit me. I travel for inspiration. With writing it works beautifully. I can do that where and when I like and am often in the mood for writing when traveling. I do travel lots within NZ. Wellington every second month at least, shoots for Sunday and Dunedin for iD are regulars. I love Whanganui and go there often.
I am forever captivated by your ingenious still life shoots for Sunday magazine. In fact, it’s the first thing I eagerly turn to when reading the Sunday paper! Can you give a little insight into how the creative process works for you when developing a styling concept? I think in pictures so it’s quite a fast process. I usually have a few ideas on the go in a drawing book. I’ll think about what I need to shoot, what it looks like and usually an idea pops into my head. I email the beauty companies describing my themes, wait a few weeks for the product to arrive then develop the ideas further based on what the product looks like. Often I prep/paint/freeze things at home over a couple of part days, but sometimes it is a case of cross fingers and try on the day.
In three words, how do you feel when you’re immersed in the creative process? Happy and content
What is your greatest source of inspiration? Thinking
Whom do you most admire in your industry and why? I’m not entirely sure which industry it is I am in now that I do so many varied things! I like clever women who do amazing things; Hilary Alexander, Isabella Blow, Karen Inderbitzen, Kate Sylvester, Rachel Moet Smith, Karen Walker, Katie Lockhart, and Rita Angus to name a few.
What’s your proudest professional moment? There’s no one moment. Each shoot I pull off that I’m happy with, is a triumph. I’m often grateful that my passions and work overlap. It’s liberating.
Where do you see your work heading within the next three years? I’ve a product I’m trying to develop, but it’s going slowly as I’m quite immersed in writing, drawing, shooting for HOME and my role as Sunday Magazine Fashion Editor.
What’s the most recent design or art piece you’ve purchased or been given? I bought my first Gavin Hurley (NZ collage-portrait artist) the other night.
What’s your Sunday ritual? I wake at eightish, depending on Saturday evening activities, don my robe, shuffle to the letterbox to get Sunday Star Times, shuffle back to bed, read Sunday Mag, get up, make toast and coffee, and go back to bed with toast, coffee and paper…
What’s the one material possession you’d grab if the house was burning down? My nanna’s deco mirror. It’s a freestanding ornament thing.
If you could choose one super power, what would it be? I’d like to have super glue or hot glue come out of my fingers. Oh, and self cleaning hands!
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Wadi Rum where Gemma and Andrew spent four days exploring by four wheel drive and camping under the stars and the ancient city of Petra, Jordan which Gemma highly recommends adding to your Bucket List.
My first taste of exotic foreign travel was at the age of four, traveling throughout Asia, Europe and the States. Since then travel has been a huge part of my life. You could say it’s in my blood. My mother’s mother spent her younger years during the 20s and 30s making the often harrowing journey by ship back and forth between east London and Christchurch, New Zealand. Born in Austria towards the end of WWII, my father followed his sister to Melbourne in the seventies where upon returning to Europe, met my mother on the Oransay about to embark on her first world trip. Throughout my childhood my parents would take me out of school for months at a time to embark on epic travel adventures that would fuel my fascination for foreign cultures for years to come. My father, once a photographer for the local paper in Austria, ignited my passion for photography. So, I guess you could say travel and photography are a family thing. So too are they for Gemma Cagnacci.
Although Gemma’s ultimate passion and career is in textiles, Gemma is also an extremely talented photographer which came to the fore in her blog, Line X Shape X Colour, when she and her Kiwi husband set out on their own epic travel adventure. Covering the Middle East and Central Asia over a period of four months, the pair immersed themselves in vastly different cultures rich in long histories, spectacular scenery, architecture, tantalising cuisine, vibrant handcraft traditions and techniques, and the minutiae of everyday life. All these facets have been brought to life through Gemma’s discerning eye and command of the camera. Gemma generously took time out of her busy day to answer a few burning questions I had about her trip and photography. Thanks Gemma!
Tell me a bit about your background. How did your journey lead you to become a textile designer? Ever since I was a kid I knew I wanted to be a designer. I enrolled into a Bachelor of Design at COFA, UNSW with the intention of becoming a graphic designer, but as soon as I took the textiles class, I was smitten. I love that I can integrate illustration and graphic design with a tactile material. Now I have a job that allows me to do that and I love it!
It seems you come from an extremely creative family – a brother, a fashion photographer, a sister, also a keen photographer, and even your brother-in-law is a photographer! Do you think their expertise has somehow rubbed off on you? Most definitely – we are all very close and are very encouraging of each other. Even to this day, our parents have been incredibly supportive of our interests. We were always doing some sort of craft project with mum, and she was always making something beautiful out of nothing. Dad is a keen photographer too, so there was always a camera around the place.
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New Zealand stylist and interior designer, Katie Lockhart, possesses a striking, immediately identifiable style which is utterly unique to her. Her simple and spare approach to editorial styling, combined with her acute awareness of space and light, often elevates her work into the sublimely artistic realm. Katie’s career was launched soon after graduating from Design school when Katie landed on her feet as Karen Walker’s design assistant; a relationship which has led to many fruitful collaborations over the years including interior fit outs for the Karen Walker stores, Auckland’s The Department Store, and creative direction for Karen Walker Resene paints’ ad campaign. In addition to her styling work for interior magazines within New Zealand and Italy, and maintaining ongoing interior projects within The Department Store, she somehow manages to squeeze in time to oversee her cashmere clothing brand, To Sir With Love, and has most recently created an online artisan homewares and design store, Everyday Needs. Often favouring beautifully handcrafted Japanese wares made of cast iron and hand turned oak, and the masterful sculptural furniture design classics of Khai Liew, these pieces are thoughtfully chosen not only for their pleasing aesthetic, but for their quality and integrity. If you are not already familiar with Katie Lockhart’s work, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to our country’s leading style maker.
Tell me a bit about your background. How did your journey lead you to become an interior designer and stylist? I studied Design in Wellington and my first job was as Karen Walker’s design assistant. I left after two and a half years to live in Milan which was brilliant. I established a long standing working realationship with (Milan based interiors magazine) Case Da Abitare. Francesca Taroni and Silvia Robertazzi were leaving Italian Vogue to revive Case when I met them which was the luckiest timing as they took me under their wing and taught me all I know.
How did your long time collaboration with Karen Walker come about? I offered to help at one of Karen’s shows at Sydney Fashion Week when I was in my final year of design school, so when I finished my degree I called in to see her and showed her my portfolio. She hired me on the spot.
Which of her projects have been most rewarding? The Department Store is an ongoing highlight and is constantly being refined.
Katie Lockhart’s still life compositions for her cashmere brand To Sir With Love
One of my favourite pieces of your work is undoubtedly the three beautiful photographs for To Sir With Love. Your inimitable style, often comparable to artistic still life compositions, is truly at its most sublime here. Can you tell us a little about how the creative process unfolds when creating a concept for a brand or magazine shoot like this? It was totally what I wanted to do at the time and not a typical branding exercise. (It’s) somewhat selfish, but it felt right for the moment and is still some my favorite work because I guess it’s personal work.
Does the styling work you still do for Case da Abitare always involve traveling to Milan or are you able to do some shoots here in NZ? We do shoot for Case in New Zealand. Sometimes its difficult to source new and interesting product so my approach is very simple and we work very quickly and intuitively.
How often do you travel a year for work? I travel a lot but we try to keep it to twice a year for big complicated trips and always plan and try to do something special while on the journey if time allows.
What are your top three styling tips? I only have one really which is try to imagine that someone whose work you really admire is going to see this.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received concerning your career? Probably from Mikhail Gherman (Karen Walker’s husband and Creative Director of the Karen Walker brand): “Just because you live in New Zealand doesn’t mean you only have to work in New Zealand.”
What advice would you give to a stylist starting out in the design world? Only work for someone whose work you really admire and be prepared to work harder than you ever imagined.
What would be your ultimate creative dream project or collaboration? Further developing Everyday Needs into a continually satisfying project that collaborates with some of the best designers and craftsmen in the world.
The talented fashion photographer Todd Selby of The Selby book and blog fame, photographed you and your husband in your Auckland apartment and studio. How did you find the experience of being on the other side of the lens? Todd’s imitable talent lies in making people feel relaxed and we had a great time…so of course he shoots everything.
Who in the creative world do you most admire and why? Miuccia Prada, because no one knows what she is going to do next.
Katie Lockhart’s Auckland apartment & studio (Photos supplied with kind permission of Todd Selby)
What’s the most recent design or art piece you’ve purchased or been given? (A co-purchase with my husband) Frank Stella’s ‘Henry Garden’ 1976 and we were also really lucky to keep Kate Newby’s wonderful decoration from the combined Christmas dinner of the Michael Lett and Hopkinson Cundy galleries.
What’s your favourite Sunday ritual? A walk, ideally on a west coast beach or exploring somewhere new. Gardening is the default.
What are you most looking forward to in 2012? Well, there’s quite a bit already on the go and that suggests it’s going to be a creatively rewarding year. Maybe some Guerilla gardening for kicks.
To view more of Katie Lockhart’s portfolio visit Katie Lockhart.
To peruse Katie’s personally curated collection of simply beautiful objects for the home visit Everyday Needs.
For luxurious cashmere visit To Sir With Love.
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If you’re an avid reader of Mint Style Studio, you’ll remember the article I wrote on Jordan Grace Owens last month, introducing her incredible tiny paper dolls (more pics here). I am very excited to share more of Jordan’s work along with some of Jordan’s thoughts on her creative process and what drives and inspires her. Thank you Jordan, for your generousity of spirit and taking the time to impart some of your creative insights with us.
Tell me a bit about your background. How has your life journey brought you where you are today? Do you recall the first moment your creative tendencies began to emerge? My mother is an artist and art teacher, so I grew up surrounded by creative tools and encouragement. For that reason, I don’t remember a single moment when I recognized my creative tendencies. Instead, I remember being confused when I realized other kids didn’t have the same sort of creative upbringing.
I understand the women in your life play a huge part in influencing your artistic style, like your mother and old photographs of your grandmother from when she was a young woman like yourself. Can you tell us more about how this interest in the past developed in someone as young as yourself? Are there any modern day female personalities whom inspire you too? I’ve always had an interest in history and in objects. I spend a lot of time shopping thrift stores and flea markets and handling objects — from clothing, to housewares, to postcards — that once belonged to someone else. I imagine stories about the previous owners and feel in some way connected to them. I feel the same way about photographs. I admire them both as physical objects (the cracked paper and scalloped borders) as well as for their contents and the moments they capture. I think I’m most naturally drawn to finding those connections in photographs of young women. I find little bits of my own taste, interests, and personality in them, even though myself and the subjects may be separated by several decades. I’m certainly inspired by modern-day women as well, but I think I enjoy the separation that comes from finding inspiration from a long time ago. It leaves a little more mystery.
Your incredible miniature paper dolls and their almost life size counterparts are too cute for words! Where did you derive the inspiration for these creations which seem to cross over from art to toys? I’m a pretty tactile person, and for the same reasons I like to handle objects in vintage stores I find myself wanting to run my fingers over works of art. It seemed natural to me, then, to bring my work out of the frame and make something that viewers were invited interact with and touch. I’m also fairly playful and don’t tend to take myself too seriously, so the paper dolls seemed like the perfect combination of all my inspirations — colorful clothing, feminine details, play and touch.
Can you give a little insight into how the creative process works for you? It usually starts with a particular inspiration, whether a vintage photograph, a line from an old movie, or a pretty piece of clothing. Sometimes I paint portraits of the people I admire in my collection of photographs. Or I’ll make a paper doll inspired by the colorful pattern on a dress. I love letters and typography, too, so often very literal phrases from movies, records or books will find their way into my illustrations. I usually work quickly in these marathon spurts, absorbing all of my recent inspirations (which I compile in my sketchbook) and then going into fast-paced production mode for a while. When I sit back, I’ll notice all these interesting relationships between different pieces. That’s why I usually hang them in clusters and groupings — each little illustration is a thought or a moment that nods to another.
Tell us what your part time role as creative assistant at Yes! Weekly entails. What skills do you think working for a weekly publication has given you? I’m actually leaving my job at Yes! Weekly this month in order to pursue my creative ventures full-time. I’ve worked there part-time for about 11 months, and worked previously as a designer at a small graphic design studio. I’m sure that both deadline-oriented positions have influenced my work-flow and led me to flourish working fast and under pressure. I also find that I approach my compositions, aesthetically, with a definite graphic designer’s eye.
Paper Dolls handmade by Jordan Owens of Hollandsworth
I love your illustrated pop-up book entitled “Figuring You Out”. I understand it was part of a traveling exhibition for a NYC art group. How did that come about? I’m really disappointed I missed out on one! Do you have any more pop-up books in the pipeline? I came across the Skectchbook Project organized by the Art House Co-op and thought it sounded like a fun project to join in. The organizers send you a moleskine and a prompt, and the rest is left up to you. With my prompt, “Figuring you out,” I gathered statements from friends about what makes them tick, then illustrated those insights in pop-up form. The original book is archived in The Brooklyn Art Library for public view, and I made a limited edition run of hand-assembled copies. I don’t have any pop-up books currently in the works, but it’s definitely something I’d like to work on again.
In three words, how do you feel when you’re in your studio? Keen, playful, earnest.
Whom do you most admire in the creative world and why? My go-to answer for my favorite artist is always Margaret Kilgallen. Some creative folks I’m currently following and inspired by include Vivienne Strauss, Blanca Gómez, Mia Christopher and Irana Douer.
What’s your proudest professional moment? I’m most proud anytime someone recognizes me, or better yet, tells me they’ve been following my work. I’m still fairly new to the game, and I tend to be pretty modest — modest like when someone waves in your direction and you look behind you like they must be looking at someone else — so I’m incredibly honored every time I meet some one who is a real life honest fan of the things I make.
What’s your favourite piece of your own work and why? I have a special place in my heart for one piece in particular that I painted from an old photograph of my great-grandparents when they were in their early twenties. In the photograph they looked so sweet and young and in love, and I was so pleased with the way the mood translated in the colors, shapes and personality of the painting. I’m sure I place a particular personal importance on it for reasons of family ties, as well.
What would be your ultimate dream project or collaboration? I would love to be given a month or so to live in and transform a gallery space — paint murals, build layers of moving characters and cut-outs, and create a fully-realized installational environment with my work.
Where do you see your work heading within the next three years? I would love to push my work into new formats and media. I’m looking forward to fabrics, jewelry, sculptural pieces, new print media and new materials. I’d also like to work more with movement, building upon the ideas of the movable paper dolls.
What’s the most recent design or art piece you’ve purchased or been given? My artist friend Jesse Moore has recently been sending out these amazing little art postcards, which I’ve been framing in an arrangement on my living room wall. I love getting surprises in the mail. I also recently swapped a print for a gorgeous handmade book from Oh Pangaea Books.
What’s your Sunday ritual? The perfect Sunday starts with sleeping in followed by brunch — complete with mimosas and good friends. Ideally, Sunday a lazy day full of movies and long walks, but usually I have some sort of household chores or leftover work to finish up before Monday.
What are you most looking forward to? At the moment, I’m most looking forward to cooler temperatures and making the transition to full-time artist. I can’t wait to take advantage of the extra hours in my studio.
What’s the one material possession you’d grab if the house was burning down? I have a collection of old cigar boxes filled with photographs, ephemera, trinkets and little treasures. I’d grab those, along with, of course, my two beloved little cats.
If you could choose one super power, what would it be? I would like to stay up super late every night and wake up at the crack of dawn every morning without ever getting tired. Or to make for fun party tricks. I might also like to read minds.
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New Zealand born contemporary jeweller, Jacqui Chan, work is edgy and unmistakably urban. By using materials salvaged from Christchurch demolition sites including a decorative steel thermometer, burnt pine floor boards, sign fragments, roofing iron, gas heater, and brass tube for rivets, Jacqui literally turns trash to treasure for her latest collection, Host a Brooch. I’m very grateful to Jacqui who took some time out to answer a few questions which shed some light on her creative process.
The post graduate scholarship you began in 2009 at Melbourne’s School of Art, RMIT, enabled you to research the relationship between jewellery and its urban milieu, as part of a practice based PhD. A lot of your work prior to Host a Brooch has involved using found debris from the urban landscape and reshaping it into tiny wearable sculptures of great beauty. Can you unveil some insights you have discovered in the course of your research on this topic? The PhD is very much practice-based and I’m firmly positioned in the ‘practice AS research’ camp. This means thinking about how engaging the city through jewellery produces distinctive knowledge and concepts about the city and allows me to think about the potentials of jewellery practice.
In approaching jewellery’s relation to the city, a key aspect of my PhD is the operational analogy of a saprophyte. Saprophytes are organisms that feed off decomposing matter and return nutrients to their ecosystem – such as some fungi. What appeals to me in this analogy is the process-based, symbiotic and embedded nature of this relation. This of course doesn’t entail making objects that resemble these organisms – but rather positioning myself and my practice in this way: intervening in the flows of matter that constitute the city, breaking it down, transforming it into something entirely new, and in turn experimenting with its effects on the city. This approach is influenced by the Deleuzian question of ‘what does art do’, rather than ‘what does it mean’.
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I first discovered Stephanie Webb while browsing cushion designs on Envelop (read more here). After a little research, I discovered Stephanie works as a visual display co-ordinator (for Anthropologie – drool…!) and manages her own artistic endeavours after hours, like myself. I knew then I had to contact her and find out more about how this English creative juggles her 9-5 job with her textile design business, Stephanie Says. Encompassing not only her textile designs for on-line Euro shop Envelop, but wallpapers for US ever inspiring fashion and homewares store, Anthropologie, and her own artwork available from her etsy store! Read on to uncover what drives and inspires this young designer.
Tell me a bit about your background. How has your life journey brought you where you are today? Well, I live in Edinburgh now, but originally I’m from Coventry in the West Midlands. I came up to Edinburgh for the festival a couple of times when I was at school and really loved the city. When I realised there was an art college here, I knew I had to apply! I’ve always doodled and been interested in art, so when I realised that people can make patterns for a living, I knew I had to give it a go.
I’m totally in love with your collection of wallpaper designs! Your wallpapers for Anthropologie must be a huge feather in your cap! How did that come about? And do you have more in the pipeline? Thankyou! Yeah I’m really happy that people want to cover their walls in my designs, it’s a bit surreal but I’m getting used to it! I got into contact with them first through New Designers exhibition in London after my degree show. One of the buyers was wandering about and approached me about the owl wallpaper. Then from there I’ve been in touch with the wallpaper buyers every so often I’ll send them some new work or they’ll send me some ideas.
What led you to apply for a position on the visual display team at Anthropologie? Your gypsy boat as part of your application is truly inspired. Has visual merchandising been something you’ve always been interested in, or is it simply a case of being the perfect day job for a creative person like yourself? I applied for the position without really understanding what it was! Anthropologie is relatively new in the UK, and I’d only seen inside the London stores once or twice. I’d done a fair bit of merchandising in previous jobs, and I do really enjoy it. Designing displays for Anthropologie is proving to be a really great outlet for me and it’s helping to fund my own personal work too.
As a visual merchandiser myself, I’m always curious as to how others in the industry work. Can you give a little insight into how the creative process works for you? I’m still really new to the process myself. As my job doesn’t really involve arranging the merchandise so much, it’s mainly been about me getting to grips with power tools and working in 3D as opposed to on paper! At Anthropologie the brief is always pretty wide and open to manipulation, so it’s really great to be thinking of new fixtures and display to accent the merchandise. There’s some general rules about negative space and creating movement within the display that are handy to go back to if something isn’t quite right. I guess when I’m starting something new, I usually do some visual research online after seeing the brief and the inspiration images, then I’ll usually have an idea of the sort of scale of the piece in my head, so I like to start prototyping right away with whatever materials I have to hand. Often the best ideas come from just making things, a happy accident perhaps!
In three words, how do you feel when you’re in your studio or creating a display for Anthropologie? Excited, anxious, engrossed.
What’s your favourite piece of your own work and why? I’m a fan of my card collection, Animal Greetings, mainly because they just all came together quite easily and they are some of my most popular designs. Funny how that happens sometimes.
What or whom do you find to be a great source of inspiration? I love pinterest at the minute, it’s like google but filtered through creative people with good taste. That doesn’t do it justice, but I’m always finding interesting research on there.
Whom do you most admire in the creative world and why? I have a few favourite illustrators and designers. Anna Bond of Rifle is beyond amazing, and Grady McFerrin and Carson Ellis constantly inspire me. Jessica Hische is a great type designer. Her work is so far removed from my own that I can look at it and have no idea how she does it!
What’s your proudest professional moment? Oh, I recently saw my wallpaper featured on Design Sponge. That was cool.
What would be your ultimate dream project or collaboration? I’d love to create some prints for Angie Johnson of Norwegian Wood. She always finds really interesting fabrics to work with. Or there’s a few dream illustration projects I could think of; artwork for Beirut perhaps?
What’s the most recent design or art piece you’ve purchased or been given? My good friend Amy Borrell of Cake With Giants recently send me a print of hers. It’s an illustrated chart of herbs. So perfect in the kitchen.
What’s your Sunday ritual? Well today is Sunday, so I’ll tell you what I did. I woke up at about eight, did some tedious things like laundry and tidying my desk. Then I went for a walk to the other end of town in the sunshine, got a coffee and sat reading on the grass for a bit. I popped into a couple of shops on my way home and to the little veg shop near my house to get ingredients for a curry. Then I wrote a (long over due) blog post, listened to The New Pornographers whilst cooking and drinking a glass of white wine! Now I am writing this, then I’ll probably read my book for a bit and then I’ll be in bed before long because I have to be up early tomorrow for work.
What are you most looking forward to? Everything?! Feels like I’m just getting going. Mostly excited for some new projects, opportunity, hopefully being proud of my work.
What’s the one material possession you’d grab if the house was burning down? I have this Aran cardigan my great Grandmother knitted for my Gran. It’s irreplaceable. I’m the sort of person who would panic and grab something ridiculous like a whisk out of the kitchen in the heat of the moment though.
If you could choose one super power, what would it be? Flying! Always.