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  • 10/29/14--12:00: The Garnhams of Jardan
  • Family Portrait

    The Garnhams of Jardan

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Melbourne based furniture manufacturer Jardan started in 1987, and was taken over by the Garnham family in 1997.  At that time it had only 8 employees, but under the direction of the creative and entrepreneurial Garnham brothers, the business soon grew, and now employs over 100 people, with showrooms in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.  They still make all their furniture right here in Melbourne, to stringent environmental standards.  Jardan are one of the most impressive local family run businesses we know, and we’re so thrilled to finally share with you this Garnham ‘Family Portrait’ !

    From left, Michael Garnham, Renee Brown and husband Nick Garnham of Jardan, at their new Richmond showroom.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    ‘Wilfred’ sofas in the incredible new Jardan showroom in Church st, Richmond.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    Fully functional kitchen in the new Jardan showroom in Church st, Richmond. (No, they don’t sell kitchens!).  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    ‘Iluka’ sideboard, at the new Jardan showroom in Church st, Richmond.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    Outdoor furniture, plants and foliage at the new Jardan showroom in Church st, Richmond.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    Manufacturing Jardan’s popular ‘Bandy’ stool at the factory in Mt Waverly. Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Chair and stool bases under construction at the Jardan factory in Mt Waverly. Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Details from the Jardan factory in Mt Waverly. Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Leather upholstery underway at the Jardan factory in Mt Waverly. Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    The ‘Archie’ chair gets a clear coat in the spray booth at the Jardan factory in Mt Waverly. Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    When this blog was a merely a baby, back in 2010, I visited the showroom and factory of Melbourne based furniture manufacturer Jardan, in Mt Waverly.  It was back in the days when I was a solo blogger, no professional photography or anything like that.  I didn’t know much about Jardan at the time, but I felt rather lucky to be given a personal tour of the showroom and factory by co-director Nick Garnham, and I must say, I was blown away.   Whilst so many other local manufacturing businesses seemed to be struggling to compete with overseas production, here was a family owned local business making an incredible range of designer furniture right here in Melbourne – and they were BUSY.  I must admit, I’ve been a pretty massive Jardan fan ever since (Like you didn’t know that!).

    Though they were impressive back then – now, just four years on, Jardan are a force to be reckoned with.  The company is run by brothers Michael (Mike) and Nick Garnham, along with Nick’s wife Renee Brown, and today employs over 100 people.  They have showrooms in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and have just opened their first INCREDIBLE flagship retail store in Richmond, Melbourne. Designed by IF Architecture, and set over two levels on bustling Church st, it is truly epic in scale, and a little bit breathtaking to say the least.

    Jardan started in 1987, but was taken over by the Garnham family in 1997.  At that time it had only 8 employees, and was a more traditional manufacturing company, but under the direction of the creative and entrepreneurial Garnham brothers, the business soon grew, and moved into contemporary design.

    Nick and Mike are joint Managing Directors at Jardan.  Mike is focused on the Finance, production and HR sides of the business, whilst Nick is the creative one, responsible for Design and Marketing.  Renee joined the company in 2008 as Creative Manager, and heads up creative direction, styling and sourcing for the stores and showrooms.

    We recently chatted with Nick and Mike about the challenges and rewards of being in business with family!  Here’s what they had to say –

    Mike on Nick

    Being Nick’s brother is fun but challenging. I need to try and keep his more ‘out there’ ideas in check, like selling surfboards in a furniture shop, mind you, he got his way on that one!

    I look up to Nick’s ability to conceptualise, design and create.  He’s amazing at conceptualising not just products but also future plans for the business. I am a bit more of a details person, so we have a good yin and yang partnership.

    Nick has also inspired me in his dress sense, I am yet to become fully Melbourne hipster, but am getting there, will be growing the facial hair soon!  Seriously though Nick has inspired me with his passion for life and Jardan.

    Nick on Mike

    Mike is a pretty easy going and laid back brother. We are quite complementary with our personalities, we work to each other’s strengths.

    I literally look up to Mike as he is a bit taller than me! But seriously, I respect his ability to calmy follow through and resolve complex or difficult projects. He is the rock of Jardan.

    Mike has inspired me by just keeping on keeping on through the good and tougher times – as it can do your head in sometimes being a family business! We bounce off each other and can both inspire and frustrate each other, but ultimately I feel we are getting better and better as a partnership the longer we work together.

    Jardan Flagship Store 
    522 Church St
    Richmond
    Victoria

    Open Monday to Friday,  9am to 5.30pm 
    Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 5pm

    And don’t forget, we’ll be joining forces with Jardan again in early December for our annual TDF Open House event in Melbourne – all details over here!

    The beautiful contoured ‘Kelly’ chair being upholstered at the Jardan factory in Mt Waverly. Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.


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  • 10/30/14--12:00: Colin Pennock
  • Interview

    Colin Pennock

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Queensland based artist Colin Pennock was born in Northern Ireland, where he joined the police at 17, but soon navigated a more creative course in life.  After years spent working as a commercial artist and illustrator in New York, Colin’s outlook changed profoundly after the 9/11 attacks. He made a conscious decision to leave New York and focus on painting once more. Colin moved to Australia, where he had spent some childhood years with his family, and set up an idyllic home and studio in the lush Noosa hinterland. His latest body of work, ‘Pioneer‘, will be exhibited next week in Sydney.

    Artist Colin Pennock in his studio, nestled in the Noosa Hinterland in Queensland.  Photo – Toby Scott for The Design Files.

    Colin at work. Photo – Toby Scott for The Design Files.

    Artwork by Colin Pennock awaiting Colin’s upcoming show at Arthouse Gallery in Sydney.  Photo – Toby Scott for The Design Files.

    Detail from ‘Second Undercurrent’ by Colin Pennock, for his upcoming show at Arthouse Gallery in Sydney.  Photo – Toby Scott for The Design Files.

    Artist Colin Pennock in his studio, nestled in the Noosa Hinterland in Queensland.  Photo – Toby Scott for The Design Files.

    Details from Colin’s studio.  Photo – Toby Scott for The Design Files.

    When We’ll Be Walking with You Again by Colin Pennock, for his upcoming show at Arthouse Gallery in Sydney.  Photo – Toby Scott for The Design Files.

    Colin Pennock at home in Queensland.  Photo – Toby Scott for The Design Files.

    I imagine it’s probably quite unusual to find a celebrated artist who started out in the police force.  Queensland based artist Colin Pennock was born in Northern Ireland, where he joined the police at 17, but he always wanted to be an artist.  Sketches he made whilst on patrol eventually led to a scholarship at St Martins School of Art in London (back in 1985!), and since then, Colin has made his living creatively.  He’s also moved house 35 times (!!) and has called many cities home, before settling 13 years ago in the Noosa hinterland.

    Though reluctant to label his style of work, when pressed, Colin describes his paintings as ‘abstract landscapes’.   His distinctive ultra thick layers of oil paint create textural works of buzzing intensity – indeed, Colin has used his practise in recent years as a kind of cathartic release after leaving New York in the wake of 9/11, seeking a fresh start, and a new creative direction.

    Colin’s upcoming show is called Pioneer - a series inspired by the revelatory feeling of reaching ones’ personal goals.  ‘It is about finding the place that makes you happy, which for me has taken many years’ says Colin below.  ‘A pioneer is someone who goes into the unknown with confidence in what they have inside. This is how I approach painting. It is how I have made my own way’.

    Colin is represented by Arthouse Gallery, Sydney, Scott Livesey Galleries, Melbourne, BMG, Adelaide and Serena Morton, London.

    Pioneer by Colin Pennock
    5th to 22nd November 2014
    Arthouse Gallery
    66 McLachlan Avenue
    Rushcutters Bay, NSW

    Opening Wednesday 5th November 2014 from 6.00pm

    Tell us a little about your background – what path led you to becoming a fine artist, and to creating the style of work you are currently making?

    I joined the police in Northern Ireland when I was 17, but even then I wanted to be an artist. I used to make quick sketches while on foot patrols or standing in doorways at night. It was those sketches that impressed St Martins School of Art London (back in 1985) enough to offer me a four year scholarship in Fine Art Painting. At the time, I thought it was my drawing skills that made an impression but I later was told by one of the tutors that it was the atmospheric quality of the work that had caught their eye.

    Up until then I hadn’t really looked at a lot of art in books or galleries, and didn’t really have a lot of knowledge of art, so finding myself at art school in Cambridge Circus was to me as magical as discovering the treasures of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Despite this, I was more at home in the country than the city, and was often overwhelmed by crowds.

    My early works were landscapes with figures, but very quickly the figures diminished in the works. It seemed I was always moving, while in London I moved house six times in four years, and I have moved home 35 times in my life. It just seems to happen by way of circumstance. I moved to New York in a similar way, and stayed for six years. I made a living as a story board artist and illustrator working for MTV, Film and advertising agencies. At this point my painting seemed to take a back seat. But it remained a constant, even though I was not showing there until 1998, when I had an exhibition called Conflict and Culture, which included some of those early sketches I had drawn in the police force in Northern Ireland.

    I was becoming more discontent with the commercial drawing that was paying my bills, and when 9/11 happened it had a profound effect on me and I decided to leave New York and focus on my painting. My family were living in Sydney, a place I knew well, having spent ten years there from the ages of 1-11 years old when I was a child. I decided to move to Australia and find a studio and work. When I began to draw again I found I had an aversion to illustrating or defining recognisable forms. So in an attempt to break through this block, I began to make marks choosing whatever colour paints or materials, to allow me to meditate away from this block.

    I used graphite and oil paint at that time. The graphite formed a structure and the paint gave the work its mood and life. In time the paint would take over completely. At that time I felt I had broken through a wall and become free.

    The whole process was cathartic and the abstraction that started as a form of meditation developed into a language which made perfect sense to me.

    How would you describe your work?

    It’s easier for me to talk about specific works than it is to talk about my work in general. However when someone asks what type of work I do, the simple reply is ‘Abstract Landscape’, although I feel that really only touches the surface.

    What can we expect to see in your new exhibition ‘Pioneer’ at Arthouse Gallery next month? What has inspired this body of work?

    In 1965 my family left Belfast, Ireland as ‘ten pound poms,’ and we sailed to Australia. I have a clear memory of looking down from the deck to the bow of the ship, and memory of the dusty road as we travelled between Perth to Sydney in an old Morris minor.

    In 1976 we returned to Ireland, because my father had a desire to be a farmer. Under normal circumstances, it would have been a ludicrous idea to think of doing this as he had no experience of farming, but again to us it just seemed like an adventure. At that point I was a skate boarding kid living in Manly, Sydney.

    None of us knew what to expect when we arrived at the height of the troubles in Belfast, and I remember both the beauty and hardship of farming there.  W.B Yeats described Ireland as a ‘Terrible beauty,’and I found it to be so because of the extreme changes I experienced there.

    All these experiences have made me a traveller, following my own ambitions and goals. It left me with the confidence to create new paths to experiment and not be tied or restrained as I saw happen to other people.

    My wife and I love our own space in the Hinterland of Noosa, Queensland. We have made our way of life work, with many people wondering how we do it. I know the pioneer spirit. Luckily for me my wife does also. It connects us to immigrants and settlers who are willing to try a new way of life, working hard to achieve their goals. A pioneer is someone who goes into the unknown with confidence in what they have inside. This is how I approach painting. It is how I have made my own way.

    Can you give us a little insight into your process? What materials do you use? Is each work pre-planned or created very intuitively? Do you work on multiple canvases at one time?

    Usually I begin painting without any reference materials. Not even making linear sketches on the linen. I trust the paint and I begin working. It is like a conversation with the surface, and it goes back and forth until something emerges. It almost sings when you get it right. The energy comes from the surface rather than me trying to transcribe. I feel that to do that is like using a photocopier – something gets lost from the original. That’s why I prefer painters to illustrators, you have to connect to the materials. That’s all a painter needs to do. Materials that I use are Chapman Bailey Stretchers, Belgium Linen and Archival Oil paints.

    I do work on multiple canvases and sometimes works are completed several years later, going back and forth to resolve them. Sometimes it’s immediate and I can complete a painting in a matter of hours. Being surrounded by the work is like having a reminder of your thoughts and memories.

    What does a typical day at work involve for you?

    I like to start the day slowly, and have breakfast with my wife Katrina before going to the studio. My mind is often full of thoughts in the morning, as I dream very vivid dreams so I like to let that dissipate. I may spend hours in the morning doing almost meaningless prep work, cleaning palette knives or stretching canvases. Then quite naturally I just start squeezing paint onto the palette and the conversation begins. I may work several hours before realising I haven’t had a break from my thoughts. I work until I become distracted, then I stop.

    If I feel disconnected from what I am doing I stop altogether and do something else, like gardening until I feel drawn again to go back. Often I accomplish something in my mind about how to resolve a problem in my work when I am not even painting.

    Which other local artists, designers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?

    I am aware of the great number of talented painters there are in Australia, like Rick Amor, Robert Malherbe, Guy Maestri, Luke Scibberas, and Ben Quilty. But of those that I know personally I am most inspired by artists who I feel are on their own individual journey, artists including Joshua Yeldham, Lisa Adams, Stefan Dunlop and Kim Guthrie.

    What is your proudest career achievement to date?

    There is a painting in the exhibition Pioneer titled ‘Just As We Imagined It’ – this work is about reaching your goals. Finding the place that makes you happy, which for me has taken many years.  Finally Katrina and I have found an idyllic lifestyle that has come through lots of determination, commitment and endurance from both of us. So for me the greatest achievement so far is getting to that place.

    What would be your dream project?

    To paint an en plein air body of work, that connects my Australian and Irish backgrounds.

    What are you looking forward to?

    Continuing to live and work from our home in the Noosa Hinterland.

    NOOSA HINTERLAND QUESTIONS

    Your favourite Noosa Hinterland neighbourhood and why?

    Cooroy. I like that it’s a small unpretentious country town.

    Where and what was the last great meal you ate?

    Katrina is such a great cook that it has to be really good for us to want to go out, but as a treat we love going to Dhoms Kitchen in Cooroy. Dhom and her husband Spencer buy local fresh ingredients that they use to create the Thai dishes that they serve.

    Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

    Most days I have to ask Katrina what day it is. So Saturday is pretty much like any other day to me. I’m not very structured when it comes to things like that.

    The hinterland’s best kept secret?

    The beauty of the landscape, beaches and surrounds.

     

    Colin and his wife Katrina at home in Queensland.  Photo – Toby Scott for The Design Files.


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  • 11/02/14--11:00: Rachel Kara
  • New Kids on the Blog

    Rachel Kara

    by Lisa Marie Corso, Editorial Co-ordinator

    Young photographer Rachel Kara has quickly become our ‘go to’ shooter in Sydney, and this has led to a long distance friendship with our dear Lisa Marie. Though they’re yet to meet in person, Lisa emails Rachel weekly, checking her availability and briefing her for upcoming shoots, and they’ve become firm e-pals.  It’s not uncommon in the office to hear Lisa exclaim ‘God I love Rachel Kara!’, after our Sydney stringer cheerfully accepts a shoot 3 hours out of town, or nails a particularly tricky brief.  Rachel is such a generous soul – she’s always upbeat, nothing is ever too much trouble, and this joyful outlook is very much reflected in her work. This morning Lisa  introduces us to the talented lass behind the lens.

    Sydney-based photographer Rachel Kara in her home studio. Photo – Tim Ashton.

    The studio of Laura Jones in the Southern Highlands, NSW. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    Artist James Gordon and Bob the dog at home in the Blue Mountains. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    Tallows Beach, NSW. Photo – Rachel Kara.

    Artist and weaver Natalie Miller in her studio in the Southern Highlands. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    The property of artist Belynda Henry in the Dooralong Valley, NSW. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    Watermelons for sale from Rachel’s recent trip to the US. Photo – Rachel Kara.

    Portrait of Lee Lin Chin. Photo – Rachel Kara for Monocle Magazine.

    In primary school we were all assigned a pen pal from another primary school. We would write letters to this lucky dip friend describing all the important things in an eight-year-old’s life including our favourite thing to order from the tuck shop, which Baby-Sitter’s Club member we would be, and if they had heard the new Spice Girls track. This is how I would describe my relationship with today’s New Kid on the Blog, Sydney-based photographer Rachel Kara. We have never met in person, but I can tell you what HBO comedy show she is currently obsessed with (Veep), what she ate on her recent Tony Parker shoot for TDF (triangle sandwiches) and her husband’s name (Tim).

    Rachel has been shooting regularly for TDF as our official Sydney photographer since the start of this year. Despite never having physically met, we email a few times every week, which is why I have dubbed her my professional work pen pal. It is not unusual for us to receive emails after shoots from the creatives we feature, raving about Rachel’s warmth, professionalism and ability to take a painless portrait. Her intuitive talent behind the lens and relaxed shooting style has resulted in some of our favourite recent shoots, featuring James Gordon, Laura Jones and Belynda Henry.

    I always walk into a shoot and try let the space or person have a chance to show themselves to me, rather than the other way around’ Rachel says.

    While Rachel has spent the last 18 months working full-time as a freelance photographer and shooting for Monocle, Broadsheet, Inez Daily, Universal and Sony Music and local fashion labels, her path to photography wasn’t exactly straightforward. Upon leaving high school Rachel initially enrolled into nursing. ‘I lasted nine months before I found myself routinely sitting in lectures with smuggled fashion magazines hidden in biology text books, but it wasn’t until a few eventful pracs where I passed out (!) that I decided to drop out!’ she recalls.

    Rachel then moved into marketing, before realising it was actually the story-making associated with photography that piqued her interest, rather then the clothes themselves. After this epiphany, it was game on for this now 25-year-old, who bought a professional camera, enrolled into a short course at the Australian Centre for Photography, and started working as a photographer’s assistant almost immediately.

    ‘I recently found my primary school graduation book and apparently I knew what was up as an eleven-year-old. It listed my three dream grown up occupations as an: interior designer, pediatrician and photographer. If only I had found it sooner!’

    In her downtime, Rachel enjoys shooting on film, and she considers anything and everything a worthy subject.  ‘I am constantly really, really looking forward to getting back film scans from my photo lab. That feeling never gets old’ she says. Having recently returned from a sojurn in the USA, where she captured everything from waffles and fried chicken to Central Park chess games with infectious enthusiasm (check out her beautiful holiday snaps here), it’s pretty easy to see why Rachel wins so many hearts. It’s really about her outlook on the world.  A sense of wide eyed wonder and optimism is evident in all that she does – at heart, she’s a free spirit.   ‘I have a raging sense of adventure at the moment and I know it’s there for a reason..’ she says, with a twinkle in her eye.  We’re excited to see what’s next…!

    Bingin beach, Bali. Photo – Rachel Kara.


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  • 11/03/14--11:00: Plus Equals
  • Shopping

    Plus Equals

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    It’s a story we hear quite a bit around here. Two clever, highly experienced creative professionals tire of the corporate rat race, and soon find themselves joining forces to launch their own brand.  In this case, Jacqueline Kaytar and Michelle Jones met working together at a luxury lifestyle brand, Jacqueline in creative direction and design, Michelle in product and operational management.  They struck up a close friendship, and their complementary skills soon gave way to the inevitable – collaboration! Their brand new range of handcrafted leathergoods is created under the name Plus Equals.

    Handcrafted leather goods by Sydney based  Jacqueline Kaytar and Michelle Jones of Plus Equals.  Styling – Jacqueline Kaytar, photo – Edward Urrutia.

    Leather bowler bags in natural and tan by Plus Equals.  Styling – Jacqueline Kaytar, photo – Edward Urrutia.

    Envelope purses in natural and tan by Plus Equals.  Styling – Jacqueline Kaytar, photo – Edward Urrutia.

    Handcrafted leather satchels in black and natural by Plus Equals.  Styling – Jacqueline Kaytar, photo – Edward Urrutia.

    Jacqueline Kaytar and Michelle Jones met working together at a luxury lifestyle brand, Jacqueline in creative direction and design, Michelle in product and operational management.  They struck up a close friendship, and their complementary skills soon led them to consider collaboration.

    ‘After a decade in commercial business we were both exhausted by continually chasing the next ‘big idea’, only to be made obsolete the next season’ explains Jacqueline. Overwhelmed by the endless trends and constant development cycle in their previous roles, the pair found themselves compelled to create a pared back range of accessories that were functional, beautiful but not driven by trends, and designed to last.  Their business, Plus Equals, is founded on a shared belief – ‘that when a product combines design, purpose and craftsmanship, it becomes more than the sum of these elements – it becomes a companion’.

    The debut range from Plus Equals includes classic bags, wallets and coin purses, all handcrafted in Italy by  a third generation family of leather manufacturers. The aesthetic is distinctly minimalist, stripped of all embellishment. ‘We’re interested in making classics, finding a beautiful material and working with skilled craftspeople to create something that is designed with purpose, to transcend trends, to endure seasons’ says Jacqueline.’

    Having only just launched this month, Jacqueline and Michelle are looking forward to seeing how people wear and use their debut collection!  Always inspired by travel, the pair have also been exploring collaborations with other craftspeople who have traditional skills, for future ranges. ‘We’re planning to do other lifestyle products, its too early to say what as we don’t want to rush the sampling process, but our vision is to create a collection of goods that are refined yet essential’ they say.  We look forward to seeing what comes next from this supremely stylish duo!

    The complete debut range from Plus Equals is available to buy online here.  Prices start at $290.

    Jacqueline Kaytar (left) and Michelle Jones (right) of Plus Equals.  Photo – Oscar Nicholson.


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    Tasty Tuesday

    Tamsin’s Leek Tart with Floral Salad

    Tamin Carvan of Tamsin's Table

    OK, you’ve seen her beautiful home, and you’ve swooned over the vibrant green hills that surround her bountiful little farm in  Gippsland.  But today we’re finally giving Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table a chance to share her great passion with us first hand!  This month, Tamsin will share with us four seasonal recipes from her kitchen. At heart, Tamsin’s Table is about getting back to the simple things – growing and harvesting with the seasons, being frugal and creative with food, and sharing ridiculousy tasty meals with loved ones. It’s going to be a very inspiring month!

    Tamsin’s individual leek tart with freshly picked floral salad.  Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    Freshly picked floral salad!  Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    Leeks plucked straight from the garden by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    Tamsin’s individual tart bases ready for filling. Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    Freshly picked flowers from Tamsin’s garden. Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    Tamsin picking flowers for her salad. Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    For the last eleven years I have lived in a small house on a windy hilltop in Poowong East, ninety minutes east of Melbourne, surrounded by 113 acres of steep but fertile land. I ended up here by a strange and circuitous route, all because, some 15 years ago now, I asked myself a question that I committed to taking seriously – what would it take to eat the way I really want to eat? Thinking through the answer prompted a whole series of decisions that in hindsight seem nuts, but somehow at the time made perfect sense… such as quitting my well paid job in Sydney, moving interstate (twice) and buying this run down and difficult farm when I had never done a day’s farming in my life.

    But now here I am, and I’m very glad that the younger me was crazy enough to do all that. Because now we do eat exactly how we want – from the garden, with the seasons, with no chemicals, by our own hands and hard work, with animals living as they are meant to live. And as far cooking goes, it was the best thing I could ever have done. I have learned what broccoli and asparagus taste like when they have just been picked, that fresh potatoes never need to be peeled, and new season parsnips don’t need to be cored. I’ve learned that hidden away in the need to practice thriftiness and frugality is creativity, and I would go so far as to say joy in cooking, and in eating. And I’ve learned that when you have such beautiful ingredients to work with, the less you do to them the better.

    I hope you enjoy these simple but delicious dishes that are all about getting food back to where it seems happiest – on a big platter, in the middle of a shared table, surrounded by people who have come together to celebrate good company, good food well grown, good conversation, and a good laugh.

    If you made me choose (but please don’t) these tarts would be right up there as one of my most favourite things to eat – the combination of leek, thyme and plenty of butter is so simple, yet utterly delicious. The secret to their success is long, slow cooking of the leeks (I often leave them for hours, cooking almost imperceptibly on the side of the wood stove) and making sure that when you fill the pastry shells with the custard, that the pastry is hot (otherwise you will end up with the dreaded soggy bottom).

    Leeks are easy to grow in the garden and are very low maintenance – if you start with one of the heirloom bulbing varieties (that send up new leek-lets from the base of older plants that can then be separated and replanted) you will have a perpetual supply of the best, most tender, finger thin leeks to use for these tarts, braise in butter or combine with walnuts and beetroot for an unusual and refreshing summer salad. Although at first glance these might seem complicated, once you’re comfortable with making the pastry and custard they are really quite simple, and perfect for lunches and dinner parties, as you can make the pastry, the infused milk and the slow cooked leeks ahead of time, and then casually assemble the components and bake at the last minute, glass of wine in hand!

    Ingredients

    For the tart filling

    • 6 young and tender leeks, trimmed and washed, any tough outer leaves removed and cut into long thin strips (you need to end up with a generous cup of chopped leeks)
    • 60g of butter
    • One brown onion halved
    • 200ml of unthickened cream (pouring or whipping cream)
    • A bay leaf
    • 1 cup and a quarter of milk
    • A slug of extra virgin olive oil
    • Two sprigs of thyme plus six sprigs extra to decorate the tarts
    • 6 eggs

    For the pastry

    • 180g of cubed cold unsalted butter
    • 240g plain flour
    • 1tbs of water
    • a pinch of salt

    Method

    For the tart filling

    In a shallow, wide, heavy bottomed pan, very gently sweat the leeks and two sprigs of thyme in the butter and olive oil with a decent pinch of sea salt, taking care not to let the leeks brown.  Start this well ahead of time so you don’t have to rush them.

    Combine the milk and cream in a separate saucepan and add the halved onion and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes, then remove from the heat, season, and set aside to infuse.

    Meanwhile make and blind bake your tart cases using the flaky pastry recipe below.
    When the tart shells are almost ready, lightly whisk the eggs.  Reheat the milk/cream to just below boiling then strain into to the egg mixture, stirring as you do.  Return the egg / milk mixture to the heat and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens slightly.  Strain back into a clean bowl and check seasoning.  Ladle the custard into the hot tart shells, into which the a few spoonfuls of the leek mixture and a sprig of thyme have been artfully, or otherwise, placed.  Bake at 175 degrees or so until just set.

    To remove the tarts from the tins, let cool out of the oven for five or so minutes.  Then, working one tart at a time, place a tart in its tin so that it is standing, centred, over an egg cup or other small cup and gently ease the outside of the tart tin down to expose the edges of the pastry shell.  Now use a spatula to carefully slide between the pastry case and the tin bottom and lift the tart onto your serving plate.  Repeat with remaining tarts.

    For the flaky pastry

    This is Damien Pignolet’s pate brisee from his French cookbook.  It is the best and most reliable shortcrust pastry I have ever used, and works beautifully for these tarts.

    For a simple, flaky shortcrust pastry, toss 180g of cubed cold unsalted butter and with 240g plain flour, a tablespoon or so of water and a pinch of salt. (Good quality butter is important—I recommend using Girgar or Harmonie unsalted butter or similar). Using the heel of your hand, push down onto the flour and butter mix and push your hand away from you through the butter mix, ‘smearing’ the butter as you do so.  How much water you’ll need will vary depending on the flour you’re using – add a little more if you are having trouble bringing it together.

    Gather the mixture back together and repeat until the dough comes together (squeeze a handful of the mixture—if it holds its shape you are done.  It is better to under-mix than over-mix, don’t worry if flour and bits of butter are still visible). Gather into a flattened disc, wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.  This resting phase is vital to help prevent shrinkage.

    When rested, roll the dough out between two sheets of baking paper until it is 2 or 3 mm thick. Grease six, loose bottomed, 10 cm tart tins with fluted sides (although you don’t strictly need to grease tart tins when using a buttery pastry, I always do when using the small sized tin.  Just. In. Case).  Place one of the tart tins on the rolled out pastry and cut a circle of pastry out around it that is about 1 cm bigger in diameter than the tin itself.  Gently lift the pastry circle and press into the tin, doubling the excess over at the edge to make a slightly thicker crust. Make sure that the edges stick up a little higher than the tin to account for shrinkage when baked.  Don’t be discouraged if you end up with holes here and there during this process– there’s no shame in patching! Just make sure that after patching there are no tears, gaps, holes or places where the pastry is excessively thin, otherwise the custard is more likely to leak out.

    Once all the tart tins are filled with pastry, cut squares of alfoil big enough to line the pastry shells and cover the edges.  Fill with rice right to the top of the tarts, place on a baking sheet and freeze for at least an hour (I often make the pastry the day before and then freeze it overnight).

    Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius and place the frozen tart shells (still on the baking sheet) into the oven on the top shelf.  After about 15 minutes, check to see if the walls of the pastry are set and if so, carefully remove the alfoil and the rice. Check if there are spots where the pastry has shrunk too far down the walls of the tart tins or if holes or cracks have developed—in these areas don’t be afraid to massage the half cooked dough so that the pastry extends back up to the top of the tin / the holes are closed back up. Place the tart shells back into the oven and continue cooking until light golden in colour.

    Your pastry cases are now ‘blind baked’ and ready to fill – see method above.

    Tamsin in her garden. Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.


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  • 11/04/14--11:00: Greg Irvine
  • Australian Homes

    Greg Irvine

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    OK PEOPLE.  Give yourselves a few moments this morning, if you can, because you’re really going to need it.  This is one for the archives. In all my (seven) years of documenting Australian homes, I’ve never seen anything like this. This truly unique South Melbourne home belongs to artist and passionate collector Greg Irvine.  It’s jaw-droppingly good.  (Also, there’s a video!).

    Entryway in the South Melbourne home of Greg Irvine.  Door at end of hallway is covered in decorative lino scraps salvaged from other parts of the house.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    The incredible front sitting room, in original condition with timber floors, walls and ceiling.   Magnificent French Art Nouveau mirror, collection of old hat boxes on top shelf, original Victorian lino topped table found in junk shop, decorative orientalist bamboo furniture, and glassware. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Greg’s mind boggling collection of bakelite bangles, vintage purses  and accessories, alongside his own artworks in the front sitting room.  Original iron fireplace.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Greg’s collection of bakelite bangles and vintage purses displayed in the front sitting room.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Looking from the front sitting room out to the hallway.  Artwork in hall by Greg. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Greg’s master bedroom, showcasing his impressive collection of Victorian plates and an original Victoria wash stand with jug and basin.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Bedroom detail.  Victorian doors cut in half to make shutters and vintage cushions custom made from old fabrics. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Greg’s remarkable collection of antique tortoiseshell haircombs. Greg has been collecting these treasured pieces since the 60’s, when he says he would pick them up secondhand for $5.00 a piece.  ‘Shardware’ mosaic-encrusted dressing table created by Greg. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Master bedroom looking out to hallway.  Greg’s collections of fabrics, hats, vintage suitcases, decorative boxes and accessories are neatly displayed in open shelving.  As he says in the video below ‘My rule is if I can’t display it, I don’t own it.  I’m not interested in hoarding’.  Greg’s collection of vintage fabrics informs many of the patterns in his paintings. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Guest bedroom.  Miscellaneous collection of artworks, some of Greg as a child, painted and sketched by his mother, and sketches completed in Borneo during WWII by my father. Victorian cane chair and washstand with enamel jug and basin.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Sitting room looking back to hallway.  Very rare collection of Victorian bamboo furniture, more of Greg’s extensive collection of Victorian plates.  Greg’s own artworks in hallway beyond. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Bathroom – complete with original (functional) Victorian bath, shower surround and shower head!  The rustic timber lining boards are also original, and were painstakingly removed during Greg’s renovations in order to update and waterproof the bathroom, before being carefully reinstated.  ‘It was more expensive than simply building a whole new bathroom’ Greg assures us!  On the right, a collection of original, antique, Victorian boots and ‘extremely dangerous’ 1920’s Bakelite hairdryers!  (Watch our short video below for a closer look!).  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

     

    Bathroom. The rustic timber lining boards are also original, and were painstakingly removed during Greg’s renovations in order to update and waterproof the bathroom, before being carefully reinstated.  The bathroom sink is a newer acquisition, picked up second hand in pristine condition. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    View from living room looking back to kitchen.  Rare Spanish tortoiseshell bamboo cabinet. On the shelves above – a rare collection of large Victorian tea caddies carrying Colonial merchant insignia, collection of English Lustreware jugs, collection of Majolica plates, Art Nouveau plant stand featuring lilies and exquisite Majolica jardinière with roses.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Kitchen, showcasing Greg’s exhaustive collection of Victorian dinnerware, enamel teapots and canisters.  Art deco antique pendant lamp. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Kitchen details.  The kitchen sink is a large antique enamel sink from a junk shop, whilst a blue enamel wash tub sits alongside on the bench. Shelving above houses a collection of Victorian canisters and Victorian doll stoves.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Greg’s unique courtyard garden, entirely encrusted in decorative mosaic shards, by Greg and his son.  Clay gargoyle face pots made by Greg.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Greg’s studio, at the rear of his home. Painting for Greg’s upcoming exhibition in Melbourne. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Greg’s studio, at the rear of his home.  Enamel jug featured in one of Greg’s recent paintings.  ‘My paintings and my collections are one and the same thing’ says Greg.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Incredible details from Greg’s sketchbooks, full of paintings inspired by a recent trip to Indonesia.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Balinese inspired painting by Greg,  1930’s mirror table with collection of 1920s Bakelite boxes and painted ceramic pot by Greg.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Dining area showing second hand chairs painted blue and white by Greg in Chinoiserie pattern, early 19th Century antique Georgian Anglo/Indian Rosewood and marble dining table with richly and boldly carved lotus decoration, early colonial meat safe from Lord McAlpine collection, Blackamoor figure holding tray.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Greg, pictured in his dining room alongside his hand painted Chinoiserie chairs, early 19th Century antique Georgian Anglo/Indian Rosewood and marble dining table and antique cobalt blue mirror, which once adorned an Indian Maharajah’s palace.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    When Eve and I first stepped through the front door of artist Greg Irvine’s incredible South Melbourne home, we were, in short, dumbfounded. We wandered from room to room, mouths open, casting our eyes in disbelief over Greg’s truly remarkable and seemingly endless collections of antique furniture, Victorian ceramics and tableware, glassware, enamelware, tortoiseshell and bakelite objects, vintage fabrics, suitcases, decorative boxes, jewellery and antique purses… the list goes on, and on, and on!  It is a ‘down the rabbit hole’ experience, a truly magical space that feels a little like stumbling absent-mindedly into some kind of alternate universe.  It’s also completely at odds with the comparatively unremarkable exterior of this three bedroom Victorian weatherboard home.

    But don’t be deceived.  This is not the home of a hoarder.  Greg’s collections are tightly controlled.  The rule is ‘if I can’t display it, I don’t own it’ – he’s not interested in simply amassing things and squirrelling them away.  Each collection is carefully considered, and artfully displayed.  To Greg, they are installations – curated, and meticulously well kept.  There is not a skerrick of dust to be seen, either, which I know seems unfathomable, but it’s true.  Greg takes ‘house proud’ to new heights.

    For Greg, collecting is an extension of his artwork – collecting, displaying and being surrounded by beautiful things is paramount to his practice.  Indeed, there is a great deal of crossover between Greg’s eclectic home and his meticulously detailed paintings.  His favourite household objects often find their way onto his canvases, whilst vintage fabrics often influence the patterns and colours in his works.  If not surrounded by beauty, he reasons, he ‘might as well curl up in a ball and die’.  Passionate words, from a very passionate aesthete!

    Greg has lived here for ten years.  The house is heritage listed – a 150 year old weatherboard, and one of the oldest free standing houses built in South Melbourne. Originally, it would have stood on a rural allotment, and was owned by a blacksmith (when renovating, Greg uncovered a mass of various horseshoes beneath the original floorboards!).

    When Greg first purchased the home, it was, he says, ‘a dump’.  He engaged a builder to restore the home. and make a few minor updates.  The main living and kitchen area was opened up to form one large living space. The bedrooms and living spaces were painted, but the original hallway and front room were left in original condition with their raw timber panelling and an original iron fireplace.  Greg was keen to retain as many of the original features as could be salvaged – doors, timber floorboards and wall panelling were all retained. Incredibly, the bathroom is also in near-original condition, retaining the original bath, bath surround, shower head and decorative pressed metal ceiling. ‘Every effort was made to maintain the integrity of the house during the modifications’ says Greg.

    With such a mind-bogglingly impressive collection of furniture, artwork, antiques and collectibles, it’s not easy for Greg to isolate favourites amongst his possessions.  ‘How long do you have!?’ he says.  He’s particularly fond of his tortoiseshell comb collection, displayed beautifully on his bedroom wall, reaching all the way to the ceiling.  He loves the magnificent antique cobalt blue mirror in the main living area, which he says once adorned an Indian Maharajah’s palace!  The enormous green glass chandelier from India is another treasured favourite –  ‘it miraculously arrived intact as many are damaged en route to Australia, and is a main feature in the dining room’ says Greg.

    Having exhibited his work extensively since the early 80’s, and gaining great notoriety in the mid 90’s, Greg’s artwork is recognisable to many Melbournians.  (Who remembers his painted sculptures and mosaics in Acland street, St Kilda back in the mid 90’s!?).  His latest collection of paintings will be exhibited at Hawthorn Studio and Gallery in a show which opens this Saturday, and runs until the end of the month.  Well worth a look!  They are even more amazing in person.

    New Paintings by Greg Irvine
    November 8th – 29th, 2014

    Hawthorn Studio and Gallery
    635 Burwood rd
    Hawthorn East
    Victoria 3123

    ALSO.  We are thrilled to launch a brand new VIDEO to accompany today’s story!  We’ve collaborated with talented local filmmaker Paris Thomson of SIRAP once again, to produce this 3 minute motion snapshot of Greg’s home, his collections and his artwork.  You’ll find it just below.  We couldn’t imagine a more entertaining and inspiring subject – and how about that voiceover!?  Thank you for your patience Greg!


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  • 11/05/14--11:00: Beth-Emily Gregory
  • People

    Beth-Emily Gregory

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Beth Emily Gregory is a Tassie-born, Melbourne based illustrator whose delicate, detailed drawings and prints have become a familiar favourite at design markets such as Adelaide’s Bowerbird Bazaar, The Big Design Market in Melbourne and The Finders Keepers markets nationally over the past few years. However very soon you’ll be able to admire (and purchase!) Beth’s exquisite prints, original drawings and collectible objects online, via a brand new website and online store launching later this month.

    Illustrator Beth-Emily Gregory at work in her Brunswick studio.  Styling – Stephanie Stamatis, photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Details from the studio of illustrator Beth-Emily Gregory.  Styling – Stephanie Stamatis, photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Illustration by Beth-Emily Gregory.  Styling – Stephanie Stamatis, photo – Guvnor.

    Details from the studio of illustrator Beth-Emily Gregory.  Styling – Stephanie Stamatis, photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Illustration by Beth-Emily Gregory.  Styling – Stephanie Stamatis, photo – Guvnor.

    Illustrator Beth-Emily Gregory in her Brunswick studio.  Styling – Stephanie Stamatis, photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Professionally trained as a graphic designer, Beth Emily completed her education at the Tasmanian School of Fine Arts. Here she undertook both printmaking and graphic design subjects, though there was no practical illustration elective available at that time. So, she’s really a self taught illustrator, who learnt her craft through constant experimentation, and the application of skills learnt from other disciplines.

    ‘Illustration has always had a significant role in my life’ explains Beth. ‘It has been something I’ve enjoyed doing since an early age, and those close to me often suggested that illustration would be something I would pursue as a profession, even before I really knew it myself.

    Beth’s personal connection to the outdoors is what influences most of her work. ‘I love to observe the beauty in nature and reinterpret the details, colours, patterns and textures through different mediums’ she says. Her work is also highly influenced by traditional Naturalist art, particularly botanical illustration. Other reference points for Beth include the Dutch still-life painters of the Art Nouveau period, as well as contemporary artists such as Tomoko Shioyasu, who creates intricate paper-cut tapestries.

    Beyond private commissions and commercial illustration clients, Beth has a few bigger projects brewing.  Currently, she’s developing her own range of paper goods, drawing on her graphic design training.  On a personal level, she’s also working on a very small, self-published book – an ‘explorer’s guide’, which will detail species of flora and fauna that are unique to the different states in Australia.

    Of course, she is also looking forward to the imminent(!) launch of her new website, created in collaboration with local creatives Guvnor (design and art direction), Weekends (web development), Stephanie Stamatis (styling) & Sean Fennessy (photos). Dream team!

    Check out Beth Emily’s work at Bowerbird Bazaar in Adelaide later this month from November 21st – 23rd, and at Melbourne’s Big Design Market from Dec 5th – 7th.

    Details from the studio of illustrator Beth-Emily Gregory.  Styling – Stephanie Stamatis, photo – Sean Fennessy.


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    Tasty Tuesday

    Wild Sorrel Ravioli with Burnt Butter and Garlic

    Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin's Table

    During our recent visit to Tamsin Carvan’s idyllic home and farm in Gippsland, Eve and I were so grateful when Tamsin generously offered to cook us lunch whilst we worked. ‘Sorry, it’s just a basic pasta, hope that’s ok’ she said, apologetically, proceeding to create pasta dough from scratch, as if it were no big deal!  No fuss and no fanfare, just simple ingredients, prepared thoughtfully and without pretence.  That’s the effortless brilliance of Tamsin’s Table.  In truth, she really did make it look so easy… try your hand at homemade pasta with Tamsin’s delicious and super simple ravioli recipe below!

    Homemade wild sorrel ravioli with burnt butter and garlic.  Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    Homemade wild sorrel ravioli in the making in Tamin’s kitchen.  Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    Tamsin’s happy chickens!  Freshly laid free range eggs makes Tamin’s homemade pasta deep in colour and super tasty.   Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    One of the perks of having a slightly disheveled and exuberant veggie patch are the edible weeds that spring up in the spaces to defy the logic of nice neat rows. Purslane, nettles, wild rocket and wild fennel are some of my favourites, along with the little wild sorrel that I call sheep sorrel. This plant can be quite invasive and spreads underground through dense root mats, so I do try and contain its growth, however the small spear shaped leaves are so delicious that it’s worth fostering a small patch for summer salad leaves alone.

    Like regular sorrel, these leaves have a fresh lemony taste (the sourness coming from the relatively high levels of oxalic acid in the leaves) but what makes them really special is the way that the leaves seem to burst with juicy flavour when you bite into them.  Their only downside (okay, other than the small matter of being invasive) is that when cooked, despite being just as delicious taste wise, their bright green freshness becomes a rather disconcerting olive drab.  Perfect for a ravioli filling then!

    Ingredients (Serves Four)

    • 2 eggs, lightly whisked (to yield around 100 ml of liquid – if less top up with water)
    • 200 grams Tipo 00 flour

    • One medium sized brown onion, finely chopped
    • A colander full of wild sorrel leaves – look for smaller leaves that are plump and fresh looking. Use French sorrel if you can’t find any growing wild.
    • Half a cup of raw almonds, pounded in a mortar and pestle to bread crumb size so that there are a mix of smaller and larger pieces plus a little extra for finishing

    • A handful of best quality white sourdough bread (for example Irrewarra), soaked in water and then squeezed to removed excess liquid (the soaked and squeezed bread should weigh about 95 grams)

    • 2 dessertspoons of plain Greek style yoghurt
    • Three large cloves of garlic, chopped
    • Lots of unsalted butter

    • Parmesan cheese

    • Lemon
    • Sea salt and pepper
    • A handful of wild rocket and wild sorrel for garnish

    Method

    For the filling

    Slowly sweat the onion over a low heat in a few tablespoons of oil, a knob of butter and a pinch of sea salt until soft and sweet, but do not allow to brown (cook for about 20 minutes). Scrape into a large bowl, draining away any excess oil and butter as you do so, and set aside to cool.

    Bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil and blanch sorrel the leaves for just a moment.  Don’t be alarmed but they will turn a drab shade of olive green.  Drain and squeeze as much as you can out of the leaves and finely chop. Place in bowl with onions.

    Crumble the softened bread into the bowl with onions and sorrel, and add the almonds and yoghurt. Using your fingers, mix together until well amalgamated.  Season with a little sea salt and taste to make sure that the flavours are well balanced.  You may need to add a little more salt or yoghurt depending on the intensity of flavour in the leaves, the type of bread you have used and the freshness of the almonds.

    For the ravioli

    Add 1/2 a teaspoon of finely ground sea salt to the flour and tip onto your work surface, making a well in the center. Pour in the egg mixture and using a fork, mix the egg and flour together into a stiff dough. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Using a pasta machine, roll out the pasta to setting 7 on the machine (for a lovely, light ravioli).

    To assemble

    Place a teaspoon of filling along one side of each pasta sheet, about 3cm apart. Lightly brush both long edges of the sheet and in between the filling with water. Fold the other side of the pasta sheet over so that it covers the filling, and working carefully to ensure no air is trapped in the pockets, use your fingers to seal the edges around each piece of filling and cut to size. Cook for 2-3 minutes in a large pot of salted water. Drain carefully so that you don’t break open the ravioli and place on a large platter.

    Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium heat, and add around 75 grams of unsalted butter to the pan. When it begins to bubble, turn the heat down and add the chopped garlic and continue to cook until the butter and the garlic are a rich golden colour. Remove from heat and pour over cooked ravioli and gently toss through.

    Sprinkle the ravioli with freshly grated parmesan and the reserved almonds, then add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a little coarse sea salt.  Scatter with wild rocket and a few reserved sorrel leaves.  Serve at the table with extra cheese, lemon and salt.

    Tamsin hard at work on the farm.  Photo – Eve Wilson.


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  • 11/11/14--11:00: Remo and Melanie Giuffré
  • Australian Homes

    Remo and Melanie Giuffré

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Remo Giuffré is a bit famous.  Not very famous, mind you… but a familiar name in the right circles,  and for the right reasons.  Originally trained in corporate law, he is better known for his various creative businesses and entrepreneurial projects, amongst them the much loved REMO General Store (which he opened in Oxford st, Darlinghurt in 1988, and later shifted online), and General Thinking (an invitation-only global network of influential thinkers and do-ers across the globe) and more recently, TEDxSydney, which I imagine needs no explanation (DOES it?). Today we visit the eclectic 3 bedroom apartment Remo shares in Bondi with his wife Melanie, and almost-grown-up kids Roman and Lola.

    Remo and Melanie Giuffré at home in Bondi!  ‘We bought the wandjana from the Mowanjum Art & Aboriginal Culture Centre outside Derby, when we were travelling in the Kimberley in 2006′ says Remo of the painting above the door.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    A corner of the lounge room, looking back to front hallway.  Portrait of the dingo is by Bryan Westwood, who won the Archibald Prize for his portrait of Paul Keating in 1992. ‘The eyes are similar’ says Remo!  Henry Wilson A3 joint stool. Just visible in hallway beyond, the Remo family custom hall runner (more on this later…!)  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    The hallway, with amazing salon-hung artwork and trinkets along one entire wall, and an extra special custom designed hall runner!  ‘In 2010 I designed our hall rug :GIUFFRE FAMILY BONDI HOME’ explains Remo. ‘The compass points due north … exactly; but only in this precise orientation. In other words, this rug only “works” in this exact location and in this particular apartment. Everywhere else on earth it would be telling a lie. For me this was making a statement about the permanence of our move, not just to Sydney, not just to Bondi Beach, but to this apartment in particular. Will we be here forever? Maybe not. Four flights of stairs does not maketh a final resting place, but I reckon we’ll be here for a very long time, and the hall rug is there to celebrate that’.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Kitchen.  ‘We bought the aluminium Emeco chairs (standard issue for US submarines) when we were living in the States’ says Remo.  ‘Maybe they were $100 each. It was before they became de rigeur, ubiquitous … and much more expensive!’ Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Kitchen detail.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Looking from kitchen across dining table.  ‘That Genetics poster is an original science chart, produced by the Sargeant Welch Scientific Company, based in Skokie, Illinois’ says Remo. ‘It has inspired much REMO branded product development over the years: T shirts, postcards, greeting cards, etc’.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Looking from entrance hallway through to lounge room beyond. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Loungeroom detail.  ‘We bought the couch at Crate & Barrel when we were living in California in 1997′ says Remo, ‘It has done good service’.  A plywood Eames chair sits alongside the couch. The rugs would be familiar to TEDx fans – they formed a ‘speech bubble’ on the stage for the early TEDx Sydney events, run by Remo.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Lola’s room (Lola is currently living and studying in Melbourne)  ‘Another science chart … this time in Lola’s bedroom. The Periodic Chart of the Elements seemed very apt for our gorgeous geeky girl’ says Remo. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Detail from Lola’s room.  ‘Lola painted her own wall … first with magnetic paint (omg that tin was heavy), and then with black chalk paint over the top. So, the wall doubles as a blackboard and a magnetic pin board’ says Remo. ‘Even though she has been gone for a couple of years, there are still physics formulas and maths equations up there.’ Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Roman’s room – a montage of his art and surfing imagery.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Bathroom.   Red cross medical cabinet, a Christmas gift in 1992 from the late Tibor Kalman ( famed American designer and great friend of Remo’s) and his M&Co. Design Group. ‘The wooden ribbon signs are from the old REMO General Store, the ghosts of which are everywhere’ Remo says. Eagle eyed readers might spot the colourfully wrapped ‘Who Gives a Crap‘ toilet paper on the shelf above the sink!   Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Pearl the schnoodle on Remo and Melanie’s bed!  ‘Pearl loves the bed that we had purpose built by a local furniture restorer. It’s bigger than a King, with lots of storage behind and underneath’ says Remo. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Remo’s hallway is a museum!  You can’t help but stop and absorb all the history collected and displayed along this entrance wall.  Artwork by talented friends, merchandise from the hey days at REMO General Store, and collected trinkets.  The boat drawing on the wall is EOLO – there’s a great story in Remo’s new book, General Thinker, about this very boat, how it was lost for decades and then unexpectedly found! Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Remo Giuffré lives in Bondi, Sydney, in a surprisingly modest three bedroom apartment with his wife Melanie, and almost grown up kids Roman and Lola (Lola is currently studying in Melbourne, but returns homes for the holidays).  The family have been here just four years, which belies the incredible depth of collected ephemera and history on the walls!  There is something positively museum-like about this space… it is layered with nostalgic mementoes of family life, and love, and a lifetime of artefacts.  Every family should (and probably does?) have this stuff… but.. somehow, the way it has been lovingly collected and displayed here takes things to another level!

    ‘The apartment is a canvas upon which we display and present the authentic souvenirs of our lives’ expains Remo, matter of factly.  ‘Neither of us do decorative. Everything we own retains a meaning for one or both of us’.  He speaks the truth.  Just about all of the artwork here has been created by friends or by artists Remo and Melanie have met and engaged with, and alongside these pieces, displayed with equal merit are treasured family photos, doodles quickly scribbled documenting inspired ideas never realised, and keepsakes such as wedding invitations, newspaper clippings, printed ephemera and other treasures.  Toegther, these artefacts form a sort of visual narrative of the Giuffré family history.  It’s the best motivation I’ve seen in a LONG time to PRINT YOUR PHOTOS, people.  And, display them!

    The Giuffré family aren’t really big on material things.  The greatest advantage of living here, Remo says, is being close to the beach. ‘Proximity is everything’ he explains. ‘A few more blocks and that magical nexus between home and ocean would be broken. We love being just a few minutes away, and get a special thrill when we see Roman’s wet footprints on the stairs leading up to our apartment’.

    Meeting Remo was pretty cool!  It felt like meeting someone I already half knew. As mentioned above, amongst many other things Remo holds the license for TEDxSydney,  and has done the most incredible job running this event since 2009 – staged annually at The Sydney Opera house, with over 2000 attendees each year, and incorporating various satellite events and free online content, it is one of the biggest and most impressive TEDx events globally.  TEDx is a not-for-profit venture, which makes the epic scale of this event even more impressive.  Though it is a HUGE undertaking, TEDx suits Remo… because the common thread through all his various projects over the past few years is one clear theme – connectivity.  Bringing likeminded thinkers and do-ers together.

    In person, Remo really is bursting with ideas and optimism. Though he has weathered both success and failure in business, he’s rarely discouraged, and certainly  never idle… he’s always dreaming up the next big thing.  This month, Remo is launching his latest project – his first book.  Unsurprisingly, he’s done it his way.

    General Thinker is a visual memoir of interwoven stories that examines the experiences – both great successes and brilliant failures – that have guided and shaped me along my path as a serial entrepreneur’ explains Remo.  ‘It’s a book about work. It’s a book about love. It’s about me, but also about all of us. The early feedback is super positive. People seem to like it!’

    Remo generously handed me a copy of General Thinker as I left his apartment.  I read it on the plane all the way home from Sydney and couldn’t put it down! Though it is loosely structured chronologically, around key events in Remo’s own life, this is not a straightforward autobiography, but a much broader offering – a truly energising and uplifting read. Remo recounts tales from his early family life, to his relentless romantic gestures in pursuit of his wife Melanie (my favourite chapter!), to his eager attempts to meet Rupert Murdoch in his early career.. (!) and the list goes on.  It’s one of those books you can open at any page, and be sure to uncover a golden nugget of wisdom or bolt of inspiration.  It’s also very funny – Remo has a knack for storytelling!

    General Thinker is available in select Australian book stores, and online here.  Highly recommended for the thinkers, the dreamers and do-ers amongst you!

    Remo tapping away on his computer with district and ocean view of Bondi beyond. The OPEN sign was from the original REMO Store. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.


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  • 11/12/14--11:00: Christopher Boots
  • Small Business

    Christopher Boots

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    I first met Melbourne lighting designer Christopher Boots when we interviewed him back in 2012, just a year after he had launched his business. He was busy then, but MAN, he’s really busy now!  Christopher’s lighting studio in Fitzroy  has grown from a handful of casual staff to a team of 15 people, creating their distinctive range of beautiful lights all in house.  We recently re-visited Christopher to gain an insight into the growth of his successful small business (which may not be ‘small’ for much longer…!)

    Lighting designer Christopher Boots outside his Fitzroy headquarters.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Christopher’s team hard at work in their Fitzroy studio.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Christopher carefully attaches quartz crystals to one of his beautiful ‘Orp’ lights. Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Christopher’s team hard at work in their Fitzroy studio.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Christopher carefully attaches quartz crystals to one of his beautiful ‘Orp’ lights. Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Quartz crystals, which feature heavily in Christopher’s lighting range.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    The Fitzroy showroom and studio of Christopher Boots.Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    The incredible growth of Christopher Boots lighting studio after just three years in operation is impressive, but it isn’t exactly a fluke.  After completing a degree in Industrial Design, Christopher trained under legendary lighting designer Geoffrey Mance in Melbourne, and took on Mance Design studio after Geoffrey passed away in 2007.  He launched his own lighting studio on November 11th, 2011- almost exactly three years ago.

    Christopher’s stunning range of lights is entirely handcrafted by his team of skilled craftspeople in their  Fitzroy studio space.  Due to their commitment to in house manufacturing, each light can be customised for specific spaces or architectural projects.  Christopher’s most recognisable design is his striking ‘Orp’ light (Oblique Rhombic Prism) – a glowing, extruded ‘cube’ which references ancient geometry, and looks something like a 3D optical illusion.

    It can be rare for creative people to also have an intuitive sense for the ‘business side’ of things, but Christopher certainly seems to have that elusive balance of right brain / left brain perfectly aligned!  His responses below articulate just how important it is for small business owners to consider the bigger picture, and to plan for growth from day one.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your business ­ how is your business structured, how many staff do you employ, what services do you offer?

    We offer high­ end, luxury, bespoke decorative lighting solutions.

    Each item is carefully considered in its design and aesthetic, and produced right here in Melbourne by a small team of artisan makers. I have several existing lighting collections, however we are also engaged in custom projects, which is challenging and exciting at the same time.
    We employ approx 15 staff from full time to casual roles, depending on the scale of workload.

    We are expanding our production team and moving production into a larger space in the near future, as the demand for our product and services has been soaring, so as we outgrow our current space we’ll be looking to expand production into a larger space.

    What does a typical work day at Christopher Boots involve?

    There is no such thing as a typical day! Each day at CB HQ is quite different and unique.

    One day we could be working on a large custom job; designing, prototyping and testing ideas and materials, another­ there could be a film crew documenting or a product photo shoot underway. We have had a very busy year with a number of exciting projects in the pipeline both locally and internationally (watch this space!)

    On a typical week, we have a Monday morning meeting over breakfast with plenty of coffee to streamline all the jobs scheduled for production, and step by step processes required to take place… We have to be very organised!

    By the end of the day we need to close by cleaning up, tidying and ensuring the studio is primed for the next day’s work. Often, I prefer to work into the night when it’s a little quieter, as I can focus more.
    ­
    What are some daily office rituals and systems you employ to enhance your / your team’s productivity?

    We’ve had a new kitchen installed in the studio recently, which I designed with my friends at SIBLING. It has been great to be able to cook a full breakfast in the morning (poached eggs, salmon, sauerkraut, rye bread as a standard), or share a cup of tea with the staff to ease into the day.

    We share meals and a drink at the end of the week ­I feel that it’s very important to have that special relationship with the people you work with, since we spend so much time together! Also it gives us an opportunity to discuss any issues or concerns and find resolutions in a casual environment.

    ­To streamline your daily tasks and keep everything running smoothly what computer programs, apps and softwares do you utilise?

    Apple Macs are our base computer system, from which we run all Google apps, Dropbox and Xero. AutoCAD, SketchUp and the Adobe suite software are used to design. Cloud based storage works well when we have the internet flowing ok (note: STILL no NBN in Fitzroy­ who voted to kill the NBN?!) as we can pick up where someone else left off on any computer or Ipad or laptop, and make all things seamless.
    ­
    In hindsight, what do you know now about running a small business that you wish you knew when you started?

    This is my second small business, and that has made things so much easier doing round two! I guess trust your instincts is a good one. Get your books in order­ first and foremost. Use systems that can be scaled up easily and require little maintenance. Keep documentation of your own processes so you can review and improve. That’s how to build.

    What are your top three tips about running a successful small business?

    1. Great staff are everything­ – happy staff, happy work!

    2. Find and use good counsel­ mentors, wiser people who can guide and answer those tricky questions
    that will come up from time to time.

    3. Being optimistic is great­ and at times the only thing that can drive you­, but be grounded and base your decisions on being pragmatic too.
    ­
    Who is a local small business owner you admire and why?

    Sheesh, I am too busy to look outside my own world to think of this answer­­! YOU?!

    Christopher Boots
    369 Gore Street
    Fitzroy 3065

    Open by Appointment Monday – Friday, drop-ins welcome on Saturdays between 10.00am – 4.00pm.

    The Fitzroy showroom and studio of Christopher Boots.Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.


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  • 11/13/14--11:00: Fred Fowler
  • Interview

    Fred Fowler

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    This year we’ve made a concerted effort to invite a number of brand new artists to be part of The Design Files Open House (and by new, I mean new to us), because even though we all have our favourites, one of our goals is to ensure we’re always uncovering fresh and varied creative talent.  When I stumbled across Fred Fowler‘s work via Instagram a few months back I knew this was one I needed to chase.  I was instantly taken by Fred’s  mesmerising semi-abstract works, with their floating marine-like creatures, and the washed out colour palette of muted greens, greys and blues. With a background in street art, Fred completed his Masters in Contemporary Art at the VCA in 2012, and has since been practising art full time from his studio in Footscray.

    Artist Fred Fowler in his Footscray studio.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    ‘Oceanic Trade Route’, 2014, oil on wood by Fred Fowler.  This beautiful painting will be at The Design Files Open House in 3 weeks in Melbourne!

    Details from the Footscay studio of artist Fred Fowler.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Details from the Footscay studio of artist Fred Fowler.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    I wish I knew the name of Fred’s beautiful dog!  Sadly, I do not.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Works in progress.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    ‘Hinterland Dividing Range’, 2014, oil on wood by Fred Fowler.  This beautiful painting will also be at The Design Files Open House in 3 weeks in Melbourne!

    Details from the Footscay studio of artist Fred Fowler.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    The studio of Fred Fowler.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Fred Fowler‘s background is in street art, which he  discovered in his teenage years, through skateboarding. Initially enticed by the thrill of painting in public space at night, and having people see his work the next day, by the end of his high school years Fred had refocussed his creative talent, turning his energy towards making  art. He held his first solo exhibition in 2001, at just 21.

    In the years that followed, Fred found himself taking on a studio in the Nicholas Building, surrounded by other local creatives, and influenced by Melbourne’s prolific street art scene at the time.  As he says below, ‘there was lots of partying, painting and general artistic mischief going on’!

    More than ten years later, after time spent living in Paris and traveling around Europe, Fred returned to Melbourne and enrolled in a Masters of Contemporary Art at the Victorian College of the Arts. Since graduating, he’s been practicing art full-time.  With formal training behind him, Fred has refined his work, though his roots in street art and the culture surrounding it are still a big influence on his practice.

    Recently, Fred’s paintings have been concerned with the relationship between native and invasive species, examining the Australian cultural landscape, and themes such as colonisation.  Often inspired by politicised subject matter, Fred aims to create multi-layered works which are subtly subversive. We’re thrilled to present four new paintings by Fred at our TDF Open House event in Melbourne in early December.

    Tell us a little about your background – what path led you to becoming a fine artist, and to creating the style of work you are currently making?

    My parents are both architects so they were always giving me pens and paper and encouraging me to draw. They are both interested in art, and having a father that was born and raised in Papua New Guinea meant I grew up looking at not only western art, but also all this amazing PNG stuff that really captured my imagination.

    I got into skateboarding as a kid and when I was about 16 I discovered graffiti through my skating buddies. The unruly and direct nature of painting in public space at night, and having people see it the next day really appealed to me. By age 17 numerous counts of ‘trespassing’ and ‘vandalism’ caught up to me so I turned my energy towards art. I started experimenting with stencils, posters, rock carvings and painting and this work led to my first solo exhibition at A.R.T Gallery Eden in 2001.

    It was around that time that I met Marc de Jong who had a studio in the Nicolas Building in Flinders Lane. He was looking for someone to share the space so I joined him there and he became a good mate and somewhat of a mentor of mine. This was the era when the street art scene was really gaining momentum, so there was lots of partying, painting and general artistic mischief going on.

    In 2011 after living in Paris and traveling around Europe for a year, I came back to Melbourne and enrolled in a Masters of Contemporary Art degree at the Victorian College of the Arts. Since graduating I’ve been setting up my studio, and practicing art full-time.

    The DIY ethos and anti establishment attitude of skateboarding and early street art culture are still a big influence not so much on the content, but definitely on my attitude and approach to creating work.

    How would you describe your work?

    Recently I’ve been working on a series of semi abstract ‘liquid’ Australian landscape paintings that explore the relationship between native and invasive species. It’s a way to visually examine the cultural landscape and comment on things like the history of colonisation in Australia. I like to camouflage the subversive or political aspects of my work, so they remain ambiguous to a degree. I try to make almost ambient pictures that can be interpreted on different levels.

    Can you give us a little insight into the physical process of your art-making?

    I’ve moved away from pre-planing work too much as I find it way too restrictive. I usually have a general idea visualised and then start work quite loosely. Using oil sticks and quick mark-making I get a lot of colour and texture down quickly. I then mix up colour for the main body of the painting and cut back the work which creates the details and elements that make up the landscape.

    I’m really into the process and the physicality of making of art. I predominantly paint, but also have a kiln, furnace and a small printmaking press at the studio, so I practice sculpture and printmaking as well. Several paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings are in progress at any one time. When I’ve been staring at a painting for too long I’ll flip the work around and pick up a bit of clay or paper.

    What does a typical day at work involve for you?

    Get up pretty early, coffee, take the dog for a little adventure with my girlfriend. Get to the studio around 8 then work until lunch. Do some admin stuff, get art supplies, take a break. Paint until 6 or 7 and head home for dinner. Sometimes I’ll go back to the studio and work into the night or we’ll watch a film on the projector.

    Can you list for us 5 resources across any media that you turn to regularly for creative inspiration?

    1. Art books. Currently I’m reading Francis Alÿs’ A Story of Deception and a Joseph Beuys monograph.

    2. The Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia publish a really good quarterly art journal called Contemporary Visual Arts and Culture Broadsheet.

    3. I listen to a lot of music and online radio while in the studio- stuff like BBC Radio 1 Xtra, Giles Peterson and The Science Show.

    4. E-Flux journal.

    5. Adam Curtis is an English filmmaker I like, he’s got a great blog on the BBC site.

    Which other local artists, designers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?

    Ken Thaiday Senior, Reko Rennie, Rhys Lee, Ash Keating, Fiona Hall, and all the artists represented by Milani Gallery in Brisbane.

    What is your proudest career achievement to date?

    Having 10 of my early works acquired by the National Gallery of Australia in 2005 was an achievement that meant a lot at the time. It was a part of a larger acquisition of early Australian street art work. It was exciting to see all my friends getting recognition from a major institution like the NGA for work that was created completely outside of the mainstream art world, and often the law.

    What would be your dream project?

    Being let loose on a large scale at somewhere like GOMA, MONA or the NGV.

    What are you looking forward to?

    Most nights I just can’t wait to get the studio the next morning. It’s like that feeling of excitement the night before Christmas when you’re a kid. Other than that I’m always looking forward to the next overseas adventure.

    MELBOURNE QUESTIONS

    Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?

    My studio is in Footscray and I live just up the road, so I spend a lot of time in that general vicinity. There’s an abundance of cheap amazing food, weird shops and you see the most interesting looking people around the place.

    Where and what was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

    Bún bò Huế from Pho Hung Vuong Saigon in Hopkins St, Footscray.

    Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

    I usually hit up Footscray market and Little Saigon pretty early, do some grocery shopping and have something to eat. Then I’ll hang out with my girlfriend, do some domestic stuff or head to the studio.

    Melbourne’s best kept secret?
    There are some interesting abandoned buildings around the place if you know where to look.

    Artist Fred Fowler in his Footscray studio.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.


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    People

    Georgia Perry x FIAT for The Design Files Open House 2014

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    WE MADE  A CAR!  Well, not from scratch, clearly… but nevertheless we’re pretty PUMPED about this very special collaboration with Fiat and Melbourne illustrator Georgia Perry, especially for The Design Files Open House 2014!  Please meet our friendly little Fiat 500, wrapped in a lush leafy pattern inspired by tropical foliage. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to shoot this story on location at the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne (so lucky!) as well as at Loose Leaf, our fave spot for all thing plant-y in Collingwood.

    Our custom Fiat 500, designed by Melbourne illustrator / graphic artist Georgia Perry, especially for The Design Files Open House 2014!  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins, shot on location at the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

    Melbourne illustrator / graphic artist Georgia Perry, photographed in the jungle at Loose Leaf, our fave spot for all thing plant-y in Collingwood. Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins, styling assistance – Nat Turnbull.

     

     

    Our custom Fiat 500, designed by Melbourne illustrator Georgia Perry, especially for The Design Files Open House 2014!  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins.  (This photo was NOT taken at the Royal Botanic Gardens, cars do not drive on the grass at the RBG!).

    Georgia’s visual diaries, brimming with inspiration and reference material. Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins, styling assistance – Nat Turnbull.

    Georgia’s cut-out leaf shapes which inspired her design for the car. Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins, styling assistance – Nat Turnbull.

    Detail from Georgia’ studio. Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins, styling assistance – Nat Turnbull.

    Melbourne illustrator / graphic artist Georgia Perry in her Fitzroy home studio. Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins, styling assistance – Nat Turnbull.

    New cut-out hand painted timber artworks by Georgia Perry, for The Design Files Open House 2014.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins.

    Our custom Fiat 500, designed by Georgia Perry, for The Design Files Open House 2014.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins, shot on location at the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

    Me (Lucy) just getting acquainted with our sweet Fiat 500 on the leafy streets of Fitzroy! Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Me (Lucy) with gorgeous Georgia Perry, photographed outside Loose Leaf with our leafy Fiat 500.  (My dress is from The Standard Store!) I Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins, styling assistance – Nat Turnbull.

    Our custom Fiat 500, designed by Georgia Perry, for The Design Files Open House 2014.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins, shot on location at the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

    Having a company car is one thing, but when you get to totally CUSTOMISE a car and make it look like no other car in the universe, well, that’s where it’s at, people.  Amazingly, we seem to have conjured up a reason to do this once a year, and this year we’re doing it with FIAT, one of our brand new Major Sponsors for The Design Files Open House 2014!

    We invited ex-Sydney, now Melbourne based illustrator / graphic artist Georgia Perry to join us on this mission.  We LOVE Georgia’s vibrant and always smile-inducing  work, she is a truly versatile creative who has designed everything from album covers to children’s books to window installations and more! She is particularly fond of bold colour and playful ‘cut-out’ style shapes – do check out her brilliant body of work here!  For this collaboration we were a bit bossy and reigned in Georgia’s usual primary colour palette, instead opting for a slightly more limited palette of various greens, spiked with a little coral pink, mauve and blue for good measure. After much to-ing and fro-ing, the car went off to get wrapped by some expert vinyl wrapping people (video of this car-wrapping process below – it’s pretty impressive!).

    We asked Georgia a few questions about her work, her recent move to Melbourne, and the inspiration behind this extra special collaboration!

    HEY Georgia, tell us a little about yourself!

    I am a graphic artist based in Melbourne. I currently run my own business from my home in Fitzroy, working on projects across the music, arts and publishing realms.  I love working across lots of different projects at once, doing anything from graphic design and branding, commercial illustration and a window installation in the space of a week.

    To keep myself extra busy I’ve also just released a collection of printed paper goods (think uber colourful calendars and cards) as well as a small range of silk scarves printed with my designs.  I’ve definitely not had enough sleep in the past few months, but I love being busy!

    You moved from Sydney to Melbourne this year (in the middle of winter, no less!).  How are you finding Melbourne?

    My boyfriend got a job in Melbourne during winter, so against our friends’ advice we moved down from sunny Sydney in the dark depths of July!

    Being a one-woman show and working from home meant that I could set up shop and do my work from anywhere, which was lucky. It took a while to adjust, but Melbourne really feels like a fun and special place to be!

    Tell us a little bit about this collaboration you have done to customise our Fiat 500 for Open House  – what inspired the design?

    I was stoked when Lucy asked me to be involved in this for TDF Open House. I’ve never created artwork for a car before, so there were a few new things to consider!

    My work is very simple and bold, and so we decided to go for a summery jungle-esque theme.  It’s almost channelling a botanical Matisse vibe, crossed with giant-sized stickers!  I really enjoyed using a new colour palette, and I like the way the rhythm of the leaves changes across different sections of the car.

    What are you looking forward to?

    Experimenting with my artwork across lots of new products and most of all – seeing what summer in Melbourne looks like!

    Look out for our friendly little Fiat 500 on the streets of Melbourne this week – chances are it’ll be me or Lisa behind the wheel!  

    And of course, you’ll be able to see our sweet ride person at The Design Files Open House in Collingwood, Melbourne Dec 4th – 7th! 

    Our custom Fiat 500, designed by Georgia Perry, for The Design Files Open House 2014.  Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins, shot on location at the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.


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    Shopping

    Hunting Collective by Hunting for George

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Today we introduce a unique collaboration involving 12 Melbourne creatives. ‘Hunting Collective’ is a project curated by  Lucy Glade-Wright and Jo Harris, proprietors of much loved local online store Hunting for George. The result is a collection of 12 one-of-a-kind decorated timber clocks, inspired by a partnership with Waverley Industries, a not-for-profit organisation which provides employment opportunities for local people with special needs.

    Hand painted clocks for ‘Hunting Collective‘, curated by Lucy Glade-Wright and Jo Harris of Hunting for George.  Photo – Jason Retchford.

    Hand painted clock by Melbourne painter/illustrator Sarah Hankinson for Hunting Collective.  Photo – Jason Retchford.

    Hand painted clock by Melbourne illustrator Laura Blythman for Hunting Collective.  Photo – Jason Retchford.

    Melbourne illustrator Laura Blythman creating her piece for Hunting Collective.  Photo - Bec Hudson.

    Hand painted clock by Melbourne illustrator Esther Olsson for Hunting Collective.  Photo – Jason Retchford.

    Melbourne illustrator Esther Olsson in her studio.  Photo - Clare Plueckhahn.

    Melbourne painter Kasper Raglus in his studio.  Photo - Clare Plueckhahn.

    Hand painted clock by Melbourne painter Kasper Raglus  for Hunting Collective.  Photo – Jason Retchford.

    We’ve long admired Lucy Glade-Wright and Jo Harris, the clever sibling team behind Melbourne-based online store Hunting For George. Since launching their popular online store in 2010, they’ve gone from strength to strength. What started as a quirky edit of homewares, accessories and gifts , has grown into a much broader offering – these days Lucy and Jo have extended their product range significantly, even launching their very own range of bedlinen.

    Today marks the launch of a new project, Inspired by Lucy and Jo’s recent partnership with Waverley Industries. ‘Waverley Industries are a not for profit organisation that support people in the community with disabilities, by providing employment’ explains Lucy.  ‘We reached out to Waverley earlier this year, as we’d often find ourselves painting and sanding clocks in the shed at midnight, and realised we weren’t really keeping up with demand. It was important for us to maintain the handmade quality of our clocks, and were thrilled when we met the team at Waverley and saw the amazing capabilities of their staff. We are now proud to say that all Hunting for George clocks are handmade in Melbourne by Waverley Industries’.

    To celebrate their new partnership with this local not-for-profit organisation, this month Lucy and Jo launch ‘Hunting Collective’ – a collaborative project which brings together 12 local creatives, each of whom have painted and/or decorated a timber clock, to be sold via online auction this month.

    ‘The Hunting Collective is a motley crew of creatives from a variety of different mediums’ explains Lucy ‘Each artist was given a blank Hunting for George clock and an open brief. All of the artists involved we admire and respect so much, so we just wanted to sit back and watch them create on their own agenda’.

    Lucy and Jo visited each artist during the project, keen to document the creative process. ‘For us, the most enjoyable part of these collaborations is meeting the artists involved and getting to know more about them’ explains Lucy. ‘When we met each artist in person we loved them even more. You so often hear their names and see their work in pictures and on social media, but it’s rare these days to be able to put faces to the names. We hope that through the Hunting Collective we can offer our audience a more personal encounter with each artist.’

    With a lineup including revered Melbourne artist Lucas Grogan, alongside talented illustrators Sarah Hankinson, Laura Blythman and Esther Olsson, designers Peaches & Keen and Pop & Scott, as well as photographer Clare Plueckhahn and many more, this one is well worth a look! (All artists are listed online here)

    You can bid online for your favourite clock anytime from today until midnight, Sunday November 30. The 12 very lucky winners will get to take home something truly unique – just in time for Christmas! (Agh, did I just say Christmas!?).

    Hand painted clock by Australian artist / illustrator currently based in Madrid, Diana Ellinger for Hunting Collective.  Photo – Jason Retchford.


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    Tasty Tuesday

    Rustic Pesto with Beans and Zucchini Salad

    Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin's Table

    There is so much to learn from Tamsin of Tamsin’s Table, aside from her delicious recipes !  Tamsin has amassed an incredible wealth of knowledge about growing her own fresh produce, and is so generous in sharing this wisdom. As a very inexperienced veggie-grower, I am all ears.  Today, I’ve learnt that ‘Dragon’s Tongue Climbing’ beans are the most tender and tasty, that it’s worth paying attention to the variety of basil you plant this summer (‘Genovese’ makes the best pesto, apparently) and that homegrown garlic can be ‘Glamour’-ous, not to mention delicious!  Who knew?!  Thanks Tamsin!

    Rustic Pesto with Beans and Zucchini Salad with homemade lavosh crackers, smeared with goats cheese and freshly picked nasturtiums.  Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    Rustic Pesto with Beans and Zucchini Salad with homemade lavosh crackers, smeared with goats cheese and freshly picked nasturtiums.  Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    Rustic Pesto with Beans and Zucchini Salad. Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    Tamsin makes her OWN Lavosh crackers.  Sorry, we didn’t have room to include this recipe, but they taste exactly like store-bought ones!  Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    This delicious dish was one of the stand out favourites from our Sunday Table lunches last summer. It is quick to make and there is absolutely nothing tricky about the technique, but as with so many simple dishes it is all about the quality and freshness of the ingredients, in particular, the garlic.

    One of my secret ambitions is to start a home grown garlic craze – not only is it one of the easiest and most space efficient things to be self sufficient in (a neighbour of mine harvested more than 100 heads from a single tractor tyre bed this year) but I believe that no other ingredient makes as big a contribution to the deliciousness of food. Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll never go back. If you can’t grow your own, go and see Matt and Lentil of Grown & Gathered and see if they will sell you some!

    As a crunchy accompaniment to this salad I like to serve it with lavosh crackers (depending on my mood I will make my own, though good quality store bought work just as well) with a marinated goats cheese spread with some edible flowers from the garden.

    Ingredients (Serves Four)

    For the rustic pesto with beans and zucchini salad

    • 2 small to medium sized Lebanese or Italian zucchini (or other pale skinned variety)

    • A generous handful of young and tender green beans (I use the heirloom variety 'Dragon's Tongue Climbing' – actually this is the only bean I grow these days; none of the other varieties come close to matching it in flavour, tenderness and productivity on our heavy soil. Plant some!)
    • 2 very generous handfuls of basil (Genovese if you have it growing in the garden; this variety makes the best pesto)
    • A large handful of raw almonds, the freshest you can find (they need to still be crunchy)
    • 4 or 5 large peeled cloves of new season garlic (our fave variety for this dish is 'Glamour')
    • Extra virgin olive oil
    • Sea salt
    • A lemon
    • Marinated goats cheese fetta or fresh goat’s milk curd

    For the lavosh and goats cheese side

    • A handful of good quality lavosh crackers
    • 150g pack of Meredith Dairy Chevre or similar
    • A few springs of fresh dill
    • Sea salt
    • Extra virgin olive oil
    • One fresh lime
    • Edible flowers such as naturtium, borage or radish flowers

    Method

    Cut the zucchini into thin matchsticks. Combine with the uncooked beans (no need to cook, or top and tail, if they are super fresh and tender), toss with a little lemon juice and set aside.

    Place the basil in a large mortar and pestle along with the almonds, the garlic, sea salt and about half a cup of the olive oil and pound until the almonds are broken up but still in pieces and the basil is crushed rather than pulped. It is important not to reduce the pesto to a traditional paste otherwise you will lose the sweetness that sits at the forefront of this dish. Check for seasoning and set aside.

    Mix half the pesto through the zucchini/bean mix and toss. Then add remainder of pest. You may need to add a little more olive oil. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the top, scatter small chunks of marinated goat’s milk fetta and a pinch of sea salt and gently toss through.

    I like pair this super green salad with a bit of crunch, mainly with some lavosh and a little chevre cheese spread I whip up.

    This is less a recipe than it is a flourish and the kind of thing you can easily adapt to suit your own tastes and garden ingredients. Place the chevre into a medium bowl and add a generous squeeze of the lime juice, a pinch of sea salt, the chopped dill, and a drizzle of olive oil. Combine well with a fork and taste to check the the flavours are in balance – the trick is not to go too heavy on the lime (this spread is best made a few hours before you want to use it so that all the delicious flavours have time to mingle – taste again just before you intend to serve). When ready to use, spread a little on a lavosh biscuit and top with an edible flower.

    This is the kind of thing I could eat all day long, and regularly do!

    Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table picking fresh nasturtiums for her salad.  Photo – Eve Wilson.


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  • 11/18/14--11:00: Louise and Martin McIntosh
  • Australian Homes

    Louise and Martin McIntosh

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    SUCH A GOOD ONE TODAY, people! Welcome to the incredible Melbourne home of Martin and Louise McIntosh, founders and owners of Outré Gallery in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.  If you know Outré, the mid-century styling, impressive art collection and eclectic details in this colourful family home will come as no surprise… these two passionate art and design aficionados certainly practice what they preach!

    The incredible mid-century Melbourne home of Martin and Louise McIntosh, founders and owners of Outré Gallery!  Pictured above, Louise and Martin’s front room / record room – ‘this is the room we use for ‘best’ says Louise!  ‘Martin will often play something from his large vinyl collection in here which opens to the dining area.  It’s a great space to sit with friends after a meal’.  Green Hans Wegner Papa Bear chair (Martin’s first furniture purchase in the early 1990’s and to this day still his favourite chair!’.  Salon hung artwork on the wall includes an early 1960’s original MAD magazine illustration, a 1953 abstract by Danish artist Mogens Lohmann, an original 1967 Men’s Adventure Surfing cover illustration, contemporary self portrait in top right by US artist Charles Schneider, and George Nelson Eye clock. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    View from the front room to the formal dining area. The clerestory windows, joinery and lights are all original to the house, one of the many design features which Louise and Martin originally fell for! On the walls hang favourite artworks including an original painting by Margaret Keane (who is the subject of the new Tim Burton movie “Big Eyes”) and a piece by US artist Shag, who Louise and Martin show at Outré Gallery. The open shelves house many of the pair’s favourite glass and ceramic pieces. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

     

    Martin’s AMAZING collection of American tiki mugs, proudly on display in the ‘Den’. These mugs have been collected over many years on regular trips to the US, as well as travels around the South Pacific including Hawaii and the Marquesas Islands.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    The Den!  Louise’s favourite room for the size and colour and atmosphere.  The timber lined ceiling is original, Louise and Martin added grasscloth wallpaper to the walls. Cushions on the couches are by Swedish designer Stig Lindberg.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    A corner of the master bedroom – Eames fibreglass shell chair and original Danish Harp chair by Jørgen Høvelskov, alongside original built-in vanity. Louise and Martin went to great lengths to make sure details such as the carpet and curtains were period appropriate to the house. ‘Small details like this are important to us – it can take a bit more work when renovating, but the results are worth it!’ says Louise. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Master bedroom detail.  ‘We rotate artworks behind the bed… the ballerina painting is a Swedish piece from 1959 that we originally bought for our new business, Gallery Midlandia, but is one of many pieces that may not make it into the gallery!’ says Louise.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    View from the kitchen towards the newer extension at the rear of the house. The kitchen and the new extension were both designed by local architectural firm Nest.  ‘We particularly love the use of a curved batten ceiling that Nest Architects designed to link the extension to the original home’ says Louise.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Above the kitchen table is a 1960’s Mexican slump glass light. On the walls is a Margaret Keane artwork, and a photo portrait of Colonel Sanders that was previously used in a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in the US. ‘Whilst we don’t really eat at the Colonel’s establishments, he’s our patron saint of cooking and overlooks us in the kitchen’ says Louise.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Louise and Martin have the most incredible collection of vintage glassware, ceramics, trinkets and ephemera.  ‘When renovating we made sure we’d have enough room to display lots of art, objects and books’ says Louise.  Pictured here, a piece by mid-century American surrealist Ken Stancin, and another by Derek Yaniger (both artists are represented at Louise and Martin’s gallery, Outré). Above those sit some Alexander Girard wooden figures, a Gus McLaren ceramic lion, and various ceramics by Louise and Martin’s kids, which take pride of place amongst the other artworks and objects.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Kids bathroom, part of the new extension designed by Emilio Fuscaldo of Nest Architects. ‘We wanted a King Neptune theme and colour, and think we pulled it off!’ says Louise. ‘Emilio suggested we take the tiles right up to the ceiling and I’m really glad that we did, as it makes the room seem a lot bigger’.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Louise and Martin’s rather incredible mid-century inspired courtyard garden, with a beautiful maple, various succulents and a tea tree fence. ‘When we did work on our house we were always quite sure on what we wanted and liked. however when it came to our garden (an essential element to any mid century home) we were less than knowledgable’ says Louise. Luckily, the pair came across local landscape designer Matthew Bowers (aka The Modernist Gardener) who transformed their garden!  ‘Matthew knows his stuff and is also a keen mid century aficionado. We love everything about the garden now and were thrilled when we had this tea tree fence built – this is a nice mid century detail common in many Australian homes of the era’ says Louise.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Martin and Louise McIntosh of Outré Gallery at home. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Front garden and separate guesthouse, designed by local architect Emilio Fuscaldo of Nest Architects to complement the mid-century style of the main house.  ‘We regularly have interstate family, friends or visiting artists come and stay so it is often full’ says Louise. ‘Essentially it’s just a bedroom with ensuite, but we had a chance to do something really fun here, and Emilio indulged our folly… as this sits within our front garden we wanted something that could be both functional but also be something we liked to look at’. Inspired by mid century Australian designer Gordon Andrew, the facade is series of colour-backed glass panels with a slight slope to the roof.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Martin and Louise McIntosh live in this amazing mid century home in Melbourne’s North Eastern suburbs with their two kids April and Edward, and much loved dachshunds Parker and Fritz.  If you know their business, Outré Gallery, it will come as no surprise to learn that the McIntosh family home is filled with mid-century inspired details, artwork by Shag and other popular lowbrow artists, alongside an eclectic range of collectibles such as tiki mugs, mid century ceramics and glassware and much more.  With popular galleries in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, this month the pair have opened their latest venture, Gallery Midlandia in Collingwood, a vintage store which extends their appreciation for mid century design, selling a range of furniture, lighting and artwork from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

    Martin and Louise’s home was originally designed by architects Godfrey, Spowers, Hughes, Mewton & Lobb, and built in 1964 for a doctor who practiced from the house.  The pair purchased the home twelve years ago from the original owner’s daughter, and apart from kitchen, which was updated in the 1980’s, the house was in entirely original condition. ‘It was so well built and done we made sure didn’t mess with it’ says Louise!

    Four years ago, Martin and Louise decided to tackle an extension / renovation, with the assistance of local architect Emilio Fuscaldo of Nest Architects.  Keen to create additional rooms (kids bedrooms, a playroom, an additional bathroom and guest bedroom) that were sympathetic to the era of the original house, Louise and Martin were thrilled with the results. The add-ons are almost indistinguishable from the original building, especially the separate guest house in the front garden, inspired by mid century Australian designer Gordon Andrew, with its facade of colour-backed glass panels. ‘We wanted something that was sympathetic to the era of the original house, and the collaboration with Nest was perfect for our requirements’ says Martin.

    Alongside the impressively preserved mid century features of the home, it’s worth noting just how special (and perfectly era-accurate!) the garden is.  After a fortuitous meeting with landscape gardener Matthew Bowers aka The Modernist Gardener a few years ago, Martin and Louise embarked on a major redesign of their extensive garden and central courtyard. ‘When we did work on our house we were always quite sure on what we wanted and liked, however when it came to our garden (an essential element to any mid century home) we were less than knowledgable’ says Louise.  ‘Matthew knows his stuff and is also a keen mid century aficionado. We love everything about the garden now and were thrilled when we had this tea tree fence built in our courtyard – this is a nice mid century detail common in many Australian homes of the era’.

    Of course, in addition to all these beautifully considered design details, there is something to be said for simply having the most awesome collection of stuff.  Martin and Louise love brave colour and pattern, and though he attests he doesn’t really consider himself a ‘collector’, Martin has amassed an incredible collection of mid century art, objects, books and records since he was a teenager.  His Tiki mug collection is particularly impressive!

    ‘More is more for us!’ says Martin. ‘We like our house to be filled with objects and memories, have things on show and this means stuff – a minimalist all white house is not for us… we are obviously fans of the mid-century aesthetic in terms of materials and form, and we are not afraid of colour!’

    Huge thanks to Martin and Louise for sharing their very special home with us today!  If you like their style, do check out both Martin and Louise’s businesses – Outré Gallery in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, and their brand new mid century store Gallery Midlandia, which opened just this week in Collingwood, Melbourne!

    Another view of the Den!  Louise’s favourite room for the size and colour and atmosphere.  The timber lined ceiling is original, Louise and Martin added grasscloth wallpaper to the walls. A favourite artwork here (top) is by illustrator Mort Künstler and was done for an early 1960s Men’s Adventure magazine cover. Cushions are by Swedish designer Stig Lindberg.   Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.


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  • 11/19/14--11:00: Emi Ueoka · O! Paper Series
  • Shopping

    Emi Ueoka · O! Paper Series

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Melbourne based illustrator Emi Ueoka launches her first range of greetings cards this week, just in time for the festive season. Featuring Emi’s distinctive delicate line drawings, this playful stationery range is entitled ‘O! Paper’.

    O! Paper‘ cards and stationery by Melbourne illustrator Emi Ueoka, launching today!

    O! Paper‘ cards and stationery by Melbourne illustrator Emi Ueoka, launching today!

    O! Paper‘ cards and stationery by Melbourne illustrator Emi Ueoka, launching today!

    O! Paper‘ cards and stationery by Melbourne illustrator Emi Ueoka, launching today!

    O! Paper‘ cards and stationery by Melbourne illustrator Emi Ueoka, launching today!

    O! Paper‘ cards and stationery by Melbourne illustrator Emi Ueoka, launching today!

    O! Paper‘ cards and stationery by Melbourne illustrator Emi Ueoka, launching today!

    Earlier this year we introduced Japan-born, UK-educated, Melbourne based illustrator Emi Ueoka, whose distinctive delicate line drawings have earnt her commissions from clients including The New York Times and The New Yorker, Bloomberg, and a little closer to home, Readings bookstore!

    This week, Emi launches her first range of greetings cards, just in time for the festive season.  Entitled ‘O! Paper‘, the range explores a more imaginative side of Emi’s drawings. ‘the series is dreamier and more playful than my editorial and personal work, with more elements of fantasy – but still mostly girls!’ says Emi!

    Keen to ensure the range has a ‘personal touch’ without appearing overtly handmade, Emi hand cuts and folds all her 100% cotton cards. The illustrations are then also screen printed by hand at her studio.  Top effort!

    ‘I’ve been wanting to make greeting cards for a long time and I’ve been working with O! Paper in mind for about a year’ explains Emi.  ‘With the production I’ve tried to incorporate a balance of techniques. I hope the results feel gentle, sweet and fun.’

    O! Paper cards are priced at $5.50 each, and can be purchased online here, or at the official launch party this evening at The Good Copy in Collingwood, Melbourne!

    O! Paper by Emi Ueoka Launch Party
    Thursday Nov 20th, 6.00pm – 8.00pm (tonight!)

    The Good Copy
    27 -29 Johnston st
    Collingwood

    O! Paper‘ cards and stationery by Melbourne illustrator Emi Ueoka, launching today!


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  • 11/20/14--11:00: Anna Varendorff
  • Interview

    Anna Varendorff

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Melbourne based  Anna Varendorff is both a jeweller and a sculptor.  She studied fine art at Monash University, but was always drawn to the jewellery department, acquiring metalworking skills which she now uses to create jewellery, brass sculptures and large scale installations. Most of Anna’s working week is spent at her jewellery bench in Melbourne’s iconic Nicholas Building, where we recently photographed her at work.  We’ll be including a small selection of Anna’s brass sculptures within the lineup at The Design Files Open House in Melbourne in two weeks time!

    Melbourne sculptor / jeweller Anna Varendorff in her Melbourne studio. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    Brass sculptures by Anna Varendorff in her Melbourne studio. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    Anna at work in her Melbourne studio. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    Details from the studio of Melbourne jeweller and sculptor Anna Varendorff. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    Anna at work. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    Details from the studio of Melbourne jeweller and sculptor Anna Varendorff. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    Details from the studio of Melbourne jeweller and sculptor Anna Varendorff. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    Details from the studio of Melbourne jeweller and sculptor Anna Varendorff. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    Details from the studio of Melbourne jeweller and sculptor Anna Varendorff. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

     Anna Varendorff‘s striking angular brass sculptures first crossed my path in the window of my most favourite little florist shop, Cecilia Fox.  I was in there earlier this year, having a meeting with amazing Mel Stapleton (Mel is the florist who owns Cecilia Fox, Cecilia Fox is not an actual person, I know slightly confusing) and brainstorming ideas for flowers and styling for our wedding.  I spied Anna’s beautiful brass sculptures, which were on display in the shop at the time… and I knew in an instant that we had to incorporate them somehow!  Mel ended up using a number of Anna’s geometric handcrafted brass pieces for the event, interwoven with soft foliage.  It was spectacular.

    I can’t believe I just spent the opening paragraph talking about our wedding (aghh!) but it’s relevant, because this was my first introduction to Anna’s creations.  Delicate and understated, there is a quiet magic to her work.

    Anna is both a jeweller and a sculptor.  She studied fine art at Monash University, but was always drawn to the  jewellery department, acquiring metalworking skills which she now uses to create both her jewellery and artwork. After gradating she started working for local jeweller Ari Athans, who became a friend and mentor, eventually inspiring Anna to pursue her own creative practice.

    These days, Anna’s output varies greatly in scale, from jewellery commissions to sculpture and interactive installations. Inbetween, Anna also works on various experimental projects in metal, which don’t fall into either jewellery or sculpture, under her a.c.v studio project, such as her Plant Props, stocked at Mr Kitly.

    Though the varied elements of Anna’s practice go hand in hand, on a day to day level they are quite separate vocations.  From Monday to Thursday each week Anna can be found in her jewellery studio in the Nicholas Building in Melbourne’ CBD, forming, soldering and sanding her wearable pieces.  Her larger brass sculptures are made elsewhere, in a bigger studio.  These objects are exhibited en masse, and are usually created as a collection, with a specific installation or exhibition in mind.

    Anna’s work can be purchased from various retailers and galleries across Melbourne including KuwaiiCraft Victoria,  Mr KitlyFranqueHappy Valley, Cecilia FoxWilliam Topp in WA and Fio Contemporary and  QAGOMA in Queensland, amongst others!

    We’re also thrilled to welcome Anna to The Design Files Open House this year – we’ll be including a small selection of her brass sculptures within the lineup in Melbourne in 2 weeks time!

    Tell us a little about your background – what path led you to becoming a sculptor/jeweller, what did you study, and to creating the style of work you are currently making?

    I went to art school immediately after high school, and I was drawn to the construction and techniques of the jewellery department. I didn’t make a lot of work for a few years after I finished my undergraduate degree, but then I started to work for Ari Athans who became a close friend and mentor. From Ari I learnt about establishing a personal language of techniques and methods of working, and how to focus.

    When I am making jewellery or making my brass sculptural objects I get to form materials, and to problem solve. I am interested in the outcome of these objects meeting a body – whether this is when the object is being worn, or when it is being encountered within a gallery, or in the life of the object beyond the gallery. The interaction which happens when someone wears jewellery is an act of deliberately combining an inanimate object with a body, and this combination is also considered in the interactive sculptural installations I compose.

    I make objects because I enjoy making, and also because when an object is handmade, it has something singular about it.

    How would you describe your work?

    I describe the various areas of my work differently, and I do make distinctions between them.

    My jewellery practice considers minimalist forms which can be worn.

    My sculptural practice is concerned with creating opportunity for encounters between objects, space and observer, and perceptual outcomes of these combinations.

    And I also have a lot of fun working on experimental projects in metal (mostly brass), which don’t fall into either jewellery or sculpture, under the a.c.v studio project, like my Plant Props for Mr Kitly.

    Can you give us a little insight into your creative process? What materials do you use? Is each work pre-planned or created very intuitively? How do you go about creating your three dimensional sculptures?

    I primarily work with silver, gold and brass in my jewellery making and brass, light, reflection and sound in my sculptural work. Making larger brass pieces, I borrow heavily from the construction methods of jewellery making. Hand forming, soldering and sanding are jewellery techniques that I use in making my larger brass objects.

    I make both my jewellery and objects with an idea of the form I want, but without precise measuring. I have worked with metal daily for years, so I just get to it without a lot of planning. I do think a lot about how the object will be encountered, about the end result.

    The brass objects I make are parts of larger installation works. These objects are exhibited en masse, and an audience encounters them as a field of 3D brass objects within a field of 2D shadows. These installations are always thought through to include lighting, space and object.

    How do you transition from jewellery to sculpture, and split your time between both practices?

    Currently I make my sculptural works in one studio, and my jewellery in another studio. I make myself available for appointments for jewellery commissions Monday to Thursday, and make my jewellery for the shops I stock around my appointments. And then I take blocks of time to make larger works. But I think/worry/plan a lot at the jewellery bench, because it is essentially slow and repetitive work. I would go crazy without Radio National to listen to – save the ABC!

    What does a typical day at work involve for you?

    I pretty much get up just so that I can have a coffee from one of my beautiful handmade cups by Tara Shackell or Leah Jackson.

    Then I check emails, and after that there is no real order to my day – making jewellery, meeting clients, delivering work, installing exhibitions, going to my job, whatever.. until dinner time, and then hopefully not too much work after that. If I can go for a swim I do. And I write lists on whatever is near me.

    Can you list for us 5 resources across any media that you turn to regularly for creative inspiration?

    1. Instagram is my current viewing habit.
    2. Radio National keeps me from ruminating while I sit, sanding and filling for hours at a time.
    3. Current Obsession is a journal of contemporary jewellery, available in hard copy from Gallery Funaki.
    4. iView, because I don’t own a TV and I need to know about the news I don’t want to know about.
    5. E flux journal.

    Which other local artists, designers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?

    Soooo many…Meredith Turnbull, Dylan Martorell, Haima Marriott, Tara Shackell, Cecilia Fox, Kristy Barber, Becky Suichen, Benjamin Portas, Kim Jaeger, and Sarah Trotter.

    And so many others…

    What is your proudest career achievement to date?

    My exhibition at Craft Victoria in 2013 called Things to Play With, which was an interactive installation where visitors could totally re-arrange the space. My partner Haima Marriott designed a touch responsive sound component for the work, so that beautiful resonance could be experienced as people interacted with the objects.

    And being included to exhibit and attend Collect at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2007, with the Australia Council and Adelaide’s Jam Factory was a totally overwhelming highlight.

    What would be your dream project?

    A large space and an appropriate budget to create an enormous follow up version of Things to Play With (2013).

    What are you looking forward to?

    Sleeping in, and my next trip to Japan.

    MELBOURNE QUESTIONS

    Your favorite Melbourne neighborhood and why?

    I love the part of East Brunswick where I live, near CERES and along the Merri Creek. And I think wistfully of living in North Melbourne – it’s like a country town in the middle of a city, and with such great produce markets.

    Where and what was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

    Longplay, in North Fitzroy, has a small and awesome menu which I love to tuck into after one of their delicious drinks.

    Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

    I’m usually in the studio on Saturday mornings, before I head to Craft Victoria, where I am the shop girl on Fridays and Saturdays.

    Melbourne’s best kept secret?

    Is Beatrix a secret?? The most amazing cakes!

    Brass sculptures by Anna Varendorff in her Melbourne studio. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.


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  • 11/23/14--11:00: The Serene Series
  • Shopping

    The Serene Series

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    OK I know I’m prone to getting a little excitable whenever I discover a beautiful new product or collaboration involving local talented people, but believe me when I say that today the EXCITEMENT LEVELS are at all all time high. I’m proud as punch to launch this very special collaboration – The Serene Series, an exclusive range of handmade tableware and vases, created by Robert Gordon Australia especially for The Design Files Open House 2014!

    The Serene Series vases, created by Robert Gordon Australia exclusively for The Design Files Open House 2014!  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    The Serene Series vases and plates, created by Robert Gordon Australia exclusively for The Design Files Open House 2014.  The vases we’ve done only in blue, whilst the plates come in either blue or green colour ways.  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Kate Gordon (to the right) and glazer Sally at Robert Gordon Australia, glazing our plates (the process takes two people).  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    One of our plates, mid-glaze! Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Various moulds in the mould-making room at Robert Gordon Australia. Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Glauco the mould-maker hard at work, at Robert Gordon Australia. Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    These are the forms for our vase moulds!  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    The vase making process – very labour intensive! Here is Kate, Dave and Frank hand pouring the glaze and slip into the vase mould.  Do not try this at home, kids!  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Vase making process.  Kate pours the glaze into the vase mould.  Do not try this at home, kids!  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Glazes plates and vases waiting for firing. Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Serene Series vases after firing – the vases are matte on the outside, making them slightly more muted in colour than the plates in this series.  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Just a few of the Robert Gordon Australia team who have worked on our collab!  From left, me (!), Glauco (mould maker), Frank (fettler), Sally (glazer), Dave (maker) and Kate Gordon (designer) on the far right. GO TEAM! Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    After we profiled Robert Gordon Australia back in February this year, I instantly warmed to the amazing Gordon family, who, aside from being super talented and passionate about their business, are also just the nicest and most generous, lovely people. I knew we had to do something together!

    Robert Gordon Australia is one of the last remaining production potteries in Australia. From their factory in Melbourne’s Pakenham, the Gordon family and their staff of just over 35 people stock over 3000 independent retailers in Australia, the U.S.A, Canada, U.K and New Zealand.  They also create custom tableware for some of Melbourne’s best known restaurants, including Vue de Monde, George Calombaris’ Gazi and many more.  We are truly SO LUCKY to have a prolific, creative and forward thinking manufacturing business like this in Melbourne!  We would all be eating on very boring plates otherwise.

    Anyway, it was an absolute dream to work with Kate Gordon and her team, and to gain a first hand insight into the inner workings of this inspiring local business. Together, we created The Serene Series, a unique range of platters, plates and vases, developed over many months of meetings, emails, phone calls and problem solving!  After profiling beautiful handcrafted product day in, day out, it was truly amazing to be so closely involved in the development of a product range myself… it was a dream come true, to be honest!

    Kate Gordon is head of design at Robert Gordon Australia, and taught me so much about the processes and challenges of the slip casting and glazing process.  The unique ‘swirl’ effect on these plates took weeks of testing to perfect – each plate is glazed by two people – one pours the colours, in lots of two, while the other expertly swirls the glaze to make the patterns.

    Creating the vases was another challenge entirely!  Our three large vases were developed from scratch, using brand new moulds created especially for this collaboration.  ‘The vases were firstly hand thrown, then modelled, then moulded – a process which took three weeks’ explains Kate. ‘We then worked against our usual production techniques and developed a coloured casting slip’.

    The incredible wave-like patterns on each vase are the result of endless experimentation and a unique glazing process.  Essentially, the glaze is poured into the empty mould first, a process which requires three people working together. Kate carefully pours 3 different glazes (deep blue, a lighter blue, and clear) into the mould from the top, whilst her team rotate and rock the heavy mould from side to side on a turntable to ensure the various layers of glaze coat the inside of the mould.  Next, the liquid clay is poured in, this is what will form the actual vessel.  When the vase is set, the mould comes off, and the patterns are revealed. It is a miraculous process!  No two casts ever come out the same.

    ‘Although the finished pieces are very reminiscent of forms found in nature (smoke, clouds, water, mountains) the actual concept is inspired by the process’ says Kate. ‘It is the pouring, swirling, and splashing of the slip and glaze that determine the end result’.

    We are THRILLED to be able to launch our beautiful Serene Series at The Design Files Open House in Melbourne next week.  We hope you love them as much as we do!  Plates are priced at 33.00 (side plate), $59.00 (dinner plate) and $89.00 (platter), whilst the vases start at $155 for the smallest size and $209 for the largest.  This range is exclusive, and will not be available anywhere else, ever!

    For more about the amazing Gordon family and their inspiring business, please re-visit our original post here!

    The Design Files Open House
    Collingwood, Melbourne
    (Address to be revealed soon!)

    Thursday Dec 4th – Sunday Dec 7th
    Open 10.00am – 5.00pm each day

    The Serene Series vases, created by Robert Gordon Australia exclusively for The Design Files Open House 2014!  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.


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  • 11/24/14--11:00: The Goughs
  • Family Portrait

    The Goughs

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Today we introduce another thriving family-owned design and manufacturing business, as part of our monthly ‘Family Portrait’ series.  Meet the Gough family, who own and run St Albans knitting mills in Huntingdale, in Melbourne’s South East.

    Mohair Throws and Blankets by Melbourne knitting mills St Albans, on display in their Huntingdale factory and headquarters. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    The Gough Family of St Albans in their Huntingdale factory.  From left – Peter and Gill Gough (Company Directors and ‘Mum & Dad’!), Richard Gough (Managing Director) and
    Camilla Gough (Colour/trends).  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    St Albans in their Huntingdale factory.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    The Gough family in their Huntingdale factory.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    St Albans‘ staff at work in the Huntingdale factory.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    St Albans‘ staff at work in the Huntingdale factory.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    Design design at St Albans‘ headquarters.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

    St Albans has been in operation since 1951, though the Gough family have been at its helm since 1968, when LS Gough bought the business. Originally known  as ‘St Albans Textiles’, the company initially operated as an import company, bringing in finished mohair goods from the UK. The brand started manufacturing in Australia in the early sixties, and expanded their  output over the following 40+ years, over three generations.  Today, the company is run by Richard Gough (grandson of LS Gough), under close watch of his parents, Peter and Gill!

    ‘Dad had a variety of other small companies, but St Albans was the foundation of everything’ explains Richard.  ‘When I joined we decided to solely concentrate on textiles. This was primarily because Dad and I simply enjoy it!’.

    Today, the company employs 12 people, and from their factory in Huntingdale, design an impressive range of natural fibred products, including mohair and woollen throws and blankets, and alpaca scarves and throws. Many of the products are made here, whilst others are designed by the St Albans team and made overseas.  The company is perhaps best known for their beautiful mohair blankets, woven in a factory owned and operated by St Albans in South Africa, where most high quality angora mohair originates.  Their mohair blankets are available in the most incredible range of colours!

    St Albans’ beautiful woven blankets and throws can be purchased in their online store, their factory outlet, and also at Myer, David Jones, and many independent retail outlets across the country. St Albans also creates an extensive range of specially commissioned private label products for clients including Jardan and Gorman. (You might recall their partnership with Gorman last winter – those incredible vivid neon mohair blankets!).

    The Gough family incorporates Peter and Gill Gough (Company Directors, also known as ‘Mum & Dad’ !), their son Richard Gough – Managing Director, and his partner Karen Gough (structure/process) as well as his sister Camilla Gough, who is a respected Melbourne jeweller, but works with her brother on colour and trend forecasting for the business.  Another of Peter and Gill’s daughters, Elizabeth, has recently moved back to Melbourne, and works as a teacher.

    THE GOUGH PARENTS ON THEIR KIDS

    What were your kids like growing up, did they always have creative flair?

    Camilla, our youngest showed the greatest creative flair with her love of drawing and making things from a very early age. She followed this passion through to studying fine art and sculpture at Victorian College of the arts, and then onto jewellery.

    We owned a large Victorian house with a wonderful garden and back stables that Peter converted into a workshop. The old house was always in need of upkeep, which was largely done by Peter and the kids in tow! The kids all mucked about with Peter in the workshop learning how to use tools and make things.

    The ‘Mill’ (factory) was a big part of the children’s life; they spent many hours out at the mill with us. I remember laying out yarn colours for new rug designs on the office floor with the kids! Richard and Camilla particularly displayed a keen interest in colour from a young age.

    What are you most proud of when it comes to your kids?

    All three are strong independent people and have forged quite different careers, which makes for interesting family dinners! From running a family business together they have remained close to us and we have remained active in their lives. They work hard and care for their families and friends. Our pride for them is witnessing their success and happiness in life.

    Did you ever anticipate your children would contribute to the family business?

    Richard thrilled us with his interest in entering the family business. We felt it was important for the kids to shape their own future, so we didn’t actively push them to join us. Running family businesses requires extraordinary patience, particularly as the mantle is passed down from one generation to the next. Manufacturing, design and advertising has changed dramatically in the last 15 years and Richard has grasped these changes breathing new life into the business.

    The design market is very different from when Peter and I ran the business; it is a global market now, and requires flair and confidence to succeed. Richard has been able to take our product into this new world stage beautifully, and it has been an amazing experience stepping away and watching him and the company flourish in a way that we couldn’t foresee.

    Camilla assisted Richard in the early years of his involvement, consulting on colour and styling his shoots. Richard now has a team helping him create his vision! The business forecasts colour trends, which is a far cry from us and the kids laying out colours ideas on the office floor! It can be a burden for a child to take over a family business, and we were conscious of the pressure it would bring on them and the family dynamic. The most important thing is to eventually give the child who wishes to enter the family business creative autonomy, so the business has a chance to evolve with their vision and the marketplace demands.

    RICHARD GOUGH ON his Parents

    How have your parents influenced what you’re doing today?

    My Father and Mother have been extremely supportive , accepting new directions and products. My Father is very willing to embrace change in any form and has always supported me .

    My parents work ethic and honesty is amazing. They have always treated everyone equally and welcome people with open arms. They believe that nothing is impossible and always take pride in what they do. Dad’s famous line is ‘do every thing once, properly’. They have always encouraged creativity and solid business partnerships.

    What memories do you have of the family business in your younger years?

    With both parents working at the mill , I spent many hours out there. Dad was very hands on, and there was always a job to be done. I remember all the staff over the years especially the amazing mix of cultures. Lunch time was always a surprise to see what everyone was eating. They always wanted to share their meals with me.

    I was always amazed by the sheer size, noise and smell of the old machines. Watching the weavers and finishers doing their craft with such pride and skill. It was great fun and so much was going on all the time, and I was never bored. I’m sure I always got in the way of the workers but I had to be part of everything. When my sisters were out there with me we would play ‘hide and seek’ for hours, on many occasions falling asleep on piles of mohair fabric.

    Richard Gough at St Albans‘ Huntingdale headquarters.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.


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    Tasty Tuesday

    Asparagus Risotto with Vanilla Bean and Lime Stock

    Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin's Table

    SO SAD today to say farewell to Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, after the most inspiring month of recipes and beautiful photographs of Tamsin’s idyllic farm life in Poowong East, Victoria.  For her final instalment, Tamsin shares a delicate vegetarian risotto in which her homegrown, freshly picked asparagus is the star ingredient. HUGE THANKS to Tamsin for sharing her world and her wisdom with us this month, I hope we can visit again sometime!

    Asparagus Risotto with Vanilla Bean and Lime Stock.  Recipe by Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, picking new season asparagus from her garden. Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Freshly picked asparagus in Tamsin’s garden. Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Tamsin’s freshly baked bread. Styling – Lucy Feagins, photo – Eve Wilson.

    Along with freshly picked broccoli, asparagus cut ten minutes before you intend to eat it is one of the revelations of the backyard patch. It is so sweet and tender that we rarely cook it – it seems a shame to – so we tend to use it in salads, or add it just before a dish is served so that it is warmed through by the residual heat but remains crisp and crunchy. Because we don’t buy fruit or veggies, but live from what we grow here on the farm, I can tell you there is real joy in kneeling down to cut the first of the new season spears, and this risotto recipe is a tribute to that feeling, and a celebration of the abundance that late spring has to offer.

    This is not a traditional risotto recipe mainly because I wanted the sweet and delicate asparagus to be right at the forefront, surrounded by flavours that were tangy, tasty, fresh and light. For the same reason there is no meat stock but instead a few cupfuls of tank water with a few aromatic bits and pieces added. However cooking with the seasons is all about letting your ingredients lead the way – so feel free to improvise with whatever you have to hand.

    Ingredients (Serves Four)

    • A small brown onion, chopped
    • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
    • Around 85g unsalted butter
    • A cup and a half of carnaroli (preferably) or other risotto rice
    • A slug of dry sherry (Chamber’s Flor Apera is inexpensive and great to have on hand for cooking)
    • Two strips of lime zest
    • A used vanilla bean
    • A nice big bunch of the freshest asparagus you can find, chopped into 10 cm lengths and separated into tips, stems and ends 
    • A small handful of raw almonds, roughly pounded in a mortar and pestle
    • Two lemons
    • A large handful of grated good quality parmesan cheese

    Method

    Saute the almonds in 10 grams or so of the butter, a little sea salt and a squeeze of lemon juice until nice and crunchy and set aside.

    Set a medium pot on the stove containing the ‘stock': a litre of water, the vanilla bean and the lime zest. Heat until simmering.

    Combine a very generous slug of olive oil and about 30g of the butter in a wide, shallow heavy bottomed saucepan along with the onion and a generous pinch of salt.  Cook over low to medium heat until the onion is softened (about five minutes) then add the rice and raise the temperature slightly.  Stir so that the rice is well coated and continue to cook until the edges of the rice look translucent and it smells a little nutty or toasted.

    Deglaze the pan with half a glass of the sherry, and stir until the liquid is almost completely absorbed.

    Start adding in the stock, one ladleful at a time, and stir until the liquid is in large part absorbed before adding the next ladleful.

    After ten to twelve minutes, start to test if the rice is cooked – you want it to be soft but with a little bite in the centre of each rice grain.  When you feel the rice is close to being ready, add the asparagus ends (hold back the tips and the more tender parts of the stems for now) and continue to cook until the rice is ready.  I quite like a stiffer style of risotto however adjust the stock to suit if you prefer something soupier.

    Remove from the heat, add the cheese and the remaining butter, as well as the juice of one of the lemons, and stir through.  Cover the pot and allow to sit for a minute or two.  Just before serving, add the remaining asparagus, and gently toss through, and check seasoning (you may need more salt and/or lemon juice). Serve with the sautéed almonds and a final squeeze of lemon juice.  Done!

    Gorgeous Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, with her daughter Martha on their farm in Gippsland, Victoria.  Photo – Eve Wilson.


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