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Australia's most popular design blog.

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    Australian Homes

    Amber Creswell Bell and Andy Bell

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Today we share a particularly special Sydney home.  Special, because it belongs to someone we (and you!) know – the delightful Amber Creswell Bell, our Sydney contributor (and brilliant writer for many other publications, including one of our faves, The Planthunter!).  Amber lives here in Turramurra on Sydney’s North Shore, in her beautiful 1960’s suburban gem, in the leafiest street I’ve ever seen, with her husband Andy, and their two kids Lulu (5) and Jude (3).

    The Turramurra, NSW home of writer Amber Creswell Bell (our Sydney contributor!) and her family.  Above – dining room looking through to loungeroom beyond. Dining chairs are vintage Thonet Bentwoods, artwork is by Michele Morcos. green and white stools from Green Cathedral, hanging plants are Devils Ivy and Philodendron. Plant on stool is Mother In Law’s Tongue. Plant at rear is Fiddle Leaf Fig! Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files

    Dining table detail.  Artwork by Olivier Rasir. Flowers are perfect coral-coloured Geraniums!  Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files

    Looking from dining area to back porch.  Green and white stools are from Green Cathedral. Clock from Yellow Bungalow in Bondi. Dining chairs are vintage Thonet Bentwoods. Sofa on deck is 2-piece Art Deco pretzel cane lounger. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files

    Love love LOVE Amber’s beautiful, bright and very orderly kitchen!  On wall Amber has displayed African Tonga baskets from Orient House. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files

    Loungeroom.  Custom made sofas, table is an Eames Molded Plywood Coffee Table bought at auction. Rug is an 80 year-old Beni Ouarain from Kulchi  – Cassie of Kulchi is Amber’s step-sister.  (Lucky!) Vase on coffee table made by Amber’s Great Uncle. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Pretty details on the mantle.  Photo art print by photographer Ryann Ford (part of her ‘The Last Stop: Vanishing Relics of the American Roadside’ series). The hanging plants are potted Hoyas, sitting in Alvar Aalto vases. The small ceramic dish was bought from a beautiful middle of nowhere antiques dealer. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Loungeroom.  Custom made sofa.  Artwork on left and right is by Ali Wood. Artwork in centre by Sandi Rigby. Table is an Eames Molded Plywood Coffee Table bought at auction. Rug from Kulchi. Copper bowl on top of bookshelf is the Tom Dixon Hex Bowl. Cushion on left is F. Schumacher ‘Chiang Mai Dragon’ fabric in Mocha. Cushion on right is Christopher Farr ‘Brisa’ . Black and white stripe in an Ikea fabric. On table is Alphabet Family Journal which Amber says is ‘a REALLY GOOD READ – and I was also very lucky to be a contributor!’. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Loungerom details.  Sofa is custom made. Lamp from Orient House. Orange vase is vintage German pottery bought on Ebay filled with orange Crucifix orchids. Artwork is by Ali Wood. Potted plant is a baby Monsteria in pot from Garden Life. Brass vessels have been in Amber’s family ‘forever’. Table is a vintage Bentwood bar table. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Master bedroom detail.  Vintage Danish chair bought on Ebay. Cushion was one of 3 gifted to Amber from Juliette and Sarah-Jane from Arent&Pyke (made with Christopher Farr ‘Brisa’ fabric from Ascraft Textiles). Pot stand is from Mr Kitly. Various vessels on dresser from Mud Australia, Marmoset Found, Dinosaur Designs and Country Road . Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Master bedroom detail.  Manhattan print from Yellow Bungalow in Bondi. Cushion made with Christopher Farr ‘Breakwater’ fabric from Ascraft. Bedside is a painted stool. Vase with Hydrangea is vintage German pottery, Ikea lamp. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Lulu’s bedroom.  Beautiful quilt handmade by Amber’s sister Jade. Basket on wall bought by Amber on trip to Santa Fe. Rabbit plate on wall from West Elm. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Outdoor eating area on back porch.  Sofa is vintage 2-piece Art Deco pretzel cane lounger. Plant by sofa is small Fiddle Leaf in Rubber Planter from Garden Life. White snowball viburnum flowers on the table are from Amber’s neighbour Ron, who is ‘the world’s best neighbour!’ according to Amber (aww!). Climber on railing is a 25-year old Stephanotis vine, about to explode in flower! (Amber doesn’t love the railing, but can’t bear to tear down the vine!). Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Back porch.  Sofa is vintage 2-piece Art Deco pretzel cane lounger. Cushions are made with F. Schumacher ‘Chiang Mai Dragon’ fabric in Blue. Plants are sitting on Kulchi Hobbs table. White chair is from Ikea. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Amber (reluctantly) poses for a quick portrait on her front porch!  Exterior house colour is Dulux ‘Oolong’ (charcoal). Dulux ‘Natural White’ trims and Dulux ‘Lickedy Lick’ door!  Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Street frontage. Exterior colour Dulux ‘Oolong’ (charcoal). Dulux ‘Natural White’ trims and Dulux ‘Lickedy Lick’ door!  Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    This is the home of Amber Creswell Bell and family, in Turramurra on Sydney’s North Shore.

    AMAZINGLY, Amber and co have been here less than one year.  CANNOT believe this!  They have done SO much already to beautify and ‘home-ify’ their gorgeous rambling pad.  Take note, people, it is possible to do a LOT in that first year, and in my own experience, it really is worth doing as much of the cosmetic stuff as you can in the first 12 months, because the most hideous things become kind of invisible after that, and urgency goes out the window… and before you know it you’re living with cork floor tiles and olive green curtains for like, 5 years.  Time flies.

    Anyway, I am always in awe of those people who rip things out and get the painters in on the day after they get the keys to their new home, and Amber is certainly one of those people!

    ‘When we bought this house it was originally a celebration of beige, cream and olive’ explains Amber. The day after settlement, Amber and Andy had 15 (!) painters on site, and not one surface went unpainted. ‘We painted the entire exterior a dark charcoal (Dulux ‘Oolong’) with white trim, and absolutely everything inside was painted Natural White. And the front door was painted peony pink (Dulux ‘Lickedy Lick’) – with a view to changing the door colour annually!’ says Amber. ‘The paint scheme made an immediate and massive difference’.

    The pair also built a completely new kitchen, and ripped out what was a pokey kitchen window, replacing it with a big set of French doors that now open up from the dining area to the back deck. ‘Game changer!’ says Amber of this nifty decision.

    It was a big call for Amber and Andy to move out to Turramurra, 30 mins from central Sydney. ‘For all of my adult life I have been strictly ‘urban’ – Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, St Kilda in Melbourne, then more recently in Sydney’s Inner West’ says Amber, whilst Andy had moved to Australia from London. ‘NEVER did we think we would move to the North Shore – this was not part of the plan!’ explains Amber.

    But, with kids growing up fast, the family needed to upsize.  After putting their Annandale house on the market last year, the pair assumed they would simply buy something bigger in the same area. ‘We were not prepared for how fiercely competitive the Inner West auction scene was!’ recalls Amber.  ‘The auctions were like mosh pits. We just kept missing out, so we decided to keep an open mind. We were so exhausted!’

    In the end, Andy found this house online, and Amber headed out to check it out. ‘Sure – it was tired, and there was work to be done in every direction… but it was mid Spring, and there was something about all the green, the views, the smell of flowers on the breeze, the sound of birds, the big windows, the massive garden… the house got under my skin!’ Amber says. Luckily, it was to be theirs.

    Indeed, one of the home’s greatest drawcards is its generous gardens, both front and back, which have reignited in Amber a passion for gardening, fuelled by nostalgia for her childhood days in the lush green ‘garden belt’ suburbs of Sydney.

    ‘The garden here mostly had beautiful bones, but was a bit dry and neglected’ says Amber. ‘While the painters were on site I had 3 tonnes of soil and manure delivered and I literally (and rather obsessively) repaired and replanted the whole garden with all the plants that I love most’.  At last count, she has planted over 50 David Austin roses! It truly is the prettiest collection of slightly random plantings – ‘I just wanted a garden where I could pick flowers and never run out!’ Amber says.

    Looking ahead, Amber says ‘we absolutely needed to extend – but our first priority was to refurb the existing footprint, and then relax for a while!’  The family are now just getting a feel for how they want to live in this space, and what a renovation might mean.  All in good time.  Amber’s happy to leave that one on the back burner for a little while long – ‘To be honest, the thought of what the builders would do to my garden fills me with fear!’ she admits.

    Amber and Andy are firmly convinced that moving here was the best thing they have ever done. ‘The kids are always outside, riding their bikes or building fairy houses, and I really underestimated how much joy and inner focus the garden would bring me’ Amber says, contentedly.

    So, if you’re wishing and hoping for a new abode, and have suffered a few disappointments… maybe it’s time to look a little further afield!  They make excellent domestic coffee machine these days, people!

    For more about the journey of finding this house, you can also check out this sweet short essay Amber penned a little while ago for The Planthunter.  It’s like a beautiful love letter to the suburbs.

    ‘I just wanted a garden where I could pick flowers and never run out!’ says Amber of her rambling, flower-filled back garden.  Mission accomplished!   Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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  • 11/26/14--11:00: Porcelain Bear
  • People

    Porcelain Bear

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Porcelain Bear are designers Gregory Bonasera and Anthony Raymond. Partners in both life and in business, these two talented designer / makers combine state of the art 3D technology with a 300 year-old ceramic production method to produce their unique collection of tableware, innovative lighting and surprisingly robust porcelain furniture pieces for both indoor and outdoor use. They share a studio and showroom in Collingwood, Melbourne.

    Anthony Raymond and Gregory Bonasera, the designers behind Porcelain Bear.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    ‘I-O-N’ pendant lights  in basalt glaze by Porcelain Bear.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Porcelain Bear showroom in Collingwood, with ‘Palace’ porcelain dining table and Cloche translucent porcelain pendant lights above.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Pinch Pot Tableware by Porcelain Bear.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Details from the Collingwood showroom of Porcelain Bear.  ‘Percy’ the Porcelain Bear is Anthony and Gregory’s mascot!  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Details from the Collingwood showroom of Porcelain Bear.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    A loooong time ago we interviewed respected Melbourne designer and ceramicist Gregory Bonasera.  Gregory is a celebrated local craftsman, who completed his BA in Ceramic Design at Monash University back in 1988, followed by an Australia Council funded residency with Besozzo studio in Northern Italy.  He has been an independent designer & maker ever since, working in both metalwork and ceramics.  In the past decade, however, Gregory’s practice has significantly developed, after he went back to study Computer Aided Design (CAD).  Acquiring new skills in technology based design and production has presented countless new opportunities for Gregory’s practice, and has meant a significant turning point for his business.

    But that hasn’t been the only turning point!  Gregory met Anthony Raymond in 2009.  With a background in industrial design, graphic design, and visual merchandising, Anthony’s interests were closely aligned with Gregory’s, and the pair quickly became close friends and creative collaborators, before later becoming partners in both life and business.

    ‘In 2011, Anthony joined me for one day per week to help produce a complex heritage restoration job, re-creating over 400 decorative antique tiles for Scots’ Church in Collins St Melbourne’ explains Gregory. ‘We discovered that we worked well together; we’re both very hands-on, methodical thinkers and workers. Anthony picked up the techniques and methods very quickly, and it wasn’t long before he worked three, then five days per week with me’ explains Gregory.

    Previously, the label ‘Porcelain Bear’ had been a sub-brand for Gregory, who had generally worked under his own name for bespoke projects, whilst Porcelain Bear was used as a more commercial identity. ‘Once it was decided that Anthony was to become a permanent addition to the business, PB just naturally transitioned to become the identity for the whole business’ explains Gregory. ‘It’s a name that people connect well with, and we’re both bears, clearly…!’

    ‘The polar bear is our mascot’ says Gregory. ‘He’s white and represents strength, dignity, beauty, stability, determination but also fragility – he’s the perfect porcelain analogy.’

    Having forged a prolific creative partnership, together, Anthony and Gregory design and produce a impressive range of porcelain lighting, functional wares and furniture  (including the most amazing porcelain DINING TABLE – pictured above) from their studio and showroom in Collingwood.  Anthony works mostly in the production side of the business, whilst Gregory focuses on the glazing, firing & finishing.  The pair also design and produce porcelain components and product for various other local designers, such as their exclusive range for boutique Australian furniture manufacturer Jardan.

    Beyond simply designing beautiful things, Gregory and Anthony are passionate about pushing their medium, and people’s perception of it, into new territory.  ‘It’s important for us to take our craft to new places, both technically & aesthetically. We produce a lot of lighting but we also do fully functional porcelain stools and a dining table.. yes, it’s functional..!’ insists Gregory.  ‘We all walk on porcelain and stoneware tiles, we drop things on them constantly and they take it all without damage. We use porcelain vanities and toilet bowls every day without a second thought, rarely causing damage. A porcelain stool or dining table will last indefinitely indoors or outdoors – the material is UV proof and surprisingly robust’.

    Gregory and Anthony opened their beautiful showroom in Collingwood in earlier this year, but to accommodate their growing collection of larger porcelain designs, they have a ‘Stage 2’ opening planned for early 2015 – their showroom will almost double in size, and will accommodate various new designs launching very soon.  We’ll keep you posted!

    Porcelain Bear
    23-25 Derby St

    Showroom open 10.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday, or by appointment on Saturdays.

    Details from the Collingwood studio of Porcelain Bear.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

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  • 11/27/14--11:00: Stephen Giblett
  • Interview

    Stephen Giblett

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Today we introduce talented local artist Stephen Giblett – a painter whose haunting oil paintings depicting indistinct, ‘out of focus’ scenes reminiscent of digitised imagery.  We’re thrilled to present three exquisite new paintings by Stephen at our TDF Open House event in Melbourne next week!

    The studio of Melbourne artist Stephen Giblett, in the iconic Nicholas Building in Melbourne’ CBD.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Melbourne artist Stephen Giblett in his city studio.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Works in progress in the studio of Melbourne artist Stephen Giblett. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Melbourne artist Stephen Giblett in his city studio.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Details in the studio of Melbourne artist Stephen Giblett. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Details in the studio of Melbourne artist Stephen Giblett. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Details in the studio of Melbourne artist Stephen Giblett. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Details in the studio of Melbourne artist Stephen Giblett. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Earlier this year I went to the Westspace annual fundraiser exhibition in Melbourne, which brings together a pretty incredible and very varied collection of artworks donated by both established and emerging local artists, with all sales from the show benefitting this not-for-profit artist run space.  This annual fundraiser is a great opportunity to pick up a relatively inexpensive work by an amazing line-up of artists, all in the name of a great cause.  It was here I first discovered local painter Stephen Giblett – who had one incredible painting included in the show – a haunting out-of-focus portrait, in vivid mauve and pink hues, reminiscent of an infrared photograph, pulsating with buzzing energy.  The work instantly caught my eye from across the crowded  room… and couldn’t quite let me be!  I don’t know what came over me, but I did something quite out of character – I bought it on the spot.

    I didn’t know Stephen’s name before this unexpected encounter… but it wasn’t long before I found myself doing a little more research on this supremely talented Melbourne artist, who appeared, at least initially, to be almost entirely absent from the internet (not even a website… can you believe!?).

    The truth is, though he’s only in his early 30’s, Stephen is a decidedly ‘old fashioned’ artist.  I hope he won’t mind me saying that – I mean it in the most complimentary way!  For one thing, Stephen is fascinated (one might say obsessed!) with the archival quality and longevity of his painting materials. He favours real lead paints, handmade in the UK, for their superior archival qualities. This commitment points to something of Stephen’s unique personality, and his uncompromising attention to detail.

    Inspired by low resolution photographs and pixilated imagery, Stephen builds up his paintings with multiple translucent layers of oil paint, gradually creating fields of luminous colour,  which radiate from the canvas.  Figures are reduced to indistinct, blurry forms, whilst buildings and vegetation appear shrouded, almost ominous.  With a consistent fiery palette of oranges, vivid pinks, burning bright whites and ultra-violet tones, there is something truly mesmerising about Stephen’s work.

    Stephen holds a BA in fine arts from Monash University.  He was highly Commended in the John Leslie Art Prize in 2010,  and his first solo exhibition was staged in 2012 at Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale.  We’re thrilled to present three exquisite new paintings by Stephen at our TDF Open House event in Melbourne next week (you can view the works here!)

    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 have been making art for as long as I can remember. I used to draw a lot when I was a child, and I moved to photography when I was sixteen-years-old. I used to develop and process my own film and photographs in a darkroom that I made at home. I started painting soon after that, with the support of my sister and father, who were also trying to make work in one form or another. I guess art was something that I was born into, and the support of my family was the initial push.

    I have always combined elements of photography with painting in my work. I used to treat photography as some form of ideal ‘perfect image’, and I believed that replicating a photo with paint in exact detail was the highest form of art. But as I have matured as an artist, I have come to realise that a lot of photorealism is sterile and lifeless.  Now, I much rather prefer ‘imperfect’ painting, expression, composition, design and above all else – energy.

    In 2012, I had a conceptual shift in my work, and I ended up exploring photographs that were of a degenerate nature, referencing low resolution, blurry or pixilated imagery. I found solace in the absence of line created by this digital blur. My mind was forced to create, as there were no outlines, no definite forms, just fields of colour glowing and radiating next to each other. The speed and energy in which I was making work changed too. Imperfection became my new perfection, and I commenced ‘unlearning’ many skills.

    My most recent work has been painted entirely from my imagination – this is my next challenge.

    How would you describe your work?

    A bit like a song by Morrisey. I have always taken a liking to imagery that is ‘dark’ in some way. I have found in my life that great things have often come from bad things, so I’m usually grateful for anything that comes my way. It teaches you to realise that all things must change, and that the transitions are beautiful, whether it be a burning house or a wilted sunflower.

    My recent work has strong references to the technologies that we use in day-to-day life, mainly smart phones and the Internet. The themes in my work have often commented on the over-saturation of imagery through these mediums.

    Can you give us a little insight into your process? 

    Many people believe that my work is created with an airbrush, but this is not the case. My works are hand painted with a brush in oils. I’m very particular about the materials I use, I use only the best archival materials – Michael Harding oil paint and medium, and Claessens oil primed linen.

    Generally, each painting happens in a three-stage layering process.  The first coat is applied very thin, almost like a watercolour painting. I try to resolve basic colour and composition in this layer. I usually wait a week before adding each layer of paint, sometimes two weeks if the weather is cold or if it is humid. The second coat is fatter in oil content, and I usually apply the paint thickly and expressively, before removing excess paint with a coarse brush and leaving a residual image. The final coat usually glazes colours and unifies the picture surface.

    I work on an entire exhibition at once, and I don’t start any second layers until they are all blocked in. It’s important to see how the exhibition will look before you expend labour on something that may not work. It also allows adequate drying time for all works.

    All of my recent works have been pre-planned, however, the outcome may be completely different to what was intended – such is the joy of painting.

    What does a typical day at work involve for you?

    On my full studio days, I usually start working at around 10am. I spend the first half hour preparing colours and drinking coffee. I try to make sure that any administration, emails or phone calls are sorted before I start painting. I don’t like having anything that ‘I have to do’ on my mind. Uninterrupted painting sessions are the best way to guarantee a consistent paint layer, in terms of colour and energy. I usually attempt to get an entire layer of paint down on a canvas in a day, depending on the scale of the work. I try not to work beyond midnight, but occasionally I have to pull an all-nighter if I am working towards a deadline.

    For entertainment when I’m working, I usually listen to music, audio books or Radio National. Occasionally, I’ll visit my friend Tim Mcmonagle in his studio in Hosier Lane, or I’ll have a knock off drink at Hell’s Kitchen at the end of a session.

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

    1. Martial Raysse, The Exhibition, 2014, Centre Pompidou, Paris. I saw a recent Martial Raysse retrospective at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, and I have been continually looking to the catalogue/book for inspiration.

    2. Hockney’s Pictures, 2004, Thames & Hudson, London. I have enjoyed this book for a number of years and I always revisit the work of David Hockney, mainly to serve as a reminder of what an artist can actually get away with.

    3. Spieler, R. 2006, Franz Gertsch, Retrospective, Hatje Cantz, Germany. Another book that I continually revisit. I have an appreciation for photorealism and Franz Gertsch is one of my favourite artists.

    4. Popper, K. 1945, The Open Society and Its Enemies, Routledge, New York. A book that mixes sociology and philosophy and one that challenges many of my ideas about the world.

    5. Google Images. Sourcing images from online, low-resolution images, thumbnails, etc.

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

    My fellow neighbours and former studio mates from the Nicholas Building have influenced me over the last ten years and they continue to do so today. These painters include Tim Mcmonagle, Grant Nimmo, Fiona Mcmonagle and Amanda Marburg.

    What is your proudest career achievement to date?

    My first solo exhibition titled Plume at Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale, in 2012. It came about because I was Highly Commended for my work in the John Leslie Art Prize in 2010, and was subsequently offered an exhibition by the curator, Simon Gregg. It was great to have someone take a risk by exhibiting a relatively unknown artist. I exhibited at the same time as one of my favourite artists named Andrew Browne.

    What would be your dream project?

    I recently visited London and caught up with a friend of mine named Holly-Anne Buck. We discussed the idea of a collaboration and exhibition, but the distance between our two cities makes things quite difficult. I would absolutely love to paint this body of work overseas one day, and exhibit the work in London. This dream is completely possible, however we would like to exhibit these works at Gagosian – that’s the dream part.

    What are you looking forward to?

    I’m looking forward to starting some large-scale projects that I can work on at a steady pace for a longer period of time. Most exhibitions that I have created recently have been done in a three-month period from start to finish. In the past, I have been known to spend a lot longer working on each piece. It would be great to revisit this working practice, as well as continuing with my quicker studies.


    Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?

    I have lived in North Carlton in the Rathdowne Village area for seven years now and I’d have to say it’s my favourite neighbourhood in Melbourne. It is a quiet area, but it is central to many busy spots and it is close to the CBD. I love the Carlton Cemetery and Royal and Princes Park, which are close by. I can ride my bike to the city in fifteen minutes.

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

    The last great meal I had was at Bar Idda after an exhibition opening at The Alderman in Brunswick. I had pan-fried almond crusted fish with salsa verde and a lovely salad.

    Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

    My first stop is the studio at the Nicholas Building. I usually prepare a materials list of what I need for the next three days. Following this, I’m off to sell paint, as I am casually employed at a local art supplies store. I enjoy the slower pace of a Saturday morning as it allows me time to catch up on what I need for my own studio. I study pigments and other materials, talk to other artists and catch up with my co-workers. I have learnt a lot through this work environment, and I’ve met many great artists including Michael Leunig, Paul Ruiz and Ross Watson, amongst others.

    Melbourne’s best kept secret?

    Shandong Mama Mini in Centre Place is a new restaurant in the city. Fantastic food, but still relatively empty in the evening – for now.

    The studio of Melbourne artist Stephen Giblett. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

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  • 11/30/14--11:00: Rebecca Phillips
  • Art

    Rebecca Phillips

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    We don’t often venture beyond Australian shores, but New Zealand feels almost like home, and we just couldn’t resist sharing this exquisite work by young Wellington based painter, Rebecca Phillips.  We’re thrilled to have two of her beautiful works gracing the walls of The Design Files Open House in Melbourne later this week!

    After finishing high school, New Zealand based artist Rebecca Phillips initially commenced a design degree, followed by a short stint in textiles, before she finally found her calling and settled into a fine arts degree, majoring in painting.  ‘I never really had any idea where it would lead or if I would even become an artist, but I have been fortunate and have taken advantage of every opportunity that has come my way’ explains Rebecca.  ‘I am very much a person who doesn’t make plans, so for someone who just rolls with the punches, it’s all been working out quite well!’ she says.

    Clearly, Rebecca is inspired by nature, and enjoys visiting the botanical gardens in her home town of Wellington, especially the rose gardens.  Her latest works are these striking portraits of majestic, tall roses, rendered using thin layers of paint to create a sense of depth. ‘Seeing as my work is essentially made up of flat blocks of colour, my paintings could so easily end up looking a bit like prints, so I like to layer them in this way, to keep an element of painterliness’ the artist explains.

    Rebecca was nominated as a signature piece finalist at the New Zealand Art Show in both 2013 and 2014, which has been a huge career highlight for her so far.  She is looking forward to having solo exhibitions of her own one day soon, and having a studio outside of her flat!

    We’re so smitten with Rebecca’s beautiful works, we recently invited her to join the line-up for TDF Open House (happening later THIS WEEK people!) – we’re thrilled to have two of her beautiful paintings in the house!

    The Design Files Open House
    12 Smith st
    Collingwood, Vic

    Open this Thursday December 4th – Sunday December 8th
    10.00am – 5.00pm daily

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  • 12/01/14--11:00: Evie Group
  • Shopping

    Evie Group

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Young Sydney based designers Alex Gilmour and Dominic Chong launched their own design studio, Evie Group in 2010.  propelled early on by winning a Qantas Spirit of Youth Award, and undertaking an internship with Marc Newson in London, the pair are now responsible for a growing range of homewares, lighting and furniture.  We’re smitten by their stylish and versatile ‘Hex’ containers, with their clean geometric lines and perfect muted colour palette.  Melbourne readers will be able to see them in person at our TDF Open House event later this week!

    ‘Hex’ boxes by Sydney based design studio Evie Group.  Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    ‘Spun’ light by Sydney based design studio Evie Group.  Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    ‘Hex’ boxes by Sydney based design studio Evie Group.  Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    ‘Spun’ pendants lights by Sydney based design studio Evie Group.  Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    ‘Silhouette’ chair by Sydney based design studio Evie Group.

    Alex Gilmour and Dominic Chong of Sydney based design studio Evie Group.  Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    Young Sydney based designers Alex Gilmour and Dominic Chong met whilst both studying Industrial Design at UTS.  Often pairing up for group projects during their studied, it was a natural progression to launch their own design studio, Evie Group in 2010.

    Initially the pair launched with two tableware product ranges – their ‘Emily’ tea set and ‘Frederick’ glassware, both hand made in Sydney. With these designs, Alex won the Qantas SOYA award and an internship with Marc Newson in London, which propelled this fledgling Sydney design studio into the spotlight from very early days!

    Now working from a studio in Lilyfield in Sydney’s Inner West, Alex and Dominic are prolific in their output, designing and producing their own ranges of homewares, lighting, and furniture, sold online and via a range of retailers both within Australia and abroad.  In addition to this, Evie Group are also a design consultancy, offering product and graphic design services for big name clients including Microsoft and Woolworths.

    ‘We are inspired by the clean lines and simplicity of American modernism, Scandinavian and Japanese design’ explains Alex of her studio’s distinctive aesthetic. ‘We aim to design modern pieces that are elegant and hopefully timeless in their aesthetic. We look to use a combination of natural and machine made materials in our pieces, which is shown through our Hex boxes – combining handmade bamboo box with an aluminium lid’.

    Indeed, Alex and Dominic’s sweet ‘Hex’ storage boxes instantly caught our attention when we first spotted them via instagram earlier this year! With clean geometric lines and a deliciously muted colour palette which includes mint green, soft peach and rose gold, these stylish, functional containers are perfect for bedroom, bathroom and even desk organisation.  We’ll be showcasing a selection of these at our Open House event in Melbourne later this week!

    ‘Hex’ boxes by Sydney based design studio Evie Group.  Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

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    Tasty Tuesday

    Lemon Macadamia Tarts with Baked Peaches

    Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry

    Melbourne’s Belle Gibson is a mother, a wellness warrior, a visionary and a game changer.  She also happens to be living with terminal brain cancer, and she’s only 26.

    Back in 2009, not long after her diagnosis, Belle embarked upon a mission to heal herself through radically changing her diet and lifestyle.  Spurred on by a loyal community of instagram followers (204k at last count), Belle launched The Whole Pantry app in 2013 – a health and wellness app much loved for its delicious healthy recipes, and tastebud-tantilising photographs!  The Whole Pantry has been downloaded 300,000 times in just over a year (!), and  was named by Apple as Best App of 2013 in the Food and Drink category.  In an amazing coup, the app will come pre-installed on all Apple Watches when they are released next year.  OH and Belle also has a brand new book, titled The Whole Pantry, published by Penguin, out this month.

    I CAN’T BELIEVE we pinned this incredible and madly busy woman down for a Tasty Tuesday…!   I, for one, am a little starstruck.  We hope you enjoy Belle’s beautiful recipes this month – her book is available in bookshops now (and we’ll also have it at TDF Open House in Melbourne this week!).

    Lemon Macadamia Tarts with Baked Peaches.  Recipe by Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry.  Styling – Lee Blaylock, stylist assistant - Nat Turnbull, art direction – Lucy Feagins, photography – Eve Wilson.

    Ingredient for lemon macadamia tarts with baked peaches.  Recipe by Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry.  Styling – Lee Blaylock, stylist assistant - Nat Turnbull, art direction – Lucy Feagins, photography – Eve Wilson.

    Delicious baked peaches!  Recipe by Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry.  Styling – Lee Blaylock, stylist assistant - Nat Turnbull, art direction – Lucy Feagins, photography – Eve Wilson.

    Spooning each tart case with For the lemon macadamia filling.  Recipe by Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry.  Styling – Lee Blaylock, stylist assistant - Nat Turnbull, art direction – Lucy Feagins, photography – Eve Wilson.

    Some find it hard to differentiate the line between me (Belle) and what we do over at The Whole Pantry – the resourceful app-book-digital-wellness-community affair that I founded back in August 2013, after recognising a desperate need within my social media space need for a complete wellness, nutrition and lifestyle support-resource.

    I often get introduced as my business name or Instagram handle ‘Healing Belle’, which sometimes makes me giggle, as the world forgets I am simply me, more than a username, but really just a (super dedicated, crazy passionate!) woman behind an idea and movement.  Before my team and I launched The Whole Pantry, I was less than blessed, and surely didn’t have a job which included ‘eat dessert for breakfast’ on the job title or resume.

    Along my journey to health and finding my groove in the world, I’ve learnt a lifetime’s worth of lessons, and have cultivated a huge passion for functional foods, medicine, ancient healing and cultural traditions. Though I do see a distinction between my life and our TWP movement, a lot of what I have learnt along my own journey has become the foundation for how we encourage our community to live their lives – a philosophy which at its core is about getting back to basics, and encouraging you to live your whole life by eating a little better, moving your bodies a little more and doing it all with the best and simplest intentions.

    I’m not out to to convert anyone from one diet or label to another, but simply hope to inspire you to include more fundamental foods (fruits and vegetables) in your everyday cooking. Experiment a little and discover what works for your body at any given moment. That’s the aim – a nourished you and an earth that’s better off for it.

    I believe, and hope all of you are with me on this, if food is just food, then you should be able to eat whatever you’d like at whatever time of day you desire. Food is there to nourish us and share with the ones we love, including dessert. Dessert should be put back on the ‘allowed’ list and celebrated just as much as your green juice, herbal teas and fancy quinoa-asparagus-superfood-whatever salad. Dessert is food, and at TWP, we are here to encourage you to eat these Tasty Tuesday recipes whenever You feel like it!

    All of the recipes in our App and Book are not only sugar free, but free from gluten too.  This is a beautiful recipe to add to your repertoire. The coconut sugar gives the pastry a lovely caramel chewiness, yet just enough earthiness to offset the sweet tartness of the filling. While I love the baked peaches, you can top it with any fruit you like – try poached pears, caramelised apple, roasted plums or just a handful of fresh raspberries. I have to confess, I’ve been known to inhale a sneaky slice of leftover tart after breakfast, but I don’t feel guilty (and nor should you!)


    For the tart base

    • 130 g chickpea flour
    • ½ cup (60 g) almond meal
    • ½ cup (80 g) coconut sugar
    • 2 tablespoons macadamia oil

    For the baked peaches

    • 3 large peaches, halved, stones removed and cut into thick wedges
    • ¼ cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup

    For the lemon macadamia filling

    • 320g raw unsalted macadamias
    • ½ cup (125ml) almond milk
    • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
    • 2/3 cup (160 ml) lemon juice
    • 2-3 teaspoons tahini


    Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).

    Combine the chickpea flour, almond meal and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the oil and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Gradually add 1 tablespoon of water and use your fingertips to mix until the crumbs just come together. Divide the crumbly mixture evenly among 4 x 10 cm fluted loose-based tart tins. Spread the mixture evenly over the base and up the side of each tin and press gently to hold together. (Wet your fingers slightly if it’s too sticky.) The crust will be quite thin.

    Bake for 10–12 minutes or until just cooked through and beginning to change colour. Do not overcook or the pastry will become too firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before gently removing from the tins (this needs to be done while they’re still warm) and then leave to cool completely.

    For the baked peaches, place the peaches in a baking dish and pour over the maple syrup. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 5–10 minutes or until the peaches are slightly coloured and soft, but still holding their shape. Remove from the oven and set aside.

    Meanwhile, for the filling, blend the macadamias, almond milk, lemon zest, lemon juice and ½ cup (125 ml) water until smooth and very creamy. Add the tahini, to taste. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until required.

    Divide the lemon filling among the cooled tart cases and smooth the surface. Refrigerate for an hour to chill and firm slightly. Serve with the cooled baked peaches.

    Tip: The tart cases can be made a day ahead. Store in an airtight container until needed.

    Lemon Macadamia Tarts with Baked Peaches.  Recipe by Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry.  Styling – Lee Blaylock, stylist assistant - Nat Turnbull, art direction – Lucy Feagins, photography – Eve Wilson.

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    Australian Homes

    James Powditch and Diane Adair

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    ARTISTS have the BEST HOUSES.  I’ve said it before, I’m sure I’ll say it again… and there is really no better example than today’s incredible family home in Sydney’s Annandale, which belongs to artist James Powditch, his partner Diane Adair (a graphic designer), their two kids Ella (12 yrs) and Harry (8 yrs) – and cats, Tom and Jerry.

    The Annandale warehouse home of artist James Powditch, his partner Diane Adair and family.  Pictured here, the open plan dining / living area with mezzanine above, which opens out fully to the internal courtyard via the incredible ‘Renlita’ tilt door to the right.  Vintage 1950’s blue lounge, 3 metre long cowrie and steel industrial dining table. On stairwell, from left to right, an original 1967 Italian poster for ‘2001, a Space Odyssey’ and ‘Once Upon a Time there was the West II’ by James Powditch.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Artworks in living area, clockwise from left to right, by Luke Sullivan, Lucy Culliton, Paul Worstead and Peter Powditch (James’ father). Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Kitchen with dark formply cabinetry, Ilve cooktop, oven and range, off form concrete suspended benches. Artwork left to right by Ton Timmers and Graham Rendoth. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Looking out to the garden courtyard, across the suspended off form concrete kitchen bench to with James’ studio beyond.  Black Timor Bamboo grows in two large industrial stainless steel slaughterhouse bins. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    We love the concrete bunker-like TV lounge room! Norman & Quaine Hudson sofa, vintage 1960’s bubble chair and coffee table. Artworks left to right – 1968 original ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ poster, paintings by Paul Ryan and a portrait of James by fell Sydney based artist Julian Meagher. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Details from the TV / loungeroom.  Paul Ryan portrait of Adam Cullen, and a PNG tribal figure. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Looking from the courtyard into the living area with vintage 1950’s blue lounge, vintage 1960’s radiogram and original 1967 poster for ‘2001, a Space Odyssey’ and ‘Once Upon a Time there was the West II’ by James Powditch on the stairwell. A music ‘nook’  can be glimpsed under the stairs, filled with CD’s, albums and stereo equipment. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Upstairs, looking from the mezzanine into the main bedroom. A 1920’s small town telephone exchange sits on top of the vintage cowrie cupboard and a Cuban poster from 1975 for the film ‘Cool Hand Luke’ hangs in the bedroom. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Another details on the upstairs mezzanine.  Bookshelf corner with vintage Pelican and Penguin book collection. Art works behind from left to right –  ‘Lolita’ by James Powditch and a Rodney Simmons water colour. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Upstairs, the library/spare bedroom with vintage handmade ‘coin maze’ machine, which James says were common in the 60’s and 70’s in fish and chip shops! Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Master bedroom detail.  Artwork from left to right by Ton Timmers and Rodney Simmons. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    First floor main bathroom looking through to deck with Kaldewei bath and dark formwork ply cabinetry. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Looking from the lounge across the courtyard garden to James’ studio with vintage 1950’s blue lounge. A sliding black board panel enables that part of the studio to be opened to the courtyard – the ‘super soaker’ machine is an amazing school-fete creation made by James for his kids (yes, it works!). Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Looking from stair across dining/ kitchen area.  ‘Eucalyptus’ by James Powditch hangs in the void with that amazing folding ‘Renlita’ door up and open to the left.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Detail from James’ studio.  Artworks sit on a set of steel industrial plan drawers. Works by James Powditch from left to right – ‘Made in Canada’ and ‘The Shining’. Behind these is an industrial drawing board with counter weighted arm. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Artworks hung in James’ studio, clockwork from top left by James Powditch ‘Kornfield 36′, ‘Superpower- made in China’, ‘Silent Running’ and ‘Kornfield 38′. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    James Powditch on his studio.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    James Powditch is a celebrated mixed media artist, with a background in set building for the Sydney Theatre Company and Sydney Dance Company. He is a four times Archibald Prize finalist (this year with a portrait of Nick Cave) and also this year is a Doug Moran Portrait Prize finalist, with a portrait of fellow artist Ben Quilty.  James’ work, seen extensively throughout his eclectic family home, is heavily influenced by cinema, architecture, science and politics.  His distinctive, multi-layered artworks have, in part, inspired the design of his family’s impressive warehouse conversion in Annandale, in Sydney’s inner West.

    The Powditch family bought their home in 2009 as an empty 320 square metre warehouse shell, one of three subdivided warehouse spaces. ‘It was essentially a big, empty space that we could build anything inside of’  explains James. The project took a year and a half to get the relevant permits through council, and just eight months to build.

    Initially, the building had only windows and a roller door facing the street, with solid party walls either side, and a solid wall at the rear.  It was, however, high enough to put in a first floor without touching the roof trusses or having to lower the existing floor level, which gave James the freedom to design and build his home almost entirely within the existing footprint of the warehouse.  ‘‘About 80% of the building was just beautiful high, clear span space ready to fill!’ says James.  The addition of an internal courtyard was imperative, allowing northern light to permeate the home’s main living zones, and to create some separation between the house and James’ self contained studio, which sits just across the courtyard.

    James and Diane retained the existing window and roller door openings at the front (South) end of the property, and added a HUGE (7 x 4.5m) ‘Renlita’ folding tilt door to the North, facing the courtyard. This incredible industrial door is, without a doubt, the home’s most impressive and distinctive feature!  The first floor is a suspended concrete slab, supported by exposed concrete columns and walls that lend an incredible layer of industrial texture to the living areas downstairs.  On this second level are four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a deck and a cantilevered mezzanine which looks over to the dining area below.

    With the help of architect friends, the home was designed by James, and in a way, it has been an extension of is own creative practice, reflecting many of the distictinctive features of his mixed media artworks.  ‘The building reflects my aesthetic through a sense of logical order, raw materials, reuse and layering – a throwback to my years as a set builder, and my own work now’ says James.  The heavy use of concrete also reflects James’ love of 60’s and 70’s modernist buildings.  The space is unashamedly modern, yet is filled with a rich sense of history and nostalgia, on account of James and Diane’s impressive collection of industrial and vintage furniture, and extensive collection of contemporary Australian art.

    ‘In my art work I start by building a neutral background over which more materials, collage and paint can be layered, building up complexity. The same principles were applied to the design, detailing and finishes of our home’ says James.  ‘A very neutral palate of raw concrete, blonde plywood, dark formwork plywood, expansive white walls, black original steel trusses and glass formed the bones onto which all the artwork and furniture could be overlaid’.

    James and Diane’s home is full of art, furniture and stuff that has been either bought, found or in some cases swapped for James’ own work.  Treasured favourites from this extensive art collection include pieces by artists including Paul Ryan, Craig Waddell, Lucy Culliton, Martin Sharp, Peter Goodwin, Nike Savvas, Julian Meagher, Jasper Knight, Peter O’doherty , Rodney Simmons, and James’ father Peter Powditch.  James’ own works also feature prominently throughout the house, including his large scale ‘Eucalyptus’ (finalist in the 2011 Wynne prize), hanging in what James calls the ‘primo spot’, up high in the void above the light-filled dining area.

    Above all else, what the Powditch family really love most about being here is the incredible sense of space.  ‘It’s all about space, which rare in the inner city’ explains James. He is especially happy with the seamless flow through from indoors to outdoors here, from the living areas to the garden – and that towering 6 metre high void above the dining area, which is the perfect space to hang and view large scale art works.

    Being a talented creative and self-taught carpenter himself, James is very keen to mention his builder, David McNabb of KBK Building Services, who he worked with closely on the build.  ‘David was our builder, whist I project managed, drew up detailing as we needed it and worked on the building everyday’ says James. ‘My carpentry skills as a former set builder enabled me to work on a lot of the timber work, plus a good share of general labouring. It was a great collaboration and we have remained good friends’.

    Huge thanks to James and Diane for sharing their incredible home with us today!

    Looking across the garden courtyard to James’ studio. An oversized lamp shade with floral photographic artwork by Warwick Orme hangs high above a classic 1950’s mobile bar.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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    The Design Files Open House 2014 · OPEN TODAY!

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    In case you missed it (highly unlikely) I am just writing one last little post to remind you all that The Design Files Open House 2014 is officially open TODAY and for the next 4 days in Collingwood, Melbourne – woohoo, we got there!

    Artwork and product in the living room at The Design Files Open House!  Artwork on wall (from left) by Julian MeagherEmma LipscombeBelynda Henry,  Sandra Eterovic (circular piece), Fred FowlerStephen GiblettMadeline Kidd,  On ledge, accessories by Dinosaur Designs,terrariums by Miniscapes, potted plants from Loose Leaf (in pots by Tara Shackell), ceramics by Jessilla Rogers. All furniture by Jardan, flooring by Royal Oak Floors.  Wall colour – Dulux Sea Angel. Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Artwork and product in the living room at The Design Files Open House!  Artwork on wall by Julian MeagherEmma LipscombeBelynda Henry and Sandra Eterovic (circular piece).  On ledge, accessories by Dinosaur Designs, terrariums by Miniscapes and potted plants from Loose Leaf (in pots by Tara Shackell), All furniture by Jardan, flooring by Royal Oak Floors.  Wall colour – Dulux Sea Angel. Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Details from The Design Files Open House living room!  Concrete mirror and containers by Studio Kyss, agate crystal plates and amethyst. All furniture by Jardan.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Living room 2! Artwork (from left) by Belynda HenryMadeline Kidd, Sandra Eterovic (circular piece), Jon Campbell, Fred FowlerEmma Lipscombe, Sean Fennessy. All furniture by Jardan, a collection of vessels from Baker House, Takeawei,  terrariums by Miniscapes.  All plants from Loose Leaf (in pots by Tara Shackell and wire plant holder by Ivy &  Muse).  Flooring by Royal Oak Floors.   Rug by Armadillo & Co. Wall colour – Dulux Canadian Pine.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Details from The Design Files Open House 2014.  Ceramic bowls and plates by Lauren Bamford.  Brass accessories by Lightly, marble trivet by Marble Basics, mug by Takeawei.  Surface colour – Dulux Sea Angel.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

    A glimpse in our front window.  All furniture by Jardan, glass lighting by Jardan, hanging plant installation by Wona at Loose Leaf, foliage inspired window decals by Georgia Perry.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

    KITCHEN!  Designed and built by my talented man, Gordon Johnson.   All kitchen appliances (ovens, range hood, cooktop, integrated fridge and freer) by Siemens. All furniture by Jardan, glass light fitting over dining table by Douglas and Bec, ceramic vases and plates on dining table by Robert Gordon Australia, brass sculptures by Anna Varendorff, all plants by Loose Leaf.  Cabinetry colour – Dulux Mirage Blue. Flooring by Royal Oak Floors.   Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Kitchen detail.  Induction cooktop by  Siemens.  Ceramics on top shelf by Jessilla Rogers, plants by Loose Leaf, small pots by Tara Shackell, marble trivet by Marble Basics,  Cabinetry colour – Dulux Mirage Blue.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Dining room detail.  All furniture by Jardan, glass light fitting over dining table by Douglas and Bec, ceramic vases and plates on dining table by Robert Gordon Australia, brass sculptures by Anna Varendorff, all plants by Loose Leaf.  Flooring by Royal Oak Floors.  Artwork on far left of green wall by Ken Done. Far wall colour – Dulux Canadian Pine.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Looking into the living room with lush greenery as far as the eye can see by Loose Leaf!  All furniture by Jardan.  Far wall colour – Dulux Sea Angel.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Incredible green plant wall in our internal courtyard by Loose Leaf, in collaboration with The Planthunter.  Hanging lights by Moya Delany.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Master bedroom.   All furniture by Jardan. Paintings on left hand side (including circular paintings) by Numskull, small paintings above right hand bedside by Elizabeth Barnett.  Artwork on right hand wall by Kirra Jamison.  Bedlinen by Frank and Mint, throw by Shilo Engelbrecht.  Rug by Armadillo & Co. Flooring – French Grey Herringbone by Royal Oak Floors.  Wall colour – Dulux Mirage Blue. Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Bedroom detail.  All furniture by Jardan. Paintings to left by Leah Fraser, paintings to right by Numskull, small paintings above right hand bedside by Elizabeth Barnett.  Artwork on right hand wall by Kirra Jamison.  Bedlinen by Frank and Mint, throw by Shilo Engelbrecht.  Flooring – French Grey Herringbone by Royal Oak Floors.  Wall colour – Dulux Mirage Blue. Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Bedroom details.   All furniture by Jardan. Paintings above right hand bedside by Elizabeth Barnett. Ceramics on bedside by Sarah Schembri. Artwork on right hand wall by Kirra Jamison.  Bedlinen by Frank and Mint, throw by Shilo Engelbrecht.  Flooring – French Grey Herringbone by Royal Oak Floors.  Wall colour – Dulux Mirage Blue. Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Kids space!  On main wall – Crosses by Jai Vasicek / Ahoy Trader. Artwork from left by Sarah Kelk of Hello Polly, Rachel CastleStephen GiblettEmma Lipscombe.  Cushions on ledge by Bonnie and Neil (pom pom cushion by Rachel Castle).  On right wall, hand painted timber plaques and ping pong bats by Sandra Eterovic.  Mirrored lips by Bride & Wolfe.  All furniture by Jardan.  Wall colour – Dulux Mandrake. Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Looking from master bedroom into kids space.  Artwork in foreground by Kirra Jamison.  On far wall – paintings by Emily Besser, Numskull..  Lovestar acrylic heart vases, Amanda Dziedic glassware in foreground. Photo – Eve Wilson.

    Kids space detail.  Crosses by Jai Vasicek / Ahoy Trader. Artwork from left by Sarah Kelk of Hello PollyRachel Castle.  Wall colour – Dulux Mandrake. Photo – Eve Wilson.

    After an epic few months of planning, building, and transforming our warehouse space, we are SO pumped to throw open the doors at The Design Files Open House today, and share this very special project with you all!  If you’re in Melbourne please do pop down and pay us a visit! We’re open today for four days, 10.00am – 5.00pm, from today until this Sunday Dec 7th…. and just in case you need a little further encouragement to pay us a little visit, we thought we’d share a little sneak peek today! These beautiful shots of the house were captured earlier this week by Eve Wilson.

    ENORMOUS THANKS once again to all supporters and sponsors who have been instrumental in getting this project off the ground for the fourth year running!  We’re immensely grateful to Bank of Melbourne who are our inaugural Major Event Partner this year, and who have really enabled us to bring Open House to life on a larger scale than ever before!

    We also have five wonderful Major Sponsors supporting the event this year.  Jardan have been with us ever since our very first event in 2011 – we are so grateful for their ongoing support.  Australia’s leading paint brand Dulux are also with us again this year, and we’ve selected a palette of stunning Dulux colours to feature throughout the house.  Thanks also to Fiat for their generous support of this event – you’ll be able to see our super cute customised Fiat500 by Georgia Perry parked outside the Open House event each day.  Thanks also to Royal Oak Floors, whose beautiful range of wide oak and herringbone floors can be seen throughout the house.  AND last but not least, building Open House from scratch has enabled us to design and build a full scale KITCHEN ourselves, which has been possible with the generous support of Siemens, whose sleek kitchen appliances feature in the house.

    HUGE THANKS ALSO to all the amazing artists, designers, local businesses and friends who have participated and supported this crazy venture once again this year – especially Cookes Food who cooked up a storm for our opening event last night, serving wine from All Saints Estate.  Charlie and Wona from Loose Leaf alongside Georgina Reid aka The Planthunter all deserve a mention for all the amazing leafy plant life they have installed in here over the past week… and I also must give a well deserved shout-out to Esther at The Project Agency – the most amazing, hardworking and passionate publicist any client could wish for.

    A special thanks is in order also to our most excellent team, especially the bump in crew who have worked tirelessly over the last two months to pull this thing off –  My talented fella Gordon Johnson, Huw Smith (you guys are truly superhuman, thank you!) Nat Turnbull, Gemma Portelli, Marni Kornhauser, James Clark, Jona Gunn, Chrissie (my wonderful Mum!), and Lisa Marie Corso (Words fail me… LISA YOU ARE one in a MILLION!).

    ONE FINAL THING.  Those who follow us on Instagram will know that this year for the first time we have decided to harness your incredible support of Open House, by asking all visitors for a gold coin donation for the Aslyum Seeker Resource Centre. The ASRC do life-changing work supporting asylum seekers and refugees in our community, providing housing, food, legal aid and vital services to those desperately in need, right here in Melbourne.  We’re aiming to raise $10,000 for the ASRC Christmas appeal by end of day Sunday!  Please dig deep, bring your loose change and help us smash our target! x

    The Design Files Open House 2014
    12 Smith st
    Vic 3066

    Open from today until this Sunday December 7th,  10.00am – 5.00pm daily.

    FOUR DAYS ONLY people – come visit!

    Our amazing internal courtyard!   Lush green plant wall by Loose Leaf in collaboration with The Planthunter.  Hanging lights by Moya Delany.  French Grey Herringbone flooring by Royal Oak Floors. All furniture by Jardan. Photo – Eve Wilson.

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    Elliott ‘Numskull’ Routledge

    by Amber Creswell Bell

    The name Elliott Routledge (or, as he’s more commonly known, ‘Numskull’) mightn’t be instantly familiar to all of you… but if you live in or around Sydney, there is every chance that you’ve spotted this artist’s distinctive work.  Known for his impressive large scale public murals, Elliot is a versatile creative talent, who has exhibited all over the world.  Many of you would also most likely have seen his much celebrated cover of Sunday Style in August 2013, depicting a demure Miranda Kerr, donning a giant pair of illustrated wings.

    You’ll spot Elliot’s striking paintings at TDF Open House in Melbourne this week…!

    Large scale mural in Sydney’s CBD by artist Elliott ‘Numskull’ Routledge..  Photo – Rachel Kara for the Design Files

    Artist Elliott ‘Numskull’ Routledge in his Sydney studio.  Photo – Rachel Kara for the Design Files

    Detail from the studio of Elliott ‘Numskull’ Routledge.  Photo – Rachel Kara for the Design Files

    Recent painting by Elliott ‘Numskull’ Routledge, hanging in his Sydney studio.  Photo – Rachel Kara for the Design Files

    Details from the studio of Elliott ‘Numskull’ Routledge.  Photo – Rachel Kara for the Design Files

    Details from the studio of Elliott ‘Numskull’ Routledge.  Photo – Rachel Kara for the Design Files

    Details from the studio of Elliott ‘Numskull’ Routledge.  Photo – Rachel Kara for the Design Files

    Artist Elliott ‘Numskull’ Routledge in his Sydney studio.  Photo – Rachel Kara for the Design Files

    Elliott ‘Numskull’ Routledge is an Australian-based contemporary artist, working out of Sydney in a variety of fields and mediums including painting, sculpture, illustration and large-scale murals. Bypassing art school, Elliott credits his dabblings in graffiti as a bored, skateboarding kid as being formative. At that early time Elliott and his brother discovered how to use spray paint, which led to an understanding of other mediums – and ultimately it all evolved into ‘proper art’. Later, enrolling in a private college to learn multimedia and animation methods ultimately gave Elliot the tools to find his unique style.

    Unknowingly, until recently I lived around the corner from Elliott in Sydney’s Inner West, which has formed the natural playground for his mural work. Now, in hindsight, I recognise that his work was quite literally EVERYWHERE and I had often admired it and seen him in the act! It is very distinctive, both in form and his signature colour palette of red and blue.

    Over the past 15 years, Elliott has been creating public murals wherever he goes; not just all over Sydney, but also in  Newcastle, Queensland, New Zealand, USA, Europe, and beyond. Sydney-siders strolling about the corner of Park and Pitt Streets in the CBD recently would have been hard pressed to miss his significant ‘Here Now’ mural on the side of a building, which formed part of the Art and About Festival.

    As far as street art is concerned – Elliot’s work is pretty major. But, much like another recent TDF interviewee, Fred Fowler, Elliot has managed to transcend his roots in street art, creating paintings on canvas which are now highly collectible, and have shown in galleries throughout the world, in London, Vienna, New York, Tokyo, Paris, Singapore, Amsterdam and Hong Kong. The last couple of decades have seen Elliott’s painting style evolve, and he has chosen to focus on ‘colour hierarchy, typography, abstract heroism and themes of idolism within modern contemporary culture’.

    In an example of Elliott’s diversity as an artist, he recently collaborated with skincare brand Kiehl’s, to produce a Limited Edition label for their Ultra Facial Cream, with proceeds from sale donated to the ‘Adopt Change’ cause.  In addition to undertaking various projects, exhibitions and commissions, Elliot also runs his own excellent blog called The Opening Hours, which showcases local artists and art events.

    And if you think all the success and acclaim that Elliot has achieved in recent years might have has gone to his head – you would be entirely wrong, as you will see!

    Tell us a little about your background – what did you study and what path led you to what you are doing today?

    I never made it into art school. I just couldn’t get the right qualifications, and at the time I wasn’t interested so I chose to study animation instead. Somehow I found an animator by the name of Rodney D’Silva who taught traditional animation classes in his home studio in Lane Cove. He used to animate for Hanna Barbera and others and taught me a lot about motion, characters and generally how to enjoy life. He was wild. This combined with a Certificate in Multimedia led me to design, and has influenced my style to merge my painting background and graphic nature.

    My mum was always encouraging us to try creative things too. She would let us paint all over our bedrooms and set up big sheets of ply in the back yard for us to paint whenever we wanted. This had a profound affect on me.

    What have been one or two of your favourite projects in recent years and why?

    It’s really hard to choose, but the two that stick out are my Residency in Vienna and the cover artwork I did for Sunday Style. 

In March this year I lived in Vienna for a month where I had a residency at the Museums Quartier. Something I will always remember as a big change in my career. It was a unique opportunity for me to take time out, paint in a different environment, meet people and share ideas and experiences and in the end show a whole body of work to a completely new audience with no expectations. It’s now one of my favourite places in the world.

    The second would be the cover of Sunday Style magazine. Basically Cleo Glyde randomly found and invited me to create my work over a photo they took of Miranda Kerr. It was a great way for me to get my work out to a wider audience and an interesting process, but also very surreal to have my work next to three well-established artists.

    How would you describe your work, and what influences your style? 

    I would say my work is bold, bright, full of contrast, and abstract. 
My influences come from all over the place. Weird people I meet, social situations, fashion, textiles, nature and anything else that randomly hits me. I’ve recently been looking at the contrast between natural objects and foreign, man made textures. I find influence in some of the smallest things. My phone is filled with the weirdest photos.

    Tell us a little about your creative process – what materials do you employ, is it an intuitive process or meticulously planned, and how long does each piece take to complete?

    My creative process is both chaotic and strategically planned. I have multiple projects going on at the same time. When I’m in the studio creating paintings, I have a pretty strict process, which I have perfected over the years through trial and error. If I’m painting a mural, I try to plan ahead of time as best I can, but every wall is different and has it’s own challenges and variables. So quite often my plan gets aborted quickly, leading me to improvise on the spot. I never used to be so organised. Maybe having my son has changed that in me.

    What does a typical day for you usually involve?

    My day starts at around 6am when my son wakes up (and wakes me up). We hang out in the morning and go walking around Black Wattle Bay, grab a coffee at The Little Marionette, then I head off to my studio in Annandale where I spend a couple of hours sitting on the computer sending emails, blogging and planning out the day. 
Every day is different, but if I’m in the studio preparing for a show, by around mid morning I start painting or using the wood work room to make sculptures and build frames. If I can swing it, I’ll sneak in a game of ping pong or excursion to find a new food spot, then the afternoon into the night is spent face first into a canvas. 

For my murals, it’s completely dependent on the brief, location and situation.

    Can you list for us 5 specific resources across any media you tune in to regularly? 

    I spend a lot of time browsing blogs and reference websites. I run a blog called The Opening Hours, which showcases local artists and events, so I try and scan blogs for as much up to date information as possible. I use Feedly to keep up to date with my blogs, which are too many to list.

 For inspiration I choose to look at a lot of fashion books, photography amongst other things. If I’m painting in the studio, these days I tend to listen to podcasts instead of music. I’m so hooked on them now. This American Life, 99% Invisible or Joe Rogan are solid favourites, but a friend has told me to start getting into audio books, so I’ll try that soon.

    Which other local artists, designers, creative people do you admire?

    I share my studio space with around eight other artists who I respect and admire. It’s something I’ve always done as I like to be able to talk to people while I work or bounce ideas and concepts off them. As far as local artists and people I admire, Rone, Matt Rabbidge from Mild Manners, Hiroyasu Tsuri, Jonathan Zawada, Lynes and Co, Will Cooke, Trent Whitehead, my brother Marty Routledge and so many more.

    What has been a career highlight for you so far?

    I can’t nail it down to one thing, but I think one of my favourite aspects of my art, is travel. I love it so much, and believe it truly does have an affect on my work as a whole. I’m so lucky to be able to experience different parts of the world through my art.

    What would be your dream creative project or collaboration? 

    My dream collaboration would be to have a show with my son one day. That’s if he’s keen. He might be off it.

    What are you looking forward to?

    I’m going to Fiji for a holiday! I haven’t had a proper holiday in a very long time so I’m super excited.


    Your favourite Sydney neighbourhood and why?

    The Inner West. I live and work in Annandale, so for me the Inner West area of Sydney is my favourite type of neighbourhood. Having such a close proximity to the city, but without being in the city, is a nice feeling.

    Where in Sydney do you shop for the tools of your trade?

    For bulk acrylic paint either Bunnings or Dulux Trade Centre in Redfern. Spraypaint either directly from Ironlak or there’s a store on King St in Newtown called 567. For my canvas work I use a paint made in Sweden called Lascaux that can only be bought at one store in Sydney called ArtScene. Thank god for them.

    What and where was the last great meal you ate in Sydney?

    At the moment, Great Aunty’s in Enmore is running pretty hot on my list. It’s a lunchtime thing, but they do the quickest and tastiest Vietnamese takeaway food around like Banh Mi etc. The Coconut & Lime shake is one of the best things in the world. If we get a chance to go out for dinner, we usually go to any of Dan Hong’s restaurants. We went to school together and I admire his style of food.

    Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

    Walking with my wife Billie and son Hunter down to the Little Marionette cafe in Annandale on the corner of Trafalgar and Albion Street. It’s a small operation so you wait outside, but it’s a nice place to stand around waiting, especially when it’s sunny.

    Sydney’s best kept secret?

    The TGS Clubhouse. A secret painting spot in Sydney that only a handful of people are allowed in. It hosts some of the country’s most famous street and graffiti artists, but is on private property so no one can see it.

    Details from the studio of Elliott ‘Numskull’ Routledge.  Photo – Rachel Kara for the Design Files

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  • 12/07/14--11:00: Milly Dent
  • People

    Milly Dent

    by Amber Creswell Bell

    Today our Sydney contributor, Amber Creswell Bell introduces us to ceramicist Milly Dent, who completed her studies only last year, and whose distinctive handcrafted vessels have already gained great notoriety – not to mention a seriously impressive instagram following!  Milly’s business philosophy is based upon the simple ideal of ‘putting beautiful, functional, thoughtful and unique pieces of handmade design into the world’, with the intention to make daily dining rituals interesting and exciting.

    Ceramicist Milly Dent in her Sydney studio.   Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    Details from the Sydney studio of ceramicist Milly Dent.   Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    Vessels in progress.   Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    Milly inspects one of her gem vessels. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    Gem vessels by Sydney ceramicist Milly Dent. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    Gem vessels by Sydney ceramicist Milly Dent. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    Milly’s vessels awaiting firing in the kiln.  Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    Vessels by Sydney ceramicist Milly Dent. Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

    Sydney ceramicist Milly Dent completed her studies in 2013, graduating from COFA with a Bachelor of Design, and launching her own studio, Milly Dent Design, in April of this year.  With her distinctive style and colour palette, Milly’s brand has quickly gained momentum. ‘It has been a whirlwind experience as more and more people have shown an interest in my work’ says Milly. The momentum is really what’s driving me!’ she says.

    After school, feeling an inherent desire  to ‘make’, Milly moved herself from Brisbane to Sydney to complete her studies. ‘I started working with clay and everything fell into place. Using the material was intriguing and exciting, and I enjoyed exploring both the possibilities and limitations,’ she says.

    It was a six-month study sojourn to Montreal following her degree where Milly discovered an appreciation for the true capacity of clay, and expanded her style with this new and different perspective. Returning to Sydney, she knew she wanted to keep making. ‘I found myself a small studio space, and from there Milly Dent Design grew,’ she explains.

    Milly’s business philosophy is based upon the simple ideal of ‘putting beautiful, functional, thoughtful and unique pieces of handmade design into the world’, with the intention to make daily dining rituals interesting and exciting. Her creative process is intuitive and unpredictable, as it employs a mix of techniques. ‘I find myself taking a lot of photographs of objects, shapes and heaps of images of the ocean, prior to initial sketching and mood-boarding to find forms, colours and textures to use. Moulds are then made of existing forms, or of forms I have carved myself from plaster’ Milly says. ‘The marbling part of the process is very fluid… Even if it means a lot of disasters before one success, that make the success all the more rewarding!’ she says.

    It’s been a big year for Milly, but in 2015, even bigger plans are afoot.  ‘I’m super excited about my new range, which will hopefully be released at the beginning of 2015′ she explains.  ‘This range further explores the translucency and glow of porcelain, and includes bigger, more ambitious entertaining-type tableware pieces’ Milly says.  In the future, she’s hoping to expand her use of materials to include precious metals, wood and textiles… we can’t wait to see what comes next!

    Ceramicist Milly Dent in her Sydney studio.   Photo – Rachel Kara for The Design Files.

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  • 12/08/14--11:00: Mi Goals
  • Shopping

    Mi Goals

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Adam Jelic and Alec Kach are the creatives behind Melbourne based stationery label Mi Goals, which first launched in 2011 with a single product – a distinctive ‘goals’ diary.  Since then, the Mi Goals’ product range has grown, but is consistently driven by the idea of goal-setting and maximising productivity, as is evident in their newest collection – the ‘This is your Year’ range.

    Mi Goals ‘This Is Your Year’ 2015 stationery range, from Melbourne creatives Adam Jelic and Alec Kach.  Styling – Marsha Golemac, photo – Brooke Holm.


    Mi Goals ‘This Is Your Year’ 2015 stationery range, from Melbourne creatives Adam Jelic and Alec Kach.  Styling – Marsha Golemac, photo – Brooke Holm.

    Mi Goals ‘This Is Your Year’ 2015 stationery range, from Melbourne creatives Adam Jelic and Alec Kach.  Styling – Marsha Golemac, photo – Brooke Holm.

    Mi Goals ‘This Is Your Year’ 2015 stationery range, from Melbourne creatives Adam Jelic and Alec Kach.  Styling – Marsha Golemac, photo – Brooke Holm.

    Mi Goals ‘This Is Your Year’ 2015 stationery range, from Melbourne creatives Adam Jelic and Alec Kach.  Styling – Marsha Golemac, photo – Brooke Holm.

    ‘I’ve been setting goals since I was a teenager’ says Mi Goals founder Adam Jelic. ‘back in 2010 I had the idea of creating a diary which allowed me to write my goals, be inspired and stay organised throughout the year. I told my friend, Alec Kach who is a graphic designer, and together we started designing and coming up with the types of products we wanted to see out there, to inspire others to dream big and achieve their goals.’

    Mi Goals’ designer and creative director Alec Kach is a fan of minimal design and clean crisp typography.   Mi Goals’ design aesthetic is all about paring back to fundamentals, removing unnecessary decoration and really creating a strong, graphic range which encourages the end user to simply TAKE ACTION and realise their goals, however big or small!   Quotes including ‘Get Sh*t done!’, ‘This is your year’, and ‘ Prove them wrong’  punctuate the range, emblazoned in gold foil on a collection of beautifully designed paper products, designed and made in Melbourne.

    Stylist Marsha Golemac and local photographer Brooke Holm worked together to shoot this striking campaign imagery for Mi Goals 2015 range. ‘The primary objective was to create a concept that showcased the Mi Goals product as an essential component to life, almost like milk and bread in a sense!’ says Marsha. ‘Yes, they are beautifully designed products, but their main purpose is to act as tools for everyday life, whether that be assisting with time management or a dream project’ she explains.

    Shop online at or at stockists listed here.

    Mi Goals ‘This Is Your Year’ 2015 stationery range, from Melbourne creatives Adam Jelic and Alec Kach.  Styling – Marsha Golemac, photo – Brooke Holm.

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    Tasty Tuesday

    Roasted Pumpkin, Ricotta and Maple Semifreddo

    Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry

    We’re joined again by Melbourne’s Belle Gibson, creator of wildly popular health and wellness app The Whole Pantry, who today shares with us another recipe from her brand new book (also titled The Whole Pantry, out this month!).

    Belle’s recipe today is a sweet but completely guilt-free treat – a velvety smooth roasted pumpkin, ricotta and maple syrup semifreddo, with crunchy macadamia and pepita rice malt toffee shards! This one is perfect for summertime entertaining, as it can be easily made in advance and kept in the freezer. Simply remove the semifreddo from the freezer 30–40 minutes before serving to soften slightly.  Total crowd pleaser!

    Roasted Pumpkin, Ricotta and Maple Semifreddo.  Recipe by Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry.  Styling – Lee Blaylock, stylist assistant - Nat Turnbull, art direction – Lucy Feagins, photography – Eve Wilson.

    Macadamia and pepita rice malt toffee shard!  Recipe by Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry.  Styling – Lee Blaylock, stylist assistant - Nat Turnbull, art direction – Lucy Feagins, photography – Eve Wilson.

    Roasted Pumpkin, Ricotta and Maple Semifreddo ingredients.  Recipe by Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry.  Styling – Lee Blaylock, stylist assistant - Nat Turnbull, art direction – Lucy Feagins, photography – Eve Wilson.

    I recently spent a short time in Japan, learning a little about the local culture and planning content for our Japanese community. The Japanese place a great emphasis on eating seasonally, not out of trend or status, as most of us were taught back home, but as a way of life.

    Pumpkin features in both sweet and savoury recipes everywhere in Japan, and when it isn’t available, they often substitute it for sweet potato.  One morning I had sweet potato and pumpkin tiramisu at a natural foods cafe in Tokyo, making me feel right at home.

    The Whole Pantry is all about inspiring you to include more ‘fundamental foods’ in your diet, and re-introducing more fresh fruit and veggies. That doesn’t mean missing out on sweet treats, but it means being a little creative and ensuring even your sweet indulgences are filled with goodness and have nutritional benefit.

    At The Whole Pantry, we believe dessert should be put back on the ‘allowed’ list and celebrated just as much as your green juice, herbal teas and fancy quinoa-asparagus-superfood-whatever salad. Dessert is food, and we are here to encourage you to eat these Tasty Tuesday recipes whenever you feel like it!

    Now while this seems like a very adult recipe, this semifreddo is absolutely one for children and their parties, too!


    • 400 g pumpkin (squash), seeded, peeled and cut into 5 cm chunks.
    • 1 tablespoon melted virgin coconut oil
    • ¼ cup (40 g) coconut sugar
    • 400 g fresh ricotta
    • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
    • 3 x 59g organic eggs
    • 1/3 cup (80 ml) pure maple syrup
    • 1 cup (140g) raw unsalted macadamias, roughly chopped

    For the macadamia and pepita shards

    • ½ cup (70 g) raw unsalted macadamias, roughly chopped
    • 2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
    • ¾ cup (180 ml) rice malt syrup


    Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan–forced). Line a roasting tin and a small (1.25 litre) loaf tin with non-stick baking paper.

    Put the pumpkin in the lined roasting tin and drizzle with the coconut oil. Toss to combine, then roast for 20–25 minutes or until tender and lightly caramelised. Cool and purée in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in the coconut sugar.

    Using an electric mixer, beat the ricotta and lemon zest until smooth. In a separate bowl, use the electric mixer to whisk the eggs and maple syrup for 5–6 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough to hold a trail when the beaters are lifted. Scoop half the egg mixture into the ricotta mixture and fold in until well combined. Gently fold in the remaining egg mixture and the macadamias.

    Spread 2 good scoops of the ricotta mixture over the base of the lined loaf tin. Gently fold the pumpkin purée into the remaining ricotta mixture and carefully spoon over the ricotta mixture in the tin. Smooth the surface, cover and freeze for 2–3 hours or overnight, or until firm and completely frozen.

    Meanwhile, for the macadamia and pepita shards, line a baking tray with non–stick baking paper. Lightly toast the nuts and seeds in a small heavy–based frying pan for 2–3 minutes over medium heat. Spread the toasted nuts and seeds over the lined tray. Bring the syrup to the boil in a medium heavy–based saucepan over medium–high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer (being careful that the syrup does not bubble up too high) for 6–7 minutes or until it reaches 150°C (hard crack stage) on a sugar thermometer. Pour over the nuts and leave to cool, then break into pieces.

    Remove the semifreddo from the freezer 30–40 minutes before serving to soften slightly. Serve topped with macadamia and pepita shards.

    Roasted Pumpkin, Ricotta and Maple Semifreddo with macadamia and pepita rice malt toffee shards!  Recipe by Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry.  Styling – Lee Blaylock, stylist assistant - Nat Turnbull, art direction – Lucy Feagins, photography – Eve Wilson.

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  • 12/09/14--11:00: Paula and Pete Mills
  • Australian Homes

    Paula and Pete Mills

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    This colourful, crafty and creative family home on the edge of Warrandyte State Park belongs to Paula Mills, illustrator and stationery designer at Sweet William, her husband Peter, a lawyer who works for Vestas Wind Turbine company, and their three daughters Lia, (12 years) Rosie (10 years) and Liberty (8 years), and Bella the pugalier!  The family have lived her for just under 4 years.

    The Warrandyte home of illustrator / stationery designer Paula Mills and her husband Pete.  Above – living room. Gold leather pouffe from Etsy. Yellow coffee table from Fenton and Fenton. Turquoise couch – a great Ebay find. Large print in centre ‘Lilac Proteas’ by Ali MacNabney-Stevens. Artwork to the right – “The Gift’ by Paula for her label, Sweet William.  Small pink framed print ‘Cury #4′ by Philippa Riddiford from Signed and Numbered. Pot plant stands by Ivy Muse.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Paula in her kitchen,  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Living room.  Pale Pink vintage dining table found in an auction in Johannesburg, South Africa. Red velvet couch – a great junk shop find which Paula had re upholstered. Vintage Indian fabric throws from Earthtribe. Hand Painted African Barber Shop sign found in a junk shop in Eltham! Large spotted bag from Homework. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Kitchen.  Peacock blue arrow stool from Space to Create. Copper Light found on ebay. Framed wrapping paper by The Souvenir Society. Flowers by Floral and Found.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Kitchen bench detail.  Flowers by Floral and Found. Copper and glass vase a gift from Pete to Paula. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Kitchen detail.  Framed wrapping paper by The Souvenir Society. Vintage tin collection. Tea towels from Third Drawer Down.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Living room detail.  Small cupboard, an ebay find. Hand painted vintage round advertising sign from Havally. Coloured glass collection from all over. African wooden businessman from South Africa. The large woven basket bought at Supergraph.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    A sweet detail in the main living space.  Small enamel plate (on wall) belonged to Paula’s mother. Protea painting by Yvonne Ankerman was purchased in Cape Town. Pale Cross Journey Art Print by Paula for her own label, Sweet William. Pale Pink King Protea from Floral and Found. Pale Pink vintage dining table and chairs found in an auction in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Master bedroom – pink vintage sari bedspread from Folkart in Warrandyte. Assorted cushions – Ikea, etsy and hand made.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    The girl’s shared bedroom.  Lia’s bed. Bedspreads from Earthtribe. Doughnut piñata from Kitiya Palaskas. Large multi coloured pouffe from Ashanti Design in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    The girl’s shared bedroom. (Liberty and Rosie’s beds). Bedspreads from Earthtribe and Country Road. Beds from a junk shop.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Liberty’s hand made dolls house in the girls’ bedroom.  Paper pom poms from Poppies For Grace.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Paula in her studio, surrounded by bits of her work and collected ephemera.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Pattern and colour on the pinboard in Paula’s home studio.  Postcards from Marimekko and Inaluxe.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Back deck surrounded by trees. Kilim rug from Warrandyte Market. Coffee table – a junk shop find which Paula painted turquoise. Wooden three seater couch, another lucky ebay find.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    OK I have a confession to make. Until recently visiting this beautiful, colourful little home perched on the edge of a nature reserve and surrounded by trees in Melbourne’s North East, I had never actually been to Warrandyte.  Ridiculous, I know! I was pleasantly surprised to learn that despite feeling a world away from the hustle of the city, with it’s village atmosphere, towering gum trees and beautiful State Park, Warrandyte is just 30 mins from Melbourne’s CBD. It feels like a well kept secret!

    When Paula and Pete first purchased this home they were looking for a change. Having arrived in Melbourne in 2007 from South Africa (and London before that), and after renting for a few years in the Eastern suburbs. when it came to the big decision of buying their own home, they knew they wanted more space. Priced out of the market in Kew and Balwyn, where they had been renting, they started to look a little further afield.  ‘We initially started looking at land around Warrandyte with a view to build, but one day we saw this little cottage for sale and fell in love’ explains Paula. ‘Although it is not a big home, it is surrounded by bush, and definitely had the sense of space we were after’.

    Indeed, the proportions of this home are by no means extravagant, but are perfectly suited to the Mills family.  One large basement rumpus room beneath the main living area has been turned into a shared bedroom for all three girls, whilst two modest bedrooms positioned just off the main living area serve as a master bedroom and Paula’s home studio respectively. A large deck adjoining the main living space acts as a generous outdoor living / dining room, surrounded by towering trees.

    Soon after purchasing the home, Paula and Pete set about making a few essential cosmetic changes.  As a starting point, they knocked down internal walls to open up the kitchen and living room, and painted almost everything white, including the floor boards (which Paula says were previously a very orange pine).  To liven things up, one wall in the living area was painted a pretty washed out turquoise blue. which provides a striking contrast to the white timber boards throughout, and creates a focal point around the vintage mantelpiece in the main living room,

    ‘I do love our old open fireplace’ says Paula, who picked up the vintage Tasmanian Oak Mantelpiece on the way back from a camping trip, at a junk shop along the Princess Highway!  ‘Thankfully we had the trailer with us, so we just strapped the mantelpiece on the back and kept going!’ she says.

    With a decorating style that is relaxed and eclectic, Paula and Pete have created such a warm and welcoming home here.  The space feels artfully cluttered and lived in, comfortable and creative, adorned with vintage finds and Paula’s own illustrative artwork.  Downstairs, the girls’ bedroom is an explosion of PINK (!), punctuated by pretty details and colourful craft projects.

    Paula and Pete love living here.  After many years living as expats in both London and Melbourne, after leaving their native South Africa, it feels good to have settled in Warrandyte and to ‘grow roots’ here, surrounded by a vast canopy of trees and bushland.

     ‘I love so many things about living here’ says Paula.  ‘We are surrounded by nature. The bird life here is amazing. My kids walk down the road to school. We have a state park behind us. I have a light filled studio to work from home in. We can walk down to the Yarra river with Bella. You see people walking around – there is a sense of community, you always bump into someone you know at the local IGA. I could go on!’

    Huge thanks to the Mills family for sharing their idyllic family home with us!

    Front door. Bella the pugalier!  Decals on door from Shanna Murray   Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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    Small Business

    Sophie Storen and Nicole De Bono of Cookes Food

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    For our final ‘Small Business’ snapshot of the year, as we look towards a summertime of fun, food and hopefully stress-free entertaining, it seems fitting to have a chat to the hardworking pair behind Cookes Food – a super awesome local catering and events company who we LOVE, and who we have had the great privilege of working with at our TDF Open House events since 2011!

    The brand new headquarters of local creative catering and events company Cookes Food, in St Kilda, Melbourne.

    Nicole de Bono (left) and Sophie Storen (right) of Cookes Food, in their brand new headquarters in St Kilda.  Dining table made by Sophie’s talented partner AJ Storen of Can I Play.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Detail from Sophie’s impressive library of cook books.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Sophie of Cookes Food and head chef Simon, in their new kitchen in St Kilda. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Kitchen detail at Cookes Food. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Nicole of Cookes Food looking pretty happy with her new office set up in St Kilda! Photo – Sean Fennessy.

    Sophie Storen and Nicole De Bono are the industrious pair behind Cookes Food, and I am constantly in awe of their incredible energy and infectious enthusiasm for what they do.  Over the past four years, I’ve seen their business grow and develop, yet Sophie and Nicole still maintain that awesome ‘start up’ attitude, you know, where you can tell that running their own business is something they truly LOVE doing, and every challenge is met with enthusiasm.  They pride themselves on starting each job with a  blank canvas – that means a tailored creative idea for each and every client – no cookie-cutter packages!

    Sophie and Nicole are kinda young (well, my age… early thirties!) and started their business in mid 2008.  With a shared love of great produce and a creative approach to food, they started out with the premise of offering seasonal and locally grown ingredients in the catering realm. ‘The catering industry seemed to be over populated at that time with very standard menus and lots of fried foods – we wanted to work towards changing those catering clichés by offering a more personalised approach, and great, exciting ideas to a variety of clients’ says Sophie.

    Since launching in 2008, Cookes Food has gone from strength to strength.  Originally a fledgling operation with Sophie in the kitchen and Nicole as event manager and ‘front of house’, they now have a full-time chef (Simon), part time project manager (Philippa) and a team of experienced service staff and contractors, which expands and contracts seasonally as required.  The business has also recently upgraded to a brand new premises – moving from a small combined office and kitchen space into a larger premises with industrial kitchen in St Kilda.  ‘It feels like it has taken forever to get here, our new location now really reflects us and our business, and we both feel so proud!!’ says Sophie enthusiastically. ‘We feel completely re-inspired to work harder towards our new challenges and goals as a young business’.

    We dropped in to visit Sophie and Nicole in their new space recently and grilled them on the remarkable growth of their small business.

    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?

    Our business is all about offering our clients an opportunity to start from a blank canvas, and we try to keep that way by steering away from standard packages or looks. Our services are flexible – we arrange as much or as little as our clients like. We look after food, beverage, staffing as well as event management and production of styling and all creative touches.

    Sophie manages clients, the kitchen, its people and suppliers, and from time to time steps back on the tools. Nicole is more office based, managing admin, accounts, clients and all the casual staff whilst training up our own event managers in house.

    Over time we have employed so many staff, many of them come and go, and others have stuck by us since day dot!  This year we employed our first Kitchen manager and Head Chef Simon, he is a complete God send and now we have him we don’t know how we ever managed before! We also have on board another project manager Philippa who is incredibly awesome, efficient and super reliable!

    What does a typical work day at Cookes Food involve?

    Sophie – At the start of every week I go through the job folders for the following 7 days, I print them out and highlight any hard to source items I might have put on the menus. I run through these with our head chef Simon, and we discuss logistics and transport and which recipe we are using for what.

    I am sometimes light on details within my menus, and that’s because I don’t want to feel trapped by an ingredient that might not be perfect due to weather or availability. If I say salad leaves, is it wasabi leaves or sorrel? I just want the best quality outcome and I want it to be Australian not Peruvian.

    Beyond this I check through my emails then review and update my ‘WIP’ – an office tool that Nic got me into. My WIP is my ‘Work in Progress’, it’s ultimately a list – the list! I once cried because I could find my WIP, this is how precious it has become to me! Without it, there would be a hell of a lot of post its everywhere!

    On event days we are both up at the crack of dawn, it’s casual comfortable attire and in the kitchen there is endless checking off, counting and packing until we are ready to go. The office printer is going crazy with print outs of schedules before the setups commence and the countdown is on.

    On site we are problem solving, doing walk throughs and in constant discussions about who is doing what and when. We are setting up tables, chairs, laying out menu cards and place settings whilst making sure band members arrive and celebrants are on time.

    Before the event starts we ‘hit the refresh button’ as Nic always says, and we spruce ourselves up before the guests arrive. Any services can be intense, it’s go-go-go, and when we have completed the food component we all relax a little and then start to catch our breath before going straight into pack up mode. We and our staff work so hard on these days, and we appreciate them all so much as they all do it with a smile!  Together we all have fun and make the most of it before it’s over!

    What are some daily office rituals and systems you employ to enhance your team’s productivity?

    It has to be our weekly Work in Progress meeting.  We all sit down together and run through the events ahead, we raise any concerns or issues and then work through logistics and planning.

    Our internal events calendar is also super important, it gets updated constantly, all day every day, and we all rely on this to tell us what is on and when!

    What computer programs, apps and software do you utilise to streamline your daily tasks and keep everything running smoothly?

    We have just upgraded the office computers, we all use PC here, we would love Macs but Nic’s a PC girl from way back and for her to keep the office admin humming when we moved, we felt it was a better choice to stick to what we (she) knew.

    For internal communication and file sharing we use Google Mail, Google Drive, Dropbox.

    Out of all the phone apps, it goes without saying that we could not do our job very well if Google maps did not exist…. even though sometimes we go far and beyond where the maps work!

    For inspiration and reference gathering, Pinterest is a personal favourite.

    We also love Instagram – we have nearly hit 2000 followers which is very exciting for us, considering it’s free to advertise and network this way!

    With the bonus of hindsight, what do you know now about running a small business that you wish you knew when you started?

    Sophie – Trust your gut, if you think something isn’t going to work – i.e. getting swans to tap dance – say no! It’s better to be realistic than to over promise and blur any expectation! It also took me a long time to accept that we are not for everyone and that some you have to let go and not take it personally.

    Nic – I was a little naive at the start, and put very little value on all the years that I had worked so hard on building a rapport with my clients and suppliers in all my previous jobs. I thought that being nice was just a given, and I never put a value on that practice and how it transcends into good healthy business operation. Building relationships is really what this business is all about, and I believe also the thing that equals good job satisfaction.  As a result, I never feel like I’m at work, I just always feel like I’m around friends and having a good time!

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


    1. Treat your staff well, and they will do the same in return.

    2. Create a harmonious and fun work environment, so even the action of showing up to work becomes exciting.

    3. Work on your business, not in it (From ‘E-myth‘ – yes I’m one of those people)


    1. Be honest and never make rushed or pressured decisions, take your time and keep a good life/work balance.

    2. Find great staff and reliable suppliers, go local where you can, and build up good relationships with all of them.

    3. Listen to everyone around you, whether it’s your bestie, your supplier, your parents, the person you get your coffee from in the morning, ask questions and use all of their feedback to help make good choices and also get inspiration for each and every day!

    Cookes Food
    Ph. (03) 9510 9443

    11 & 11a Wellington Street
    St Kilda
    Vic, 3182

    (Meetings by appointment)

    Nicole and Sophie of Cookes Food having a silly moment in their new St Kilda headquarters!  (This irreverent snapshot captures Sophie’s personality perfectly – always professional, but never too serious!).  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

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    Nadia Husiak and Jason Cesani of Printink Studio

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Jason Cesani and Nadia Husiak are the husband and wife team behind Printink studio, a screen printing studio who produce their own in-house label ‘Tinker’, as well as taking on various custom design and print projects for clients.  From their Collingwood workspace, this dynamic team print everything from table linen to soft furnishings and even wallpaper!

    Screenprinted table linen and wallpaper by Melbourne’s Printink Studio.  Photo – Mike Baker, Styling – Sandra Scurria.

    Screenprinted table linen and wallpaper by Melbourne’s Printink Studio.  Photo – Mike Baker, Styling – Sandra Scurria.

    Nadia Husiak and Jason Cesani of Printink Studio with their daughter Pietra in the studio! Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    On the print table at Printink Studio. Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Nadia Husiak and Jason Cesani printing at Printink Studio. Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Nadia in the studio.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Samples at Printink Studio. Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    On the print table at Printink Studio. Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Screenprinted soft furnishings and wallpaper by Melbourne’s Printink Studio.  Photo – Mike Baker, Styling – Sandra Scurria.

    Whilst we feel it’s our duty to introduce the newest emerging makers and designers across Australia, we’re equally committed to shining a spotlight on those more established local creatives businesses who really have paved the way for the recent resurgence of all things ‘handmade’.   Nadia Husiak and Jason Cesani of Printink studio in Collingwood are two such veterans of their craft, having first launched their own design studio back in 2005.

    Nadia and Jason studied Textile Design together at RMIT in the 1990s, and later went on to work together at Vixen Australia – which at the time would design and hand screen print all their own textiles.  Their time working for this prolific and respected local textile house was a defining time for both Jason and Nadia, extending their combined skill set and giving them a strong understanding of the skills required to run their own design based business.

    After working for Vixen for 5 years, Nadia and Jason founded their own design studio in 2005 with a third partner, Lisa Carroll.  Now in it’s 9th year of operation, the business is run solely by Nadia and Jason, with a the able assistance of intern-turned-printer Georgie Cummings, and the odd distraction from 1 year old Pietra!

    Aside from producing an extensive range of soft furnishings, homewares and wallpaper under their own in house label ‘Tinker’, Printink also offer a bespoke design and printing service, working closely with clients on many varied projects.  Past commissions have included custom wallpaper for Hells Kitchen in the CBD and The Grace Darling in Collingwood, to name just a few.

    Tinker by Printink homewares and accessories can be purchased online, and at numerous national stockists listed here.

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

    We were both drawn to textile design for various reasons, however there was always a strong mutual passion we both shared – a passion for pattern and surface design. We studied together at RMIT in the mid ’90s, completing our BA’s in Textile Design, majoring in screen print (Jason is now a sessional lecturer at RMIT). Hand screen printing is certainly a niche industry in Australia, and after many years of developing our skills, we are proud of where we are at now, what we are creating and who we are working with.

    What led you to starting your own design studio, Printink Studio, back in 2005?

    Printink Studio originally began with a partnership of three, all graduates from RMIT’s BA in Textile Design course. After finishing university, we all had the opportunity at different times to work with Georgia Chapman, formerly of Vixen Australia. It was an inspiring environment to work in, everything we did was hand screen printed. It allowed us to gain incredible knowledge of different techniques that helped structure our skill set.

    Around the same time, there was a resurgence of the ‘handmade’ that was starting to make a comeback. With our confidence and desire to create something that was our own, we took the plunge and started Printink Studio.

    This year saw your studio launch a more extensive range of soft furnishings and bedding under your house label, ‘Tinker’, alongside a comprehensive children range. How would you describe this latest range and your design aesthetic? How long has this range been in development for?

    With all our ranges, our mantra is to incorporate a variety of geometric designs and work them back alongside florals. We use a combination of hand drawn elements and motifs to create all-over patterns and then juxtapose them with bold lines and shapes. Colour is a major component and alongside pattern is one of the most important qualities that make up the Tinker brand.

    Can you give us a little insight into the inner workings of Printink? How is your office structured, how many people do you employ, and are you still each very involved in the design process day-to-day?

    We are now the sole partners at Printink Studio, and we’re also a husband and wife team. Since the arrival of our baby, Pietra (who is 100% involved in the business as well!) Nadia has stepped away from most of the screen printing, and works closely with our wholesalers, dispatch, online sales and general everyday operations of running the business.

    Georgie Cummings, who began as our intern many years ago, is now also our screen printer, taking over some of Nadia’s printing responsibilities. Two people are required to screen print yardage fabric, so Georgie works alongside me (Jason) on our day to day operation of printing. Georgie is our number one tea towel printer!

    Each day is different in the print studio, either we’re printing commission works for other designers or printing our ‘Tinker’ range, fulfilling orders, printing wallpaper or restocking our online store.

    In terms of all the design work, this is all created and shared between us. We work on a theme and then collate each other’s ideas and narrow them down. It’s quite a lengthy process from initial design concept to end product, with lots of colour testing, swatching, trialing different fabric bases etc.  This is the beauty of having your own screen printing studio, you can sample, resample and resample again, until you are finally happy.

    What does a typical day at work involve for you?

    Fortunately, there is not a typical day for us, especially when you introduce a one year old into the business. As a small business, we are the face of the business, as well as being the key creatives and printers and decision makers, so juggling our time to meet deadlines for our clients and be the creative force behind Tinker is certainly challenging, but we would not have it any other way.  The only ‘typical’ thing you can be assured we do almost every day is hand screen printing.

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

    We regularly visit Instagram, Pinterest, Kinfolk Magazine, Decor8, and The Design Files.

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

    Sandra Eterovic – She is an illustrator/artist and we love her sense of humour she brings to her work. The sense of colour and objects she chooses to paint on has a fun quirky quality, which inspires us.

    Koskela – We are inspired by their consideration of the environment alongside their commitment on working on projects closely together with Australian Aboriginal artists. We like their aesthetic of the other Australian brands they choose for their retail store, and we’re proud to be stocked by them.

    Lucy Folk – She is a jeweller and we love her obsession with food, which ironically is an inspiration for a lot of her work. Her bold designs combine kitsch naïveté with subtle humour.

    What is your proudest career achievement to date?

    There are a number of achievements that we are proud of. Our new recruit, Pietra, our baby daughter, our new website (who knew it would be so much work?) and of course our milestone of reaching 10 years in 2015!

    What would be your dream project?

    Okay, you said ‘dream’… so here goes.  It wold be decking out a multi-storey hotel, collaborating with a favorite architect. We would have complete freedom to create each floor, decorating and designing everything from the walls, floors and all the soft furnishings. There would be no boundaries, it would be an over the top explosion of colour and pattern on pattern.

    What are you looking forward to?

    Christmas break in Queensland with Jason’s family, and then a summer week off in the New Year in Melbourne.


    Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?

    We would have to say Collingwood, it’s where our studio is, and a few blocks from our house in East Melbourne. We love that it is a suburb that seems to be always re-inventing itself. It’s the energy and the creative vibe that the suburb offers and we like being part of that.

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

    Last night’s salsicce, mash potatoes and a nice bitter salad. Jason’s dad is Italian, each year a group of us head north to keep the traditions alive and make our own sausages. Clearly we practice handmade where we can! The result is 80 kg + of homemade sausages for us to eat all year round.

    Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

    Saturday mornings are always work related, however it never seems a chore. To kick start the morning, we visit our favourite café around the corner from our studio – All Press. They have the best coffee and if we are feeling a bit peckish, their mixed plate of egg, avocado, tomato and provolone with either salmon or prosciutto set the pace for the day. Collingwood is so quiet on the weekends and it’s just great being able to spend a few hours in the studio with the roller door up and no one around, or phones ringing. We believe our most creative work is usually achieved on a Saturday morning.

    Melbourne’s best kept secret?

    I’m not too sure if it is a big secret as thousands of people go, but for anyone who loves great food and a bit of fun, the annual Lunar Festival Street Party at Victoria St, Richmond is a must. It’s summer, there is Karaoke in tents, dancing, dragons, fire crackers, fried calamari, Vietnamese mini pancakes, BBQ betel leaf, beer, rides, it’s too much fun! Next year it’s on 1 February 2015, see you there.

    Studio details at Printink Studio. Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

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    Christmas 2014 Gift Guide + Giveaway

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Today, in keeping with our annual tradition, we are thrilled to have a gorgeous line-up of Christmas gift ideas for you, which doubles as our ANNUAL CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY!   All these super stylish gifts for man, woman and for the home have been sourced from our favourite local designers and retailers, and all are available to WIN for 25 lucky readers…!  But… we do have one request… please take our annual reader survey!

    From left to right – Menu Jewellery flacon from Resident GP ($119.95), Tilly Jewellery Flower Drop Earring from Monk House Design ($139.00),  Alpha 60 Maggie Slides from Alpha 60 ($260.00),  ‘Mixed Doubles’ leather bracelet from Jen Booth ($49.00), Menu Gridy Me Mirror from Resident GP ($199.95),  Lip keyring by Bride and Wolfe ($30.00), House of Holland On A Promise round sunglasses from Grace ($249.00),  Nebula nail polish by Kester Black ($20.00),  Saint Germaine 34 Boulevard Candle from Mecca ($100),  Nars Digital world set lipstick from Mecca ($24.00), Le Labo Rose 31 solid perfume from Mecca ($112.00). Styling – Jess Lillico, sourcing / styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    From left to right – HAY Black Gym Hook from Cult Design ($58.00), Byredo Parfums Morjave Ghost fragrance from Mecca ($164.00), Baxter Safety Razor from Incu ($120.00), Finch (Roo) Wallet by Tailfeather ($120.00),  Money Clip by Two Hills ($189.00), Block Book Ends by Daniel Emma ($120.00),  Kakkoii Wow Speaker from Make Design Object ($90.00), HAY White Gym Hook from Cult Design ($42.00). Styling – Jess Lillico, sourcing / styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    From left to right – Martin Jakobsen Himo Glass from Resident GP ($59.00), Brass Bowl (comes in a set of 2) from Lightly ($35.00),  Tide Gold Carafe from Country Road ($45.00), Small Lips Mirror by Bride and Wolfe ($65.00), Itta Marble Rolling Pin from Country Road ($59.95), Normann Copenhagen Flip Table Mirror, White from Top 3 Design ($160.00),  Martin Jakobsen KarPPi Water Jug from Resident GP ($109.00). Styling – Jess Lillico, sourcing / styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    From left to right – Normann Copenhagen Stelton Jug from Safari Living ($220.00),  Diamond Box from Third Drawer Down ($24.00),  Spun Pendant Light, Silver from Evie Group ($595.00), Toru Bottle from Country Road ($60.00),  Tom Dixon Gemm Collection Tall Vase from Third Drawer Down ($133.00),  Ora Clock from Country Road ($59.95), Hex Box silver and gold by Evie Group ($140.00), Mitch Book End from Country Road ($40.00). Styling – Jess Lillico, sourcing / styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    WELL dear readers.  It’s been a hell of a year!  Thanks for sticking with us through all the madness, we reckon it’s been our best, if not certainly our busiest year yet!  We re-designed our website (in a pretty big way!), we launched TDF Collect, our quarterly art exhibition series… we staged another huge TDF Open House event (this time built from scratch, because we just don’t know any better), and we hit over 100k followers on both Facebook and Instagram (thank you all for following!).  On a personal note, I managed to get married, have an awesome honeymoon, move house and move offices – twice!  HOLY Moley.  Now that I think about it, 2014 really has been insane!

    Today we are thrilled to have a gorgeous line-up of Christmas gift ideas for you, which doubles as our ANNUAL CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY!  OH YES.  Each and every supremely photogenic item pictured in today’s post is up for grabs for 25 lucky readers. The items pictured here have been sourced from some of our favourite local retailers, and, if, like me, you have done ZERO Christmas shopping and have 20 people still to buy for, we hope today’s post will encourage you to shop local for your Christmas gifts this year!

    Now dear readers, before you pounce on the comment button, please note that in keeping with our annual tradition, in order to enter the Christmas Giveaway, there is just one little thing you have to do – enter our yearly TDF reader survey. Please CLICK HERE to fill out our 2014 Reader Survey! (After taking the survey you will be automatically entered into the giveaway!).

    We value your feedback immensely, and would be so grateful if you could spend just 10 minutes on the survey to let us know your thoughts on our new website design, the new content we have introduced this year, what we could do better, and how we can improve in 2015!

    You have between today and next Wednesday 24 December 2014 to take the survey. Winners will be drawn the week commencing 5 January 2015 and contacted via email.  25 winners will be drawn from all survey respondents at random – unless otherwise stated below, the prizes will be grouped by supplier.  Please note this giveaway is open to all, however bulky / fragile items will not be shipped internationally.

    Good luck all, and THANKYOU SO MUCH for reading and supporting all our ramblings and random happenings…!  You are a top notch bunch of readers, and we love you madly. x


    Evie Group – Spun Pendant Light Silver ($595.00) and Hex box silver and gold ($140.00)  - after recently discovering the clever young duo behind Evie Group in Sydney, we have fallen head over heels in love with their sleek, contemporary designs for the home.  We’re especially drawn to their ‘Spun’ pendant lights, available in either a silver, gold or rose gold finish.

    Resident GP - Menu Jewellery flacon ($119.95), Menu Gridy Me Mirror ($199.95), Martin Jakobsen Himo Glass ($59.00) and Martin Jakobsen KarPPi Water Jug ($109.00). - Resident GP are a Melbourne based online store, and are relatively new on our radar!  We are super impressed by their extensive and carefully considered range of designer gifts and homewares, plus they offer free shipping on all orders over $50.

    Monk House Design – Tilly Jewellery Flower Drop Earring ($139.00)  - Brunswick based fashion retailer Monk House have a special place in our hearts, they are ardent supporters of emerging Australian fashion designers, stocking and promoting many local brands. These sweet 60’s inspired flower drop earrings are made by Brisbane jewellery designer Tilly Sinclair.

    Alpha 60 – Alpha 60 Maggie Slide ($260.00)  - Another of our fave local fashion brands, Alpha 60 is the label of brother / sister team Alex and Georgie Cleary.  These Maggie Slides are our top pick for open-toed footwear this summer!

    Bride and Wolfe – Lip keyring ($30.00) and Small Lips Mirror ($65.00) - SO if you attended our recent ‘TDF Open House’ event in Melbourne, you might have noticed our current obsessions with LIPS (and eyes, and really all things ‘facial’).  Melbourne makers Bride and Wolfe are certainly feeding this latest obsession… we love their lip mirrors, and key rings, and brooches!

    Grace – House of Holland On A Promise round sunglasses ($249.00) - BLOODY HELL how amazing are these sunglasses!?  ‘Look me in the eye, tell me you love me’ – what more is there to say..!?  Get your very own pair from those gorgeous fashionistas at Grace in Hawksburn, Melbourne (their online store is also well worth a look for those all important ‘presents to self’ this Christmas).

    Kester Black – Nebula Nail Polish ($20.00)  – Our top pick for nail polish is always local label Kester Black, because it’s made in Australia, vegan and Cruelty Free accredited.  Kester Black nail polishes are also ‘Five Free’ which means they contain no harmful chemicals (no Toluene, DBP, Formaldehyde, Formadehyde resin or Camphor!).

    Mecca - Saint Germaine 34 Boulevard Candle ($100), Nars Digital world set lipstick ($24.00), Le Labo Rose 31 Solid Perfume ($112.00) and Byredo Parfums Morjave Ghost ($164.00)  You’d think the world would be over scented candles now but, NO, we’re not.  We love the Saint Germaine 34 Boulevard candle in its beautiful ceramic vessel – a classic beauty.  Though best known for its gorgeous ladylike gifts, Mecca shouldn’t be overlooked for the blokes either, they have an impressive range of men’s skincare and fragrances including Byredo Parfums which are just stupendously sexy…. seriously, your nose will thank you later.  Note – We’re splitting these prizes up – 3 prizes for 3 people.  

    Jen Booth – ‘Mixed Doubles’ bracelet in Strawberries and Cream ($49) Our dear pal Jen Booth is the Melbourne designer behind those cheerful leather lockets we’ve been wearing for the past couple of years.  ‘Mixed Doubles’ are her latest creation – a series of hand painted leather bracelets in the most delicious colour combos.

    Cult Design - HAY Black Gym Hook Medium ($58.00) and HAY White Gym Hook Small from Cult Design ($42.00)  – OH HAY.  You really can do no wrong.  Always the perfect balance of stylish / quirky, you never disappoint.  (Buy anything and everything from Danish design brand HAY from Cult in Melbourne and Sydney).

    Incu – Baxter Safety Razor ($120.00)  - Incu is one of our fave local fashion retailers, with stores in Melbourne and Sydney, and a extensive yet perfectly curated edit of menswear, womenswear, gifts and accessories.

    Tailfeather - Finch (Roo) Wallet ($120.00) - Tailfeather are makers of fine leather goods, designed and handcrafted in Tallarook, Victoria.

    Two Hills - Money Clip ($189.00) - Two Hills is an independent jewellery label based in Melbourne, specialising in small run, handmade pieces.

    Daniel Emma – Block Book Ends ($120.00) – the darlings of the Adelaide design scene, Daniel and Emma To make functional objects for the home that often double as striking sculptural pieces.  These solid block book ends are another future classic from the DE archive!

    Make Design Objects –  Kakkoii Wow Speaker ($90.00) - Make Design Objects is a brilliant Melbourne store with an exhaustively impressive range of international homewares and design brands all under one roof.  This sweet little Carlton store appears somewhat modest in size from the street, but expands over 2 levels inside – an excellent spot for gift hunting.

    Lightly – Brass Bowl (comes in a set of 2) ($35.00)  - Lightly is one of our favourite local design houses, known for their lighting, ceramics, brassware and countless other locally designed functional pieces, stocked across Australia and Internationally.

    Country Road – Tide Gold Carafe ($45.00), Itta Marble Rolling Pin ($59.95), Toru Bottle ($60.00), Ora Clock ($59.95) and Mitch Book End ($40.00). I’ve said it countless times before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, I am the biggest fan of Country Road – especially their homewares.  What is not to love about their beautiful new ‘Itta’ solid marble rolling pin – or that insanely beautiful ‘Tide’ Gold Carafe pictured above!? There is truly SO MUCH GOODNESS in there right now people, from tableware to bookends to clocks… and let’s not forget CR are famed for their complimentary Christmas gift wrap. Get onto it. Note – We’re splitting these prizes up between 2 people.

    Top 3 Design – Normann Copenhagen Flip Table Mirror White ($160.00) – Top3 By Design is another brilliant one-stop shop for a great variety of design-inspired gifts.  We particularly love their range from Normann Copenhagen, like this striking Flip Table Mirror – an elegant, contemporary addition to any bathroom or dressing table.

    Safari Living – Normann Copenhagen Stelton Jug ($220.00) and Tom Dixon Gemm tea light holder ($41.00)  - Safari Living has long been one of our fave go-to local stores for homewares and gifts for all occasions.  This year AS ALWAYS we’re loving Tom Dixon’s stuff (the man can do no wrong) – the ‘Gemm’ series is suitably festive, yet supremely versatile.  Meanwhile, the Normann Copenhagen Stelton Jug is almost too beautiful to use!  Many more gorgeous gift ideas can be found in store and online, so do have a look!

    Third Drawer Down – Diamond Box ($24.00) and Tom Dixon Gemm Collection Tall Vase ($133.00) –  Third Drawer Down is another firm favourite for unique and stylish gift shopping in Melbourne (and online!).  More Tom Dixon goodness can be found here, alongside a wonderful and, at times, slightly wacky edit of gifts and stocking fillers for all ages.

    Gorman – Connie Lichti Eye Platter ($89.00) – Gorman’s homewares line, ‘Home Time’ continues to go from strength to strength – we love this Eye platter by local ceramicist Connie Lichti, just one in an extensive range of locally crafted ceramic vessels.

    Minami – Teruhiro Yanagihara 1616 / Artia Japan Squae Bowl (from $27.00) and Scholten and Baijings Arita Japan Coffee Cup ($89.00) - Minami is a new online store from local foodie Julia Busuttil Nishimura and her husband, Norihiko Nishimura, stocking a treasure trove of lovingly sourced Japanese tableware and homewares, bringing a touch of Japanese minimalism and restraint to a kitchen near you!

    Champ – Rhombus Table Trivets ($59.00) - These Rhombus table Trivets / coasters are designed and made in Melbourne from recycled aeroplane tyres. Their tessellating shapes give rise to endless geometric shapes, encouraging playfulness at the dinner table!

    Marble Basics – Basic Square Trivet ($55.00)  - These solid marble trivets from local label Marble Basics double as serving platters, and also are ideal for displaying makeup and toiletries in the bedroom or bathroom, protecting timber surfaces from drips and spills.

    To enter, please CLICK HERE to fill out our 2014 Reader Survey

    From left to right – Connie Lichti Eye Platter from Gorman ($89.00), Teruhiro Yanagihara 1616 / Artia Japan Square Bowl from Minami (from $27.00), Tom Dixon Gemm tea light holder from Safari Living ($41.00),  Rhombus Table Trivets by Champ ($59.00), Basic Square Trivet by Marble Basics ($55.00), Scholten and Baijings Arita Japan Coffee Cup from Minami ($89.00). Styling – Jess Lillico, sourcing / styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

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  • 12/15/14--11:00: Jen Booth · Mixed Doubles
  • Shopping

    Jen Booth · Mixed Doubles

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    WOAH it was a bit of a last minute shuffle to get this one up just before our Christmas break, but we just couldn’t RESIST sharing these seriously awesome ‘Mixed Doubles’ hand painted leather bracelets by local designer Jen Booth (who, disclaimer, just happens to be one of our dearest pals here at TDF!)

    ‘Mixed Doubles’ hand painted leather bracelets by Melbourne designer Jen Booth. Photo – Elise Wilken, Styling – Nat Turnbull.


    ‘Mixed Doubles’ hand painted leather bracelets by Melbourne designer Jen Booth. Photo – Elise Wilken, Styling – Nat Turnbull.

    ‘Mixed Doubles’ hand painted leather bracelets by Melbourne designer Jen Booth. Photo – Elise Wilken, Styling – Nat Turnbull.

    ‘Mixed Doubles’ hand painted leather bracelets by Melbourne designer Jen Booth. Photo – Elise Wilken, Styling – Nat Turnbull.

    ‘Mixed Doubles’ hand painted leather bracelets by Melbourne designer Jen Booth. Photo – Elise Wilken, Styling – Nat Turnbull.

    Jen Booth first invented the tiny leather locket.  You remember it.  WELL documented in these parts, Jen’s leather lockets took the internet by storm when she first launched them back in 2012.  Then came the ‘Large-ish’ leather lockets (aka, cross-body bags)… another instant classic.

    AND though it has been a little while since those early days of locket-mania, this week, just in time for the last minute gift-hunt, our dear pal Ms Booth has launched her latest design – these bold and supremely stylish ‘Mixed Doubles‘ rolled leather bracelets, hand painted in a range of superb colours, and made right here in Melbourne.

    After taking a leatherwork course in New York last year, and experimenting with various leather rolling, stitching and clasping methods, Jen sourced the perfect rolled French leather for her creations – we especially love the ‘liquorice’ thickness, and those elegant gold clasps!

    But mainly, let’s face it… it’s all about the colours.

    ‘The tricky thing with leather, is that on a small scale, you can’t dictate the colours you want it to be – frustrating when you are obsessive about colour!’ says Jen. ‘Whilst trialling various hand dying and painting methods in my studio, I found that I could mix my own leather colours, and all my dreams came true!’

    As the name suggests, these do tend to look particularly awesome when worn in pairs.  ‘I wanted the dual toned bracelets to be something you could wear solo, give one to your bestie, or wear in couplets or stacks in tandem colourways…’ says Jen. Like most things in life, more is more!

    ‘Mixed Doubles’ bracelets are $49 each and are available online here.

    ‘Mixed Doubles’ hand painted leather bracelets by Melbourne designer Jen Booth. Photo – Elise Wilken, Styling – Nat Turnbull.

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  • 12/15/14--19:00: Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle
  • Tasty Tuesday

    Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle

    Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry

    Today marks our FINAL Tasty Tuesday instalment from Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry, who shares with us another recipe from her brand new book (also titled The Whole Pantry, out this month!).

    Belle’s Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle is a crunchy, sweet, more-ish treat, perfect for sharing or gift-giving over the holiday period.  Rich in zinc due to the Pumpkin seeds, and sweetened only with rice malt syrup, it’s guilt-free and surprisingly nutritious – win, win!

    Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle.  Recipe by Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry.  Styling – Lee Blaylock, stylist assistant - Nat Turnbull, art direction – Lucy Feagins, photography – Eve Wilson.

    Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle dipped in raw chocolate.  Recipe by Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry.  Styling – Lee Blaylock, stylist assistant - Nat Turnbull, art direction – Lucy Feagins, photography – Eve Wilson.

    Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle dipped in raw chocolate, with salt flakes.  Recipe by Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry.  Styling – Lee Blaylock, stylist assistant - Nat Turnbull, art direction – Lucy Feagins, photography – Eve Wilson.

    You can thank us later for the quick, last minute Christmas or end of year gifts these make, but more importantly, report back on how something so crunchy-delicious makes you feel. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of Zinc, a vital mineral many of us are deficient in. Zinc plays an important role in sleep, mood and skin health, with the healthy fats protecting you from premature ageing.

    Pumpkin seeds are also great for gut health, and are a staple amongst the TWP recipe collection, not only as a substitute to nuts, but as a topping to ice cream, salads and dinners. Buy your wholefoods in bulk to have them on hand for our recipes, or as a nutritionally dense addition to your own family favourites.

    This brittle is also free from refined sugar, making it a surprisingly guilt-free indulgence for those with a sweet tooth!


    For the brittle

    • 1 cup (160g) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
    • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    • ½ teaspoon mixed spice
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 cup (250 ml) rice malt syrup
    • sea salt flakes and cacao nibs, to sprinkle

    For the raw chocolate

    • ½ cup (125 ml) melted virgin coconut oil
    • ½ cup (50 g) raw cacao powder
    • 2½ tablespoons pure maple syrup
    • Pinch of sea salt flakes


    Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Toast the pepitas in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat for 5 minutes or until fragrant.

    Meanwhile, combine the bicarbonate of soda and spices in a bowl.

    Bring the syrup and 1/3 cup (80 ml) water to the boil in a medium heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer (being careful that the syrup does not bubble up too high) for 6–7 minutes or until it reaches 150°C (hard crack stage) on a sugar thermometer.

    Working quickly, stir the pepitas and spice mixture into the syrup – it will bubble up slightly. Pour the mixture onto the lined tray and spread it out to a rectangle, about 30 cm x 25 cm. A silicone spatula is great for this job. Set aside to cool.

    For the raw chocolate, whisk the coconut oil, cacao, maple syrup and salt until smooth and well combined.

    Break the cooled brittle into shards and dip half of each shard in the melted chocolate. Return to the lined tray and sprinkle with a little salt and cacao nibs, or even some extra chopped pepitas. If you’re getting impatient, pop the tray in the fridge for a few minutes to help set the chocolate.

    Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

    Ingredients for spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle.  Recipe by Belle Gibson of The Whole Pantry.  Styling – Lee Blaylock, stylist assistant - Nat Turnbull, art direction – Lucy Feagins, photography – Eve Wilson.

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    Australian Homes

    Rebecca McJannett, Fatima Bertolini & Family

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    Today’s gorgeous little home in Sydney’s Marrickville is a testament to what can be achieved with a bit of creative ingenuity, a ‘can-do’ attitude, and a lot of elbow grease!  This happy little home belongs to Rebecca McJannett and Fatima Bertolini and their two young sons – and let me tell you, these ladies are impressive in more ways than one!  If their epic DIY renovation efforts aren’t enough to convince you… how about the fact they let us shoot their house just a day after little Bowie was born, without even a hint of stress!? Superwomen, I tell you!

    The beautiful Marrickville home of Rebecca McJannett, Fatima Bertolini their young sons Sid and Bowie.  Above – dining room, with a vintage dining table sanded and painted by Fatima (who is a plumber by trade, and very handy to have around!).  Limited edition TRENDIG chairs from IKEA and the yellow IKEA PS 2012 stacking dining chair. (Rebecca works at IKEA!).  Pendants from IKEA, Silk footstool from Apache RosE, felt pom pom from Megan Morton’s garage sale. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Kitchen recycled from an IKEA room set (ex-store display).  Copper pendants from Apache Rose.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Kitchen detail. Solid concrete kitchen bench poured by Fatima. Kitchen recycled from an IKEA room set (ex-store display). Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Kitchen recycled from an IKEA room set (ex-store display).  Copper pendants from Apache Rose.  Painted timber ceiling panels.  Bec says she’s so glad these were retained in the living room and kitchen – ‘leaving these raw fits the house, and is so much cooler than the front part of the house’.  These windows were rescued by Fatima from a building site she was working on… They were set to go in a skip! Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.


    Living room (sweet one-day-old Bowie was sleeping soundly in the ‘Miyo’ baby hammock whilst we took this shot!).  Vintage leather chair bought from an antique dealer in London. Industrial cages found in London, the ‘Open’ sign is also a flea market find from the UK.  Framed limited release wrapping paper by James Daw. And those beautiful painted timber roof panels! Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Lounge room.  ‘The abstract painting was a gift from illustrator James Daw, who has been my friend for over 15 years and is also our sons’ Daddy’ says Rebecca. Sofa bed from IKEA sleeps all Rebecca and Fatima’s international family and friends! TV unit is actually 3 chest of drawers side by side – ‘they are the perfect height and we love the depth of the drawers… all the guest bedding, as well as music, dvd’s, craft and electronics all live in there!’ says Rebecca. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Detail from master bedroom.   Vintage Norman Cherner chair.  Artwork by Sid, vintage maps and illustrations by Rebecca’s friend James Daw.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Master bedroom. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Master bedroom details. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Portraits of Rebecca and Fatima in the master bedroom by their friend, photographer Brock Elbank for his ‘Freckles’ series. ‘This is the only girly room in the house given we knew we were going to have 2 boys… love our pink walls!’ says Rebecca.   Vintage bassinet for little Bowie. IKEA STOCKHOLM chandelier just seen.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Sid and Bowie’s room, with artwork by Alena Smith, vintage maps, a piñata picked up in Mexico… (‘I haven’t told sid it has sweets inside!’ says Rebecca!) Bookshelf made from scrap plywood on top of the IKEA storage, Sid’s bedding from Pottery Barn Kids. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Bathrom – almost entirely built by Fatima and Bec!  ‘I designed the tapware, which Fatima made’ says Rebecca. The sink is a storm water pit, usually used for street drainage.  Rebecca made the shelves out of bits of scrap wood and dowel. Quarantine sign from the old warehouse that Rebecca  and her old friend James Daw converted and lived in back in London.  Tord Boontje garland – ‘this has never actually been used as a light but I cannot get rid of it, I’ve always loved how ethereal it is!’ says Bec.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.


    Beautiful bathroom!  ‘The tilers bill was well worth it’ says Rebecca. ‘We didn’t buy expensive tiles, but I planned the tiling for weeks to ensure all the tile sizes worked together. Then we hired the best tiler we knew. I had seen his work and he made our inexpensive tiles look amazing. They are the most commented on feature of the bathroom’. Wall panels and dowel towel pegs, made by Rebecca, pendant light is the ‘VANADIN’ from IKEA. Tap ware designed by Bec, made by Fatima out of copper. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

    Rebecca (Bec) McJannett and Fatima (‘Fatty’!) Bertolini live in Marrickville with their two young sons, Sid and newborn Bowie (plus pets Sookie the Labrador Retriever, and Tazer the little black cat!).  Fatima is Brazilian, and the pair lived together for many years in the UK before moving to Sydney together.  They purchased their run down weatherboard cottage three years ago, after shifting through various rentals across Sydney, trying to find the area that suited them best.

    Impressively, almost all the extensive renovations here have been done by Rebecca and Fatima themselves – aided by the fact that Rebecca works at IKEA  (handy!) and Fatima is a licensed plumber (even more handy!?).  ‘I planned the redesign and interiors, and Fatty regularly has to build/demolish and work closely with other trades so we have a pretty lucky skill set between us’ says Rebecca. Along the way, this industrious pair have sought the help of professionals where necessary – such as an excellent tiler, and an electrician.

    ‘We have almost completely rebuilt the house’ explains Bec.  ‘We started slowly by gutting the old bedroom/study/walk in robe that is now Sid and Bowie’s room, and reworking the bathroom, and it escalated from there!’.  The real work started in earnest when the pair  soon realised the kitchen ceiling was bulging because of the old leaky roof… at that point, it was on!  While renovating, the pair uncovered beautiful wood panelled ceilings and walls, some of which they were able to repair and retain.  (Much of their impressive renovation work has been documented on instagram using the hashtag #thelittleblackhouse – worth checking out for progress shots!)

    ‘We ripped up the old slate floors, reworked the kitchen living and dining to create an open plan room that opens onto the back deck and replaced horrid brown aluminium windows and doors’ says Bec.  The kitchen was recycled from an IKEA ex-display room set, with Bec planning the cabinet configuration perfectly to suit the space. The biggest job was the kitchen roof / ceiling.   ‘We removed the old roof and structure ourselves – my dad and brother came round to lend a hand because I was 3 months pregnant and suffering with morning sickness at the time!’ Bec recalls.

    Though they’ve been here just three years, according to Bec, with its layers of history and nostalgia, this house has really been 15 years in the making.  ‘All the furniture and art is a reflection of mine and Fatty’s life together’ says Bec. The Cherner chair was Bec’s gift to herself for her 30th (‘I did have help to fund the purchase from friends and family!’ she says). The 100 year old battered leather armchair in the lounge room was a gift from Bec to Fatty for an early anniversary – they’ve been together 12 years.

    The house is also full to the brim with art by creative friends – the large abstract painting in the living room is by British artist and illustrator James Daw, who is a dear friend, and Dad to Bec and Fatima’s two sons. There are portraits of Bec, Fatty and Sid are by another UK creative, Bec’s old friend and flat mate, photographer Brock Elbank.  Many more treasured pieces have been gifted/swapped/collected/found/repurposed and made by Bec or Fatima and their friends.

    After nearly two years of weekend and evening renovating, Bec and Fatty are happy to finally lay down their tools and just enjoy the space they have created.  ‘Mostly we love that we have a relaxed, functional a family home’ says Bec. ‘But I think rather than an aesthetic, our home has a feel. A feeling of familiarity, and of love because of the collection of memories throughout. The stuff that fills our house reflects the days Fatty and I have shared. There are memories attached to most of the bric a brac… and while it’s a challenge keeping it dusted (!!), we walk into the house and we ‘feel’ home’.

    Sweet hallway detail.  Love the ‘BABY DUE’ reminder (little Bowie arrived the day before this shoot!).  Just visible in kitchen, what Bec says is an ‘Iconic’ IKEA ‘BEKVAM’ stool – ‘Every home should have one of these stools – we have 2!’ she says! Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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    Petrina Turner · Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

    by Lucy Feagins, Editor

    We’re just one day away from taking a short break over the Christmas / New Year period, and it seemed fitting at this time of year to bring you a story I have been wanting to share for some time!

    In February this year, Melbourne’s amazing Asylum Seeker Resource Centre sought assistance relocating their headquarters to a premises which would triple their size – a 3,000 square metre commercial office space, set over two levels in Footscray.  The ASRC’s urgent call to action presented a unique challenge for interior designer Petrina Turner, who jumped in to lend her assistance.  I hope you’ll agree this is one inspiring creative collaboration worth sharing!

    Melbourne interior designer Petrina Turner with Kon Karapanagiotidis, the ASRC‘s passionate CEO and founder, at their new premises in Footscray.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Aslyum Seeker Resource Centre new premises in Footscray, designed with assistance from Melbourne interior designer Petrina Turner.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Aslyum Seeker Resource Centre new premises in Footscray, designed with assistance from Melbourne interior designer Petrina Turner.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Aslyum Seeker Resource Centre new premises in Footscray, designed with assistance from Melbourne interior designer Petrina Turner.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Aslyum Seeker Resource Centre new premises in Footscray, designed with assistance from Melbourne interior designer Petrina Turner.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    Aslyum Seeker Resource Centre new premises in Footscray, designed with assistance from Melbourne interior designer Petrina Turner.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

    When Melbourne not-for-profit organisation the Aslyum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC, for short) found themselves with the ambitious and somewhat daunting task of relocating to a 3,000 square metre run-down office space over two levels of a commercial building in Footscray earlier this year, they put a call out for help.  Amongst the many businesses and individuals who offered donations, furniture, decorating materials, and valuable time was Melbourne interior designer Petrina Turner.

    Having been a volunteer at the ASRC for almost five years prior to this project, Petrina was the ideal candidate to offer her assistance in revamping the interiors for the new ASRC ‘Home of Hope’ centre.  In early February, she attended a working bee at the new site in Footscray.  The sheer scale of the space was overwhelming  (See here for a a pretty daunting ‘before’ pic!) but Petrina was buoyed by the efforts of an army of fellow volunteers.  She rose to the challenge, joining the ASRC team to create a welcoming, colourful and uplifting space here – with almost zero budget.  Relying on the generous donations of local businesses and individuals, Petrina worked closely with Kon Karapanagiotidis, the ASRC’s passionate CEO and founder, to turn a soul-less commercial shell into a friendly, functional space. No mean feat!

    As Kon Karapanagiotidis knows, creating a safe, comfortable space and a feeling of ‘home’ is central to the ASRC’s mission.  ‘With the brilliant work of Petrina Turner we have been able to design a sanctuary for refugees. A place where people fleeing war & terror find peace, dignity and welcome’ explains Kon. ‘Many of our people are survivors of war and torture: open space, colour, warmth, and a ‘non institutional’ feel are all key to creating a feeling of home, diffusing a sense of disempowerment, and creating a sense of security and freedom from fear’.

    Everyday, this new space in Footscray now allows the ASRC and their army of over 1000 volunteers to provide a free lunch to 300 people, food parcels to 200 families a week, and help to over 1500 people a week across 23 programs and two floors.  It’s a buzzing community hub, with an overwhelming sense of optimism, hope and potential.

    We spoke to Petrina about her involvement with the ASRC, and the challenge she faced to create a truly welcoming ‘Home of Hope’ here.

    Hi Petrina, tell us a little bit about yourself?

    I am an interior designer and maker running my design practice Petrina Turner Design, with over 20 years experience in the design industry and covering a broad range of design services including residential and commercial interiors, styling, and product design and development. I have a love of mid-century architecture and design, contemporary furniture and lighting, lush textiles and a passion for the power of colour. I believe that your environment plays a huge role in how you feel, and that everyone deserves a beautiful space to nurture their soul.

    How did your involvement with the design of the new ASRC ‘Home of Hope’ headquarters  originally come about?

    For almost five years I have been a volunteer at the ASRC in their SASA (Supporting Asylum Seeker at Appointments) program, and have seen first hand the wonderful work they do at the coalface. In early February I helped out at one of their working bees to get the new site in Footscray ready.  On the first day I turned up it was a mere shell of the interior, many of internal walls had already been removed by an amazing army of volunteers.  (See here for a ‘before’ pic!) They had a fantastic turnout by those in the community happy to donate their time to this wonderful organisation and the people they help.

    The move was facilitated by the ASRC’s corporate partners, who arranged the bulk of the building works, but I was sure there was some way I could help given my design experience, so I approached Kon (who was there lifting/ moving/ carrying a bigger load than anyone) and asked what he needed. From here we sat down in the empty shell of what would become their new ‘Home of Hope’ and started planning.

    I was privileged to be able to give my time and provide my professional services to help with their interiors.

    What was the original vision for this space? 

    Kon’s vision was to create a place where asylum seekers feel welcome, safe and supported, and the amazing team of staff and volunteers there do just that. My brief was to create a ‘home’ that reflected these values, using furniture and furnishings generously donated by the ASRC’s corporate partners and the community.

    Kon and I have a shared passion for colour and the role it can play in lifting peoples spirit. This was the starting point for the ASRC’s new home.  The new space has a large, open plan community zone, with uses including reception, computer hub, recreations, food bank, community meals, music, childrens play area, and a general home away from home for some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Past this open zone you then move into the ASRC’s other important services – legal, health, counselling, aid and so much more.

    Colour became a mechanism to differentiate the zones, while at the same time giving a sense of welcome to everyone who uses it: the asylum seekers, the hundreds of volunteers and the staff. I also wanted it to reflect the uplifting spirit of the people who inhabit it. Aside from the importance colour played in the function and feel of the space, there was the need to ensure that the open space would be flexible and work for a multitude of functions.

    This is one of those rare projects where there was little or no budget, but a huge amount of goodwill from the ARSC’s supporters. The bulk of their furniture was donated from corporate partners, and my task was to arrange this eclectic collection into practical, usable zones. I also put out a call on instagram for some additional donations of rugs, cushions and art, so that I could truly make it a home away from home, and I was overwhelmed by the response. As someone who loves a challenge I set to work grouping, arranging, editing, curating to create diverse, welcoming spaces within a space.

    What has been the response so far?

    The response has been wonderful. To see people using, enjoying, sharing this space is so heartwarming. It’s wonderful to see the ASRC being used to it’s fullest, and then some. I think the work that everyone put into the new ASRC, starting with Kon, his staff, the volunteers, their corporate partners, the community, and the amazing men women and children who seek their help, shows the full meaning of community spirit. Just to see the smiles on the faces of those who spend time here is so heartwarming.

    In my small way I hope I have helped to contribute to a place that is welcoming and nurturing to everyone who walks in. The beauty of the ASRC’s Home of Hope is that it is continually shapeshifting according to it’s needs, and I will always by available to help them.

    The ASRC Christmas Appeal

    Amidst the frenzy of Christmas shopping and entertaining today and over the coming few days, do consider making a donation to the ASRC’s annual Christmas appeal – a little goes such a long way to assist with the vital services they offer to refugees right here in Melbourne!  You can DONATE ONLINE HERE.

    Aslyum Seeker Resource Centre new premises in Footscray, designed with assistance from Melbourne interior designer Petrina Turner.  Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

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