regional roundup

regional roundup: melbourne [part 2 of 4]

by anne

when it comes to australian design, there are a two sites that immediately come to mind: anna spiro’s interiors blog, absolutely beautiful things, and lucy feagins’s the design files, with tons of great interviews and features on “down under” designers. there are still so many sources for inspiration we’ll be sharing over the next couple of weeks, but these ladies deserve and extra shout out for getting the ball rolling this regional roundup. part two is up, so click here to check out the latest set of melbourne designers – gemma jones, catherine campbell {my folk lover}, nicholas jones (and keep your eye out for the link to lucy’s interview), sarah o’sullivan {fable design} and paul fuog {co-op}. click here if you missed part one, and you can find all of the roundups here. –anne

click here for the full roundup or click “read more” below.

{brighton beach, melbourne courtesy of beau wade on flickr}

Gemma Jones

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I’m originally from Fremantle, Western Australia. Part of a semi beatnik/beachcomber family of artists and cats. I have been living and working in Melbourne on the eastcoast for the last 15 years. I have a studio/home in an old milkbar in the industrial western suburbs.

2. Describe your work
I’m a pop art painter with an eye to design, the past and the concerns of small “f” feminism. I see my work as a celebration of feminine identity as well as an exploration of language, representation and flatness.
3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
I love our recent past and how it lives on in people’s homes and lives. I like the old language that remains suburbia, like flywire doors, old painted ads on walls, vintage signage, mid-century tiles. I’m an avid collector of Australian ephemera – my favourite being vintage Weigel’s Dress Patterns.

Marion Hall Best would be one of my most loved personalities who exuded the sense of bold, optimistic style that is Australian but made up of international influences and flavours. I think, like her, I looked outwards a lot when I was younger. I was very conscious of growing up “away from the rest of the world” – and I always strove to make my work and ideas as rigorous as anything you would find in big cities. I always dreamt of Andy Warhol and life in the Factory.

I think I’m also generally influenced by the brightness of the Australian sun and summer, the sense of space and the myth of youthful optimism in our culture.
4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
I made Melbourne my home because the little everyday moments of city life make me happy and inspired. A visit to the Camberwell Sunday Markets, a beer at The Gem Saloon or a trip to the Museum of Printing with my friends.

5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?
Beautifully understated and fresh. Lots of the people that cross my path also have an interest in the new-craft-revolution and also doing design that overlaps with art. So for me, I see a lot of sincerity. And that’s important to me.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Back to the sixties. London in the sixties!

Click here to visit Gemma’s site and see more of her work on flickr, and for sale on etsy.

Catherine Campbell/My Folk Lover

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I am from Sydney, Australia. I now live in Melbourne, which is a little further away from everything else.
2. Describe your work
I make drawings, I often combine pen and ink with watercolour washes and paper collage. My work is quite whimsical and is inspired by little tales of the everyday, so in hindsight my drawings become something like a diary for me.

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
My current work has only come about because of where I live. A little while ago I stumbled into Melbourne and found some wonderfully talented people having a lot of fun and this really inspired me. Melbourne, particularly the area I live in, has a strong creative scene and it is great to be around people who are passionate and totally dedicated to making new things.
4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
I might go gallery hopping or visit the State Library to look at pictures, Melbourne has some great laneways in the city where you can sit drinking coffee and watch all the people go by. Good music always helps. I have a lovely big backyard so most of the time I will just potter around the place and wait for the inspiration to find me, I’ve found it usually works best that way.

5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?
From what I know there seems to be a lot of exciting things happening. Some areas of the design scene seem to be a lot more experimental and accepting of new things than the fine art scene. There is a whole new breed of artists, illustrators and designers who have decided to hang out together making whatever they like, so all the boundaries are getting mixed up and therefore fun things are happening.
6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
At the moment I want to visit the National Maritime Museum in London, it seems to have a lot of wonderful things to look at. I also want to go to Berlin to visit a friend, I think I’m going to do this in November. If I don’t have to bother with real world constraints then I would like to travel the deep seas and see all the animals quietly swimming by in the dark.

Visit Catherine’s website, blog and etsy shop.

Nicholas Jones

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I was born in England, but came to Australia when I was two years old. I am now based in Melbourne.
2. Describe your work
My work is described as book sculpture, book surgery, altered book work etc… I Basically trawl through second hand book shops and find appropriate books to fabricate work from. Usually I hope to find books with unusual bindings, odd sizes, endpapers, colour, marbled foredging, high quality paper etc… My work sits quite comfortably in the areas of fine art, design and craft. The main techniques I employ to alter the books are folding, cutting, tearing and sewing. Occasionally I have stacked books together to create site specific installation work. Each technique garners a distinct result and makes each work quite unique; I do not make editions. Each work is essentially different.
3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
I do not believe that where I live directly reflects what I do. The proximity to a quality second hand bookstore is essential, but other than that, much of my inspiration is gleaned from books such as the Poetics of Space, by Gaston Bachelard. Also science books are often inspirational when they contain images of shells, nests, bowers, maps and other things of interest to me. Also my studio is about a hundred metres from Federation Square which contains the Contemporary section of the National Gallery of Victoria, The Australian Centre for the Moving Image, The National Design Centre and many other cultural institutions. Melbourne is a very vibrant cultural city, with heaps of funny little cobblestone alleys and many galleries, restaurants, cinemas etc… Always lots to feed the hungry eye.

4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
Victoria, where I live is very diverse when it comes to scenery. From the wild of Wilson Promontory and the Great Ocean Road, the High Plains and snowfields to the north and many and varied 19th Century gold mining towns which are quaint and quietly spectacular. It is all very close.
5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?
The Australian design scene is very vibrant and there are new retail outlets for contemporary furniture, craft, fashion, design and art opening all the time. Lots of people are writing terrific blogs on Australian design, such as Lucy at thedesignfiles.net. I have also noticed over the past few years that fashion in the field has become a lot more important. I like to see what people are wearing around town.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
I have always wanted to go to Scandinavia and look at the traditional architecture, which is so refined and simple. Also I am hoping to get to the States, if I get myself curated into a show there. Fingers crossed!!

Click here for Nicholas’s website and read the Design Files interview here.

Fable Designs

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I am from Melbourne, Australia, where I continue to live and work.

2. Describe your work
I am a Textile Designer. I design woven, printed and embroidered fabrics. I work across homewares and fashion. About a year ago I set up Fable, a small business making my own range of printed products.
3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
Melbourne is a vast, sprawling, wintry city with lots of different boroughs. I grew up in the suburbs, and a lot of my early work was based on suburban landscapes. I have since moved into the inner-city, which has definitely influenced my work. I live in an area full of beautiful yet run-down old Victorian terrace houses. It is a great area with a lot of street art and artist/designers. This means there is an abundant source of inspiration. I would encourage people to check out some of my favorite Melbourne artists/designers. These include, Dylan Martorel , Anna Petyarre, Morgan Allender, Kathryn Dell Barton, Obus (Melbourne fashion Label) and Third Drawer Down.

4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
Living in the Melbourne is great for keeping in touch with what’s happening in the art and design scenes here in Australia, but when I need to gather my thoughts there is nothing I enjoy more than getting out of the city to the country. My partner’s family has a country home a couple of hours out of Melbourne. Being in the Australian bush is always inspiring for me.
5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?
The design scene in Australia is exciting and constantly expanding. We have a lot of great Universities and organizations that support independent designers, and many Australian consumers are interested in supporting local designer/ makers. This definitely enables small independent businesses to grow and establish themselves.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Well, I love Melbourne and wouldn’t live anywhere else in Australia, but if I could go anywhere else then I’d love to go to Buenos Aires, Argentina. A lot of really interesting art and design seems to be coming out of there at the moment. Or of course NY.

Click here to see more of Sarah’s work.


1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I was born in Melbourne Australia and currently still live here.

2. Describe your work
I’m a Graphic Designer. I work across branding, publication and environmental graphics. I really like the tactile aspect of graphic design. I am always interested in exploring new formats and new materials. At the moment I am creating a brand image for a client out of compressed metal.fuog1.jpg

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
A lot of the COÖP’s clients are from Melbourne so I guess it tends to inform our work and overall aesthetic. I try to avoid developing a particular style however it would be naive to think that where I live doesn’t inform my work. Things like climate, economy and people all inform my decisions which in turn informs my work. Generally, Melbourne does have a loose, rather organic style – I think this comes down to our laid back, do-it-yourself kind of attitude. I battle with this at times as my personal aesthetic is more deliberately styled. I usually try to loosen things up in the final format by choosing contrasting raw stocks and finishes – this seems to keep my Melbourne clients happy.fuog2.jpg

4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
The majority of my inspiration comes from the people around me. However, sometimes it is great to be alone, to free your mind, empty out the crap and re-energize allowing that inspiration and energy to flow. For that I love nothing more than the ocean and here in Australia we have one of the most beautiful coastlines.

5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?
The design scene in Australia is really energetic. Our ‘have-a-go’ cultural mindset encourages people to experiment and try new things so there are always heaps going on. Our graphic design scene is still very young. Until recently we haven’t celebrated or acknowledged our design history but rather looked overseas. Things are beginning to change. A documentary has just been made featuring some of Australia’s most influential designers, celebrating their lives and their contribution to defining Australia as a nation in design terms. This is fantastic as it means we (designers) in Australia can begin look to our local heros for inspiration and hopefully begin to develop a richer design history.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Sayulita in Mexico would be nice.

Click her for more work by co-op.

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  • I live in Brisbane but my work is based in Melbourne, so I get to travel there about once a month, and I love it too :) Oooh – except the winter wind!
    It’s true when people say it’s the art/design hub of Australia – especially compared to Brissy. If you come to Australia, you’ve gotta go to Melbourne!

  • Ohh Anne thanks so much for the shout-out and for featuring so many great Melbourne designers! Your cover image of the ‘brighton beach boxes’ is about 5 mins walk from my family home :) It’s so great to see Melbourne content up here! Thanks again! Lucy x

  • Just wanted to comment that Anthropologie has a new entrance display using books in a very similar way, but not nearly as beautiful, as the work of Nicholas Jones. Coincidence?

  • it’s so great to see a melbourne feature – it’s a wonderful city. you should definitely feature volker haug in a melbourne profile – he is a very interesting young lighting designer.

  • Really enjoying the Melbourne Regional Roundup feature – a beautiful and inspiring city – can’t wait to see what else you have to show!

  • What font are you using for the word Melbourne? It is so beautiful and curvy, but not too curvy. Just right!

  • Hi I really hope when you do the promised Brisbane round up that you contact the collective Rinzen. Rilla and Steve now live between Berlin and Brisbane and are incredibly prolific and diverse artists. They are successful internationally but still make time for mentoring emerging artists and we in Brisbane think they’re the bee’s knees!

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