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Author Archives: Sarah Allen
As an admitted fan girl of Alexandra Dodds, I jumped at the chance to visit her Auckland studio and getting the opportunity to meet the maker behind the unique and extensive jewellery range I had always viewed from afar!
Allie began her studies in Dunedin studying a Bachelor of Arts, or as she describes it, a couple of years of “mish mash”. She then attended Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in Fine Arts in 2008. Her work whilst studying was predominantly sculpture and installation based, which we can see reflected in her jewellery. Each unique piece is made by hand, imitating elements of the natural world, most obviously in shape and texture. Following graduation, Allie then spent three years in Wellington teaching herself casting in a small studio before heading off to travel America and Europe for the six months.
While on her travels, Allie did an intense one week casting course through Coopgold at Planet Modulor in Berlin. Planet Modular is a huge art shop with attached studios and also hosts many workshops for all types of creative fields. After her travels, she then returned home briefly before starting to make her jewellery full time in Vancouver.
Allie has recently returned home and is currently working from her Ponsonby studio, which is part of the glamorous Miss Crabb workroom (where Miss Crabb mascot, Moon keeps a close eye on her).
So before she shoots off across the ditch to Sydney and the Aussies try and claim her too, I asked her a few questions about her journey thus far, her future plans and of course her all important advice to us creative students and graduates.
This one is for all of you fellow creativites that love to make, mould and construct things!
What is your biggest influence in your work?
My work is heavily informed by the geometries, shapes and textures of the natural world, but I also work purely from imagination and experimentation. I’m pretty internal and I get a lot of inspiration from my materials as I am working with them.
What is your working process? How do you get your “creative juices” flowing?
I don’t plan things too extensively.. I think all my previous study from fine arts school and interests find their way into the work quite intuitively. I might start with an aspect of something I have been interested in – being an organic object, texture or a gemstone, and then simply begin to play with it in three dimensions until it transforms and becomes something.
Casting my carvings and sculptures into metal is another transformative process, and love seeing the transition from a disposable tactile material into something more precious and permanent.
The sales and marketing side has been the biggest challenge for me. I find it hard to ‘sell’ my own work, but also think that coming from a fine arts background I find it difficult to get my head around commercialising my art, but think I have found a good balance of keeping everything handmade within my studio, of limited numbers.
I feel very fortunate to be surviving off my art, and also being able to travel so much while doing it. While living in Berlin for a couple of months, I attended an intensive metal casting course.. and in Copenhagen I visited a lot of amazing galleries and studios, constantly getting soaking up inspiration from the diverse architecture and landscapes. Travelling has almost come a part of the job now, I have been to New York and Italy twice to exhibit and have plans to show my collections in Paris in the future.
You started working full-time while in Vancouver. How do you think affected your brand compared to if you were in New Zealand?
I had some great opportunities while living in Vancouver. Being so close to the US, I had the opportunity to exhibit in New York and picked up a couple of American stockists. I found a great studio in Vancouver with two other jewellers who were all running their own businesses. One had studied in business, the other in technical jewellery, and me in fine arts. We all had very different strengths, aesthetics and markets, so it was a great balance where we bounced ideas off each other and help each other out. We regularly had an open studio to the public where they could come in and try on/buy pieces directly from us. I think this time in the Vancouver studio was really valuable having that support network.
What was the best piece of advice you received about the “real world” while you were studying?
The one piece I remember was an during an artist talk with Kate Newby… and she said to keep making… just keep on making.
I am moving to Sydney in a month to ‘settle’ a little after traveling and moving so much over the last four years. As much as I have loved moving around, I am looking forward to more of a permanent set up and getting to know the community around me. Moving forward I want to focus and push the custom jewellery side of my practice. It is probably my favorite part.. as individuals some pieces would never have been imagined, but collaborating together beautiful and unexpected things can be created. I also have future dreams to open a my own little gallery/showroom space full of beautiful objects and an in-house studio.
Product photography supplied by Alexandra Dodds Jewellery
Interview and photography by Sarah Allen for Studio Home
Explore more in the REAL WORLD series by Sarah here.
Tim Webber as photographed by Sarah Allen
Tim Webber Design is well on its way to becoming a common household name. This fast expanding business is not only making waves in New Zealand but is stocked in a range of stores in Australia and Hong Kong, with its sights set on America.
Tim’s subjects at school included woodwork and graphics along with an interest in architecture. Making furniture at school triggered his path to then go on to study a Bachelor of Design at Unitech, majoring in 3D object which he graduated in 2010. From there, things happened fairly organically with him working for his dad for six months after graduating, followed by designing his first collection for another six months. Tim’s first collection consisted of six products and once they were ready, he started door knocking at different retail spaces. This is was the beginning of Tim Webber Design.
Now, 4 years on, with a new retail space that has opened recently at BLOC, it was only appropriate to meet this design go getter and have a chat.
Refined and pared back is how I would best describe the sophisticated products of Tim Webber Design, the space perfectly representing his clean aesthetic.
With little knowledge about product design and always interested in learning the road a successful brand has taken to get to where they are, I was lucky enough to have Tim share with me his insight into product design and creating his brand and now I share it with you!
Your journey to where you are now seemed to happen fairly organically for you, when did you decide that product design, specifically furniture, was what you wanted to do?
I’ve always had an interest in design and making things with my hands. After my schooling years where I found a passion for woodwork and graphic drawing, I went on to study a Bachelor of Design and majored in furniture and sculpture where I did a lot of experimenting with various aspects of furniture and product design.
It was about 6 months after I graduated when I decided to step out and really put some effort into creating my own range of furniture. I had the opportunity to set up in the corner of one of my dad’s warehouses and squeezed myself into a little gap to create the tiniest workshop imaginable.
With the use of this small workshop it allowed me to experiment and explore how this first range would come together.
You have collaborated with Eight Paws recently. What was your favourite part about collaborating and how do you think it benefits both parties involved?
Peter from Eight Paws was a great client to work with because he was so open to any concepts I put on the table. Working with someone like this during the design process always makes things simpler as it leaves me freedom to create something unique without restrictions.
The great thing about collaborating with other people on projects is that there’s always something new to learn from it, be it how some other market which I’ve never had experience with works, or exploring new materials and manufacturing processes.
What was the biggest misconception about finding work in your industry?
I think opportunities have definitely got better. I’m not sure that it’s a misconception, but I know for a recent design graduate it can feel tough to get the right design job for you.
However I think work is definitely out there in the design industry, it’s just about looking in the right places and putting yourself out there to people. It may not necessarily be the dream design job straight out of the gate, but every job has skills to learn and resources you can tap into. You only get out what you put in.
After graduation you basically went straight in to creating Tim Webber Design. Many graduates may not know how to go about launching their own brand or where to start. What would your advice be to graduates wanting to go out on their own and find their feet in the creative industry?
Find someone you look up to or is at the place where you would like to be and ask them to grab a coffee. Ask questions about how they started and how they got to where they are. Soak up all that knowledge, then apply it to your own practice.
I can pretty much guarantee that whoever you speak to that has started their own business will say that it takes a lot of effort and determination to make it work, so be prepared to be driven and focused to start your own business.
What is your working process? How do you get your “creative juices” flowing?
I often find inspiration from all around me everyday, but especially by looking closely at how even the most mundane products are constructed and designed can spark new ideas and direction.
I also draw a lot of inspiration from the various manufacturers I use. Just walking around their workshop can jog ideas with the various tools they have lying around and the manufacturing processes available they use.
What are some of the qualities that you look for in a creative when employing?
Focused, intuitive, ready to learn and social.
Tim Webber of Tim Webber Design
All product photography supplied by Tim Webber Design.
Photography and interview by Sarah Allen for Studio Home.
We are very happy to introduce you to fresh new jewellery brand; Leo Wood.
The debut collection is sleek, minimal and sophisticated (with an undertone of tough!)
With over 10 years of experience as a successful industrial designer, designer Leonie Brickwood followed her attraction to minimalist, geometric design and need to create by hand to learn a new craft and go on to produce this very wearable range.
Take some time to browse her first pieces.
Imagery courtesy of Leo Wood
Boxers – they remind me of being a teenager and painstakingly (and awkwardly) hanging around the guys underwear section trying to decide WHICH pair would be the coolest pair to be my new PJ bottoms!
Man oh man…. I wish Champtaloup existed then!
Introducing the discerning new friend of all lazy girls and styley men, Champtaloup are a new kiwi brand specialising in producing (handmade) boxer shorts.
Trawl their debut collection here and maybe pick up a little something for someone special?
Imagery courtesy of Champtaloup
Photography by Olivia Hemus
Ever since spotting the work of Lisa Lapointe in a beautiful Sydney store a few years ago, I have been a keen keen follower of her progress. Which is why when I spotted a very “Lapointe-esque” cushion zip past me on my instagram I was stopped in my tracks!
Lisa has recently collaborated with the terrific Sparkk Design to translate her artwork into a capsule collection of GORGEOUS cushion covers!
Take your time to browse them here.
Imagery courtesy of Sparkk and Lisa Lapointe
Stylist Aimee Tarulli
Photographer Armelle Habib
Melbourne based Hunting for George continue the development of their home brand collection with not only the arrival of a very cool new range of bedlinen but also the launch of their own furniture line!
“Moody Blues” presents duvet covers, sheeting and pillow cases with a restrained and great masculine pallet – perfect for those of you starting to feel a little dizzy at the way out colourful options on the market! The new “Oliver ” Furniture, designed and made in Melbourne is also strong and uncomplicated, making for a cool but subtle addition to any space. There are no show ponies here, just some really really nice product that will sink into your personal style.
All in all you will want to explore what this independant boutique is offering – they have always been masters at curation and the arrival of their own products only boosts their reputation !