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Category Archives: emerging designer
It’s been a while between collaborations so I am TOTALLY thrilled to bring you the first TEAM.WORK project of 2017. And, as always, it is damn unique!
I had been admiring the collection of the Mushama & Me rain coats for more than a few years when designer; Sharn Blackwell and I began to trade emails with a sniff of a collaboration in the air. I had previously blogged about the brands original Rain Cape and was already envisaging my dream twist on this great initial concept.
So Sharn and I got together in Auckland last year, playing around with the sample shape and visiting some brilliant local fabric wholesalers. We sent a few of our favourite samples to her local waterproofer and thus began the trading of parcels between the islands.
We settled on a beautiful lightweight cotton with a super fine navy pinstripe which, when waterproofed, had a result that was both neutral to work for most peoples personal aesthetic but had some subtle texture for interest. It also meant that it was still super easy to be roughly folded up and shoved into bags to be pulled out when needed. Handy.
Work was also done on the original design in terms of adding some front facing “arm slits” for those times when the hands need to come out but everything else would like to stay dry. These have internal zips to make access easy and tightly shut shop when you are needing full closed in coverage!
Lastly we surveyed you guys on the dome and cord colours – which was fun and super revealing! Out of the three options our “dirty yellow” (or mustard yellow as we call it now) won and the cherry on the top was complete!
The result is a waterproof workhorse of great quality, made locally in Auckland and offering awesome versatility. This isn’t something to last the season – it is classic and carefully built to last you years and years.
During the design process, we literally discussed who the cape would work well for.
Those having to stalk the soggy sidelines of sports fields, making that bike OR walk commute in our crazy volatile climate or even tucking a baby away in a front pack/sling to be snug and dry. It’s the perfect back-up to keep tucked in the car for weather emergency’s or to take you from the forest to the streets without looking too “outdoorsy and rustic!”.
The hood is decent and will cover a bike helmet plus the low scooped hems will protect your arms and thighs if zooming through a downpour!
I’d love to invite you to read on further below to learn more about my collaborator Sharn Blackwell of Mushama and Me.
You’ll also get to enjoy MANY different takes and angles on the Rain Cape as modelled by my own mother, Mimi, my sister Caroline and her daughter, baby Ada!
And right at the bottom you will also find the details for how you can WIN our original sample!
The cape is available exclusively in very limited numbers online at Mushama & Me.
Click through to find out more in terms of measurements and specs and please don’t hesitate to snap up your own if this looks like the solver of all your weather exposure issues!
Sharn you have lived around the world, by your own admission, in some pretty wet places! Mushama and Me has no doubt rescued many bodies from the elements – can you talk us through your design process and how you arrived at the Rain Cape and others in your collection?
Yes indeed, I have lived in and worked my way around many parts of the world. The wettest, and most inspirational city was Amsterdam. The weather there is crap, yet it doesn’t stop people getting outdoors. Whether its sunny, raining or snowing – biking is still the mode of transport for most Dutchies.
I think that is awesome!
However, I noticed most people riding in the rain would have mastered the knack of holding an umbrella in one hand while riding to stay dry.
Once shopping around a little, I realised this was the much cooler option when considering the pretty horrific wet weather gear options available…
Amsterdam is where Mushama & Me was born, and so from the beginning I had biking in mind. I wanted to create a raincoat that people wanted to wear (that looked cooler than an umbrella!) I started with two styles, the original A-line cut, and a bike specific style with leg straps to keep your knees dry.
Over the past few years the collection has developed and grown, but still has practicality at the core.
“I think about the lifestyle of those who don’t let rain get in the way of life, like the Dutchies, who still walk, bike and play in the rain.”
Getting out and about is obviously a core value for the Mushama and Me customer (rain coats aren’t that handy for lounging on the sofa…).
Where and what are your favourite outdoor things to do with your family?
I have always loved the outdoors, and luckily I married someone who also does. We love to travel the world and try to keep this a priority in our busy lives.
We live in Stanmore Bay, just north of Auckland, in a beautiful spot. We’re super lucky that we can walk to the beach for fresh ocean air, and spend a lot of time there, walking the length of the beach and watching our daughter play and learn.
That said, we spend more weekends away than we do at home. Its incredibly refreshing to leave the hustle and bustle, even if its for 2-3 days.
We love to go camping, its good for the soul and makes us appreciate the simple life. Hiking (mostly short walks now with a baby) is something we try and do most weekends, whether its in one of Auckland regional parks or one of NZ’s spectacular trails.
And festivals – outdoor festivals are the best! It’s where people loose their inhibitions and live totally in the moment!
UPDATE: Thanks for all the awesome entries! Looks like a lot of you could use a Rain Cape in your lives!
The very lucky winner, drawn at random was Deb L.
Join us to WIN!
We have decided to put our sample Rain Cape up for grabs. This exactly mirrors the original that you can buy here except for the zips being access from the outside instead of in.
In the comments below tell us “on what occasion in your own life do you think the TEAM.WORK Rain Cape would come in handy?”
(eg. your daily commute in Auckland, your planned travels to Iceland in spring, your forced attendance to winter based sports events….)
– Winner will be drawn at random on Thursday 22nd of June. v
– Open to NZ and Australian residents only.
I am really pleased to bring you this bright light from the jewellery corner of our down under industry!
To me, Nina Gordon gleams with that kiwi girl, can-do attitude, which, I like to think sets us apart a little on the world stage. Her love of jewellery is founded in a love of working with her hands, something that was fostered by time spent with her Dad in his car wrecking yard….I’m not kidding. She is as gritty and cool as she sounds, and I think her shiny, strong aesthetic flows easily through every range she produces for her brand; FLASH .
As wearer of a FLASH ring myself, I can vouch for the everyday ease that comes with Nina’s style. My only problem is how long my wish list is!
I hope you all enjoy the interview below !
Nina, you share on your site that you began working with metal with your Dad at just 15.
What was it that appealed to you and what has been your path to end up designing for your own brand?
I’m really close with my family and they have had a massive influence on me being creative. I use to do metal work with my dad at a young age as he had a car wrecking yard. My after school job was pulling switches and gauges out of old cars on stacks – we have even built a car together (it’s my pride and joy #bogan). I wanted to become a mechanic like my Dad but my Mum got me into jewellery instead – she has the best collection and has always inspired me.
We both enrolled in jewellery night courses and my interest bloomed. Nelson is like a mecca for amazing jewellers and I have had many amazing teachers, I then became the regular at the studio enrolling in the course just to use the equipment. The thing I love about working with metal is you get instant results (lol It’s safe to say I have little patience!).
It wasn’t until I was in Wellington and was over my job as a coffee roaster, that I decided to follow my creative side and randomly applied for a job at a metal design firm. Working in the metal industry was interesting…hahaha.
I was the only female and all the men were 20 – 30 years my senior, the technology was all from the 70s (and the safety standards lol). I was just insanly lucky that the GM really liked me and I became his sidekick, he taight me so much about casting, plating and metal….. I don’t think I would ever do it again, but I’m so happy I did, as this is how Flash started.
Flash was a bit an accident, one day when on the factory floor I had brought along some of my silver rings as there were a few spaces available in a mould, so we casted them, plated them and Bam. Flash was born.
I gave these rings to all of my friends and word spread, so I decided to create a whole collection and the rest is history. It’s been a really organic, fun journey.
Given the chance to hang out with any of your design and style heroes – who would be on your list to invite to drinks?
Wow great question, I have a large verity of design /style heroes that I love. From the costume jewellery era Paloma Picasso and Yves Saint Laurent – I’m obsessed with the design from the 80s!
Style wise, Carmen Hamilton from Chronicles of Her and Yasmin Suteja are at the top of my list. Also, I would invite some of my Wellington and Melbourne girlfriends, they are all very independent about there style and fashion- I love that they give zero f*cks.
That’s the most inspiring thing to me.
You’ve recently relocated from Wellington to Byron Bay via Melbourne? What was behind your move and how is it all going?!
Yes that’s right – we’ve been moving around a bit, I left Wellington for Melbourne and spend a few years in the city and now we have relocated to Byron – It was just such a great opportunity as my partner Rich received a job transfer.
I am really enjoying it here, it reminds me of where I grew up and being beside the beach and outdoors is more ‘me’. I am more inspired, productive and just have more headspace which is amazing!
I personally know the exhilarating ride that is self employment – the unrivalled satisfaction in a WIN and the tired feeling of another wall being put up. What advice or wisdom could you share with us that you have learnt to be true on your own ride?
Hahah being self employed definitely has its highs and lows. (Especially when you are bank rolling it yourself lol).
I think the thing I could share, is to make decisions and take calculated risks. For a period I stalled because the ‘conditions’ were not right.. I was like waiting.. but for what, I was unsure. Making decisions is hard, But opportunities don’t wait – I’ve definitely learnt this the hard way.
Also, do things for yourself, it feels really good and people can see thought things that aren’t genuine.
What I learnt from Nina:
Perhaps it IS this simple?
That love of a material or process might actually
be the pathway to a career with passion.
Explore more of the FLASH world here:
I’m so glad that I’ve moved onto to this Q+A format as it’s not just YOU gaining a deeper insight into the brands and work featured here!
At face value, I truly do love Fazeek; an Australian brand sporting punchy graphics but in tones that don’t blow your socks off. I love the fact that I could have a table cloth to go with my cushion or mix and match with reverse coloured napkins. The baskets are quirky and cool in their slightly muddy tones …totally up my ally.
But it has been the email conversations and answers to my questions below that has reallllly taught me about where Fazeek is coming from. The zigzagging journey of creative determination leading designer/stylist; Jackie Fazekas to step out from assisting others to pursuing her own brand and career is totally inspiring.
Can you tell us a little about the path that led you to design and run your own creative enterprise?
After over a decade working in the hospitality and fashion retail industry it felt like a pretty natural progression to fuse my love of design, colour and textiles with an insiders understanding of the practicalities and quality required from linens.
I worked as a design assistant (fashion) initially in Melbourne in the early 2000’s and moved to Berlin in 2004 where I continued to work for prominent, independent German design houses.
Having returned home to Melbourne and ready to “go out on my own” I started “made by name”, a jewellery and accessories label where I had the opportunity to explore 3D printing and also work with some of my favourite natural products; wood and leather.
I had such an incredibly collaborative time working within fashion, but I soon realised that what I wanted creatively,… needed to be a bit dirtier 😉 I didn’t even know how much I missed being elbows deep in paint and gunk until fashion felt all too clean.
Both my grandmothers were creatives. My paternal Grandmother was a fashion designer, and post World War 2 moved to Australia and became the head designer of Bromley. My maternal Grandma was multi-disciplined artist, her tapestries although not my personal taste were incredibly inspiring.
Around 2 years ago, to further hone my skills in interior design and styling I approached Simone Haag to see if I could assist her on shoots. From there I’ve worked with some incredible Australian interior stylists including Bree Leech, Heather Nette King and Tamara Maynes. I’ve been lucky to work with these successful, creative women I hold in such high esteem and have learnt a lot from watching their process from initial vision to the reality of the set build, to the finished product.
I feel, with Fazeek I’ve finally started to bring together all of my influences: past and present, knowledge and aesthetic values, particularly in the latest collection ‘Hold Up/Hands Off’.
You manage such a delicious balance between texture, graphic detail and a neutral palette. Does the overall vibe of the Fazeek collections reflect your personal style in your home?
Being a small business owner, my homes have been somewhat transient over recent years and I spend most of time in the studio. But my personal style is pretty apparent both in person and the spaces I enjoy being in. I love texture and have an equal appreciation for both organic and man made, “modernised” materials. I wear a lot of black, but always mix up it up texturally.
My favourite go to piece is my knee length black leather circle skirt – clean, classic and easy to build upon. I love simple but bold print in fashion and furnishings, you can’t go wrong with stripes. My original 1960’s scandanavian sideboard that I inherited from my late grandmother is still one of my favourite pieces and epitomises my approach to clean, simple, timeless shape and lines.
My new range resonates on a much more personal level: although all of my ranges have been my style, the ‘Holds Up/Hands Off’ collection is the truest reflection of my aesthetic thus far.
We are so lucky to be exposed to SO many sources of inspiration these days! What places or people do you check in with to get your brain whirring?
* Instagram – broad range from photographers to interior stylists.
* My incredible, supportive friends and colleagues to bounce new range ideas off.
* Having followed Julia Green across all platforms it’s amazing to have recently signed to Greenhouse Interiors.
* Pinterest for both storage and inspiration.
* Keeping tabs on a broad range of local and international designers allows me to see what’s already out there – as it’s so important Fazeek has it’s own unique point of view in what is often a saturated market place.
It’s incredible having SO much at our fingertips but also overwhelming and sometimes I have to stop myself getting sucked down the endless black hole of the internet!
A lot of your products centre around entertaining – table runners, napkins, table cloths, aprons etc.
What do you like to whip up for visitors at home?
Being of Hungarian/Austrian/Romanian decent there is nothing I love more than planning a delicious menu and having my mates over for a delicious feast-a-thon. Although I love Asian cuisine, if entertaining at home I tend to go to robust, European home cooking. Signature dishes that have been passed down generationally include Grandma’s Goulash (although my Mum will claim it’s hers!) and Austrian 7 hour roast duck – it’s worth every minute!
Other than feeling as at home in the kitchen as I do in the studio, obviously designing the table setting itself is part of the joy in bringing a group of inspiring people together to share a meal … and several glasses of wine!
I’m looking forward to an upcoming dinner party that will of course feature the linens from the new collection. Hmmm, what to cook?
What I learnt from Jackie Fazekas:
We should always seek to create opportunities for ourselves. This stuff doesn’t happen on its own….
Prioritise learning, collaboration and don’t fear trial and error.
Seek originality – listen to your personal aesthetic for the best results.
You can explore Fazeek to its fullest via:
Last year I slotted in on the judging panel for the annual Bolt of Cloth Textile Design Award. Just like the year before, it was thrilling to see the short lists and degree of talent in the locally submitted work (bodes well New Zealand!!). While Bolt of Cloth provide a version of heaven for fabric loving makers and decorators; I tip my hat to their committed effort at spotlighting domestic design talent with this ongoing project.
The resulting collection between Nellie and Bolt of Cloth is both bold and fluid. The colourways and playful graphics would slide into a really broad spectrum of homes of different aesthetics and its damn exciting that you can also buy this quality fabric by the meter!
These images are part of a terrific feature on the collection in the latest Homestyle magazine and you can explore the winning range in its total here online or at any of the Bolt of Cloth stores.
I thought I would take the opportunity to learn more about Nellie in her own right as a very experienced and diverse creative professional. We talked about inspiration, working from home and her personal direction when decorating her own spaces.
Working from home can be a double edged sword when it comes to productivity! What is your experience with this and how do you combat the distractions?
Time restraints with deadlines means I can’t always wait until I’m ‘feeling creative’. Sometimes I just have to turn it on and make it happen. Trying to stay focused at the job at hand can be really hard at times when working from home… I’m terrible at getting sidetracked checking out social media, the ‘just for 5 mins’ usually turns into half an hour, down the instagram rabbit hole. I have to remind myself when I’m looking at gorgeous images I’m not actually creating anything myself (that’s usually enough to snap me out of my trance).
Generally when I’m procrastinating my house looks a lot tidier, which is one bonus! You’ll find me sorting or organising things, I think by doing that it relaxes part of my brain and gives me time to think about the job I’m about to start working on. Once I’ve been briefed on a new job I try to start on it soon after the briefing, as that’s when the ideas are most fresh and I’m feeling most enthusiastic about it, really good to get pen on paper then, rather than wait a week, and come back to it. When that happens I can lose the momentum. Also I break the job down into bite size chunks, so it’s less overwhelming and feels more do-able.
Despite your huge body of illustrative work for books, brands and commissioned jobs – it’s obvious you are concentrating on more and more textiles and products aimed squarely at the “home”.
How would you describe your personal interior style and aesthetic when it comes to your home spaces?
I’ve always been bit obsessed with interiors and have a passion designing textiles for the home. My personal style is relaxed, yet I like to think it’s little sophisticated with some quirky touches.
I love having lots of books and art around me and live in a light filled house. There’s a blend of old and new pieces together, mixing midcentury lamps and sideboard with cleanline modern pieces. Most of the objects I surround myself with were collected from my travels or from vintage markets and carboot sales. I’m attracted to slightly offbeat or beautiful objects and always love finding out the back story of where these pieces came from. Though I don’t like unnecessary clutter and do love to edit my space from time to time.
My style now is more about simplicity, natural fabrics, texture and interesting print combinations. The older I get I really appreciate quality and design longevity over the ‘sugar rush’ of cheap, fast, mass produced fashion looks which require people to buy and dispose of pieces seasonally which is unsustainable and generally doesn’t inspire the same sentimentality and nostalgia as a good quality piece does. I always try and carry that through into my own designs, as it’s important for me that my designs stand the test of time.
Your career has exposed you to some major local and international names in design (Kate Sylvester and Jasper Conran to name just a few!)
Who out there in the creative world provides you with inspiration?
Currently I’m listening to some great podcasts and reading about some really inspiring females, their extraordinary stories and their ability to sustain successful careers over their lifetime. I’m resonating more with hearing stories of artists who have faced challenges or just hearing about their creative evolution over time.
One of my favourite artists is Louise Bourgeois. Her career peaked at 70, which is wonderful to think maybe the best is still to come. I’m really inspired by designers Elsa Shaperelli, Celia Birtwell, Barbara Hepworth, Bridget Riley, Florence Broadhurst, Corita Ken ( an amazing graphic designing Nun!), Lucienne Day ( so many more!) and what they were able to achieve.
I am also constantly inspired by my creative friends who take risks to be doing what they doing and always give great advice. I listen to Kathryn Ryan, on the RNZ Morning Show and BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour online, both radio show have a wonderful line up of interesting guests. Great books I’d mention would be Elsa Schiaparelli ‘Shocking Life’ and Peggy Guggenheim, ‘Out of this century’.
You had 10 amazing years based in London before returning back to the homeland. Do you think being based back in New Zealand has influenced your work?
The pace of life and laid back, ‘can do’ attitude of New Zealanders has influenced me by finding more life/work balance and helped me nurture my creative side a bit more.
If you were only allowed to hang the work of ONE artist on your walls….who would it be?
Hard question! Hmm I’m going to say David Hockey, I’ve loved his work and it’s so diverse from his pool scenes in LA from the 1960’s through to his most recent oversized hyper colour paintings of the Yorkshire landscape.
Where are your favourite haunts in Auckland ?
I spend a lot of time with my partner and son locally around Point Chevalier, where we live. It has a great community vibe, lovely beach, lots of parks and a few interesting places to eat. I also love a good forage in charity shops, looking at old books and hunting for treasures to then sneak back into the house. And always love popping into beautifully curated shops, like Flotsam and Jetsam, Tessuti and Simon James plus some of the wonderful independent books shops like the Women’s Book Shop and Novel Bookstore. Browsing art galleries on K Road happens too!
Our favourite dinner haunt would be Coco’s Cantina on K Road. Damaris and Renee are so hospitable and it always has a great atmosphere. A Friday night drink or two at Golden Dawn is always fun (especially as I’m out less these days), I can usually bump into a few old friends.
Photography by Wendy Fenwick for Homestyle
Learn more here:
*Bolt of Cloth x Nellie Ryan Collection*
I had followed the instagram account of Formantics for a good 5 months before artist/designer/maker/over achiever; Susan Christie and I started trading emails. In total honesty, I had been SO taken by the brands witchy way with colour and shape that I hadn’t cast much thought into “where” or rather; “who” it was coming from, definitely stopping short of my usual stalkerish ways.
Lucky for me I didn’t need to investigate further because one email from Susan saved me from my own ignorance and re-framed Formantics as a very personal creative venture, based on a love of making and resisting any moves to be pigeonholed. As a master of colour she hasn’t stopped short at her painted originals and print release, but instead followed up with abstract hand formed ceramics and even a collection of totally unique shelves!
For any person gravitating toward a creative career, Susan’s story is encouraging.
“My back story is pretty hectic!
I was a Navy Officer, then Psychologist,
then mother, then business consultant,
then visual arts graduate
and finally a creative business owner.”
I find it incredibly inspiring to read about people that push their life in the direction they want it to go in…even when their past experience, current responsibilities and even age might not match up to others expectations!
In the interview below with Susan she reveals so much about way she created Formantics, the road she took, challenges and even some advice for those wanting to scratch that creative itch!
Despite dipping your toe into a really diverse set of industries – you mentioned that you loved “.. nothing more than creating art and design”.
What did this feel like to you and how did you know that was your calling?
If I had a tail it would be wagging while I’m making! For me, the process of making and creating is part of my DNA. My parents were both very creative people and loved the simple pleasure of making with their hands. From making and designing clothes to furniture, my parents made everything for the pure pleasure …..and the added bonus of saving money! I would have to create even if I didn’t sell my work, although I have to say my heart does a little leap every time someone buys or gets excited about my work.
When I look back, it’s like that creative DNA was always there, I just didn’t recognise it. At age 23, when I finished my registration as a psychologist, I immediately began doing creative night classes at the local high school. I did everything from ceramics, lingerie making, landscape gardening to interior design. Also as a child, I have very specific ‘happy memories’ of creating. I would spend hours digging up clay in the back garden and making little pinch pots.
Having kids was also a real opportunity for me indulge my creative side. I was not that sporty mum that kicked a ball around in the garden. I was inside making play dough and getting all the craft stuff out and getting messy!! I used the time when they were at Kindy to redecorate the house. Painting walls, making cushions….. I was the happy homemaker! So, I guess the creative signs were all there. They just seem so much more obvious now when I look back.
You studied Fine Art at AUT as a mother AND student in her forties. How did you find this ?
As soon as my youngest child went to school, I started doing painting classes through Matthew Browne School of Art. After a few years with Matthew, he recommended that I complete a degree at AUT. So, (I’m in my forties by this stage!!!)…. I decided to go for it.
It was scary going back to university as an adult student but I desperately wanted to take my art to the next level. I did worry about how I would fit in being an “old girl.” Whether I would be edgy enough, AND how on earth I would juggle the kids and all their after-school activities! As it turns out I had nothing to worry about. I loved every minute of it ( oh …accept the essay writing that is) and because we mothers learn to juggle so many things, I could complete assignments in half the time the school leavers could. The highlights of the experience were getting the AUT painting award in my first year and being selected for the Eden Art Awards in my last year. Yay, felt so good!
Susan – you belong to a special club of people that can combine unexpected colour, pattern and shape together like a wizard!
Where does this come from? What process (or lightening strike!) happens as you create your abstract work?
Thank you, Ju. I get very excited about colour! I liken colour to musical notes and if one of my paintings was a song it might be “Chained to the Rhythm” by Katy Perry. I really like the idea of blurring traditional boundaries between craft, décor, fashion, design, and art. If I’m honest I hate that term “Fine Art”. It is so loaded with hierarchical connotations! I take inspiration from my domestic world and keep a keen eye on what is happening in all the creative industries.
In terms of my creative process each painting arises quite organically. I start with a plan but it quickly goes out the window as the process unfolds. Rather than beginning with a fixed idea, I will pick a shape and colour, create the first form and build the image intuitively from there. My ceramics are made in the same sort of way. I cut out a form and then begin creating from there. Each one is completely original and I never know what they are going to look like until the end ….. which is what keeps things interesting!
The shelves were designed out of a desire to curate the objects and paintings together on the wall. I am so proud of the shelves as they took a lot of work to get just right. I wanted them to be able to be hung anywhere on the wall. I don’t like to be restricted by having to hang art into a stud. My shelves can be hung anywhere and take some hefty weight. The beautiful lines on the ply and the round geometric shape work in perfectly with my obsession with lines.
I love that you have let yourself “wander” from painting to hand formed ceramics and even to product design. Do you envisage Formantics to grow further in this direction as an all encompassing design and art brand? Or is this you just letting yourself explore all the mediums that feel right at this stage?
The thing that sets Formantics apart, is that ability to walk the line between art and design, while producing quality, handcrafted items of distinction. Our brand is all about curating bold, vibrant elements for the home which have a playful edge.
The name of the business, (after far too much of brain storming!!!) came about by combining the words form with antics. These are two vital ingredients for all the work I produce. I chose not to use my name for the business because in the future we will expand our range by collaborating with other creatives who relate to the feel and vibe of the brand. I am positive really exciting, innovative ideas will come about by collaborating with talented creatives from all sorts of backgrounds!
You have the opportunity to offer some nuggets of wisdom to parents or people of a similar age looking to re enter study and chase after their passion….what can you give us?
I really believe in the cliché that if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. We spend far too much time at work not to LOVE it! I would encourage people to make the change but recognise it may not come about overnight. For many of us we have to juggle families and working a job to pay the bills, while at the same time pursuing the thing that makes our tail wag! Make a start!
Last one for fun.When asking my boyfriend some questions to ask you, his first one was; “What do you have against circles?”
Ha Ha. I guess you have noticed that most of my paintings and ceramics are a little “off kilter” I like my artwork to be slightly imperfect and have a slippage of unexpected angles and colours. I think it makes them a little more interesting. However, when it comes to our shelves they are absolutely perfectly round!
Imagery supplied by Formantics with styled product shots by Tash Hopkins.
Explore the Formantics world here:
As a design brand; George and Willy are fine ambassadors of everyday, simplistic and functional products. But as people, they are an inspiring, modern representation of what the NZ “can-do” attitude looks like in 2000’s. They design things that they need and that their friends need. Things that are detailed only to the degree that allows them to do the best job. There is no fussiness, over design or frivolity – just items that help make our everyday life better.
I have followed Will McCallum and George Wilkins from the very get go. Interviewing them, collecting their products and, to be totally honest, presenting them as shining example of brands “doing it right” to my small business workshops. There is an honest integrity to what they design but also to how they share it. They literally live and breath the lifestyle that their products are made for and it shows.
Big brands pay big bucks in an effort to communicate the same to a much lesser effect….that stuff is just not for sale.
Above you’ll spot their latest offering – the Hanging Drying Rack. The genius of putting their own spin on this traditional product and releasing it to “us” is awesome. A massively functional item, I have only ever seen them in back country huts or the homes of ski friends who have peer pressured someone else to make one!
Remember – heat rises!
The rack falls into long line of products and furniture that are recognisable but fully rejuvenated by the GW team. Their now iconic release of the Studio Roller (followed by the Daily Roller) went so insane on Pinterest that link followers from the USA were ending up at MY site (following my post) and requesting I send over 8!! The viral success of the rollers pushed them to offer international shipping from the get go.
I’m proud that we get to call these guys our own and I’m excited for their future.
I took a little time to check in and spin a few curly questions their way to see what else we might learn about them as designers, business owners and Kiwi’s.
Read on below.
From left: George Wilkins and Will McCallum
In an alternate universe where you met, made a few fun things together while at Uni then graduated with no inkling to continue this particular “making” business, where and what do you guys think you would be doing?
Will: If I didn’t do G&W, I imagine I would still be making something – possibly small batch chilli sauce? Or something like that. I get my satisfaction from producing physical things which people buy and get stoked on. I also would love to do a building apprenticeship and have always been keen on architecture as well.
I don’t think I could be working on something you can’t touch.
George: When I was 10 or so I had to write this thing at school saying what I would want to do. I wrote that I would live on a high country farm in the South Island with an airstrip a helicopter, an aeroplane, a jet boat and a big engineering workshop. When I was younger my grandfather had jet boats and I was obsessed with them, I made remote control jet boats and read everything I could about the Hamilton Jet, which was invented on a high country farm in the South Island, so I think that is where the idea came from.
In an alternate universe I would be doing that.
Paint a picture of what a visitor might be greeted with on entering
the G+W HQ?
Will: The George & Willy headquarters is a big blue shed in a dead end. We have no sign but tell people to look out for the basketball hoop outside. George, Will, Alice, Sam, Sam Jarred & Louie will be here from 7:30 til 4:30 week days, pumping out product and working on new projects. Everything in the workshop has a place – it’s not fun when you have to look for things.
The office is upstairs – insulated with carpet to try and reduce the blare of the saws (didn’t work at all). We realised we will spend more time here than anywhere else so we decided to make it as fun as possible – it’s a bit like a making playground for us – studio upstairs and steel and wood workshop downstairs.
George: Yesterday a guy called Paddy turned up at the workshop. I met him at an engagement party a few weeks ago and told him roughly where the workshop was and that he should turn up one day. He turned up in the middle of the day and was given a tour of the workshop, met everyone and then left with a pair of merino socks for himself. Everyone who turns up gets a pair of socks. They would think it was a bit of a joke to be honest, most people do.
That is what we are going for though…. flag having a serious work environment!
Everyone knows what they are up to and gets it done. Its pretty funny because there is a scaffolding company down the road from us and they all walk past at smoko to go to the bakery and look in seriously confused as to what goes on in our place.
To your followers it’s refreshingly obvious that you and the team live and breath the lifestyle that your products support (anyone in doubt need to check out their Instagram AND Journal)
Clean, strong, no frills design that you can hang your wetsuits on after a dive/surf, that allow you to easily light a fire at that backcountry hut, that you can set up to eat at/study at/ sleep on/display with/ write on/ retrieve the toast with/ WEAR!
Can you each name 3 favourite NZ locations and the activities that you love to do there.
- Great Barrier Island is a cool place – we sailed over there in January for a week on my mates yacht. Absolutely loved it.
- We have heard great things about Big Bay so would be cool to get there at some stage soon – cool hike in and good waves – would be pretty chilly though!
- Wanaka is awesome – both in summer and in winter, always had the best times there.
- The DOC Great Walks . My Mum always got us kids out tramping every summer and I think that the NZ great walks are great. Just the fact that they can be walked by anyone. Your uncle, cousin, sister etc.
- The Cook Straight Ferry – how beautiful are the Sounds!
I love the ferry, you are always heading somewhere when you are on the Ferry which is generally exciting.
- As cliche as it is – walking up Mount Maunganui will never get old. It’s so close for us to do it on a daily basis and every time it reminds me how great the country/place we live in is.
- We were all actually mean’t to be in the Wairarapa this weekend as I am sitting here answering these questions. My Aunt and Uncle are from Riversdale and I think it is a hidden gem in NZ. No one from work has been there before so I was keen as to take them down to stay in the woolshed on the coast, but the weather was looking horrible so we are going to do it in a few weekends time.
I see that you guys have recently renovated a house in the Mount.
It looks bloody GREAT….I am sure you will be increasing sales in Lawson Pine as a wall cladding!
It’s certainly inspiring to see a brand freely move to undertake projects that interest you and are beyond simply adding to your “product range”…
What would be some ultimate projects you’d love to sink your teeth into in the future?
Will: I have always wanted to publish a book – I have never been good at writing so I think it will be a picture book of sorts – a coffee table kinda book I think.
Boats are also cool and love being on the water so it would be cool to do something along the lines of that. Pretty keen to sail to Fiji on a yacht at some stage.
George & Willy has naturally become quite computer and design based, so it’s always refreshing to use your hands again for a long period of time – would be cool to spend a couple years making heirloom furniture pieces – massive dining tables from beautiful timber and not just plywood haha.
George: I’ve got a bet with my brother that I will sail a yacht home from Europe by the time I am 30… not sure if it will happen, but I would be keen to do that.
I would be keen one day to build a replica of the first ever Hamilton Jet boats. I think it is just such a good NZ story and I would love to spend time on it.
I’d be keen to build a hut up a river somewhere that you had to fly/ boat all the materials into. Half the fun for me is definitely in the process and so if you can make the process include a bit of a mission that would be fun.
I have found these old forestry huts that are such a cool shape. I am keen as to restore one of them and make it a nice little cabin. My brother loves forestry, so hopefully he will get a forest I can put it in.
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