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Category Archives: Studio Home Interview
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.
Explore more of the George and Willy World here:
Those with a keen eye on the down under design scene may have recently spotted flashes of this beautiful new accessories textiles collection. While we have come to expect our magpie eyes to recognise the colours and shapes often synonymous with Australian textile design duo; Kate & Kate, their new “Carnival” collection has a little more of a twist to it!
“Carnival captures the joy of gathering together, the convivial delights of a shared table, a picnic under the shade of a gumtree; all with the homely embrace of luxurious yet robust cottons, wools and linens. The collection is a celebration of celebrations, both jovial and nostalgic with classic geometrics complemented by painterly and spirited prints.
The collection offers cotton and alpaca blankets, large scale linen table cloths, linen throws, napkins, tea towels, both linen and leather cushions and hand woven bed spreads.”
While I am very much grabbed by visions of “picnics under gumtrees” (!!) I was also interested in the top notch, group design process that bought this range to life! The collaboration of Kate and Kate with iconic interior design leaders; Arent & Pyke.
On a whim, after spotting that Juliette Arent had mentioned an interest in textiles in an interview, Kate and Kate reached out with an invitation to explore that further.
And as all good pairings go – the collaboration grew some momentum bringing us 18 months down the track to this beautiful collection and the material proof of what can happen when 4 Australian design minds merge in the middle.
Keen to take this opportunity to mine the ideas of these designers a little further (all of whom I have a bursting respect for) I compiled a list of questions (a little left field at times!) focused on topics I would be very interested to find their thoughts on.
Pictured from left to right: Kate Pascoe-Squires , Juliette Arent, Kate Pascoe and Sarah-Jane Arent.
Work/Life balance can be challenging to maintain at the best of times.
What is your work space like and what are the little details within it that help you get the work done!
Kate Pascoe: Oh what a juggle! If anyone finds the answer to that thing called balance – please contact me!! I am so lucky to have the space I work in, it is a little slice of heaven. Designed by Fiona Lynch, the Kate & Kate home in Port Melbourne is a gorgeous open space, with clean lines and plenty of light – a place where you can really catch your breath. We have Buddha radio pumping most of the time, lots of coffee throughout the day and a big wine fridge out the back filled to the brim with Logan Rosé – all of that really keeps us all going.
Just recently, I decided my phone is a huge distraction during my work day with non–stop calls, texts, alerts, alarms – it does not stop! I now put my phone on silent and anyone who urgently needs me can call on the work landline. I have found this makes a huge difference to my ability to get the job done.
Juliette Arent: In the A&P studio in Surry Hills, SJ and I work opposite each other in the far corner of the office….but we have worked sitting opposite each other for nearly 10 years. I almost wouldn’t know myself if I didn’t see her sitting opposite me during the day! When I work from home I am typically sitting at the kitchen bench with coffee or wine (depending on the time of day) or sitting on the back step that looks out to my garden. A bit of sunshine always goes a long way when doing the big picture business dreaming!
Sarah-Jane Pyke: Sunshine works magic creatively, so that was the key element we looked for when we sourced our Surry Hills space. With windows on three sides, we get gorgeous light all day, and that helps keep us all focused. I love the buzz of the team, but when I need downtime, I can retreat to the meeting room (cone of silence!) and I often start the day answering emails over a coffee at The Book Kitchen across the road.
If someone flicked a switch which demanded us all to wear tones of just ONE colour for the rest of our lives….what would yours be?
Kate Pascoe: I would have to be REALLY boring and say grey (so predictable!) I always have my favourite seasonal colours, but there is nothing more stunning than a gorgeous charcoal marle… my good old trusty!
Juliette Arent: Deep terracotta to fleshy melony pink, and everything in between.
Sarah-Jane Pyke: Just ONE colour – ouch! I can’t live without denim, so for me, Indigo, through chambray blue to washed out grey.
HOME. It’s the one place in the world we can really make our own, ignore trends and wrangle our budgets against our personal decorating dreams.
Despite you all designing for spaces and the products that help transform them, what are the defining things you do to make your own house a personal bolthole?
Kate Pascoe Squires: For me, it’s in the furniture. I don’t like clutter and don’t do knick knacks, displays for the sake of displays… I love clean lines, but to achieve a beautiful look, the quality of the furniture is imperative. I have a mixed aesthetic, combining stunning vintage pieces with super liveable items such as cushy couches with removable linen covers.
I love having a house that is lived in – the kids can run wild and I’m not super precious about any one item. If our table gets a mark on it, who cares? It’s part of the history we are creating here. That said, I do run a tight ship and the house is always tidy before I head to bed. It helps me and my family keep a clear head (well, that’s what I tell them anyway!)
Juliette Arent: It is so tempting to want to own the big heroes or icons of the furniture world that you are often putting forward to clients – but I try to avoid this as much as I can. I mostly like a mix of new and vintage, with a particular focus on the art I have acquired over the past 15 or so years. (The only reason I would like to live in a slightly larger property would be for more wall space for art!)
A wonderful part of being a designer, is the thrill you have finding those rare vintage gems for your clients……..and every now and then, for yourself.
Many years ago when (in my opinion) one of the best stores on Queen Street in Woollahra, (Copeland and de Soos) closed down, it was a very sad day. It signalled the end of an era with this type of vintage sourcing in Sydney. Most of the vintage pieces I own I purchased from Rodney de Soos and I am always patiently waiting to see if decides to get back into the business.
My fridge is forever covered in drawings or paintings that my girls have drawn/painted that week, and their bedroom is definitely not as serene and ordered as you would think. For them I am always reminding myself of my own childhood where it was all about colour……colour, timber toys and natural daylight for my kids. (I am always surprised to see when parents opt for neutral-everything for their kid’s rooms. NO!! Colour = fun!
Also, for my own house I think less about “schemes” per se, more about the feeling or the mood I would like each space to evoke. I have always been interested in the the way certain spaces can make you feel…it is not formulaic…..there is always a sensorial and emotional response.
Sarah-Jane Pyke: I really believe that your home should tell your story, and that’s the same for me as it is for our clients. I love the pieces we have collected over the years, and I feel connected to each of them, as they have the story of our lives woven in. Interestingly, I have more vintage furniture than new, and our art always ties it all together.
Some favourites include: Eames Walnut DCM chairs gifted for our wedding; the vintage drawers I sourced on ebay and had painted glossy yellow when I was waiting for “the baby”; a John Baird painting we bought the week we lost a dear friend; my mothers’ sewing machine table that has been in every entry hall I’ve had since leaving home. Right now though, we’re drowning in Lego, which adorns every flat surface of our house! Maybe one day I’ll look fondly back on that too…?
The internet has shrunk the world when it comes to connecting with
like-minded artists/designers/makers etc.
It’s such an exciting time for inspiration and collaboration (obviously!).
Aside from each other, what local creative people or brands are really spin your wheels at the moment?
Kate Pascoe Squires: We have recently collaborated with interior design house Arent&Pyke, which was incredibly inspiring. It was so fun to combine our aesthetics and they really pushed our use of colour. So good.
As we look towards our Summer 17/18 collection, photographer George Byrne is really getting us excited – his depiction of colour and form is incredible.
For shape, I can’t go past Kenya Peterson’s sculptures – hand formed wire, shaped and paper wrapped, they are incredibly distinctive.
Juliette Arent: I always love to see what Emma Elizabeth (stylist/designer/curator) is doing with Local Design – she is a powerhouse, and always at the centre of connecting brilliant designers. Shilo Engelbrecht, textile designer/artist and Lisa Cooper, florist/artist. (All the slashies!!)
Styling by Claire Delmar
Photography by Jason Loucas