Georgie Cummings is one of those lovely softly spoken types that doesn’t seem rattled by much…which made quite a lot of sense after I learnt about her “steady-as-she-goes” attitude to simply making stuff happen!
Born and bred in Melbourne, she kicked off her studies in Industrial Design at RMIT in 2006. Like many students out there, hospitality offered a way to earn money around school hours and for Georgie the added bonus of indulging her huge passion for food. For years during and then following her degree she worked at Melbourne institution and food haven, The Essential Ingredient in South Yarra.
It was there that she met and worked alongside Jason Cesani of PrintInk, a screen printing studio that produced work on behalf of other brands as well as their own range. Recognising Georgies creative streak he invited her to visit and learn the art of screen printing. What started as a casual friendship based internship grew into part time employment and she slowly moved from mixing colours and stripping screens to printing tea towels and cushions!
In 2012 she took on a part time internship with Obus where she learnt the ins-and-outs of a creative but commercial business. This helped clarify in her head that while fashion wasn’t really her thing, accessories certainly might be! So in June 2012 she simply threw herself in the deep end by committing to the “Craft Hatch” incubator market run by Craft Victoria. This forced her past her tinkering and making for herself and on to produce a range of products she could actually sell! At the time of signing herself up she didn’t actually know what those products were going to be! (gutsy much?!!)
So with just a couple of months up her sleeve she started working stuff out. Her flatmate at the time had recently got into working with leather – so she put her hand up for some lessons then let the experimentation begin. It seemed the material was a natural fit for her aesthetic and ideas and she soon prototyped a collectioned of purses, wallets and clutches. The idea then popped into her head to see if she could print onto them…and sure enough yes! This resulted in whatreally is Georgies signature recipe of printed pattern in colour and metallic foil on beautiful, sustainable Kangaroo hide.
Not stopping there she then decided to extend her offering by exploring ceramics. Having only done “studio art sculpture” at high school and played a little with sheet porcelain at Uni, once again she fearlessly launched herself head first into mastering the material. She bought clay, playing around with it at home then would take it too the nearby Northcote Pottery to use their firing service. The result? White, hand formed beaded necklaces and pendants.
The debut range was a hit giving her the encouragement to keep the ball rolling. She launched herself into the design market circuit, opened an Etsy store and got stocked at the Craft Victoria shop, all while still working from the living room / kitchen of her shared house. By 2013 she had picked up a swathe of quality stockists including Elwood and Melbourne favourite; Dagmar Rousset. Then, with the help of photographer Ben Christensen the campaign imagery of her new collection went viral including a feature on The Design Files. This year she also collaborated on a capsule range with fellow emerging creative; Shuh Lee while sharing a stall with her at Finders Keepers and Markit.
So …. I guess you could say its been busy!
And that’s where I found her in her timeline to date. By the looks of the stock gathering in her studio, she had obviously been putting in serious hours in preparation for The Big Design Market, but there wasn’t a glimmer of stress in her demeanor. I actually found Georgie super inspiring in her calm but incredibly experimental creativity. It made me realise that the only thing stopping most of us from getting “something going” is our own confidence in our ability to learn and execute it!
You can learn much more about Georgies life in Melbourne and the lovely little home she shares with her partner; Steve Abbott by checking out the questions she answered below.
WHO: Georgie Cummings and Steve Abbott.
Steve is a mobile bicycle mechanic running his own business Nomad Cyclery, riding a cargo bike he welded together around the city servicing bikes and doing roadside repairs. He’s my go to guy for all technical know-how as he also is finishing off a mechanical engineering degree! On top of all that he also works as a mentor mechanic with Good Cycles, a social enterprise training disadvantaged people to become bike mechanics while serving the bikes of large companies staff who ride to work. And me, an industrial designer turned maker of anything especially things made from leather, ceramics and metals! Since starting Georgie Cummings as a business I’ve found it a good excuse to play with different ideas and materials, things I might never have worked with before and perhaps putting a bit of a different spin on things considering a industrial design background. Collaborating with other makers and retail shops has also been invaluable experience and something I hope to do more of in the future, and never stop learning new skills from others to keep evolving. My aim is just to make nice, clean, simple and thoughtfully designed objects, hopefully pieces that will last and be cherished. I also work part time at a local hand screen printing company called PrintInk Studio and find the different mediums inspiring.
WHAT: While the actual building might be lacking in any architectural merit, it is bright, spacious and gives us everything we need – studio/office space, large kitchen (with gas! My No.1 prerequisite for a house), garage which is now a workshop and pottery space, and most importantly a garden! We have already put in two raised beds in the garden filling them with summer veggie and have plans for further veg related landscaping, regardless of it being a rental I can’t live without having a garden. Inside, we get to be ourselves, a luxury you can overlook in share houses. I’m not so into “fluffy” decoration but rather like clean surfaces where I can make little collections of findings, or gifts – everything has a story and connection.
WHERE: We use to be in Brunswick East which was closer to the city but Thornbury is showing me its gems – great Mediterranean grocers, the Preston Market and cafes in abundance – yes most of it’s perks involve food! But really I’m loving the slightly more open spaces, the houses with gardens, some unruly and wild, others manicured but just seeing everyone out in their gardens on weekends is fantastic. The local parks and Merri Creek just a short walk away are also a highlight. And being a little bit further out of the city isn’t all bad the St Georges Rd bike path makes commuting a breeze in tree lined car free style and I’m getting fitter!
DESCRIPTION: We gave ourselves a deadline of moving out of our much loved share house – it just came down to both of us needing more space, I was taking over the kitchen table and living room all the time and after almost 9 years together I guess it was time we committed to living alone! However, new house mates were found in a flash – the place was a gem – and we were left homeless, storing stuff between our parents houses and living with my parents for a couple of weeks. However an application was handed in and we got a call that day – we moved twice in 2 weeks and still haven’t unearthed some possessions, although maybe they are best lost in the abyss!
We are both loving having space to work together and apart, even if we both get distracted and end up pottering around in the garden. We have designed and made some pieces of furniture together, like the bedside tables made from long forgotten oregon scraps under Steve’s parents house, and have more pieces planned. We both relish in custom jobs, nutting things out and making things come together.
It has also renewed our desire to live rurally, ideally Tasmania where we can have a much bigger garden to lose time in, live more sustainably growing our own fruit and veggies and a cow to milk… one day. We share the desire to be outside, make objects that last and better our environment, at the moment this house gives us a little taste of that while still indulging in multiple interests, study and the perks of living in a city before settling down … with a menagerie of farm animals and pets and acres of land, and who knows what skills we will have amassed by then!
WHAT I LEARNT FROM GEORGIE CUMMINGS:
Have a little faith in your own inate ability to create and don’t let a lack of experience get in your way.
Get learning and get making!
Meet the talented Georgie Cummings at The Big Design Market on December 6, 7 & 8 at the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne.