Monday October 27 2014
Rouda is Megan McNeill, one of the sweetest, most humble not to mention super talented designers we’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
A local textile designer and all round sweet heart, we chatted to her about her first collection Postive/Negative…
Can you tell us a little bit about Rouda, what is the brands ethos and the driving force behind it's creation?
Rouda is almost my product of a child-like state. I feel as if I am my most imaginative and can be creative without any boundaries or inhibitions, it is where I have complete creative freedom. Thoughtfully balancing surface pattern with form, Rouda is a harmony of playful charm and effortlessness through simple styles with a hint of tongue in cheek.
The name Rouda came from a nickname my grandmother would call me as a young child, “Gerty-rouda”, returning to this childishness when designing for Rouda, I can get away with being a little cheeky and playful.
My grandmother is an incredible knitter and embroiderer, so I owe a lot of my initial interest and knowledge in textile design to her so it felt appropriate to name the label with this memento.
What I think is most exciting about Rouda is that it is a label that is based around the fabric and the textile designs more so than the garment styles themselves. As having a background in textile design, I place more emphasis on the prints and fabrics and those elements speak for themselves. Of course Rouda prides itself in ensuring the prints work with the garment's shape and form, but the garment is the sub straight that really showcases the print and can tell the story.
I think the fabric plays a huge role in the integrity of a garment. You want it to feel nice against your body, for Positive/Negative, I have opted for light weight natural fabrics, utilising cotton, silk and linen so that they are cool and soft against the skin. Feeling comfortable in what you're wearing is something that I hope I can offer people without compromising style.
Another aspect that I felt that it was really important for Rouda was to have as much as the production and manufacturing done here in Australia. Locally made products are something I am very passionate about, so all the pieces are made here in Melbourne. I think supporting local business can strengthen the local design community, so it is very important to be active within it.
How do you seek inspiration for a new collection? Is there anything in particular that inspires this collection?
My first collection Positive/Negative was inspired by light and shadow, but interpreting it in quite a literal and playful way through the prints. Initial inspiration was drawn from noticing silhouettes forming on my walls, this was a starting point for motif development, and were drawn from wavelengths and hand shadow puppets to create fun, conversational prints.
I knew I wanted to create something quite clean and fresh for my first collection, so keeping the palette quite restrained was very important. I feel that the crisp black and white palette was most appropriate with the concept of light and shadow. Rouda is really about showcasing the prints on the garments, so clean lines and simple shapes have been combined with the striking, playful prints to compliment each element.
My inspiration comes from many different places, it might come simply from mark making or painting as a starting point, sometimes it's informed by nature, or traditional textile techniques, I'm a huge sucker for vintage textiles. Things that look like other things inspire me a lot too. But something amazing could hit you right in a face and stem from a completely unsuspecting source, then you just have to explore it and resolve it! That's the most exciting part as a designer!
Can you tell us a bit about your installation in store?
I am very excited to be taking over the Monk House shop front when the range drops in store. The window display will showcase the different prints working together across the range, while I play as resident sign writer for day and paint the window with motifs from the collection.
What will summer be like for Rouda?
Designed to be mixed and matched, garment styles include very resort inspired, pool-side shapes with pattern heavy fabrics. The range features long flowing silk dresses alongside more cropped length dresses, printed linen culottes, alongside simpler linen raglan shirts and skirts. Combined with accessories featuring the wide brimmed tie up cap and printed bucket hat.
I'm not that great with the heat, so summer will be spent poolside sheltered from the sun in my Rouda wide-brimmed Tie Cap amongst good company and weather appropriate cocktails close at hand.
Tuesday October 07 2014
After Soot’s launch in-store we spoke to designer Edwina Sinclair about her Spring-Summer collection ‘Splash’…
Can you tell us a little bit about your 'Splash' Collection?
The ‘SPLASH’ collection incorporates a sense of playfulness with youthful silhouettes, opulent fabrics and bright hues whilst dabbling in cotton knitwear. Paying homage to my Australian roots, the collection incorporates everyday life in Summer featuring droplet, floral and seedling prints. The exaggerated designs carry bright and popping colour palettes in soft greens, candy pinks, sky blues and lemon yellows. This collection is the first to include jewellery, the fine silver pieces from Tilly jewellery integrates SOOT’s signature prints. All garments are made and designed in Brisbane!
How do you seek inspiration for a new collection?
‘SPLASH’ draws inspiration from 1930’s beach loungewear, pyjama, sand and iPhone emoji’s. The collection stays true to Soot’s core philosophies incorporating luxury, texture and a sense of humor. I often draw inspiration from my surroundings and whilst in London it influenced me to delve into luxurious and unusual textiles.
Can you tell us a bit about your installation in store?
The installation at Monk House Design is a combination of the emoji prints used throughout the collection and the playful colour palette for summer. I think the installation demonstrates the humorous and fun feel that I hope the garments bring to its wearer.
What will summer be like for Soot?
Playful, colourful, relaxed, iphone emoji’s.
Tuesday September 23 2014
After the recent launch of their latest range ‘Ozone’ we spoke to the neoprene dream team about the collection, their inspirations and the infamous material itself…
Tell us a little bit about your 'Ozone' collection.
Our new collection is best described by our good friend Lisa Marie Corso here:
Witu’s latest range Ozone will reveal the unsung creatures of the deep. Inspired by the habitats of the ocean, from the crashing waves to radioactive jellyfish, each new piece in Ozone is connected to what lies beneath.
Murky underwater pastels and the introduction of a new sandy tactile neoprene form the tone of Witu’s latest range. Old favourites including their signature tote and backpack have been reimagined, while new species including a scalloped edged ‘Wave’ bag, shell-shaped bowler bag, exoskeleton wearable tech accessories, puff painted clothing, and even a stubbie holder designed to enjoy the coast bayside have been added to the Witu line-up.
Similarly to the chameleon-like qualities of underwater life that have the ability to hide from prey by taking on the form of their surroundings, each piece in Ozone will metamorphose before your eyes. The iPad case transforms into a clutch, the toiletry bag into a daytime companion, while the bowler bag becomes nocturnal as the overnighter.
Ozone will take you from the deep blue to the shore.
How do you seek inspiration for a new collection?
Both of us seek inspiration differently, but I would say that we both draw inspiration from the everyday. Elise likes the sea breeze to help her think clearly and Nat likes the hustle and bustle of city life to get her thinking. A lot of our designs are based off a particular function i.e if we want a bag to take away for the weekend we will design something specifically for this that caters to all the requirements this function demands. Therefore, we are inspired by going through our day-to-day lives and thinking about ways to make this better, cooler and with lots more neoprene.
The 'Ozone' collection continues to heavily involve neoprene, is this something you guys will continue with in your future collections?
Neoprene is something we wanted to stick with for this collection and we feel like it will always play some kind of role in our collections. It's just so amazing! But we do want to move into new fabrics and maybe a bit more clothing too as our long sleeves have been super popular!
Can you tell us a bit about your installation in store?
Our installation in-store continues on with our 'wavy' icon spread throughout our collection with a wavy camo 'carpet' and a wavy rack courtesy of our friends at Mr. Dowel Jones x Mathery Studio. The installation is simple, but it shows off our colour palette and range of colours. Elise has also hand painted our 'Ozone' logo on the window.
What will summer be like for Witu?
We will be spending lots of time on our bikes, at the pool, spending hours in the studio and hopefully some fun weekend getaways. As for the accessories, we are going to drop a few more fun summer styles when it starts warming up a little more.
Wednesday September 10 2014
We've played host to a number of amazing installations over the years, but the shop is looking more super special than ever thanks to Sarah Parkes of Smalltown!
Sarah has been making big waves in Melbourne for a number of years now. A prolific knotter, she works her magic with polyester rope to create some of the most amazing contemporary macramé from her Collingwood studio. Her belief in ‘simplicity of process and purity of material’ saw her break away from the crafty kitsch associations that usually categorise the craft.
We spoke to her about her practice, new project and juggling two kids & a business...
How did Smalltown begin? Did you have a set plan or did it happen organically?
Smalltown began as a jewellery label however all this changed when I started knotting and moved into large scale works. Macrame completely clicked with me creatively and all I wanted to do was experiment and see where it took me. So yes, it's been a very organic, slow and steady progression to where I am now. I always believed I could make a career from this however it's taken me a long time to build my skills and my brand. I'm not really considered a designer and I'm not an artist either but I enjoy the ambiguity as it means I create a whole range of work across different fields.
Smalltown distinguishes itself as more of a design object, removed from the kitsch 1970's world of Macrame. What would you say is the ethos behind your brand and how imperative is the history of macrame to this?
Smalltown is about quality, timeless and beautiful design. I've never wanted to be a craft brand and although the history of macrame is naturally a strong influence, I use it to set myself apart from this. Macrame is so much more than the 70's kitsch that everyone associates it with. Knotting has a strong presence in many cultures and people really respond to this. It is an amazing way to create pattern, texture and tactility which are things I love. I only use polyester rope which immediately has a different feel from the fibres from the 70's and I want my pieces to be sleek and styled rather than furry and natural! I want people to see past the 'macrame' and see that knotting has amazing scope and possibility whilst being a beautiful and practical design element.
Macrame has experienced a resurgence and for a long time I was wondering when everyone was going to realise how fun and awesome it is. There's now lots of people making hangings but this just spurs me on to create new pieces and try things that haven't been done. I have never wanted to create something that is cool or currently popular and I always try to make things that I've never seen before. Where's the fun in doing what everyone else is doing?
Can you tell us a bit about your newest collection Square*Squared?
Square*Squared is all about simplicity of process and purity of materials. The collection of lights and plant hangings all use rope as the sole material and are created through the repetition and manipulation of one knot, the square knot. The density of the knotting creates the surface and the addition and subtraction of rope creates the structure. I've also experimented with paint to add colour and rigidity to the rope.
What is next for Smalltown? Do you have any exciting projects on the horizon?
I'm doing the baby, toddler and work juggle so currently I'm just trying to keep it together!
The thing I love about my work is that I never know what's around the corner and who will approach me with an exciting possibility. I have a couple of large scale jobs in the pipeline, one 11m hanging which will be the largest I've worked on. But really if I can keep working and having fun doing this, that's pretty exciting for me!
Wednesday August 20 2014
As part of our involvement in Craft Victoria’s annual Craft Cubed festival we’ve hosted a month long installation featuring Two Hills.
The brainchild of Rhiannon Smith, Two Hills is a small jewellery label based in the heart of Melbourne. Rhiannon has been working with precious metals for a number of years and has just released her highly anticipated third collection ‘Echo’. During the month of August Rhiannon has been busily working on new pieces right in our very own window!
We talked to Rhi about her jewellery, her influences and what the future holds...
How did Two Hills come to fruition? Did you have a set plan or did it happen organically?
The development of Two Hills as a label was very organic. I've worked and studied in various areas of the jewellery industry for over ten years so the possibility of starting my own business was something I'd always considered. I guess things really started to come together half way through 2011. I was doing a technical metalsmithing course at the time and began making some fine silver rings for myself and then for friends and it kind of snowballed from there. I started channeling all those different experiences into one avenue. To me it feels as though Two Hills is the culmination of many years of exploration and experimentation.
What is the ethos behind Two Hills? Does this heavily influence each of your designs?
To create simple, robust jewellery with a distinctive character and subdued femininity. It’s extremely important to me to maintain a high quality, locally made product that remains in touch with my roots in contemporary handmade jewellery. Therefore a large majority of production is kept in house and every element of each item is considered from front piece to finding. It’s fun to get carried away with possibilities when you’re in the design phase but I always try to pause and then work things back to their simplest form.
Can you tell us a bit about your newest collection Echo?
The Echo collection was conceived in part while I was travelling overseas. I had an amazing time cave diving on the Yucatan Peninsular in Mexico and the collection is a response to that experience. I became interested in the ways in which visual experiences become altered by memory. The collection features my remembrance of the water, sand, and refracted light as seen in these ancient caves. Like memory, the collection gestures towards these experiences, without speaking explicitly, it is characterised by a softness, a roundness, and a lightness.
What does your residency at Monk House Design entail?
Monk House Design has kindly let me take over their window for the duration of August as a part of Craft Victoria’s Craft Cubed festival. I have re-created my workbench in the front of the store and during the residency I’ve been making a collection of one-off pieces to be displayed in a kind of evolving installation. It’s a great opportunity to explore and respond to the change in my work environment and really, just take some time out to play!
Lastly, can you tell us what is next in store for Two Hills?
I’m currently in the process of moving studios for the first time in 8 years so there is lots of cleaning, culling, organising and daydreaming about how great my new space will be. Most excitingly though, I’m looking forward to an amazing holiday in Turkey in September!! No doubt i’ll come back thoroughly inspired and ready to tackle the next collection