Monk House Design


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


Tuesday April 22 2014

Released last year by Perimeter Editions, Moved Objects is the visual record of the collaboration between Melbourne artists Georgia Hutchinson and Arini Byng. The book charts the duo's investigation of 'material juxtaposition, sculptural choreography and the photographic still life.' 

The book is visually stunning. Reflexive of their combined practices, their images are an interesting conversation between artist and surrounds, creating visual metaphors from lived experience and observation. By marrying together everyday objects they create imagery that it strangely surreal yet undeniably beautiful.

The girls came into the shop recently to create a super cool display, we spoke to them about their work: 

How long have you been working as a collaborative duo?  What are you both trained in?

Quite soon after we met around two years ago we started playing in the studio, creating work together. Casual arrangements and conversations soon resolved to be a cooperative practice and since we have exhibited around Australia and internationally — with photographic, curatorial and sculptural work, as well as a few publications including Moved Objects in 2013.

Arini had recently moved from Sydney after studying photography at the National Art School, and Georgia had just completed Honours in Industrial Design. We were both ready for experimenting with our work, and looking further into our shared aesthetic and theoretical concerns regarding material culture and thingness.

 How do you find your diverse backgrounds in training have influenced your projects?

With a background in Industrial Design and cultural production, Georgia takes a critical and rigorous approach to consumerism and post-materialist culture. Arini — emerging from fine art photography and sculpture practice — approaches the shared practice with a heuristic manner, finding nuance and richness in material communication.

How would you describe your work to someone who had never seen it? Installation, still life, photography?

A marriage of sculpture and image.

Can you tell us a bit about how you came to publishing a book and what this project has offered you in terms of your practise?

In 2012 we had a small photographic show up at Perimeter Books. Dan Rule and Justine Ellis (Perimeter co-owners) really liked our work and a couple of months later over some beers, they asked if we would like to do a book with them. They had just started Perimeter Editions in August 2012 and had recently released their first book Mad Deep Thoughts by Riley Payne. We started collecting and playing with materials and eventually had a large body of work that became Moved Objects. The book has had a great response both locally and internationally. Since, Perimeter have published the work of Polly Borland, Emily Ferretti and Jan Kempenaers — we’re very proud to be in such good company. 

What exciting projects do have planned for the future?

We’re looking forward to publishing further collections of work and are both working on solo projects as well as a Hutchison-Byng show at Edmund Pearce in November. After a flurry of exhibitions in late 2013, we’re enjoying studio-time.  



Monday April 07 2014

After a brief hiatus we are excited to announce that Seb Brown has returned to Monk House Design! Signaling his arrival Seb has filled our windows with an array of coloured paper shapes in soft pink, grey and blue. Drawing inspiration from everyday spaces, the raw angles and textures ever present in his work are reflexive of his interest in the materiality and nature of day-to-day life and the place jewellery holds within it.  

We talked to Seb about his jewellery, his travels and what the future holds... 

How do you define yourself? 

I define myself as an artist who makes jewellery. I am also very much interested in collage, drawing, sculpture and photography. I like the immediacy of jewellery and that it also has a use whether it is purely aesthetic or for a purpose (special occasion, wedding etc). I find it really interesting how people often place so much meaning on a piece of jewellery that they would never attach to a piece of clothing.

What inspires you and your jewellery pieces? 

As corny as it sounds my work is influenced by naturally occurring phenomena and the artfulness and chaos of growth. Bacteria, mould, rust, rocks, texture, dirt…

Do you now find your travelling lifestyle to influence what and how you make?

Not really, I find travelling to be very chaotic and spontaneous and my work is a base I can always return to. I find working in the studio to be very relaxing and grounding, whereas travel is so exciting, unexpected and often lonely. I never feel lonely if I have work to do.  

I'm constantly being influenced by everything all the time. Snippets of conversations, poles leaning against walls, piles of rubbish, smooth bumper bars, the tension and lightness of two shapes or textures accidentally interacting with each other. 

Your slab ring is your most popular piece, can you tell us about the process of designing and producing a piece like this and what you value in your designs? (i.e each piece being original)

I work quite fast, almost in a 'stream of consciousness' method. I sit down and play around with different kinds of wax to come up with something that is balanced. I often speak to other jewellery designers and they agree that sometimes they are defined by the first decent thing they make (i.e. my Slab ring) and will end up mimicking this design for the rest of their career. I love it when I get to meet the customer who is making a commission and chat and work out what they want. They become part of the design process.

My process is highly experimental and I often design or make something by accident.

I value the value someone else places on my work. I value the antithesis of mass-consumerism. I value being able to go into the studio and do what I love all day!

What is next for Seb Brown? Can you give us any hints?

Good question - I feel very much at home in Melbourne, yet I am moving to Europe to try and expand my market and have access to some new influences. I am constantly evolving my process and work so stay tuned for highly bedazzled rings and some coral and under the sea inspired work. I am also planning to get seriously into painting! 


Thursday December 05 2013

We were so chuffed to have launched PER-TIM's debut collection Club Bed with the amazing Mietta Coventry starring as our very own real life live-in model for 24 hours. 

We documented her bed-sit which highlights the PER-TIM concept of wearing the pieces in bed and outside without sacrificing comfort.

A huge thank you to Bernadette and Laura from PER-TIM and of course to Mietta.

Photos and video by Elise Wilken


Tuesday November 26 2013

Monk House Design is ecstatic to introduce PER-TIM, a stunning new bedding and loungewear label by Melbourne fashion darlings, Bernadette Francis and Laura Albee Barton. Their debut collection titled Club Bed, a tongue-in-cheek homage to the heyday of Club Med, is being exhibited at Monk House Design which may be our most exciting installation yet. Key pieces from the collection are being introduced slowly during the course of the week to culminate in a live live-in installation this Friday as our shopgirl Mietta tucks herself into bed in our shop front window at 11am until Saturday morning, becoming the perfect real-life model for 24 hours.

We caught up with both Bernadette and Laura and asked them a few questions about PER-TIM.

What drove the two of you to begin PER-TIM? 
It happened very organically. We were hanging out at the beach this last summer and both had a bit of a laugh about how pathetic our beach towels were. We thought, why is it so impossible to find unique Australian made homewares and lifestyle products that aren't kitsch or crafty? Our first project was meant to be just manchester but seeing as Bern just completed her Honours in Fashion Design at RMIT and Albee has a long history of working for lots of different labels it made sense to extend the collection into loungewear too. We want PER-TIM to act as a means of engaging with practitioners across a broad range of fields each collection and culminate in a set of tangible lifestyle items and associated ephemera

In creating loungewear, sleepwear and daywear, can you explain the day in a life of a PER-TIM customer?
Sleep, work, play, repeat :)

Can you tell us about the choice in name?
PER/TIM is a scientific term, standing for PERIOD and TIMELESS. They are two genes which oscillate to regulate circadian rhythms in certain animals.

What role each of you plays in the business?
We design everything together however Bernadette has a stronger technical background having studied Fashion Design at RMIT. Albee's strength is in marketing and branding. Together we just work. We really couldn't do it without each other.

What would you say is the philosophy behind your label?
To produce interesting, playful, quality items; whether it be manchester, a beach towel or your favourite coffee mug. We aim to work with a diverse range of collaborators each collection and to continue to explore new design avenues.

Can you tell us a bit about this collection and installation in store? 
Collection one in entitled 'Club Bed'. It's our tongue-in-cheek reference to Club Med. The range and print designs reference the  'tacky luxury' of the 80's all inclusive resorts. The interiors, the pool and the nightlife have all been explored visually through print thanks to some talented creatives, Tristan Ceddia of Never Now and Jordan Dolheguy of Totem.

Our installation is a beautiful four-poster bed, created by Mathew Adey of House of Vnholy. The clean white lines of the bed reference our scientific name PER-TIM. Monk House shopgirl Mietta will be doing a Yoko Ono-esque 'bed-sit' from 11am Friday 29th for a full 24 hours where shoppers and walkers-by can see her immersed in the full PER-TIM experience; eating 'Club Bed' inspired food and reading PER-TIM inspired literature. We are all asleep for a quarter of our lives and we seek to make the transition from awake to asleep easier.

What exciting projects do have planned for the future?
We are launching Collection One at Goodtime Studios on December 7th. There will be an installation by Mathew Adey, photographic work by Phebe Schmidt, a film by Sally Tabart and a few more tricks up our sleeve!