Australian design

November 28, 2013

Shopping in Melbourne: Spare Room Project and Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here 2014 Calendar via

If you’re in Melbourne right now, you might like to pop along tonight to the historic Nicholas Building in the CBD (a Wee Birdy favourite) for the opening of the Spare Room Project. Hosted and curated by Melbourne designer Matthew Thomson of Mattt (another Wee Birdy fave), the shop-within-a-shop brings together some of Melbourne’s leading designer-makers including Beci Orpin, Ask Alice, Sandra Eterovic and Victoria Mason Jewellery.

Ask Alice Calendar 2014 via

It’s perfect timing for picking up some lovely Christmas presents. You’ll also get to meet the makers and ten per cent of all proceeds go to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Super-lovely!

The shopping event will also coincide with the launch of the Ask Alice ‘Wish You Were Here’ calendar and print exhibition, which will be donating 100 per cent of all profits to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. If you’re a fan of Ask Alice’s extraordinarily sweet range of stationery and prints, you will love the 2014 calendar. Sass Cocker, the lovely lady behind Ask Alice, has brought together 12 international artists to illustrate the theme of ‘Wish You Were Here’ for her annual charity calendar.

Capetown from Ask Alice Calendar 2014-Jan
Sydney from Ask Alice Calendar 2014-Feb
Tokyo from AskAliceCalendar2014-Feb

I’ve illustrated this post with some of the artworks from the calendar, including Cape Town by Studio Muti, Sydney by James Gulliver Hancock and Tokyo by Masako Kubo. If you’re out of town, you can still purchase the calendar online here. I think it’s hands-down the Best Calendar for 2014. Nice one, Ask Alice!

matt SHOP
Third Floor, Nicholas Building
Corner Flinders Lane & Swanston Street

Opening hours:
Thursday 28 November to Saturday 30 November
10am to 6pm (9pm Thursday and Friday)

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August 1, 2013

Australian design: Relaunched Tony Parker furniture

Tony Parker Furniture at WORKSHOPPED via

There was a moment back in May when I’m not ashamed to say that I literally squeaked with excitement. I had just discovered that Tony Parker, of Parker Furniture, was relaunching a capsule collection of his iconic ’50s designs in an exclusive collaboration with Surry Hills design store WORKSHOPPED. Anyone who’s a fan of mid-century furniture probably squeaked in unison, creating some kind of modernist-fuelled squeaky, squealy chorus as the Parker name translates to Australian mid-century modern LEGEND.

Tony Parker Furniture at WORKSHOPPED via

It was only a few weekends ago when I finally stumbled into WORKSHOPPED that I actually laid my hands on this glorious new furniture. Re-worked in American Oak and American Walnut, the pieces have been gently tweaked and reinvented in that unmistakable Parker style.

I loved the beautiful white oak extension butterfly leaf dining table, but I made a beeline for the iconic coffee table with its organic lips, marvelling at how fresh and well, modern, it looked at once. Funny that.

Tony Parker Furniture at WORKSHOPPED via

I couldn’t be more overjoyed by this happy collaboration, breathing new life into one of Australia’s greatest design names while offering brand new pieces that have been reworked by Tony Parker himself. The new range is made by Covermore Designs, a company featuring many of Parker’s original staff and craftspeople, which offers a lovely sense of continuation.

Tony Parker Furniture at WORKSHOPPED via

The timing for the new collection couldn’t be better, with mid-century modern a key trend and source of reference in mainstream design and interiors. (That doesn’t stop short-sighted Sydney realtors from flogging incredible examples of mid-century architecture as potential for detonation and new apartments, but that’s another rant.)

Tony Parker Furniture at WORKSHOPPED via WeeBirdy.comTony Parker Furniture at WORKSHOPPED via

Kudos to WORKSHOPPED Director, Raymond Scott, for bringing the Parker name back into currency, and three cheers for Tony Parker, for his undeniable verve in relaunching this collection.

Tony Parker Furniture at WORKSHOPPED via

In the meantime, our original teak Parker coffee table is currently in storage, as we have a rather unlovely Thomas the Tank engine train table in its place. Tell me, parents of older children, when do I get my beautiful teak coffee table back, assured that it won’t be used as a racetrack or a surface for pounding neon orange playdough? When? When will the sippy cup ring stains stop?

Tony Parker mid-century furniture is available at WORKSHOPPED
Shop 2 / 8 Hill Street
Surry Hills, NSW 2010 Australia
Tel. + 61 (0) 2 9146 4353

All photography courtesy of Workshopped.

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July 25, 2013

Wee find: Laikonik Once a Year Baby Books

I hate to admit that it’s taken me a full 29 months to even start thinking about putting together a baby record book. It’s been playing on my mind for ages, as I fret about the thousands of un-edited baby photos sitting on our hard drive, and that I’ll forget all the important details and milestones. Am I the only one who’s spectacularly crap at all of this?

But just last weekend I stumbled across the most exquisite handcrafted solution – Laikonik Once a Year Baby Books.

Laikonik blue bird once a year baby book via

These beautiful, hand-bound books have a clever concertina design so you can stand and display the book, or store it away in the sleeve. I love that in terms of record-keeping, it’s all about once-a-year – meaning you only need to insert one photo to represent each year of life. There is hope yet!

Laikonik once a year baby record book via

Laikonik once a year baby record book via WeeBirdy.comLaikonik once a year baby record book via

There is space to document all the important milestones from the year, and over the course of 18 years the book becomes an incredibly beautiful narrative of your child’s life. And you don’t feel like such a craptacular mum, afterall.

The books are handmade in Australia using acid-free, archival quality paper. The gorgeous Polish folk-art inspired motifs on the cover and matching bag are silk-screenprinted onto industrial hemp, and come in four different colour ways, with a choice of a birdy or horse design.

These bundles of memory-keeping goodness also come with a companion ‘chatter book’, so you can document all the things your kids say over the years.

I haven’t stopped thinking about these Laikonik’s genius baby books since I spotted them in Sydney’s Workshopped a couple of weeks ago – and now I can’t wait to begin my son’s story.

Laikonik Once a Year Book, AU$80.

It’s a week of babies and kids on Wee Birdy! Make sure you haven’t missed:
19 clever ways to transform a kid’s room with wallpaper
The 12 best presents for baby girls
A wee historic royal baby exhibition
The 12 best presents for baby boys

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July 22, 2013

Wee find: Winter warmers by Otto and Spike

Winter warmers by Otto & Spike via

See that lady hiding behind her rather lovely stripey scarf? That’s me. Actually, it’s not really me, but it bloody well could be. This is exactly what I looked like when I woke up this morning, now that frosty old winter has descended on Sydney again. (Northern hemisphere readers – bookmark this post for September – and look away for now or you might start to feel all hot and bothered.)

Otto and Spike gloves and scarf via

The one nice thing about winter is layering on loads of cosy accessories – and since the rest of you is covered up by coats and jackets, the accessories part is really rather important.

And why go through winter with dull/boring/mass-produced hats, scarves and beanies when you could be resplendent in this raspberry and mustard stripey scarf by brilliant Melbourne designers Otto and Spike? I mean really, it’s a no-brainer, right?

Otto & Spike have a fabulous back story (you can read the tale about these master knitters here), knitting in the same factory in Brunswick, Melbourne for the past 40 years. I stumbled across their glorious scarves in Sydney’s Workshopped last weekend, and after reading their lively banter on their website, I wanted to share them with you.

Unlike many other Australian companies, who take production off-shore, every single brightly-coloured purl and stitch is created in the original Brunswick factory.

Otto & Spike via

And the end results speak for themselves – fine knitwear in a dazzling and fashion-forward array of pattern and colour. They use pure lambs wool in their products – mostly surplus wool “from an industry that has gradually disappeared” from Australia.

I love that this little company is so proud of its heritage, the raw materials they use – and even their collection of knitting machinery. Their factory sounds like a veritable museum exhibition on the history of knitting in twentieth century Australia.

Here are my top picks from Otto & Spike to keep you cosy this winter:

Otto & Spike beanies, gloves and scarves via
1. Pantonia scarf, $65; 2. Pantonia beanie, $60; 3. Harlequin scarf, $65; 4. Allsorts scarf, $70; 5. Slippery dip scarf, $65; 6. Big top scarf, $65; 7. Fagin fingerless gloves, $35; 8. Mad Mouse scarf, $65; 9. Bikes scarf, $60; 10. City block, $65; all by Otto & Spike.

All photography courtesy of Otto & Spike.

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July 17, 2013

Sydney design: Bright and bold new DAN300 textiles

Spring Dan300 cushions via WeeBirdy.comDAN300 Babcha Luxe spring textiles. Photography courtesy of DAN300.

I’m super-excited to exclusively reveal a sneak peek of the new DAN300 spring/summer 2013 collection of textiles on Wee Birdy. I’ve had my eye on Sydney designer and director of DAN300 Daniella (Dani) Rosen for the past few years, as each new collection grew bigger – and brighter.

It was only last year that DAN300 launched their very first collection of cushions – before that, the business was primarily focused on stationery and small accessories. The new spring/summer 2013 collection marks a new level of maturity for the design studio – and look how much it shines!

Dan300 spring textiles via
DAN300 Nana’s Garage Folkland textiles. Photography courtesy of DAN300.

DAN300′s signature kaleidoscopic use of colour and pattern in last year’s Babcha Luxe collection is reflected in the new collection, with a soft new ‘aqua’ colour-way available in a range of cushions and handy zip-cases. The harlequin, fish scale and geometric prints are back, re-worked with a mid-century influence which would work beautifully in any retro-inspired or contemporary setting.

DAN300 cushions via

I’m also loving the relaunched Nana’s Garage collection, with its ’60s folk-inspired floral prints that are worked through the range of cushions, zip cases and a collection of new softies for babies and kids.

Dan300 softies and zip pouches via
DAN300 new Nana’s Garage Folkland softies and zip pouches. Photography courtesy of DAN300.

The textiles ranges are named after Dani’s grandmothers: Babcha Luxe is named after her maternal grandmother (‘babcha’ is Polish for grandma); and Nana’s Garage is named after her paternal grandmother, whose garage was often used as storage for DAN300′s early collections.

I like that Dani has brought a personal ‘family story’ to her collection, as her brightly-coloured, vivid designs are at once fresh, contemporary and nostalgic – and the collection has been cleverly designed to layer throughout the home.

DAN300 textiles for Spring via WeeBirdy.comDan300 Babcha Luxe aqua textiles. Photography courtesy of Dan300.

I’m rather keen on the smart collection of zip cases (below), which would make very handy emergency-nappy pouches for your handbag, as well as sweet little bags for make-up, craft supplies or pencils.

DAN300 zipcases pouches via WeeBirdy.comDAN300 zipcase via
Dan300 Babcha Luxe accessories. Photography courtesy of Dan300.

DAN300 will be at the upcoming Home & Giving Trade Fair in Melbourne, where Nana’s Garage relaunch will make its debut.

DAN300 cushion via
Dan300 Babcha Luxe Brights cushion. Photography courtesy of Dan300.

DAN 300 cushions via

DAN300′s new spring/summer collection will be available to pre-order online from August 1, 2013. The new products will be shipped out from August 18. But in the meantime, check out the current collection. There is free shipping within Australia for all orders over $50. Click here for a list of stockists.

Follow DAN300 on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

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July 15, 2013

Out and about in Sydney: Sydney Design

Sydney Design edible walls via

If you love design and happen to be in Sydney between the 3rd and 18th of August, you might like to book yourself in for some of the excellent talks, tours and workshops lined up for this year’s Sydney Design.

Now in its 16th year, more than 75 events across the city will explore the theme, ‘Design re-think – can clever design save the world?’. (I bloody well hope so!)

George Nelson mid-century design classics via

My top picks? I’ll be making a beeline for:

Head over to Sydney Design to check out the full program.
Photography courtesy of Sydney Design and The Powerhouse Museum.

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