Shopping in Surry Hills

August 1, 2013

Australian design: Relaunched Tony Parker furniture

Tony Parker Furniture at WORKSHOPPED via WeeBirdy.com

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 WeeBirdy.com

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 WeeBirdy.com

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 WeeBirdy.com

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 WeeBirdy.com

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 WeeBirdy.com

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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December 13, 2012

A wee chat with Megan Morton

Megan Morton Things I Love via WeeBirdy.com

This is the book that I’ve been excited about for months. And it’s here – at last – and just in time for Christmas. Megan Morton in one of Australia’s leading stylists, but really she’s much more than that – she’s actually pretty amazing. She recently opened The School, offering a super-fresh take on craft workshops (you can learn to make pineapple piñatas, flower bombs and shibori, to name a few) as well as sharing her own creative talents through styling masterclasses.

The School via WeeBirdy.com

In her new book, Things I Love, Megan has curated a darn exciting and inspirational collection of homes, people and design she loves, as well as offering a raft of tips and advice. It’s the only book I know that injects warmth and genuine excitement into sharing practical tips such as how to clean a vintage painting, how to mimic the Kate Spade wall, and – my favourite – how to fold a fitted sheet. Naturally, it’s beautifully designed and it’s full of cute features like zip-out postcards and fold-out pages.

So I thought I’d have a wee chat with Megan about something we both love – SHOPS – and boy, does she spill the goods…

Megan Morton via WeeBirdy.com

You’re a such a creative bird, Megan Morton. If you were a bird, what kind of bird would you be?

A Leila Jeffreys budgie! Have you seen her photographs of Aussie budgies?! Amazing! Standard budgie at first glance but not-so upon further inspection! Her budgies are showing at Tim Olsen gallery at the moment and are hilariously wonderful!

Leila Jeffreys' Suzi via WeeBirdy.com

I adore Leila’s birds, too! Especially the cheeky parrots. Congratulations on your fabulous new book, Things I Love. What about shops you love? Can you tell us which shops you love in Sydney?

La Croix in Kings Cross is a personal favourite because you can spend $6 or $6000 over a coffee. The grey leather banquette with pompoms is enough of a drawcard for me, let alone the glassware, candles, cups and marble kitchen bits all acquired from a medley of sources and countries [see images below].

La Croix Kings Cross via WeeBirdy.com

La Croix Kings Cross via WeeBirdy.com

I love Koskela for their commitment to Australian-made and furniture that is so well made and designed with wit [see image below].

Koskela via WeeBirdy.com

I Love You Beads Warehouse in Leichhardt. There are so many hysterical reasons to love this store. I have taken up a hobby making necklaces. They are actually super nice! I go to this shop as it tickles my sense of humour as well as services all my bead fantasies.

Flour and Stone in  Woolloomooloo for lamingtons and tea served in Beryl ware from classic Brown Betty tea pots [see image below].

Flour and Stone via WeeBirdy.com

Fairfax and Roberts
. Such a decadent and wonderful store experience. I adore jewellery and watching its almost theatrical presence at this store is a wonderful way to tyre-kick/window-shop for all budgets. Shopping for me is not just about nothings, it’s about observing and getting inspiration.

Dolly Up in Surry Hills is a dangerous place for me to go in the same way Belinda is. I love maxi dresses and Erin at Dolly Up has magnificent ones. I have bought many a vintage Valentino from her. With two daughters I feel like I am doing my bit to give us all some nice vintage options in a shared family closet!

Although I designed it, I do honestly love the Ecoya candle store on Queen Street [see images from the launch night below]. Moody and devastating, with hand-blown glass scent chambers down one wall and tarnished mirror down the other. A sensory experience in the truest sense of the word.

Ecoya via WeeBirdy.com

Ecoya Sydney via WeeBirdy.com

Ecoya Sydney via WeeBirdy.com

Plus, any suburban Priceline chemists – it’s like the JB Hi Fi of chemists! High volume, low decoration with lots of useful stuff!  I also like huge warehouse shops too! I love looking basically for things that aren’t expected and challenging myself to find things that are wonderful and not necessarily from predictable places or usual sources.

Which online shops do you love?
Rachel Castle for her sunshiny goodness [see images below]; Strawberrynet for cosmetics; Mecca Cosmetica; JCrew for the kids; and I can’t resist looking at the sale section of West Elm. Lu Lu Lucky for her hand-made block-coloured envelopes and other makeables.

Rachel Castle via WeeBirdy.com

Top five shops in the world?
I can’t contain it to five, unfortunately! I love shops and want to share them with as many people as possible so all these clever people can stay trading and thrive as they deserve to!
1. BHV in Paris – the French alternative to Bunnings although without compare.
2. Gravel and Gold in San Francisco [see image below]. Almost an anti-store. I love its jewellery, American camp blankets and the way they wrap plants in foil for unusual window displays. Everything here is so well-made and the store has little fanfare as its quality speaks volumes.

Gravel and Gold in San Francisco via WeeBirdy.com

3. Arts & Science in Toyko, Japan. Another store that renders me speechless.
4. Tsé & Tsé Associées in Paris. No words.
5. The Pirate Store in San Francisco – genius. Sheer genius. Again, no words! Retailing at its highest art form here [see images below].

The Pirate Store Emergency Burial Sand via WeeBirdy.com

6. Camargue in Brisbane for its Queensland edit of the European clothes I adore, but edited for summer-wearing and set in a classic, neutral and not overly-designed boutique setting. It lets the clothes do the talking.
7. First Dibs – the online interiors auction house. The real store is on Lexington in NYC. Totally incredible and it almost makes you woozy!
8. The Tinsel Trading Co. In New York it’s one of my first stops – I could go there every day for a year and find something in there that I had not seen the day before! Expect trinkets, ribbon, garlands – actually expect none of that – as it’s that kind of place [see images below]!

Tinsel Trading Co via WeeBirdy.com

9. March in San Francisco. I don’t have words for how perfect this kitchen/gift/lifestyle shop is. I hate the word “lifestyle” but in March’s case it really is a life I covet. Everything – and I mean everything here is beyond. Utterly beyond.

March San Francisco via WeeBirdy.com

It’s almost Christmas and I’m dying to know what you’re doing for a Christmas tree this year.

I do a year on and a year off – so this year I am blindfolding my family – seriously – and taking them away on a surprise out-of-town Christmas. Just us. No tree. We are packing the kids’ bags without them knowing and I can’t wait to see their faces when we get to our destination!

I’ve sent a small tree and their gifts up to said destination so it’s going to be a year of surprises. Last year I did a faux tree but highly doused in mercury and silver and pewter decorations and a lunch with all the trimmings, with a day-before-Christmas party!

Year on/year off works so well for me. It gives you the energy needed to deliver a great Christmas and a rest when you need it! I love all trees and decs – even the bad ones! There is nothing bad about this time of the year, I make no style judgements.

Megan Morton Christmas via WeeBirdy.com

This year at our studio we have erected a paper chandelier by Lu Lu Lucky and we are asking people to place wrapped gifts under it along with tins of food they can spare for The Salvation Army. Christmas for me only works when you can shine a kindness light.

Thank you Megan!

Click here for a Wee Birdy Sydney map, showing Megan’s favourite shops.

Things I love by Megan Morton is AU$49.95 and can be found in all nice shops and book stores right now. It would make an amazing Christmas present and you can also buy it online from Booktopia. You can find Megan Morton online right here.


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November 4, 2011

Shopping in Sydney: Garden Life

I can’t stop looking at plants. Indoor plants, to be specific, with trailing leafy tendrils. The kind of plant you might find hanging in Annie Hall or Mary Wilkie’s apartment in 1970s New York (confession: I may have spent a disproportionate amount of time focussing on indoor shrubbery during my most recent viewing of Manhattan. See? I just can’t help myself).

Luckily for me, the clever people behind Sydney’s Garden Life also have a bit of a thing for ‘70s potted classics, and they’ve paired the likes of Boston Fern and Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (such a misogynist yet strangely evocative name for a plant, no?) with some rather delightful modern pot and planter options. In fact, their eye-catching window currently features a collection of Boston Ferns cascading from local ceramacist David Edmonds’ hanging wire planters.

It’s this very ability to source The Perfect Plant with The Perfectly Matching Pot that makes Garden Life a winner in the design and style stakes. The lush calm oasis of greenery on Sydney’s Cleveland Street (just opposite Follow Store) certainly looks the part, mixing centuries-old Greek urns and Turkish yoghurt pots with modern ceramic pots and plants, water features, garden furniture and astro turf bunny sculptures. And while you could easily spend $1,250 on an incredible antique pot sourced from overseas, you can also pick up Indian chai cups for $5 (which look great with mini succulents). In fact, there is a wide range of extremely affordable pots and planters that give IKEA a run for its money, including an excellent range of simple white modern pots starting at $15.

It’s also a very useful one-stop shop for presents, especially for those who you think have everything – after all, who wouldn’t love a little piece of potted perfection? Take, for instance, Samantha Robinson’s hand-thrown beeswax-style pots in milky pastels with succulents for $40. Other great buys include vintage French terracotta seedling pots for $12, and small Turkish pots for $15, as well as the vibrant 1950s Turkish tabak plates and bowls from $95. There is also a good range of Egyptian Siwa date baskets, which start at $45 and can be used as planters or storage. I couldn’t leave without a stunning Rhipsalis succulent, which has the most pleasing trailing tendrils for about $50.

Garden Life principal Richard Unsworth and his talented team also offer a landscape design service, where they can turn even the smallest patch of garden (or balcony) into a lush green retreat straight out of the pages of an interiors mag. Richard, incidentally, is the Gardening Editor of Australian home design magazine Belle.

A new-ish addition is the café at the back of the shop, which looks out onto a courtyard and where you can get small light meals and a very good coffee. And sitting outside looking out on to pretty Young Street, you kinda forget that the roar of Cleveland Street is just metres away.

Garden Life (the online shop is also very good)
357 Cleveland Street
Tel. (Shop) 02 8399 0666
Tel. (Twig Cafe) 02 8021 6406

Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

Opening hours (shop)
Monday to Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday 9am-5pm
Sunday 10am-4pm

Opening hours (cafe)
Monday to Friday 7am-5pm
Saturday 7am-5pm
Sunday 8am-4pm

Click here for more shops in Surry Hills.
Photography by Lucas Boyd.

Click here to see the full photo gallery.


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October 12, 2011

Shopping in Sydney: Follow Store

Does this look familiar? While Follow Store is the relatively new addition to the Cleveland Street independent retailscape, the charming heritage-listed shopfront is actually the former home of Bird Textile, the first (and ahem, only) Sydney store I reviewed last year before The Pregnancy of Terror commenced.

When Bird moved on to fresh (online) pastures earlier this year, the former 1890s chemist was snapped up by Brooke Johnston and Sarah Thornton, the clever ladies behind the hugely successful Finders Keepers Markets (read my review of the Sydney market here).

A big part of Finders Keepers’ success is down to Brooke and Sarah’s artful skills as curators. So many craft and design markets are a bit ‘samey’ and become ho-hum with the usual suspects and copycat products. But Brooke and Sarah keep the line-up fresh, original and clever – and Follow Store is the exciting (and permanent!) new home to some of Australia’s best design and handmade goodness.


Highlights include the rather special line-up of jewellery, including the genius pencil shaving necklace by Victoria Mason, vitreous enamel hexagon necklaces and brooches by Megan Perkins and animal rings and earrings by Momoko Hatano. There is also an excellent range of art prints by Naomi Murrell and Gretchen Mist starting at $33, and original watercolours by Emma Leonard.

Other stand-outs include intricate papercut artwork by Hardwick and Cesco and beautifully made leather bags by Oktoberdee. Add to that an array of homewares, stationery and a small range of clothes, as well as an in-house collection of lamp shades and jewellery (with more on the way).

It’s all a wee bit exciting – like the markets have come to town and set up permanent residence in Surry Hills. And with neighbours such as Garden Life, David Met Nicole and the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide’s best new restaurant, Porteño, this wee stretch of unlovely Cleveland Street is fast becoming Sydney’s hottest little spot.

My top five picks:

1. Candy Stripe Cloud garden chalkboard bird stakes, $24.95 for a set of four.
2. Erin Lightfoot porcelain bangles, starting at $55.
3. Minnen geometric timber brooch, $40.
4. Gretchen Mist art print, $33.
5. Bespoke Press vintage map envelopes, $14 for a pack of five.

Click here to look at the full set of pics.

Follow Store (The equally terrific online shop is now live)
380 Cleveland Street
Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel. 02 8068 2813
Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

Opening hours:
Wednesday to Friday: 11am-6pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10am-4pm

Follow Store are also on Facebook and Twitter.
And they have a good blog, too!

Refuel at Twig Café (inside Garden Life) for coffee, Mint for breakfast and lunch, and at the Norfolk for drinks (and their delicious tacos).

{Photography by Lucas Boyd}


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November 24, 2010

Sydney shopping: Bird Textile Emporium

UPDATE: This shop has now closed, but the Bird Textile website is still going strong. The shop is now home to Follow Store.
Read my review here.

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In the first of my Sydney shop reviews, I decided to head back to my old stomping ground of Surry Hills, where we lived for three happy years before we moved to London. It’s changed a wee bit since then – most significantly, we can’t afford to live there any more. And like Shoreditch in London, this inner-city suburb has not only ushered in a new class of residents, but a new direction in retail with the likes of posh grocers and upmarket butchers lining Crown Street.

But head down to Cleveland Street and you’ll find a bit of the grit from days gone by, even if the retail scene has vastly improved. In fact, the line-up of unique and eclectic shops, cafes and restaurants call themselves The Cleveland Cluster, and include the likes of David Met Nicole (review coming soon), Dinosaur Designs Extinct and Garden Life.

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I couldn’t go past Bird Textile Emporium for my very first Sydney shop review (not with a name like that, anyway). The brainchild of creative director Rachel Bending, Bird produces a range of hand-printed organic fabrics, which have been developed into over fifty product ranges spanning fashion, homewares and craft. The whole business has solid eco credentials with a commitment to sustainable design.

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Housed in a heritage-listed former pharmacy dating from the 1890s, the shop is a delightful space and rare example of Sydney’s retail history, featuring old Australian tiles, the original cabinetry and fittings. It’s a fitting platform for Bird’s range of retro-inspired textiles, which are influenced by mid-century Scandinavian and Japanese design.

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Fabric is sold by the metre in three different weights, and there is also an in-house upholstery and curtain-making service. The fashion range has been recently pared down to a tidy capsule collection of five classic designs, which are available in a host of fabrics.

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But it’s the homewares and crafty ranges that are the main attraction, with made-to-order lampshades (starting at AU$220) amongst the store’s best-sellers. Equally popular is the chook doorstop (AU$75), packets of buttons and fabric remnants at $25 each.

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Crafty girls can pick up an organic patchwork kit for $30, and a DIY chook doorstep kit for $35 . Don’t miss the sales catalogue online for updated reductions in fabric, homewares and fashion.

UPDATE: This shop has now closed, but the Bird Textile website is still going strong. The shop is now home to Follow Store. Read my review here.

Bird Textile Emporium 
380 Cleveland Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Tel. 02 8399 0230

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Friday 10am-6pm
Saturday 10.30am-5.30pm

Refuel at Tea Parlour
Take tea and nibble on dainty scones and sandwiches. Prices are very reasonable, too.
579 Elizabeth St
Redfern NSW 2016
Open Thursday to Sunday 1pm-8pm
Tel. 0414 335 224

Photography by Lucas Boyd Photography.
Click here to view the full gallery.


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