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Creative Spaces: The Kas and Sparkk Sydney Studios

One of the most exciting aspects of my day job is the opportunity to get out of the office and chat to some very creative local brands and designers. During the last month I was fortunate enough to step behind-the-scenes at two such inspiring destinations: the Kas, and Sparkk Sydney studios.

What I love about these two Aussie home and lifestyle brands is their unwavering commitment to colour and pattern! Both family-run and owned labels showcase a vibrant collection of shapes and shades that you can’t help but fall in love with.

The Sparkk colour atlas features over 180 shades.

The Sparkk colour atlas features over 180 shades.

Kas’ humble beginnings were over 30 years ago at Sydney’s Paddington market, where locals lapped up the new and juicy bedding designs on offer, while Sparkk has drawn on three generations of textile experience to embrace the digital world of fabric printing.

Today Kas stocks its fashionable designs in over 42 countries and has expanded its bedding collection to include: towels, mugs, kids’ bedding and home fragrance, all while retaining that original pop of colour. Not to be outdone, Sparkk, which launched with just two designs: stripes and chevron, now boasts over 140 imaginative patterns.

The Kas design hub.

The Kas design hub.

During my studio tours I met with designers, creative directors, stylists, owners, family members and more! From the director right through to the seamstress, it was thrilling to see how these inspired designs came to life with the Kas and Sparkk flair in tow. From creative concept to a complete cushion, a Kas piece will undergo a 6-month design and production process before it ends up on the shelves in your favourite store, whereas Sparkk’s digital capabilities mean they can print on demand with little waste, customised palettes, and bespoke designs for both retail and commercial needs.

Kas designers.

Among the cosmos of colour swatches that were hanging about, and the piles of pattern and fabric samples that peppered the studios, there was a real sense of passion and dedication to be found. And in the middle of winter when everything seems grey and dreary, it’s this cacophony of colour and zesty design that the doctor ordered to truly reinvigorate the senses. What a treat!

Read more about both tours in detail here: KASSPARKK

Sparkk Art Decor-inspired patterns.

Sparkk Art Decor-inspired patterns.

 

My co worker Marj discussing patterns with Sparkk studio manager, Olivia.

My co worker Marj discussing patterns with Sparkk studio manager, Olivia.

 

Sparkk

The Sparkk studio.

 

Kas colour palettes.

Kas colour palettes.

 

Images: Lisa Zhou via thehome.com.au
kasaustralia.com.au
spark.com.au

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Thinking Outside The Box, Georgia Ezra

I have a thing for Perspex. I don’t know when this affair started, or why the material makes me swoon, I just know I want it … now! So when the opportunity arose to purchase CAJA Furniture on The Home, I jumped at it, or more so, whipped out my credit card to choose my very own piece.

The best part of this transaction though, was the opportunity to briefly meet CAJA Furniture designer, Georgia Ezra, and interview her for The Home magazine. What I loved about our short but sweet encounter was the passion and honesty behind her words. She’s a ‘one-woman show’, and has courageously set out on this product design venture to make her space, and our’s more effective.

Georgia Ezra

Dissatisfied with the lack of space and visually pleasing design in her small apartment, she envisioned a sleek and sophisticated solution that would allow her to show off her favourite collections and entertain with ease. The result was the transparent, customisable side table-cum-storage unit which won a Melbourne Design Award in 2012 and was shortlisted for a Sydney Design Award, too.

In her words, it transforms clutter into museum-worthy installations, aesthetically combating a small space problem. And with my words, “Ooo it’s so pretty I must have one”, I got to work on discovering Gerogia’s inspiration, design ethos, and personal style.

Here are my highlights of the interview …

Georgia’s inspirations, which include: her time spent living in Spain, fabric textures, food, colour, and even, wait for it … the natural interior of fruit!

Her design philosophy – Cull the crap!

Discovering the different hats she wears on a daily basis as both CAJA Furniture owner and designer, and interior architect at G.A.B.B.E Interior Design Services.

Her decorating tips for making small spaces more functional.

Read the full interview here.

 caja.com.au

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Grandeliers win prestigious Discovery Prize in Paris

Tasmanian designer, Loz Abberton, recently won the prestigious Discovery Prize, (Prix des Découvertes) at Maison et Objet in Paris for her Grandeliers. It’s a range of future-friendly design lighting that’s 100% designed and made in Tasmania, Australia. This range of flat-pack pendant lights and lamps is made from certified Tasmanian timbers. The award for Most Impressive New Product was given to the entire range and this great impression is being backed up with an appearance in New York at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in May 2013.

GENIES Grandeliers

COTTON Grandeliers

whodidthat.com.au

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Why I love Abigail Ahern …

Abigail

Image via The Home magazine

Any minute now, UK designer Abigail Ahern will have to slice herself in half so she can achieve being in two places at once! The design maestro somehow manages to wear an array of hats including: interior designer, author, design teacher, homewares designer, blogger, and retail owner, sharing her no holds barred style with design enthusiasts that revel in a bold style.

I was lucky enough to chat with Abigail Ahern earlier this month, and enjoy her in action at a seminar she held in Sydney. She discussed her latest book and design ethos: Decorating with Style, and unveiled the secrets to achieving designer digs without hurting the hip pocket.

Abigail_2_small
After the encounter, I felt the need to compile this list:

Why I love Abigail Ahern:

1. Abigail sets design trends and refuses to follow them. She loves to push the boundaries and throws the interior design ‘rule book’ out the window when it comes to making standout spaces

2. She believes decorating can change lives, and fosters an eclectic style where nothing matches but everything works perfectly together

3. She says the word ‘bonkers’ a lot

4. She appreciates the open-plan design and white and neutral palette associated with the typical Australian home but is determined to coax us over to the ‘dark side’ and encourage us to embrace a personalised, colour-rich space, too

Abigail_6_small
5. Abigail is adamant you can decorate for less, and openly notes that style has nothing to do with money. Throughout Decorating with Style she’s not afraid to show off her own home that features antique finds, IKEA rugs, homemade decoupage side table and more

6. She boasts a fun and funky personality that you want to have around all the time

7. She detests that the styling and interiors industry can often get ‘snooty’ and is all about promoting a ‘have fun and follow your heart’ approach to design.

Lighting

Lamps designed by Abigail Ahern

Bedroom

Abigail_4_4_small

Her new book, Decorating with Style (released in Aus 8 weeks before any other country ‘cause she loves us!) encourages a ‘no rules’ approach to decorating your home with easy ideas and an array of eye-candy inspiration.

atelierabigailahern.com
abigailahern.wordpress.com

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Rethink the way you live, by Amanda Talbot

Amanda Talbot

Amanda Talbot

The Decoration + Design trade event is currently being held at the Sydney Exhibition Centre. And today I was lucky enough to gain access to one of its seminars hosted by Amanda Talbot. For the last 10 years, Amanda has been showcasing her talent for creating sexy, sophisticated interiors around the world, working for big brands such as Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Dixon, and trend forecasting for the likes of IKEA. As the ex associate editor of ELLE Decoration, she has travelled through many a beautiful home, and come into contact with some of the world’s most amazing home and lifestyle designs.

Living in small spaces and having your own personal space, too. Image from Rethink: The Way You Live

Living in small spaces and having your own personal space, too. Image from Rethink: The Way You Live

It’s her latest quest that has me – and after today’s seminar, many more – questioning our surroundings. Rethink: The Way You Live is both the title of today’s seminar and her book. It looks at the relationship between human and home, and challenges our already existing functions and design of our surrounding environment. Today’s seminar explored the way the world is rapidly changing and, in turn, our needs are changing with it. Do we need a home office when all we see in sight is a laptop and an iPad? Is a bedroom only used for sleeping? Through imagery, Amanda took us around the world to highlight inspired designs and tell-tale signs of what the future holds for design that ‘rethinks’ its purpose, functionality, and form. This round-the-world trip highlighted the global nature of this need in the design and architecture industry.

Small home in Japan where dining space becomes office space. Multifunctional room where walls and lighting can be moved. Image from Rethink: The Way You Live

Small home in Japan where dining space becomes office space. Multifunctional room where walls and lighting can be moved. Image from Rethink: The Way You Live

It’s a recurring theme that, as times get tough, we turn to memories of the good times, and we head back to our roots to embrace a ‘nostalgia trend’. A little ‘doom and gloom’ brought on by such effects as the GFC, terrorism, global warming, and technological advances, sparks a clear want for the good ol’ days, with one such example being the current resurgence of craft and handmade creations.

These shifting times evolve into new living and lifestyle trends. No longer is a common open plan home design the best option to live in. No longer is useless design that serves no function and purpose in our lives a welcome addition to our environment or space.

Spaces that cater to the senses. Image from Rethink: The Way You Live

Spaces that cater to the senses. Image from Rethink: The Way You Live

An example of key movements outlined by Amanda today:

Living with nature – new solutions for city dwellers to connect with nature are on the rise, in particular with those that live in small spaces and apartments. Pots and indoor plants are a growing design trend, as is robust, heavy, natural textiles such as timber and wool. Large artwork with nature-inspired scenes that take up entire walls is another clever way designers are reinvigorating the notion of living with nature.

Back to basics – we’re not talking about the stark minimalism we saw in the 90s, we mean an almost warm minimalism, where our purchases and products we choose to fill out space with are needed, make sense, and have a purpose. We want 21st Century mod cons, but we want them discreet, seamless, and hidden.

Excerpt from Rethink: The Way You Live

Excerpt from Rethink: The Way You Live

Create and control – we revel in the idea of being industrious at home and creating and producing our own products from within our haven such as craft. We want to make our own rules, and Amanda reiterates that interior designers need to understand this desire and how their designer inclusions fulfil the lives of the home owners.

Self-sufficient living – there’s a want for things that we know we trust. And what better way to ensure this trust than to produce our own self-sufficient produce such as honey and herbs. Urban farming and rooftop gardens are on the rise as is aquaponics.

Rethink: The Way You Live

Rethink: The Way You Live

Ever-changing space – multi-functional rooms are a necessity. It’s not uncommon for the kitchen to be your place to prepare food, grow food, gather and entertain; or your bedroom to be an office, reading den, escape, entertainment destination and more. Spaces need to evolve with families and ‘nooks and crannies’ need to be exploited as opposed to this misconception of open plan living perfection.

Mobile Living -- house boat. Image from Rethink: The Way You Live

Mobile Living — house boat. Image from Rethink: The Way You Live

Amanda went on to discuss optimistic design, downsizing, holistic living, working from home, and mobile living, too, all movements that need to be considered by designers and creative industries for the future of our homes and lifestyles. The seminar emphasised how our world is changing quickly and so are we, adapting to accommodate new social and environmental behaviour, which is why we require fresh vision and new design considerations for the future of this evolving state.

Rethink: The Way You Live

This is a very condensed version of a very interesting subject. Check out Amanda Talbot’s book Rethink: The Way You Live for a further, in-depth analysis on this topic.

murdochbooks.com.au
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Yellow Bungalow open on Bondi Road, Sydney

Yellow Bungalow has recently opened on Bondi Road, Sydney. Why are we telling you this? Well, there are two things we love most in the world here at Ed & Ruby: one is coffee, and the other is great design, and here they combine for the ultimate shopping destination! Aussie design will always be our favourite, but we have a soft spot for a little chic Scandi style, too.

Yellow Bungalow Shop Front

Yellow Bungalow Shop Front

Yellow Bungalow is a self-styled home of outstanding design and exceptional coffee. These two such greats work hand-in-hand to feature the best in mid-century and modern furniture and design. The Yellow Bungalow philosophy is to focus on creating and sharing living spaces.

The store offers a mix of lovingly restored vintage pieces from both Scandinavian and Australian designers, alongside modern furniture, design, and art from emerging designers and artists. Married with freshly ground Double Roasters coffee, it’s a desirable option for your next caffeine hit.

yellowbungalow.com.au

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Smeg denim-clad refrigerator

When we first saw this design we did a double take and knew it was a must to share! Appliance giant, Smeg, has released a creative new take on the iconic denim material with a denim-clad retro refrigerator. It’s a collaboration between Smeg and Lapo Elkann, CEO of Italia Independent and heir to the Fiat company.

Its design harks back to the 50s with a classic curved profile, and features
dark denim finished with traditional ‘jeans’ stitching that’s been treated with
nano plasma technology to prevent fading and staining. Once you open the
door, however, it’s 21st Century technology all the way with the latest and
greatest inclusions.

smeg.com.au

Smeg Denim Refrigerator

Smeg Denim Refrigerator

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