Saturday, June 7, 2008

Inspiring Australian design

I have decided to share some of the inspiring designers that were a part of the mentoring in the Springboard business mentorship programme I have been involved with. This part of the programme, being able to ask questions and hear the story of some of these amazing Australian designers has given me such inspiration in my own business as it grows...

Schamburg & Alvisse:
These beautiful furniture designers came to one of the first workshops we had. They started in 1994 (Marc Schamburg, interior designer + Michael Alvisse, architect) with a little cash, beautiful ideas and no real understanding of business... ie. that you had to make money back from what you make! They just wanted to make something beautiful.

So it started on the floor of an apartment and grew from there. They are commited to being environmentally with their products and have a great recycling policy with older items. Their pieces are highly collectable and sought after.

1984 Fishbowl - Danny Cheung. Photo from website.

These guys have a beautiful national exhibition showcasing Australia's best designers but also take these exhilarating designs to the next level but actually getting things produced... The example they showed of Danny Cheung's 1984 Fishbowl was fantastic. Here was a beautifully designed item that Danny just couldn't get produced (it is ceramic) and he almost went plastic!

Thankfully, Workshopped took it under their wings and, after a problematic start, have got a beautifully created item that is now for sale (either on theirs or Danny Cheung's website).

Cheung describes his inspiration for the 1984 Fishbowl as:

"Life inside a goldfish bowl ain't a lot of fun without a little privacy! The intention with 1984 was to create a true sense of abode for our beloved little friends; solid white walls and three generous (domed) portholes with views from the hallway to the living room"

The fishbowl was inspired by and takes its name from the novel 1984 by George Orwell. The design is innovative in meeting the needs of a non-human species, a design which ironically engages our own instinctive curiosity. The domed portholes effectively create an ethereal magnifying lens for compelling entertainment. The fish use the opaque walls for refuge and peer out the windows when curiosity strikes."

Dinosaur Designs collection. Photo from

Dinosaur Designs:
Liane Rossler came to talk at our last session and I was spellbound!

Three funky arts students hit Paddington Markets with handmade jewellery made from fimo and painted up. These guys needed to make money and said it would take a while with art, so we better think of something quick! They are still going (started in 1984) strong and now have stores in Sydney, Melbourne and New York.

They still get down and into it all, creating each range, have all had kids, and have creative staff to keep it all happening!


magikquilter said...

Love the dinosaur designs story...""we need money quickly".. so they just did it. Have you seen their store in The Strand? You don't mind that type of shopping arcade do you? Its no Westfield and very inspiring...we should meet up there one day when you are in town.I loved it when they had the Chinese gowns from an Australian movie on display. On the other end of the scale that little shop I was telling you about near me is a definite possibility for your stuff by the way.What is the next step?

Kara said...

Hey there,

Just let me know the name of the shop and I will contact them or check them out. Thanks for that!

The Strand is beautiful and Dinosaur Designs went with them intentionally as they wanted to be surrounded by other interesting designers looking for a special place. The same goes with their Melb and New York store. The first store was the Paddington one, when Paddington was quirky and out there, but its sad to see it become so maintstream (Newtown too!).

Bec said...

Wow - it sounds like Springboard is going fantastically! It all sounds so inspiring. How wonderful to get to hear Liane Rossler speak. I have been a big fan of Dinosaur Designs since they opened their Melbourne shop (my husband and I actually got DD rings for our wedding). And the Fishbowl!!! Wow. That is a sensational piece of design. Thanks so much for sharing these stories :)

Kara said...

Yes Bec, they were totally inspiring and I think for me, the talks by these fantastic inspirational people made the Springboard project so real... knowing all of them started the way we are!