Down the Rabbit Hole
When I’m beginning any design project, whether it’s a home, a building, a cafe or an exhibition stand like the one at D+D, I always start with my intention and the ‘why’ of the project. Of course, with an exhibition stand, it’s all about showcasing product, but I have to understand how I’m presenting that product and why people will be motivated to engage with it.
My favourite saying when I’m starting a creative project is ‘going down the rabbit hole,’ and that relates to my whole experience of design. I like to start big, be expressive, and I won’t edit until I am clear on my ‘why’. That probably explains my affinity for ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and why I choose the Alice books to inspire the design of the stand, even featuring quotes on the wall.
“A curious world is not all as it seems, but it might just be, everything you see.”
The Alice quote above relates to curiosity about pattern, colour, and multi-dimensionality in terms of form and function. My Timberline vanities and shaving cabinets are not just elements of a bathroom, they are elegant pieces of furniture that can be customised in the colour of your dreams. Open a drawer or a door, and the wonderment of your perfectly organised bathroom awaits! I wanted the stand design to reflect that.
Similarly, I wanted the Urban Road wallpaper to engulf the two exhibit spaces in pattern and colour and, because the space didn’t have four walls, I turned to the fifth wall: the floor. Can you use the wallpaper on the floor? No! (That’s the artistic license I allow myself when I go down the rabbit hole!) But, did you know you can use wallpaper on your bathroom walls? We get so caught up in the concept of feature walls, and inhibited by the fear of enveloping a space with pattern, colour and drama, that we often choose to stay safe. I wanted this stand to encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zone and imagine their walls in a whole different way.
The gallery-style artwork arrangement combines pieces from my Urban Road collection and from the artist Amanda Hinkleman. It tells a story that encompasses travel from the sky, being whoever we want to be, and connecting with our indigenous history and the stories of the Traditional Owners. The fabric with the dancing motif reminds us not to get fixed on a design or a style, but to take time to be curious.
“To the Looking-Glass world it was Alice that said,
‘I’ve a sceptre in hand, I’ve a crown on my head;
Let the Looking-Glass creatures, whatever they be,
Come and dine with the Red Queen, the White Queen, and me.’”
(Lewis Carroll, Alices’ Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass)
I used this quote for a cheeky colour inspiration for our D+D stand. When I read the words: ‘Red Queen’, I knew instantly the vanity in front of the mural had to be red to work in with the rosella flying up high. ‘I’ve the sceptre in house, I’ve a crown on my head’, gives everyone permission to be their own queen for a day – every day – and the words the ‘White Queen’ meant the second vanity had to be white.
Why refer to myself as a queen? Well, I’ve been called the ‘Queen of Storage’ and the ‘Queen of Cushions’ so it just came naturally!
Sutherland House Vanity Collection
When I set out to create my Sutherland House collection for Timberline my focus was on combining form and function (one without the other is a recipe for disaster).
My goal when designing is always about making people’s lives better in a seamless way. It’s really important that my product have visual wow factor, but that also add value to people’s lives. I’ve had a long relationship with Timberline through my work as an interior designer so I have first-hand experience of their quality, value and customer service.
I set out to create vanities that work as stand-alone pieces of furniture. Regency was loosely inspired by the elegant wallpaper designs of old Hollywood. Deco is a period I love but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea so I’ve adapted the look into something fluid and adaptable for any period-style home. Farmhouse was designed to be contemporary but relaxed at the same time – to work with Country and Hamptons interiors irrespective of whether your home is on the coast, in the country or in the suburbs. With Retro, my challenge was to overcome the perception of dated 70s or mid-century decor. So, I kept the design simple with a circle that connects contemporary with retro. The drawers are designed with lots of secret and special feature options, to make sure they live up to my reputation as the Storage Queen (shoutout to our unique hairdryer shelf design)!
The response from people at D+D was phenomenal. Everyone was loving the look and feel and also the hidden, functional storage solutions. Timberline prides itself on its Australian designed and made products and I’m proud to be collaborating with them on a collection I’ve always dreamed of creating.
Urban Road Wallpaper Collaboration
The wallpaper and artworks you see in the video are from my Urban Road collaboration. I’ve created an extensive collection of artworks with Urban Road’s Creative Director Susie Atkin over the years – you’ll spy some of them adorning the walls in the video – but right now for me it’s all about the wallpaper!
Creating a collection of eight wallpapers inspired by Australia’s outstanding flora and fauna was a dream come true for me. The designs are intricate yet simple, organic, delicate and elegant; created to be a unique focal point of any room whether you hang it in the kitchen, bedroom, nursery or powder room. At D+D we featured ‘Cascade’ in ‘Smoke;’ an arrangement of watercolour stripes in two shades of the palest blue-grey – perfect for boho, costal and eclectic interiors, and ‘Campaspie Dreamsshay’ in ‘Muted’ a show stopping mural inspired by my beloved Kyneton Botanical Gardens in Victoria – beautiful if you’re looking to make a statement in a period or eclectic home interior.
The collection is true to Urban Road’s signature flair for producing beautiful, cutting-edge designs in easy-to-match colour palettes. And, best of all, they’re available in Paste the Wall and Peel and Stick (for the wallpapering-challenged) options.
Talking Communication in Design
Public speaking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but coming from an experience base of singing live, which segued into talking design on television, I’m absolutely in my comfort zone up on stage, soap-boxing about the interface between beautiful form and functionality.
I firmly believe design is interactive and is created by the designer for the client. It’s all about how what we create is going to be perceived, used and interacted-with by the end user. So, I see design in itself as a form of communication and an opportunity to tell a story or take people on a journey.
At D+D I was on a mission to share the importance of designing with purpose, understanding the psychology of colour, incorporating all five senses into a design and balancing it all out so you’re driven by style, not by faddish trends.
At the end of the day, my goal as a designer is to make people’s lives better by bringing to the surface what they love and what they’re passionate about so that they can live with it front and centre each day.
Thanks to everyone who came along to hear me speak, and filled our creative cups with incredible feedback on all the products on show. And thanks also to Holli and the Timberline team who worked so hard to build the stand and look after it over the course of the show.
P: +61 (3) 8825 6641 (direct)
Blank Canvas Interiors
598-600, Burwood Road
Hawthorn East, VIC AUSTRALIA 3123