LOUISE OLSEN – Dinosaur Designs

Louise Olsen is one half of influential Sydney duo Dinosaur Designs, alongside artist partner Stephen Ormandy. Pioneers of using resin to create gorgeous homewares and jewellery, the pair takes inspiration from nature, art and the city they call home...

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What’s your design philosophy or style?
I like to create forms that nurture people’s senses. I love the juxtaposition between materials. I like to humanise modern materials such as resin and metals.

What do each of you bring to the design process?
Stephen and I work independently on our own designs for Dinosaur Designs. We both have our own signature, design sensibility and understanding of resins that we have worked with for over 30 years now. 

TOP: Louise Olsen and her work/life partner Stephen Ormandy, co-founders of Sydney homewares and jewellery brand Dinosaur Designs
ABOVE RIGHT : Debut hardback book 'The Art of Dinosaur Designs', published recently by Penguin Lantern, shares the studio's vision

Tell us about your new book The Art of Dinosaur Designs
Our book was a chance to open our studio doors and allow people to see behind the scenes of how Stephen and I design and create, and to discover some of the inspirations behind our pieces. We didn’t want to do a straightforward history, but we do cover some of the highlights of the past 30 years.

Where or how do you find inspiration?
I’m constantly inspired by nature. I love the way nature takes time to evolve and perfect. I find that when designing an object it takes time and there is a lovely flow that happens as one idea leads to another. 

ABOVE: Launched in October 2016, the duo's latest collection 'ColourBlock' features 'Totem' vases, pictured, alongside platters, plates and salt dishes in bold and soft primary hues. It also boasts sculptural jewellery, including bangles, earrings, rings, necklaces and neck cuffs, exploring colour blocking

What materials and colours are you currently drawn to?
At the moment I’m working on a collection inspired by sandstone, called 'Sand', launching in February 2017. I love all the variation of pigments in the sands from Central Australia to coastal beaches. Our recent 'ColourBlock' range played with solid hues, juxtaposing them, from cobalt blue and vivid coral red to refreshing accents of bright grass green, reminiscent of summer days.

How have art and nature influenced your practice?
We both have a passion for the world of art and nature as it offers never-ending change and beauty.

ABOVE: Sunrise at the iconic Sydney Opera House, one of Louise Olsen's favourite design destinations, by Danish architect Jørn Utzon

Is Sydney a big inspiration? And do you have any favourite local design hot spots?
We can’t help but be inspired by the ocean, the nature and the light of Sydney. For our favourite design spot it’s hard to go past the Sydney Opera House. We’re so lucky to have it – it’s an incredible icon. 

ABOVE: One of Olsen's influences is American designer and sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Pictured is his walnut wood and plate glass 'Coffee Table' (IN-50), 1944; The freeform 'Cloud Sofa and Ottoman', c 1948, in fabric, foam, wood and iron; the Sculpture Garden at The Noguchi Museum, Long Island City, New York; A Noguchi installation at the museum

Who are your design heroes? Or which era, aesthetic or interior has influenced you the most?
Giacometti, Picasso, Calder, Bertoia, Ray and Charles Eames and Noguchi are our design heroes; they were all artists who also designed furniture, ceramics, jewellery, sets and costumes for film and theatre. Every era has its moment of beauty. I tend to think more about the future. 

Where’s on your travel wish list and why?
I’d love to see more of India; it’s so unexpected and varied, and there’s so much ancient history that’s still alive that sits alongside contemporary life.

BELOW: Dinosaur Designs' curvy store in The Strand Melbourne, and a more linear look in their Sydney boutique in the historic Strand Arcade

You have shops in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, New York and London – any plans for future launches?
We’re currently working on a new store in Crosby Street in New York, which will be open early in 2017.

What social media do you use most?
Instagram – because of its wonderful visual stories.
dinosaurdesigns.com.au

Pictures: Rachel Kara (portrait); Heleena Trahanas (book cover); Bec Parsons ('ColourBlock' collection, styled by Mark Vassallo, model Duckie Thot); Sydney Opera House; The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York (Noguchi furniture); George Hirose (Sculpture Garden); Elizabeth Felicella (Noguchi installation view)

See our review section The Library for more on new book 'The Art of Dinosaur Designs'

André Fu AFSO

Andr� Fu 02 copy.jpg

Hong Kong designer André Fu has become synonymous with subtly luxe hotel interiors (you'll never want to leave The Upper House in Hong Kong or Singapore's The Fullerton Bay Hotel). His studio AFSO has created bold, sensuous spaces for art galleries, restaurants and Lane Crawford’s Shoe Library, as well as actress Michelle Yeoh's home. Maison&Objet Asia chose Fu as its 2016 Designer of the Year.

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

How would you describe your design style?
My style has been described as ‘Modern Asian’, yet I would say my design pursuit is driven by modernist, tactile and sensuous aesthetics. 

What’s the secret to creating a gorgeous hotel or hospitality space?
I typically begin a project by travelling to a location and absorbing its dynamics and colours. Another key aspect is to engage in in-depth discussions with the hotelier or owner. I then study the flow of the project and conjure up a series of images that formulates the holistic experience desired.

ABOVE RIGHT: New eau de toilette Fargesia, formulated with perfumer Julian Bedel, takes its cue from bamboo, Sichuan pepper and the emotion of the spaces Fu designs
BELOW:  Fu's interiors for The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore, radiate modern glamour; Tactile materials and sculptural forms create subtle wow factor at Hong Kong's The Upper House

You have a love affair with luxurious but minimal materials, from sensual surfaces to sculpture. What’s your preferred palette?
I love timber for its warmth and versatility. I also use a significant amount of stone in my designs for its tactile quality.

How do you feel about being made Designer of the Year?
Maison&Objet is an important celebration of modern artisanship and the title is a tremendous recognition. I’m participating in two talks – one discussion on my personal career and design philosophy, and my new lifestyle brand AndreFuLiving.com. Another session will focus on the relationship between the hotelier and design architect. I also have a pop-up exhibition showcasing my work, including my hand sketches and large-scale prints for my new perfume. Fargesia is an eau de toilette for the body – the nose is very pure, fresh and crisp. It consists of bamboo, citrus and ginger.

BELOW: The new André Fu Living collection includes a 2015 Assouline book on Fu's work and his calming rugs for Tai Ping

What will your new brand André Fu Living include?
My understanding of the latest evolution in the world of hospitality design is that it gradually demands more profound human sensitivity. As such, I wanted to move into the broader world of lifestyle with the establishment of André Fu Living (AFL). My vision is very much in the spirit of a select shop – an edit of artisanal objects that’s about a journey of discovery, exploration and ultimately collaborations in every sense.

ABOVE: AFSO's zen 'Urban Landscape' installation for fashion brand COS on a Hong Kong pier took inspiration from Asian cities and nature

Where or how do you get inspiration?
My exposure to both the East and West makes me appreciate the fact that lifestyle is not something that can be imposed – it’s derived from culture and all things pure.

Who are your design heroes?
Mies van der Rohe – or the modernist era that explores the purity of lines and forms. It is also an era of significant design evolution that responds to new ways of living.

BELOW: Fu's sleek new 'Skyliner' bathroom fixtures for US brand Cooper & Graham previews at Maison&Objet Asia, including a wall-mounted shower arm with shower rose and thermostatic shower mixer

What’s currently exciting you in design?
The ‘Skyliner’ series, a new collection of bathroom fixtures I have created in collaboration with US brand Cooper & Graham. It is a celebration of the ‘twentieth century modern’ – a collection that is a paradigm of contemporary Asian architecture made of sculptural blocks that juxtapose and interlock. We are previewing key pieces from the collection at Maison&Objet Singapore, from a range of mixer taps to towel rails in a special oil-rubbed bronze finish.

Where’s on your travel wish list? 
Rio de Janeiro in Brazil for Oscar Niemeyer’s modernist architecture.

ABOVE: Hong Kong's mash-up of global influences inspires Fu. We love the city's buzzy PMQ design centre set in the old Police Married Quarters

What’s the Hong Kong design scene like, and do you get inspiration from your hometown?
Hong Kong certainly is a juxtaposition between the East and the West – perhaps this unique setting has allowed the city to have a greater awareness of design in the past few years. My upbringing partially in Asia and also in Europe has allowed me to experience two distinct cultures first-hand and observe lifestyles empowered by history and heritage.

What’s next for you work wise?
We are working with a renowned glass company on a collection to be presented at Salone del Mobile in Milan this April.

What’s your social media of choice?
Kinfolk for upcoming trends and palettes.
afso.net

André Fu is Designer of the Year at Maison&Objet Asia (8-11 March 2016) at Sands Expo and Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, where he will launch new brand André Fu Living.

GREG NATALE

Award-winning Australian interior designer Greg Natale has made his name with glamorous schemes strong on geometric print, pattern, colour and trad-modern luxe. Based in Sydney, he's branched out to design covetable homewares, from graphic rugs to gorgeous furniture, accessories, wallpapers and tiles. He's also published his first book, 'The Tailored Interior', to share his tips, inspirations and projects. We meet the dandy decorator...

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What’s your design philosophy?
I'm focused on creating bold, sophisticated interiors that are tightly edited and tailored with a distinct touch of glamour. Every piece has a place and shares a relationship with other pieces in a space.

How would you describe your style?
It comes down to my love of layering. I’m a big fan of interiors that are full and sumptuous, rich in textures and finishes, with a careful layering of pieces – whether the space is minimalist or maximalist.

What drew you to luxurious, glamorous interiors?
I’ve always been inspired by the late English designer David Hicks – the way he worked with bold colours and patterns, creating elegant environments, was mesmerising. Danish designer Verner Panton's layered, repeated patterns also influenced my aesthetic. 

ABOVE: Interior designer Greg Natale in the living room of an Edwardian house he restored in Sydney, backdropped by Fornasetti plates
ABOVE RIGHT: The UK/US edition of Natale's book 'The Tailored Interior', with a foreword by Jonathan Adler and photos by Anson Smart
BELOW: Natale's zingy dining room for Leichhardt House, Sydney, where the linear 'Comback' chairs by Patricia Urquiola for Kartell echo the lights

What are your tips for using print and pattern in the home?
I do love bold geometrics – they can really lift a space, bringing a layer of intricate interest to a large, open interior via a rug, carpet or wallpaper. I also love detailed curves, which can perfectly balance the angles in a house. It’s in bringing balance and contrast where print and pattern can really come into their own, ensuring a design is cohesive and dynamic. I recommend using neutral tones on bigger furniture such as sofas, then introducing accent colours, pattern and print via more easily changeable cushions, throws and rugs.

ABOVE: Natale's 'Diagonal' striped wallpaper for this small, one-bed Fitzroy Apartment in Melbourne, increases the sense of space (source it from Porter's Paints)

What does a tailored interior mean to you?
My work is essentially a bespoke business – it's all about tailoring my design skills to a client’s desires in order to capture their passions and style. I also curate every piece and finish so it holds its own special place in the mix.

Where do you get inspiration?
I'm interested by the worlds of fashion and art, which celebrate the glamorous and the luxe (I love the sexy, sophisticated tailoring of US fashion designer Tom Ford and Halston's style from the Sixties and Seventies). A lot of my inspiration also comes from the everyday things I’ve observed when exploring new cities. Some of my rug design patterns were inspired by the details on gates, buildings, even manholes. 

What inspired your latest collection for Sydney firm Designer Rugs?
‘New Modern’ is very contemporary and represents a natural step for me following my earlier, more classically inclined ‘New Regency’ collection for Designer Rugs. Each rug is named after a city – for example, ‘Rio’ was inspired by the city’s striking mosaic pavements, while ‘Los Angeles’ features deco elements that are such a part of LA designs. Others represent a mood or theme – so ‘Memphis’ gives a nod to the post-modern design movement. 

BELOW FROM LEFT: Graphic pattern rules in Natale's 'Miami', 'Rio' and 'Memphis' rugs from the 'New Modern' collection for Designer Rugs

ABOVE: Rome's Colosseum and the sexy, streamlined, Seventies glamour of New York's Studio 54 inspired Natale's armchair and coffee tables for US interiors brand Worlds Away, part of a 10-piece collection

Which of your collaborations are you most proud of?
Early collaborators Designer Rugs and Porter’s Paints both have a special place because they were the first brands to allow me to diversify. Designing furniture collections for Stylecraft and Worlds Away has given me the chance to create key contemporary pieces that embrace a little vintage glamour, while my Italian-inspired 'Pavimento' cement tiles for Teranova took a different approach to flooring. My new cushion range for One Duck Two suits both contemporary and classic spaces.

What’s exciting you in design or style?
I’m really excited to see a renewed interest in the post-modernist Italian design group Memphis, with its vivid colours, geometrics and graphics. It's one of my favourite design movements.

What about colour trends?
I’m loving the chic, sophisticated neutral appeal of navy blue. At the more dramatic end of the spectrum, I find the current trend for rich colours such as malachite and lapis lazuli breathtaking. And I’ve always been a fan of metallics, particularly brass.

Who are your design heroes? `
Alongside David Hicks, Verner Panton and Memphis, I love the work of modernist architects such as American Paul Rudolph and the late Australian legend Harry Seidler (I'm fortunate to live in an apartment in one of Seidler’s buildings today). I’ve always been a fan of the Californian Case Study Houses of the Fifties and Sixties, commissioned by US Arts & Architecture magazine. In my own industry, I count Jonathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler among my contemporary inspirations.

ABOVE: Greg Natale's cushions for One Duck Two span printed linen and embroidery in greens, blues, greys, and black and white. From left: 'Manhattan', 'Trellis', 'Monte Carlo', 'South Beach' and 'Malachite'

Where’s on your travel wish list?`
Saint-Tropez is number one. The sun, the setting, the glamour – what’s not to love?

What’s your social media of choice?
Pinterest – it’s such a great source of inspiration, in terms of absorbing that of others and sharing your own, and it allows you to create personal mood boards, particularly useful in my profession.

What have you been up to recently?
We had the US and UK launches for my book The Tailored Interior in September, and launched my first cushion collection with Australia's One Duck Two (available online at David Jones and in select stores). We also moved offices, setting up a new, more generous space in Surry Hills, with an appealing edge of glamour! In future, I intend to focus more on product, work towards another book, and ensure that the brand becomes more global in approach and reach.
gregnatale.com

'The Tailored Interior' by Greg Natale (Hardie Grant Books, £24.40, US$55, AU$69.95) launched in the UK and US in September 2015 and in Australia in November 2014. Snap it up online. Photography by Anson Smart.

AMANDA TALBOT

Sydney-based Australian stylist, design consultant and author Amanda Talbot cut her teeth on Livingetc and ELLE Decoration magazines in the UK, before collaborating with industry names from Ilse Crawford to IKEA. Her new book Happy aims to create 'joyous living spaces though design.'

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What inspired you to write Happy?
After I wrote my first book Rethink: The Way You Live I realised that all those I featured may be going about life differently but they all just wanted to be happy. It got me thinking about how design can help people to be happier. 

What is happy design?
Happy design is emotional. It speaks to our hearts as well as our heads. It displays optimism, self-confidence and empathy. Historically words like ‘happy’ and ‘design’ have not been used together; pragmatism won out. People thought happy design was bold, childlike colours and houses filled with novelty ideas – places where you don’t want to spend a lot of time. Today, more architects and designers want to create objects and spaces we can enjoy. 

What key design lessons did you learn?
What makes one person happy can be another person’s nightmare – such as paint colours – but there are key elements we can all draw on. Tap into nature, lighting, colour, humour and flow, and create spaces that encourage more spontaneous, playful experiences in your home.

TOP PICTURE: Architect Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen's bear duvet, from By Nord, adds a cheery touch
BELOW: Unexpected colour brings fun touches to the homes of Paris creative director Jean-Christophe Aumas and Sydney design label Kawaiian Lion. Art and quirky ornaments up the feelgood factor

What was the most feelgood home you visited?
Each place I visited had its own inspiring feelgood factor. I loved designer Lee Broom’s London cinema room with a popcorn machine. Jo Wood’s Camden home was full of smiles and surprises, such as her skull wallpaper. I adored the giant Anish Kapoor-like silver slide in a New York apartment. The huge feasting table in an Amsterdam house showed me the importance of where we sit and eat. Tenka Gammelgaard’s Copenhagen home proved that a happy space is all about attitude.

Any little tips that can make a big wellbeing impact?
Stop following fast-fashion trends and ask yourself what makes you happy. Stepping away from the happy clichés is very liberating. It’s rare that we simply savour the moment, make the most of what we have, or put energy and love into our homes. When choosing colour for a space I now consider first what mood and activity I want to encourage. I also learned the power of editing. We need an intervention in how much we shop! 

What are the worst offenders when it comes to unhappy interiors?
I asked that question in my Happy Poll. The common answers were lack of storage, space, daylight and gardens, too much clutter, not enough room for alone time, outdated interiors, and excess noise.

ABOVE: Smile style: an owl figurine at artist Tenka Gammelgaard's monochrome home

Tell us about your work on Sydney's Coogee Pavilion (above).
I helped design this 'happy' bar/restaurant at Coogee Beach, alongside Justin and Bettina Hemmes, from owner’s Merivale, and Kelvin Ho from Akin Creative. For the ground floor, launched in July, I created a giant magnetic scrabble game with a library ladder to reach the top, customised ping pong tables with colourful geometric patterns, and introduced outsize Connect Four, Jenga, and Noughts and Crosses. We wanted adults and children to feel part of the space. I also commissioned a giant whale light. We opened the rooftop on 30 December, with four bars in a beautiful conservatory, styled as if it belonged to an eccentric botanist. 

Any other current projects?
I mentor young talents at The Design Residency, which I co-founded in Sydney. It’s an incubator for fledgling fashion and homewares designers to turn their products into viable, commercial brands.

Which residents should we be watching?
Shilo Engelbrecht has enjoyed incredible success during her time with us (table linen, above left). She had her gorgeous textiles included in Kit Kemp’s Ham Yard Hotel in London, an art exhibition with UK lifestyle boutique Anthropologie, visited Italian homewares label Missoni, and attracted top global buyers. Varina Krook from Stash Textiles is also a brilliant illustrator whose new range explores Australian historical houses and botanical motifs. British store Liberty helped with her production. Sophia Pearce from Flotsam/Jetsam has designed the marvellous ‘Buoy’ light (above right), ideal for the urban nomad. Grace Wood uses wool from her family farm to craft beautiful felt cushions, throws, over-scaled objects and wall installations. 

What's exciting you in design?
People like Dutch-born, Melbourne-based designer Joost Bakker, with his pioneering approach to sustainable living, plants and zero-waste.

Where’s on your travel wish list?
Western Australia. It’s the home of cute marsupial the quokka, my mascot while writing Happy

What’s your social media of choice?
I love Instagram. It’s so instant, image-focused and most small businesses say it has had huge impact in growing their brands. 

'Happy' by Amanda Talbot (Murdoch Books, AU$69.99) available now