A fascinating story up on Creative Conversations today; the colourful collaboration of two like-minded creatives. Emily of Surface 1°22, and Kerrie of Ode to Elma, who both started in the fashion world, and have happily come to have respected positions now in the interiors world.
We met for a coffee in the beautiful Melbourne spring sun, and discussed everything from getting to where they are now, new and exciting upcoming secrets (stay tuned!), to our favourite vases, and ways in which these creative women tick!
Sit back, relax and enjoy the colab that ‘woos’ you with beautiful bright spring tones of peony, sherbet and dusk blue, which look exactly as they sound – simply swoon worthy!! So, settle in and enjoy reading about these two creatives, and how they tick.
“Beige is so beige! Select a colour palette and play with balance and proportion in one part of the house. ” – Emily
Did your background or childhood lead you to lighting and textile design? If so, did it affect your love for textures and lighting?
Emily: My background is in Fashion and Textile Design, so it was natural for me to build on my fashion industry experience through the lens of object and surface design. Motifs, patterns and colours are the basis for my inspiration and design process.
Kerrie: I have always had a love of making things. Mum was quite a crafts person and I have lots of memories of her making things. Designing was something I always wanted to do, it just took a bit of a journey of self-discovery and self-belief to get there. After working and travelling abroad I went back to study fashion design which gave me the design foundation that led to sustainable jewellery design before I began to explore the lighting world.
Who inspires you or Who do you admire?
Emily: Creatives who walk the beat of their own drum. We live in a world where digital information overwhelms us with inspiration from other people. I despise Pinterest, where the originator of ideas is lost and encourages copycats. I admire the work of artists and illustrators, both contemporary and historical – Kadinsky, Jodee Knowles, Sonia Deluny, Sean Morris, Gunta Stölzl, Carla McRae.
Kerrie: Designers who push the boundaries of what design is. A designer who I think does really interesting work is Willem Heeffer, a Dutch designer who created the Heinz Beanz can light and the up cycled washing machine drum lights. He challenges people’s ideas and preconceptions about repurposing and demonstrates that you can turn ordinary everyday items into beautiful, functional and quality design. Hopefully I am achieving this in some way as well.
Have you always loved interiors and design?
Emily: I enjoy components of interior design, the wallpaper, artwork, furniture, flooring, and how these components combine colour, texture and patterns. I’m no good at styling these myself, but I have an appreciation of design from a broader perspective. I admire how designers create visual mash-ups which respond to society and culture, it’s an exciting industry to work in as it is forced to keep reinventing itself.
Kerrie: I have always loved design and been creative. However, when I was younger I had more of a love of clothes and fashion design and have developed a love of interiors over time and bringing different styles and elements together to create a cohesive look. I have an appreciation of art and design generally and understand not just the time and craft-ship that goes into the creation of it but the heart and soul as well.
Do you inspect the lighting and soft furnishings, textiles in other people’s homes/hotels/restaurants?
Emily: Every time. I’m usually disappointed if there’s a lack of colour or awful commercial carpeting. I’m not sure why commercial design is so scared of contemporary colours.
Kerrie: Yes! I’m always looking at lighting and light fixtures in cafes and restaurants particularly – I love coming across pendant lights that are made out of unusual or up cycled materials, seeing how people use different objects and materials, I find that inspiring.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Emily: I don’t have a typical day, but my business is predominantly digital so most days you’ll find me sitting on the computer with a cup of tea. I don’t have a routine or extraordinary daily practice, although a walk to find coffee usually defines my midday work break.
Kerrie: I get coffee brought to me in bed – I’m not really a morning person so that helps kick start my day. I then usually retreat to my home studio. I wouldn’t really say I have a typical day, which is nice, some days are hands on days making product, other days are more computer based.
If you could change one thing about your regular day what would it be?
Emily: That I spent less time alone in my home studio. I’m an extrovert, so I would love to move into a bigger shared space that’s buzzing with energy and gives me more opportunities to connect with like-minded people.
Kerrie: It can get a bit lonely. That’s why collaborating with Emily recently has been great – not only have we created some beautiful pieces – but having someone to work with and bounce ideas off has been a lot of fun and really beneficial. We definitely have plans to collaborate again.
Tell me about the best meal you recently ate out?
Emily: Honestly, I’m a big breakfast food fan. Babajan in Carlton North is my favourite cafe, their modern Turkish food is delicious! I would avoid this little spot on the weekends though, but it’s worth the wait if you have to. Code Black Coffee and Eggplant Aleppo Turkish Toastie with fried eggs, fermented chilli and sumac. I die.
Kerrie: A little pizzeria in Carlton called Kaprica – far removed from the likes of Lygon St. It has such a cosy atmosphere with a real rustic feel to the place – the menus are hand written! And the food was pretty amazing too. The caprese salad to start was sooo good – no fuss simple and delicious food.
Do you have a favourite bargain buy?
Emily: I think Kerrie and I are pretty similar in that we love thrift shopping and finding old pieces of furniture to do up. Most recently, I picked up some old bentwood dining chairs and a pair of rocker armchairs to reupholster.
Kerrie: I love my opp shopping. A couple of my favourite dresses have been opp shop bargains. I also scored a John Grimes side table on one of my opp shopping excursions.
Biggest spend and was the lash out worth it OR Dream design purchase?
Emily: A new bed and pillows. Yes, lash out was worth it. Not exactly a dream design purchase but you spend a third of your life in bed, so it should be pimping…!
Kerrie: I remember buying a World jacket back when I studying fashion design. I was living on next to nothing so it was definitely a splurge purchase. I have no idea how I could actually afford it. I still have the jacket today so I guess you could say it was money well spent.
What is your favourite item of design/interiors/fashion right now? And is it helping to mould your up and coming designs?
Emily: Bonnie and Neil vinyl floor rugs really float my boat. Prints and patterns can essentially be applied to any surface, so it’s great to see companies working on product diversification that moves between soft to hard furnishings.
Kerrie: I am very much into furniture at the moment. I have been eyeing up an Arro Home sofa – it just looks so plush and comfy. I am also a bit obsessed with mid century dining chairs at the moment too – I keep acquiring them with the intention of restoring and reupholstering them, hopefully in some of Emily’s stunning textiles.
Sustainability/earth saving tip?
Emily: I’m not a huge consumer, so I only shop when I need something, rather than wanting something. When possible, I buy from local businesses businesses to ensure the supply chain minimises waste and products are locally manufactured using locally sourced materials. I don’t buy into fast fashion or throw away products.
Kerrie: Sustainable design is the focus of my business so I very much live by that philosophy. If you can re-use or re-purpose items rather than throwing them away then do so. I hate wastage. When purchasing look for quality, well-designed products that will last – they are usually beautiful too. Shop locally made and locally grown as much as you can. Buy products that are sustainably made. Buy second hand – there is a lot to be said for the saying ‘one person’s trash is another person’s treasure’.
Do you have a top travel destination or a favourite place?
Emily: A new destination will be my new favourite place because it’s an adventure, and I’m seeing it through fresh eyes, where I want to capture new sights on camera or make drawings to record inspiration. One place I’d love to revisit is Ock Pop Tok Living Arts Centre in Luang Prabang, Laos.
Kerrie: I tend to travel to new places rather than revisit somewhere I have been before. One of the most memorable trips I’ve been on was to Borneo. It has great beaches and great food and far less touristy than other parts of Malaysia or Indonesia. The downside was seeing the scale of all the deforestation of the orangutan’s natural habitat – very sad. Next on my travel list is Central America.
What has been your proudest career achievement to date?
Emily: Starting a Design School. The courses I’ve developed fill the gap between short, introductory workshops (which can be a little too fast) and accredited training (which focus too heavily on assessment, rather than professional development). My signature pattern design workshop uses low-fi technology – apps and smartphones/ tablets – to make learning incredibly accessible across age and education levels.
Kerrie: I am a relative newcomer to the lighting industry only establishing my business in 2015. I was featured in a book that has just recently been released called ‘Authentic Light – Designed & Made in Melbourne’
What would be your dream creative project?
Emily: Creating interior products for a Boutique Hotel.
Kerrie: I would love to create lighting products for a café or restaurant fit out.
What are you most looking forward to?
Emily: Wallpapering a house of my own.
Kerrie: Doing the renovations and extension on our house – I just want to start sourcing the items but I know I’m getting way ahead of myself.
Do you have a best kept secret?
Emily: Wallpaper doesn’t have to be permanent. Give your walls some pattern and colour by printing onto vinyl decal.
Kerrie: Have different lighting options to light up parts of a room rather than always lighting up the entire room – it creates much more ambience in a space.
If you had one piece of interior design advice what would it be?
Emily: Don’t be scared to be different. Beige is so beige! Select a colour palette and play with balance and proportion in one part of the house.
Kerrie: Don’t be afraid to inject some colour or experiment with different styles and mix the old with new.
Emily and Kerrie are full of inspiration – I just want more!
The exciting news, is that the collaboration is having a pop up!
“Specially curated for the colour brave, textile designer Emily Wills and lighting designer Kerrie Mould designed this pop-up space to share their unique design pieces that reflect a love of colour, texture and print.
After the successful launch of their first collection of interior products in September, the Melbourne-based design duo behind SURFACE 1°22 and Ode to Elma are back with custom wallpapers, pendant lighting and printed textiles curated with local artist Claire Lefebvre’s abstract painting and a range of reimagined furniture pieces”.
Eclectic Creative Blog Contributor
As an Interiors and design ‘devotee’, Georgia is lucky enough to work as a freelance interior designer, decorator, stylist and writer. From a young age, her love of rich textiles, heavenly antiques and eclectically styled spaces was innate. Hailing from the bottom of the world in Hobart, but now residing in Melbourne, she finds herself spending her free time scrolling through beautiful feeds of design orientated images, filling her tummy at the latest, yummiest and mainly design savvy eateries, traveling the world (her dad says she is not okay without a ticket for her next trip), or simply kicking back with friends. Georgia believes a house should be a home and a little bit of love goes a long way.
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