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Making Place @ Pecha Kucha

June 15, 2009

This week I’d like to share the presentation I showed at Pecha Kucha on 3 June 2009 at the Brisbane Powerhouse with those that couldn’t be there in person. Many thanks to the Brisbane organisers, Kirsti, Christina and Luke for inviting me to speak.

Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

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This first slide shows a series of digital prints on paper called Digital Rugs & Textiles Samples, which reference textiles worn down by the passage of time and shows the structure of weaving. I created this series in 2002 and it explores notions of travel, belonging and home through the idea of the contemporary nomad. It also looks at how we use objects to create a sense of place wherever we go…

It’s interesting where inspiration can come from. For my current project, ‘Making Place’, this piece of carpet featuring the Damask motif, which is steeped in the history of textiles and wallpaper, became the basis for the design ‘Falling Leaves’. I love the fact that part of the motif for my design comes from a textile medium and has been re-interpreted back into another textile medium…

Here I am in my studio early on in the project with Chigger, my cat, who likes to help out by sitting on my designs and swatches, keeping them warm! You can see my design mock ups at scale on the back wall showing part of the damask motif I’ve reworked…

Again, not working in isolation, I have been really lucky to have a great team around me. I asked 10 Industry Experts in the art, craft and design sector if they would accompany me on the 12 month R&D journey to creating this range of wallpaper and textiles. When asking for feedback, they haven’t once told me ‘what I should do’, but instead created a space in which I could see clearly ‘what I need to do’…

Half-way through the project I had the opportunity to collaborate with, Nelson Molloy, in their Ann Street store. I was able to preview work to date in a commercial space, which complemented their beautiful range of clothing and accessories. This helped with the direction of the designs, particularly seeing them at scale. You can see the colours I was using at this stage were quite vibrant…

In March, I had the chance to work with Space Furniture in Brisbane on their Moooi feature window, based on Moooi’s presentation of a decadent Baroque banquet theme at the 2007 Milan Design week. Working to this brief influenced my colour palette and in many ways the overall colourways for my range. You can see the colours here are quite moody and atmospheric…

As a part of the project, I worked with Porters Paints to develop my first wallpaper and customize the colourway for Space Furniture. Here I am at Porter’s HQ in Sydney with Aimee from Production and Katherine who is their architectural rep. It’s really important to meet the people you’re dealing with, face to face. It adds so much to your working relationship…

Aimee showed me the rubber plate of my design that wraps around the roller on the press. It was really exciting to see my design on the plate. The dimensions of plate helped shape the repeat design. In this case, it scaled down the size of the motif and transformed it into something quite unexpected. Sometimes limitations/boundaries are really useful…

This is the final design ‘Falling Leaves’ in the window at Space for the Moooi installation. In a way, this kind of sub-project was like rapid prototyping with a very tight deadline. Remember the slide of my studio and how large the motif was? Here, the smaller motif creates a kind of lattice, which builds up and falls away and has a presence and absence quality about it that links to my concept of making place…

We held an Industry Event on the last night of the window installation to promote the collaboration between Space, Porters and myself. Guests were made to feel as if they were in an old manor partaking of an exotic banquet. We thought it was a great idea to take a ‘family portrait’ around the dinner table, turning it into a living work, really making place through the use of the space in context…

Here we have my first textile prototype on the loom, developed by Macquarie Textiles. The insert shows mending any flaws that might appear in the weaving process. It was challenging translating the design from wallpaper to textiles as it had to be modified to fit different repeat dimensions and I had to consider it being used/viewed from all angles…

This slide shows one of several processes in the production of the fabric called decatizing, which stabilizes the properties of the fabric. This fabric is a heavy duty commercial, reversible, yarn dyed wool/bamboo mix suitable for upholstery, screens and curtains. Using sustainable materials and processes was key for this range and I didn’t want to use any chemical finishing…

This is an image of both the wallpaper and textiles, bringing together the range “Falling Leaves”. I am looking into getting these products GECA certified for use in green star building projects. From the beginning it was important to me that if I’m going to produce something, I don’t want it leaving a messy footprint on the planet…

For the window installation currently up at Artisan, I wanted to photograph the wallpaper and textiles in an architectural setting. My photographer, Troy Hansen, knew of a grafittied storm drain, which had what you could refer to as rooms inside. On the left is a picture of the drain the day we scoped it and on the right, the image was taken the day we were supposed to shoot it – after the worst floods in Brisbane since 1974!

This was taken the day before the last slide from inside the car as Troy and I were driving all over Brisbane. My Industry Experts were hot on the track of suggesting possible new locations as we were pulling together Plan B!

And we found it… An abandoned, heritage-listed Queenslander in Brisbane! It fitted all the right criteria, and it had most of its roof along with what was a series of doorways to frame the work perfectly. It was as though the space was custom made for my work…

So, this is the crew on the day of the shoot. Troy is on the left of the first photo and my partner Karl, is on the right, as they installed the wallpapered MDF panels that Phil Taylor, my wallpaper specialist, created for me. We managed to unpack the cars, shoot, change the set and pack up the up in between showers. It was quite unbelievable and kept us on our toes!

This is the final photo displayed in Artisan’s 24/7 Project Space. The final window also features a roll of hung wallpaper and a small ottoman covered in the fabric by the company Prototype, to bring the product into focus, as the grant was to create a range of textiles and wallpaper. I feel it really captures this sense of making place. I love Troy’s captain chair which fits right in!

An important part of the project has been the creation of my website by Designfront. You have to think about all the things you need when setting up commercially – not just your product, but how you represent yourself on your website, branding, business cards etc. I’m grateful to Designfront for not only representing my work and me as a designer, but also drawing out the essence of me as an individual…

I would like to thank to all the people involved in making this project possible, especially the Brisbane City Council for supporting me with a Creative Sparks Project Grant and to everyone who helped me make it across the finish line.

And finally, I would like to dedicate this project to my sister Coleen, who sadly passed away during the course of this project.

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