Thursday, December 31, 2009

Type spells inspiration

Some of you may not know this, but in a past life I was actually a Graphic Designer, My love of typography is something that never died however and I have to admit I still see it everywhere! I love taking photos of typography applied in all sorts of places, For example it could be street art, it could be a lamp post, perhaps a weathered old shop signage on a side of a building or even a simple traffic sign, I find inspiration in the graphic value of these found, chanced upon opportunities for an image. Often I will use this inspiration to create stories that revolve around the use of typography in Interiors or I will incorporate it as an unexpected element in a still life. We all can relate to the printed word, It's in our everyday lives, you simply can't escape it. Like colors, I believe the forms and shapes and sounds of particular letters bring up different emotions.

It's not a new medium for fascination, famous typographers like Neville Brody and David Carson have been producing amazing commercial work for years. A favorite of mine, New Zealand born artist Rosalie Gascoigne, who lived in Australia most of her life actually used assemblages of road signs, Rosalie was an amazing artist who only started producing work in her 50's, She died in 1999. One of her pieces hangs at MoMA in NYC.

Most of these images where taken around the world, some in New York, London, Italy, Montreal and Minneapolis.

Sweet Tooth..who me?

Who doesn't love a desert? It's often hard to fit one in I will admit but when you can and it's good, there's no better way to finish a meal except maybe a glass of sticky wine! It's this reason with my love of deserts that I wanted to share with you the series of the "Last Bite" pages for Food & Wine Magazine. As I mentioned in a previous post, It was so great to see one of these images used as the current January 2010 cover, but this was actually the last of a series, the last 4 months.

I was lucky to be asked to contribute to the next 4 months as of February, so look out for those. Of course on the shoots I get to try everything so after 4 deserts in a day, It can be a sugar high baby! No wonder I look forward to the next batch.

For these images we work to a very specific palette for each month, this is based on what is appropriate seasonally, what is in the rest of the issue color wise and we always try and give them a luxe aspirational look, a little sparkle here and there never goes astray!

These great pics were shot by Con Poulos.

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Home Office

I hope it does not seem too self indulgent, but what is a blog anyhow, right? I wanted to share a recent project, my new office! With the economy being the way it is, I know I personally can't afford the luxury of a separate office space from home, maybe one day! A home office is not an uncommon thing, let's face it, most people have one of some kind at home, Along with this technological age, we are all taking more work home now anyway, so you need a productive place to do it in business or after hours! I have been asked many times what my home office tips are for many an editorial column, now I find myself putting them to use.

The main challenge is I live in a studio apartment, while I am lucky to have a separate alcove that acts as almost a separate room, The reality is I have to make the best of a small space. I decided against the office in the alcove as it is void of natural light, something I need to get the creative vibe growing. One of my main tips is to create an office in a space where you feel the energy is good and with that includes lots of natural light, I have seen lots of people create clever small offices in an old cupboard but to be honest I could not think of anything worse, cooped up like a chicken in a dark hole.

I also splashed out and painted the wall lining my studio where my office sits in a dusty mauve, Part of me thinks, why dusty mauve?, I am not sure really, only I'm kinda feeling it right now. The point is I wanted to define the space as a separate one to the rest of my apartment, I also wanted to give it some mood, white walls are great in a nice lofty apartment, but somehow I wanted to be free of the basic stark painters white, it was time to "jazz it up" ; )

I created a separate space for the office by using a slightly taller bookshelf that matched the exact length of my desk and sat it front so it acts as a divider and also houses all my reference and design books, I did not want something too tall, otherwise it may feel too barricaded in. In fact I have to admit I tried a taller one first but it just seemed too tall, somehow in a small space low lying furniture always seems to work better.

To create inspiring sounds, I also decided on investing in a good radio, I have always admired the Tivoli Audio series and I have to say, It's worth every cent. I now have a really nice sounding radio that isn't the tinny muffled computer sound I am used to. It has clarity and a depth of sound which is amazing for something so small. Community radio is my fave and now as I sit alone in my office at home but I still feel connected to the rest of the world.

On my desk sits my laptop, a printer underneath on a small bench and a variety of inspiring knick knacks/ props of the moment, I recently worked with an amazing landscape designer Flora Grubb, who opened my eyes to the world of air plants, I now have some sitting in front of me along with my office mascots Kellogg's Tony the Tiger & Son and Doraemon the ear less cat from Japan, who help lighten things up as I trudge through expenses and other sober matters.

I recommend anyone taking their office seriously at home, mine now feels like less of an after thought and with a defined space I feel more focused and re energised.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Metallic Test 2

These are the other results of my "Metallic Test" with Photographer Kate Mathis

Metallic Test 1

So I have to apologize for not uploading these sooner, It's been a couple of month's since I did my last test with photographer Kate Mathis, Sometimes these things take time to ferment, Kate needed time to work on retouching, outputting and printing out prints, we also needed to find time to actually meet up! When we did, Kate gave me a lovely set of prints from the story and as I flipped through them with her, it reminded me in the commercial storm of activity that has been work the last 2 months, that we had in fact shot something wistful, romantic, moody and rich in texture, At least that's what I think! : )

I am hoping I can weave some of these shots into my own private print book. I see testing as a record of my own personal journey with styling, It comes from the heart so for me the process is not caught up in the confines of a tight brief, what the client wants or where it has to sit seasonally. Of course testing can be an opportunity to do something tight, planned out and structured, but often as "tests" are pulled together when you have a small window of time available or without a budget at all, things can be allowed to be a bit more organic and not as over processed with planning. With this I believe comes fresher less contrived ideas and as a result fresher images, often things you may not see within the pages of a everyday magazine.

Some peoples view on styling is that it just someone running around pulling together a whole bunch of stuff to earn a buck, but others who know better, realize it's not just about that. It's also about exploring threads of ideas and putting them out there to hopefully inspire people and maybe even set off a whole new train of thought seeing things. For me it is seriously part of my lifestyle, A lot of these props in this shoot for instance have a history with me, Some of them had never made a guest appearance outside of the prop cupboard at all, sometimes sitting their for months or years waiting for the right opportunity. It is interesting when some people just view these images as just a bunch of old flea market finds and they don't see beyond that, Sometimes unless its a generic product sitting on a surface, crafted images with sensitivity seem to be off their radar. When people only see dollar signs, creativity can get put on the back burner. Sorry, It's my gripe for the week : )

Anyway hope you enjoy these 2 sets of images, Kate did a wonderful job, I feel they have a certain energy and mood that can only be captured when all parties involved are invested and inspired.

Food and Wine January Cover, 2010

I was simply delighted when I opened my mailbox to find my subscription to "Food and Wine" magazine had a big butterscotch sticky bun staring me in the face, It wasn't only the bun that made me excited, It was the fact that it is my first ever "Food & Wine" cover! I styled it.

I think my surprise came mainly because I would have never expected it to be a cover, I had styled this with photographer Con Poulos months and months ago when we shot a whole series of "Last Bite" pages, The desert page that sits on the last page of the magazine. These pages are not shot with a cover in mind, so it's great when a magazine can pick up on a random image within the issue and make it a beautiful cover.

While the propping is minimal, I am glad that my very expensive ABC Carpet & Home glasses made it in, (especially since 2 broke in the bag on the way back to the store and I had to pay for them! :) We wanted to give the pages some New Year sparkle so I used the glasses with gold dots etched into them and a silver runner, The buns are sitting on a Rosenthal platter, This one I don't own, but I do love a Rosenthal!

Hope you are licking your lips, I did try one on the shoot and they are good! Food Stylist Heidi Johannsen knows how the cook a mean sticky bun!

The cover is the Jan. 2010 cover, It's on new stands now!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Anna Last's New York Apartment

Last Saturday, My friend Anna Last who is incidentally the Editor of Everyday Food, hosted a very fantastic Christmas dinner. Being a Food Stylist and Editor, you would hardly be surprised if I said the food was amazing! The big hit of the night, especially amongst the fellow Australians present was the pavlova, our national desert.

Anna and I also worked together on Real Simple where she tailored her many skills to prop style on our Styling Team so not only was the food delish but so was the view. I always marvel at Anna's apartment, A fellow collector of charming objet d'arte, Anna like myself is a regular flea market junkie and her style reflects a love of an era past. She often says one of her main influences was her grandmother and it's with this nostalgic eye she pulls together a variety of objects and artwork that some would imagine would feel at odds together, but with Anna's eye fuse together like still life painting themselves. Her and I share a love of all things botanical, you can witness this in her collection of oil paintings of flowers and metal organic sculpture that adorn the walls. Turquoise seems to be Anna's signature color and is laced through the apartment like a delicate thread, but makes a bold impactual statement in the hallway as you walk though the door. To brand Anna's style, it is delightfully random and eclectic. I loved the part of the evening where she took down her collection of blue and white ceramic off their plate hooks on the wall and served up the sides in them at the table which itself was decorated with an mismatched array of plates and paper peacocks.

Another highlight for me is her collection of nautical paintings and model boats, they remind me of growing up near the water and when I look at them I can hear the tightening of rope and the creaks and groans of clinking boats, a far cry from urban New York where we both now reside.

Most of these pictures are vignettes of her collections, maybe one day we will see more pulled back photographs of her rooms, Until then enjoy a small glimpse of another Stylist's and Editor's home, Thanks for dinner Anna!

You can catch all her news on or her personal work combined on

Friday, December 11, 2009

Country Living/ Virginia

Earlier this year I put on my Christmas cap once again and flew down to Virginia with my trusty assistant Kimberly Steward and several boxes of tinsel, pine cones and vintage balls galore! Our mission, to "holiday-up" Glenn Holley's retreat away from home, which happens to be just next door to his other home! Glenn is an accountant by day, decorator at heart! He has lived in Virginia all his life and has a passion for renovation, having renovated both homes side by side in a married fashion. Glenn told me he has collected or many years ceramics, particularly McCoy pottery, an American classic, I too collect ceramics so I could appreciate his obsession! Glenn also has a knack for using inexpensive finds and re purposing them, His kitchen cabinets are the basic Home Depot kind that he repainted in a racing car green and fitted with new handles. The basic filing cabinets are lined up like soldiers ready for duty in his office, but are an inexpensive kind nestled into a custom made desk. Many pieces of furniture are op shop finds given new life by repainting in fun poppy colors. Re-upholstering is not cheap but it sure makes a difference.

The house is basically a second home so it needed a bit of an injection of the everyday to make it looked lived in. As a stylist who is employed to style someone else's environment, it can be challenging not to offend or overwhelm. What you think might be great for the look of the home, the owner may cringe at. While Glenn was very hospitable, I empathized with him as we marched in throwing wreaths up in windows, lighting mercury glass candle holders pulled out of my boxes, piling decorations in the McCoy and generally taking every opportunity possible to throw a sprig of festive berry here and there, I hope we did not faze him too much, but when you are a stylist you don't travel lightly. I did try to decorate as tastefully as possible and without distracting too much from Glenn's vision, but with the brief being to make it feel appropriate for the holiday issue, it had to be done!

I did not really get to see much of Charlottesville, Virginia unfortunately, but I got a small taste, It really is a cute town and the photography team did manage to have a few vino's one night in a very nice seafood restaurant as we sat outside at the local shopping strip.

"Pattern Play" appears in the December issue of Country Living Magazine. It is photographed by the very talented Don Freeman, whose work I love in particular in World of Interiors, It was great to work with him.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Restaurant Interiors/ Montreal

So you have to bear with me while I still wax lyrical about Montreal, I felt there is so much to mention that it requires a few posts, so before I launch off to my next destination, for while let me indulge in the aftermath of my much needed vacation. I have to say I was very impressed by the food and decor of restaurants in Montreal. Being a Stylist I am always looking at interiors and schemes, I really liked the relaxed but stylish approach to many of the places we ate, they felt almost considered but in a under designed way, unpretentious but not without flair. Here are a few of my fave places to eat (and drink):

Pullman,, 3424 Avenue du Parc, Montreal, QC, Canada, (514) 288 7779
Tired of sitting in a hotel foyer because the hotel bar was closed for a function for the 2nd night in a row, we decided to try a hotel staff's recommendation of a bar called Pullman, not far from Sherbrooke where we were staying, we were not disappointed. The space takes its inspiration from the opulent sleeper cars that were produced by namesake George Pullman in the mid-1800s - his noble portrait adorns one wall as you walk in. The first thing to hit you before you sit down is a clever chandelier made from a series of wine and cocktail glasses, In any other setting it may look a but D.I.Y, but it really suits the mood and feeling of the place which feels uber sophisticated but warm and inviting at the same time. I loved the distressed walls mixed with clean mint colored walls, The color mint actually featured in a lot of restaurant interiors, It reminded me of cool ice cream, my favorite! The cocktails were great but even better the cheese plate, the charcuteries plate and the half oysters in the shell with condiments was just what we needed before a late dinner.

Joe Beef,, 2491 Notre-Dame West, Montreal, QC, Canada, (514) 935-6504
This is a very small restaurant with only 28 seats and they jam you in, but don't let it deter you, the food is fantastic! We had a great waiter whose recommendations we took even if the most expensive on the menu, funny that but after the first bite, I did not care, I had the halibut which has never tasted better. The interior is interesting, You can't go wrong with a classic blackboard menu wall which takes up nearly half of the space, I like the inn like feel with lots of references to the wild in the shape of carved bears and a huge bison's head in the men's washroom, I really like the collection of small frames that sit on the opposite wall above burgundy leather booths. Apparently the restaurants name is a homage to Charles "Joe-Beef" McKiernan, 19th century innkeeper and Montreal working class hero.

Marché 27, 27 Prince Arthur O at Clark (1 block west of St. Laurent), (514) 287 2725
Only opened recently apparently, Marché 27 is on the corner with big windows and as a result lots of light. Again chalkboard menus line the walls, You almost feel like you are sitting in a butcher ship with all the tiling and glass display cabinets, I really like what looked like custom made mint high gloss free standing shelves that contained product for sale. The tartare bar is the best thing on the menu, you can order a number of different types of meats, the Italian red tuna is delicious, They also offer smoked salmon, red tuna, beef, duck or horse tartare (not sure I would go for that one?) I really like the surprise of the washroom which had in contrast to the stark interior, a big almost English cabbage rose wallpaper on the wall.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Montreal Shopping

It was so great to break the back to back shoots I have been working on lately and to get on a plane and go somewhere that did not require me to pack boxes of props to ship before I left, Yes, I actually went on a vacation!, Bound for Montreal. Montreal has always been a place of interest for me, my first time to Canada did not disappoint. Montreal is a great city, probably not the best time of the year to go, It's cold!, but never the less, I still enjoyed it immensely. July is supposed to be the best time of year to go, I definitely will be making the trek back in the Summer where the city if full of festivals and warm days. The great thing though, Is Montreal really is not a trek from NYC, plane delays aside, It's only just over an hours flight.

Aside from the great restaurants and cafes which I will get to later, The number of shopping districts is almost overwhelming, Pockets of great areas are all really within walking distance from each other, and the subway system is easy to navigate and quick. I am lucky to live in New York which is home to some of the world's best stores, but with a fresh pair of eyes, I found myself inspired all over again in Montreal. Here are a few of my faves:

Boutique Couleurs,, 3901 Saint-Denis, Montreal (Quebec) Canada (514) 282-4141
With a great collection of different trends that shaped the 20th century, Boutique Coueurs specializes in objects from the 40's to 70's, Set in a basement, It still has a light and airy feel, the visual mechanising is cleverly laid out with color blocking. There is something for everybody with varying price points depending on the object, but nothing is priced unreasonably and especially when you are used to New York prices! I picked up up a few Danish pieces, largely candlesticks to add to my growing collection, but there are also some great pieces of furniture if only I had had a suitcase big enough. 20th century furniture in Montreal is very reasonable, as are rents, you could really furnish a new apartment quite avoidably.

Les Touilleurs,,152 Ave Laurier Quest, Montreal (Quebec) Canada, (514) 278 0008
This is a store that New York could definitely have. Clean crisp white walls and an amazing range of beautiful kitchen products, honestly, you want to own every piece. The visual merchandising is simple but quirky, They had vintage wooden kitchen chairs cleverly stacked in the windows in soft washed colors. They also have an open kitchen that holds cooking classes 3 nights a week. The product is simple, functional and incredibly chic.

Jacks 70,, 680 Rue Ahmerst, Montreal (Quebec) Canada, (514) 596 0060
All along Amherst (which is close to The Village) there lives one mid century store after another. Jacks is one that stands out, It's big! It houses a great collection, I was particularly drawn to their ceiling lights of which they have many hanging in the back section of the store. They have a 60's/ 70's bent, poppy, modern and fun. In retrospect I wish I had grabbed a few things, but it's almost overwhelming, I would recommend going back a second time if you can after you have absorbed the visual overload that Jacks is, amongst many other great stores on Rue Amherst.

There are many more stores I could list, They are scattered all over the city so be prepared to hop around, It's well worth trying to cover as much ground as possible, you won't be disappointed. As a Stylist, I would love to bring a big van and fill it to the brim, maybe next time, I might drive ; )