Tag Archives: design

Startups, urban psychology, and creative cities

Pictured: the Pinterest office in San Francisco via Stuck in Customs.

Last week an important announcement was made in Sydney that will give a boost to coworking spaces and the freelancers and startups who mostly use them. The NSW Government announced it will make a significant financial contribution to a new startup hub in an 11-storey building above Wynyard Station on York St. Fishburners (I’ve always loved that name), Australia’s largest coworking space and home to hundreds of ‘high impact scalable startups’, will be an important anchor tenant of the new space at Wynyard Station. Others in the mix include Tankstream Labs, The Studio, and Stone & Chalk in what will be space for 2500 creative entrepreneurs.

It all sounds great. And I’m happy for Fishburners who have expanded rapidly since their 30-desk-one-floor-beginning in 2011. For some time now they’ve needed more space than their current (and beautiful) Harris Street space in Ultimo can provide. But if this is going to work for all involved, then some careful attention to how this new spaces is set up will need to happen. More than ‘just’ cash, this about-to-be startup hub will require some clever design thinking about soft infrastructure. If not, the creatives it seeks to attract will not come. Continue reading

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STUDIO TALK: Rabia Lockwood (Ginny & Jude)

Rabia Lockwood creates beautiful garments that give a nod to the past. I swear, the clothing she creates through Ginny & Jude Designs will make you swoon. And if you’re a minimalist trying hard not to be swayed be the ever changing, frivolous nature of the fashion world, Ginny & Jude is your friend because the clothes are beautifully made with high quality fabrics. I should know – I own a couple of her pieces, and not only do they fit like a dream and look divine, they last! Hooray!

I met Rabia through a very good friend who married her dad. When I saw what she was creating I was captivated. I wanted her to share some of her process here for many reasons. One of them is that she is a new mother, and I know that creatives with young children find it tough to keep going. If that’s you, through Rabia’s talk of her studio proactice, I hope you find some courage and grace to push on. Continue reading

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The allure of consumerism (& how to deal with the aesthetic power of beautiful things)

japanese cup and tea towel

Pictured: Duetto cup from Kyoto, Japan. Linen tea towel hand printed by me (a squillion years ago)

It’s all around us, everywhere. The design of beautiful things, by clever and skillful people with exquisite materials. The last 12 years of social media have introduced me to a ton of wonderful ways that people are bringing new, to-die-for objects into the world. Things that many of us WANT. The pull of the visual, especially through Instagram over the past 5 years or so has been incredibly powerful.

We’ve all felt it. We scroll through post after post of styled and beautifully lit images, and the pull gets stronger. We convince ourselves we NEED that hand-woven, naturally dyed rug. That skillfully crafted and utterly gorgeous piece of pottery. That pair of funky, fair trade, eco-dyed, Mexican leather shoes. Continue reading

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What is a creative city?

View from a friend’s 5th floor walk up rooftop in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Downtown Brooklyn is changing rapidly. Will it lose its creative buzz?

During an extended stay in Manhattan in 2013 I was given a copy of Jane Jacob’s famous 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities by a postgrad student who was obsessed with this great urban activist’s vision. I devoured that book, hungry to learn about how New York had developed, particularly during the 20th century. I’ve had three visits to New York since 2008 and will probably have a life-long love affair with that city. This is a common affliction; I am obviously not the first to have ‘suffered’ the lure of this great city.

Many creatives are drawn to the New York, and most would agree that it’s a creative city. But what exactly is meant by the term ‘creative city’? Continue reading

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Designing for wellbeing

I’ve been interested in wellbeing for a couple of decades now. Ever since I was a yoga devotee in the relatively early days of it being in Australia in the early-mid 1990s. Certainly well before yoga became mainstream and was held in gyms (!). I can still recall how unknown it was to most people back then. I was interested in yoga and meditation and shiatsu and macrobiotic food and a whole lot of wellbeing-ness that was so ahead of things to come, I had no idea. It’s so interesting to me how we now have cafes with ‘nourish bowls’ and a whole cult of kombucha followers and pickled vegetable fanatics. Japanese people no doubt also find this a fascinating adaptation of what’s been a part of their culture for a veeeeeery long time. Will wellness continue to be of interest in the West? Is it a passing trend that will bore us in 5 year’s time? Continue reading

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Leading with design thinking

BlueyCheck (far right) and earlier prototypes by Claire Metcalfe. On display now in ‘Shape’ at the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Sydney, Australia.

I’ve been reading quite a bit about design thinking for an article I recently wrote in a new design publication, Design is Political. It’s been a joyous process for me. Through my reading, the issue of leadership has surfaced, with some thought provoking ideas sprinkled through talk of what leading with a design thinking mindset looks like. One of the ideas that has captivated me is a simple, and not very novel idea: how leadership can be reinvigorated by including ‘outsiders’. Continue reading

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What visuals can tell us if we really look

shoe last wall

Wall of shoe lasts at the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Sydney

Instagram is a visually powerful medium. Anyone with the slightest interest in aesthetics will attest to that. I find it both compelling and strangely addictive. Being pummelled with one exquisite image after another has a potent effect on the eyes and brain.

Artists and designers have been fully on board with Instagram since its beginnings in 2010. It’s impossible to tell just how many are using Instagram, but a quick search through hashtags like #workinprogress (or #wip) #artiststudio #studio #contemporaryart #designlife #designing will give you an indication of what’s going on in this space. Many are using social media platforms like Instagram as part of their virtual studio practice.

As researchers like Gillian Rose have said, visuals, especially those generated by digital spaces, are now a massive part of our lives. How do we make sense of what’s happening in these places/spaces? Continue reading

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The relationship between art and design

This week’s guest post is by Alli Burness. I used to work with Alli and we’ve done visual research together using Instagram. Hopefully, fingers crossed, we will have a publication out soon which shares that research. We’ve had lots of conversions about art, and could probably have tons more. So I asked her if she’d like to write a guest post on why art matters to her.

These days, Alli is a designer at ThinkPlace. She has previously worked as a digital producer at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Over to Alli… Continue reading

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Why does art matter in 2017?

we the people_shepard fairey

Image: ‘We the People’ by artist, Shepard Fairey

In 2016 when I began this blog, I wrote a post titled ‘Why art matters’ because I felt I needed to articulate these ideas, although I’m absolutely not the first to have done so. Even universities, like Standford, have said something on this topic albiet as part of their marketing strategy to recruit more students.

The ideas in my first post still hold now more than ever. Continue reading

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Designer profile: Jacquie Moon

ginger beer label_Jacquie Moon

Ginger beer label designed by Jacquie Moon for Plump Design

If you’re like me you probably know there’s a lot of work that goes into bringing beautiful, functional graphic design into the world but perhaps less aware of the ‘why’ that sits behind the designer who creates the end product. My next profile of graphic designer, Jacquie Moon, from Plump Design, will shed some light on her design values and beliefs. Having known Jacquie and her design skills magic for more than a decade I was as interested as anyone to know more about her thoughts on why design matters. Continue reading

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