Built Sydney based Matin have arrived back in store with their latest collection. With a nod to 70's aesthetic and a laid back romantic feel, it features natural fabrics in loose cuts, perfect for the warmer weather on the way.
Built Sydney based Matin have arrived back in store with their latest collection. With a nod to 70's aesthetic and a laid back romantic feel, it features natural fabrics in loose cuts, perfect for the warmer weather on the way.
This summer 2017, Form Us With Love in collaboration with TID Watches launches TID No.3, a lighter, optically transparent version of the staple timepiece No.1. It is the third, in a series of material explorations, sharing an instantly recognisable case design by FUWL.
‘Our venture with TID Watches is built on a desire to experiment and challenge our designs. No.3 is a material reset, taking the silhouette stripping it down to a skeletal structure, which could be seen as an interesting measure to any design,’ says John Löfgren, Creative Director at FUWL and co-founder of TID Watches.
TID No.3 is made of a thermoplastic material, TR90, which in addition to being incredibly durable, is both flexible and lightweight. This, 38 mm watch case comes in one clear finish, presented with the choice of seven well-curated watch-face colours and matching silicone wristbands.
‘By introducing a clear material, our ambition is to insert a playful yet minimal element, which is easy to combine with any colour or style,’ Ola E. Bernestål, CEO of TID Watches explains.
In polycarbonate, the case becomes less predominant and cleverly sets the tone for a more personal expression. The see-through frame perfectly adapts with any wristband, adding a subtle youthful character, in rays of White, Black, Grey, Blue, Green, Pink and Orange.
With a steady development of the collection, FUWL and TID have over the past four years managed to build a platform of cases and wristbands, making hundreds of individual combinations available. The light appearance of No.3 pronounces that modularity, inviting the transparent case to be paired with coloured faces and independent styles of leather, nylon, twain and silicon wristbands.
‘It is the most affordable out of the three watches, which makes it an accessible part of the collection. By introducing a casual case, we want people to feel like they can explore personally preferred combinations as they like, in an ultimately more participatory fashion,’ says Jonas Pettersson, CEO at FUWL and co-founder of TID Watches.
BAZAAR.com has partnered with it’s beautiful here to share a collection of city guides inspired by the beautiful people, places and experiences founder and travel writer Georgia Hopkins encounters on her adventures. Quitting corporate life five years ago for a life on the road, Gigi (as she is affectionally known) has seen over 55 countries and 400 cities. From Australia to Asia, Amsterdam to the Amalfi Coast, get behind-the-scenes insight to Georgia’s adventures on Instagram.
When it comes to the good things in life (great weather, great beaches, great food, great fashion, great fun), Sydney has an abundance of it all. And not only that, this sun-drenched harbor-side city is full of an astonishing amount of magic and beauty as well. This city has it all—secret beaches and ocean rock pools, spectacular coastal walks and hiking trails through national parks, cosy corner pubs and waterfront eating spots, live music venues and countless festivals. One could never be lost for something to do in this sunny town. Here, is what she had to say about A+H Salon…
This is one of the most beautiful hair salon spaces we have ever seen. Hidden away atop a heritage building that once housed the Newtown Post Office, this light and airy space is home to a lovely team of expert cutters, stylists and colorists. Expert tip: ask for Melissa for your color–she is amazing.
Cult favourite, Norse Projects, drops its latest pieces in store now for both ladies and gents, including lambswool jumpers, shirting, tees and chinos.
by John Benton
PHOTOGRAPHY BY COLE BENNETTS
What started as a pipe dream has become a fully fledged reality. And with each new delivery of bikes from our manufacturing plant comes the enviable road trip to test and photograph our machines.
That morning we ran through the checklist of items to cover. This is when we get to enjoy months of planning, design and preparation — that all-too-rare convergence of work and play, and a time we always look forward to. Our crew consists of Dom, Joe, Derek and I, and photographer and friend Cole.
Our first port of call is the workshop on Hunter Street. We each select a bike so as to cover a cross section. A few adjustments later, we roll out. We decide to exit town through King Edward Park, hitting the switchbacks of York Drive. The throaty note of the exhausts draws too much attention from the families gathered in the Rose Garden. Perched on a cliff face above the Bogey Hole sea baths, we are greeted by the view of a seemingly neverending view of coal and container ships waiting patiently to enter the ports. Dotting the horizon, these ships are a reminder that although Newcastle is going through a steady process of urban regeneration, it’s an industrial town through and through.
After a few more passes, and with our obligatory ride down Memorial drive complete, we’re off. I never know whether to plan a route or wing it; each has its advantages and some of the best riding happens when you are lost and trying to find your way back. You cruise down roads you never knew were there, enjoying the sounds of the bike, the smell of the bush and the feeling of isolation. I decide to wing it. As part of our mission is to road test the new range, I figure a bit of uncertainty is not a bad thing. We end up on the Pacific Highway heading south and can finally open up the bikes free from the urban congestion. Riding a bike is so different to driving a car. You’re not sitting in the vehicle, you’re part of it. Each limb has its part to play in the symphony of propulsion. It takes engagement and responsibility to a completely new level. There’s no vagueing out, no thoughts of the to-do list waiting for you. It’s just hold on and don’t fuck up.
With the late afternoon sun beating down on us I’m again drawn to the words of Henley’s Invictus: “I thank whatever gods may be, For my unconquerable soul”. We’ve done many of these trips and yet each time it feels new. There’s a purpose, which helps us all prioritise the time to make it happen, but at the same time a real feeling of freedom and direction. There’s something about the human spirit that is uniquely exposed when riding a motorcycle. Maybe it’s the vulnerability, maybe the sense of adventure. Probably both. END
by Mike Bennie
PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICK BOWERS
OSCAR MCMAHON HAS ALWAYS been a bit of a beer connoisseur. “Beer became important for me really slowly and subtly,” he says. “When I was just 18, me and my mates used to drink Coopers Red. It was the best tasting beer available. You could get it from Forest Way bottle shop, and the Parkway Hotel, where it was $5 for a pint. We’d skate two suburbs across to drink at this shit pub and I officially became a Coopers drinker. We didn’t refer to that as craft beer — the term didn’t exist in my world. But it was stronger, had more flavour than most. It was different, special in a way”.
Oscar is disarmingly charming. There’s understatement in his achievements, despite his meteoric rise in Australia’s competitive jungle of craft beer and local brewing. He and his pirate crew of brewers, distillers, roadies and rock ‘n’ rollers make up Young Henrys. Since launching in 2012, the inner-west Sydney brewery has become the beating heart of suds culture, a neighbourhood drop-in for all and sundry seeking interesting but sessionable beers.
Oscar’s own beer journey accompanied a 13-year career as a hard rock guitarist. “I was on tour with my band, recording our first record in Melbourne,” he says. “After we finished up we went to this local pub, and there was a new beer with a cherub on the decal. My best mate, Robbie, the drummer, and I tasted it, and we were blown away. We were like, ‘What the fuck is this stuff?’
At that point being in a band was the focus. But Oscar was augmenting the band income by working in a couple of bars. “From 18 to 25 I started drinking a lot of different beers. Eventually I asked the pub I was working at, the Roxbury in Glebe, to let me have a tap so I could order in new products, try some different things. I started chatting to a customer — he eventually became my partner at Young Henrys. I pitched the idea of making a beer for my band, having a beer launch instead of an album launch… the idea took on a life of its own.”
Young Henrys feels part brewery, part green room, part experiment, part madhouse. The morphing complex of sheds, gardens, wonky bar tables, trucks, chopped motorbikes, graffiti and art, band t-shirts, dogs and cats, flotsam and jetsam, makes for a quixotic take on brewing.
The tasting room fleshes out the offering; a drop-in centre for tasting and drinking. It feels more community centre or local council than brew house, with Oscar the understated mayor at the core. His approach remains refreshingly simple. “I didn’t really have a good understanding of the craft market when we started Young Henrys. Even now I don’t think about the craft market; I think about what we do, what we like”.
Oscar’s story isn’t solely anchored in beer and there’s an inkling in his beard, Jesus-locks, denim, tattoos, hats and jewellery. What he likes is diverse, but there’s a firm anchoring in the world of rock ‘n’ roll music, to which he gave over a decade of his life while touring with his band, Hell City Glamours.
“My biggest influences in life, brewing, music, and otherwise, were the Stones, Aerosmith, New York Dolls, Hanoi Rocks, but also AC/DC. We were really into the glam thing but also into being a hard-working band. We rehearsed once or twice a week and there were simple rules: Don’t be late. When you turn up and load in, offer to buy the sound guy a beer. Stick around when the band following you plays and don’t load out before. Be grateful.”
There were some big moments for Oscar and the band. “We got to play with the New York Dolls in Austin, Texas at South by Southwest. That was a bit of a hero moment,” he shares. But a life in music is never all that it’s cracked up to be, something that Oscar found out firsthand. “When we came back from the States it was really underwhelming,” he remembers. “We had a record across the US and Europe that had done pretty well, but downloads were becoming a thing and we saw that it was way more popular online via that means. Then the US didn’t quite come through. I had the post-tour blues for a few months. The idea came about for a brewery that was in touch with people. All of a sudden our rider became slightly different — craft beer started hitting the ice.”
Playing in bands was formative to where Oscar is now. He always loved hanging out in pubs and bars and the playing of music itself is a form of stress relief. Even now as a founding member of his new band, The Persian Drugs, music is there for fun and escape.“Music is inspiration,” Oscar believes. “It gets the brain and synapses firing”.
Music has also influenced Oscar’s personal style. Where plenty of brewers come from a nerdy fraternity, he broke the archetype with his look. While there’s palpable emotion and intelligence, a sense of empathy for those around him, and altruism too, Oscar has set an aesthetic tone for inner-city brewing. “I think I still dress like I’m in a band,” he reckons. “I basically only wear black and blue and denim. If I’m wearing sneakers they’re usually Cons, but I’m typically found in Red Wing boots.”
Oscar suggests his tastes might have evolved, but there’s a hangover from his Hell City Glamour days when he dabbled in modelling and the posse was sponsored by Lee Jeans and DC Shoes. However, the idea that his style would be curated by someone else always stuck in his craw. “I don’t cut my hair and my beard, I don’t draw influence from anywhere,” he says. “I wear a mix of vintage stuff and new stuff, a lot of Young Henrys t-shirts. I don’t mind wearing stuff two days in a row.”
Gradually, Wranglers and Levi’s have replaced that earlier feel, and Oscar’s authenticity grew outside of the band image — sparked by passions outside of beer and bands. For example, motorbikes — visit Young Henrys and you’ll stumble over motorbikes parked skewed in the nooks and crannies of the driveway.
“I have a Yamaha XS650 from 1981, a hardtail bobber,” Oscar shares. “From the wheels to the pegs, handlebars and seat, myself and friends have done most of it. I wanted the bike to look like a ratty chopper. It gives you a bit of a sore back, but it’s great. A lot of skateboarders end up riding bikes,” he points out, suggesting the reason is that “You can’t answer your phone, you’re in your own head, thinking about how nice it is to be in the ride. It allows you to enjoy the journey. A big part of it for busy people is how you lose sense of time. It’s amazing.”
Between rock bands, working on motorbike aesthetics, lifestyle accoutrements and brewing, there seem to be some neat parallels. Collaboration is inherent in Oscar’s open-weave approach to life, friendships and personal culture. “It’s kind of cool when you have someone else’s idea to interpret into something to sell,” he says. “It’s even better when you’re working towards an end product with a bunch of people who are pretty varied, but who all come from authentic feelings.”
Young Henry’s catalogue of beers produced hand-in-glove with rockers, artists and various cultural icons has been a strong part of the interplay of the business. Oscar credits early knock-backs for his ideas in collaborating with breweries as a driving force for the inclusionist principles laid out in Young Henry’s agenda.
While Oscar’s life swerves through varying ports of culture and influence, beer is now the bedrock. It’s a litmus test and leveller that knits itself into his life mantra. END
WORDS BY CAMERON BAIRD – PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEREMY PERKINS
PINNING DOWN NATHAN MCLAY IS easier said than done. Having recently relocated from Sydney to L.A. due to the overwhelming demand and schedules of several of his label’s key artists — in particular a fellow by the name of Flume — he is always on the move. Whether it be the festival circuit in the States and Europe, or the increasing need of some of his artists to get in the studio and make the next hit, McLay is always thinking about his next musical move.
I caught up with Nathan after he’d just returned from yet another tour of the U.K. As he wandered the reservoir in Silver Lake, I asked the man about his frantic schedule.
“We got here in February, so it’s been a lot of setting up. We have a U.S. company — Future Classic Inc — [so] we’re hiring staff and talking a lot internally about what the hell we’re getting ourselves into,” he laughs. “I tend not to think of anything as permanent or forever, everything is in a state of constant flux and flow. This just feels like the right place for us to be at the moment… Oh dear, that sounds horribly L.A!”
I wonder whether he felt the need to get closer to the action, or if there is a greater reason to be based in the States. “Our Australian artists spend a lot of time touring in North America and many of them have done stints recording and writing in L.A., so their careers are becoming increasingly global. L.A. is a great hub for the U.S. and less of a mission to the U.K. and Europe… [from here we can] create more stability, contacts and opportunities for our Australian roster. We’re also inspired to work more closely with international talent — be they artists, directors, show designers, brands, whatever. The scale is overwhelming sometimes, but also alluring and we (sometimesmaddeningly) seem to be most inspired when we’re challenged.”
In 2016 Future Classic (FC) embarked on a lengthy label series, touring the U.S. and introducing many new fans to the family of talent. It would seem that this was the catalyst for the move. “Not specifically, but it was a fun exploration. We spent five months in L.A. in 2015; during that stint we were also working on the SKIN album with Harley [Streton aka Flume]— setting up sessions, working with Jonathan Zawada on the art. Then in 2016 we were back for three months while Flume toured — to be close and accessible to Harley and the road crew, and on their timezone. Those trips opened us up to the possibilities [that would arise] if we spent more time here.”
And how about reviving the showcase tour format — is this likely to happen? “We’re working on a multi-artist ‘bus tour’ concept for 2017, and look forward to doing more special concept events in collaboration with our artists, which are a lot of work but seem to get us out of bed in the morning,” he says. “Each summer we curate a few FC festival stages here in the U.S., similar to what we’ve done at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. And we’re hoping to do some low-key live streams from our new studio space we’re (fingers crossed) about to lease by the L.A. River in Frogtown.”
In 2015 the the once-underground label solidified their imprint on the Australian music landscape at the FCX 10-year showcase on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House. It was the first time a local label had taken control of back-to-back nights of the world-famous Vivid festival and, as the sold-out shows and noise complaints could attest, Future Classic was being recognised as the torch-bearer of a popular and growing electronic influence.
I probe for some insight into how the label has managed to cultivate such a successful run of releases, both in Australia in overseas. In his typically humble style, Nathan suggests, “Our ‘success’ is overhyped. We’re doing okay. We care deeply about each artist we work with and try to help them create a repertoire and experiences that people care about. But it’s an ongoing challenge and work in progress — the aim is to build an environment where great work is done and artists are able to flourish.”
It’s not a story of instant success for McLay and his team — including label partner Chad Gillard, and wife Jay Ryves, who is the label’s creative director. The label had slogged out 10 hard years of underground releases, basement parties, small to large brand events and a near dissolution. Having known the team from day one, it was nothing short of a miracle to see the endless hours of meticulous cultivation of fine music and incredible events paying off in a world-class display of dancing and rejoicing at Vivid in 2015.
It’s been several years of ARIA domination and industry heavyweight status for the label heads, and its fair to say that since Flume collected the best dance release Grammy for 2016’s SKIN, the world over is pretty damn familiar with Future Classic.
Considering his demanding schedule, work-round-the-clock ethic and non-stop approach to artist management, I wonder if Nathan has any down time to speak of. “I know I am more productive when I am exercising, being healthy, getting sleep, but I am my own worst enemy. It’s an oxymoron as I’m fortunate to be inspired by my work, but in turn I get obsessive and it takes me over. I am not a chiller, I am always pushing and every now and then the balance goes out and everything collapses. Fortunately I have people around me who are understanding and help me immensely and we look after each other. Nick (Murphy) got me onto mindfulness meditation and I want to get back into that. I visualise growing sprouts and longboarding at Wategos.”
What other outlets relieve the pressure of finding the next release? “Deprivation tanks. Sound baths. No, I wish!” he jokes. “I have two young kids who, with my incredible partner Jay, are the loves of my life. When we had our daughter Cleo, it was probably the first time I switched off from work in a long time — mostly because of the sheer hard work required, but also in awe of her wide eyes and zest for life. Now with the addition of my son Erik, there’s two of them, and it’s positively trouble. Sometimes it’s hard to escape, other times music is part of that escape. We’re very lucky.”
And what’s next for Nathan and his ever-expanding label, now based in two countries? “We’re building a studio in Frogtown, L.A., diving into Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, doing a writing camp as part of Vivid, working on new music, tours, music videos, artwork, live shows ad infinitum.” And what about long term? “I’d like to continue to build a team and roster that is increasingly global. I feel that creates a meaningful infrastructure for our artists and enables us to best represent them.”
Sounds like Nath needs to hit the waves, or pick up his trusty skateboard. “Skateboarding was my first love, then snowboarding and eventually surfing, at which I am a novice but still enjoy,” he muses. “Ever since I was a teenager I found skateboarding fun and creative. Each of these pastimes take your entire focus. I still skate a bit of mini and had a few days in the mountains recently and absolutely love it. I really should just up stumps and be a bum.” END
WORDS BY TODD WILLIAMS – PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICK BOWERS
ABSTRACTION ENCOURAGES BOTH visual and mental investigation, rather than functioning to obscure or adjust an existing image, theme or narrative. The use of found materials alongside tactile surfaces and evidence of human interaction help develop a sense of history and relatable existence within each of Michael Bennett’s works. This fusion of nostalgic sensibility and the universal languages of form, colour and scale ensures his work remains untainted, approachable and completely open to interpretation, whilst maintaining an aesthetic appeal and visual comfort.
Michael is a self-taught artist whose work and practice both focus on the idea of acknowledging the present moment, as well as concepts of inner exploration and personal perception. Working predominantly in the field of painting, as well as sculpture and installation, the works contain a sense of humanity and personality. In particular, they explore the sense of stillness and inner focus experienced during the creative process.
Regardless of the form, the works are always open to individual interpretation. Here, we gain some insight into Bennett’s own interpretations.
TODD WILLIAMS: So tell me a bit about the English-born Australian living in Berlin. What is the progression and how did this movement come about? Is this now home?
MICHAEL BENNETT: For now Berlin is my new home as an English-born Australian, yes. After starting my creative endeavours in Sydney and living there for many years I decided it was time to take my life and work somewhere different in search of new inspiration, motivation and exciting opportunities. Berlin seemed a natural choice.
When did you first realise this was your thing?
It was really only a few years ago that I realised completely that my true passion lay in visual arts. I have always been intrigued and interested by the arts and all of its creative fields. It was graphic design at first, but as time went on it became apparent to me that I was enjoying my personal art-making practice much more than my job, so I decided to make the transition. This transition, I suppose, was really more of a commitment that just felt right. I don’t think I will ever stop creating works. For me it is not important to produce a certain type of work, or a certain number of works, for a particular reason. It’s about succumbing to the urge to create.
We are all influenced by something during the course of our creative process. Who or what has influenced your work? Are you forever chasing the perfect composition?
Artistic peers are a source of inspiration and motivation to work hard and stay true to yourself. Personally, I would say that both my artistic process and finished works have a continual flow of influences that I draw upon, rather than one particular event or moment. I’m largely influenced by my direct surroundings, my general appreciation for geometry within in our world — whether natural or man-made — as well as my mood and emotional wellbeing.
For me it is also incredibly important to be confident and trust yourself. If you are at peace with yourself in all aspects of life you can truly unveil these emotions and subconscious thoughts without having to force anything, which is integral to creating work as revealing and exposing as mine. Follow your heart. Think less and do more.
As far as chasing a perfect composition, I’m not sure it will ever happen, but nearly every day I come across things that are truly beautiful, well-balanced and visually stimulating.
It’s all about perception.
Earlier work denotes dada/pop tones moving into a contemporary feel. Is this representative of the evolution of your work?
Yes, I suppose this comparison does somewhat represent the development within my work. My earlier work certainly had a stronger and more direct connection to dadaism with additional hints of pop art, whilst my more recent works may be seen as a more stripped-back and honest. These progressions are very natural and unforced, driven by the desire to explore new things and not become limited or stuck too far inside a comfort zone, which is very important for an artist.
Art is very subjective in nature. What best describes the general reaction that people have to your art?
Many people say they feel calm or at peace when they view my work, which I really like and appreciate. The works are created to suggest rather than forcefully direct. They are open for interpretation and provide a visual catalyst for inner discovery, similar to the effects of meditation and mindfulness.
So, we are now the proud owners of a one of your paintings, something we’ve been chasing for a while now. What people see within your work can vary quite considerably. What comments have you had? What do you see? Is it purely geometry and abstraction or are there varying elements of emotion and symbolism?
The audience constantly views new and different things in my work, which I think is great — after all, in my opinion that is what they are all about. They are designed to stimulate without bias or particular narratives and encourage individual exploration. I endeavour to create work which is open enough to allow for multiple visual outcomes, determined by the viewer on a personal
level. It is important to me that my works remain abstract enough for the viewer to become completely immersed, providing a platform and the freedom to explore each image and create their own conclusions. I hope they are not limited to those of visually recognisable or literal ones, but also spiritual and emotional; reactionary and instinctive rather than over-thought and formulated.
What does your creative process entail? Are there key elements in creating a good piece of art? Do you have any rituals when working on a series or piece?
I have a very personal connection with each of my works and my process reflects that. I have no set ritual or procedure, I try and let myself be as free, expressive and impulsive as possible, especially during the early stages. When creating a body of work I purposely try not to look too far forward to the final result, rather, I let the journey happen organically and create an appropriate solution once the time arrives.
It is particularly important within my practice to eliminate as many potential distractions as possible. By removing myself from the outside influences associated with daily life, I allow my mind and current state of focus to direct me. This way I can harness my most honest and true personal expressions in a visual form.
I’m not afraid to take risks, try new things and seemingly destroy something for the greater good or benefit of the final piece. Being too precious or attached to elements of the work during its creation hinders and compromises the honesty and integrity of the work, which I value highly. So I suppose the lack of ritual and complete freedom is the only consistency within my work.
What is the key element in creating a good mixed-media piece?
As far as I’m concerned a strong mixed-media piece doesn’t require a certain formula or combination of particular materials in a specific way. Rather, I think that [it should be] a cohesive, well-balanced and intriguing work which the audience feels compelled to investigate and spend time with.
Favourite show? Yours or otherwise…
It is nearly impossible to say, but the Mark Rothko room at the Tate Modern in London will be forever in my memory. The power and undeniable presence of those works are nothing short of incredible!
Has anything in particular had substantial effect on the progression of your work or you as an artist?
I will never forget — once, during school, I was asked ‘What is art?’… This seemingly limitless open-ended question, with its enormously stimulating and thought-provoking qualities, certainly had a substantial impact. This combined with realisations, awakenings in other aspects of my life have certainly had immeasurable effects and I’m sure will continue to do so.
To continue making work I’m excited about and enjoy the process. END
WORDS BY CAMERON BAIRD – PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS IRELAND
An After Hours interview with Henry Wilson.
IT’S PRETTY EASY TO FALL IN LOVE with the work of Henry Wilson. His clever and sophisticated furniture with simple features and beautiful materials look as appropriate in a high-end restaurant and boutique retail fit-out as they do in one’s own living room.
The name is now synonymous with some of Sydney’s most adored spaces, whether it be fine dining heaven, Noman, a globally renowned Aesop store, or a project by an award-winning architecture firm.
And it’s not hard to see why — the modern, functional, tactile designs are as attractive as they are genius. Take for example his ‘A-Joint Range’, a flexible joinery system, which can be used for any number of functions from holding a boat up in a shed to fixing a marble table top to its base.
Not content with larger objects, the brand also includes an extensive object range that will steal your paycheck without you even noticing. From the wonderful Vide Poche range of trays and coin holders, to the Thoronet Dish and FIN bookend, mantlepieces around town are due to receive a serious upgrade.
In addition to his objects and accessories are explorations into lighting, storage and occasional tables. The lighting range appears to be rapidly expanding, last year launching the beautiful bronze Surface Sconce and Surface Wall Sconce. Wilson has worked with ceramics, wood and metal to build the range, and has also collaborated with other experts such as Bianca Chang and paper artist Benja Harney as part of the Paperweight Project.
The Timber Anglepoise is one of the collaborations that displays Wilson’s keen interest in the history of design. “This is a replica of the classic Anglepoise lamp rendered in timber,” Henry explains. “It was one of a three-part series in which I investigated and reworked a piece of classic design. This timber version was made by Dr Rodney Hayward who was my woodwork professor at ANU Canberra. He has retired and made this as a one-off from parts I sourced from the internet,” he details.
We recently caught up with Henry, while he was taking some time off for a much-needed holiday skiing in Jackson Hole, and asked him about the last 12 months and what’s in store for the future. It was clear that he rarely switches off for a break, always keeping an eye out for the next project.
When asked about his massive 2016, the philosophical side of the man comes to the fore. “I don’t really go back over years as they tend to blur,” he admits. “Having said that, the past 12 months have seen [the studio complete] a variety of projects, from collaborations with Lexus for the design pavilion at the Melbourne Cup, through to new products from our own range and collaborations with architects. It’s been varied which I’m happy about,” he says.
One of the projects I am most interested to hear about is his ongoing partnership with Aesop, which culminated in their second retail collaboration this past year. The two brands appear to be made for each other, both based on a foundation of clean, minimal, refined design practices, with an emphasis on superior finishes and quality craftsmanship. “The two stores for Aesop came about from a discussion with the founder and creative advisor Dennis Paphitis. The Balmain store had the rough brief of being designed from parts found in a hardware store. [The design] also relates to the industrial heritage of the neighbourhood,” Wilson explains. “The building used to be an old sandstone pub and when revealing the walls it was evident the stones had been honed by hand chisel — perhaps by convicts. It was a desire to express this raw work in the design of the space”.
When his second store design for Aesop opened up on Sydney’s North Shore, in Crows Nest, the end result was testament to a man who knows how to sprinkle just the right kind and amount of magic on an otherwise-forgettable space, and turn it into the most beautiful-looking piece on the street.
The area is a mix of heritage Federation, Queen Anne and Victorian dwellings, with a history of residential and more recently retail, so that, combined with its modest 45 square metre space was one that required refined consideration. The interior exudes a warm domesticity with its oiled native Tallowwood furnished cabinetry, shelving and flooring. But what makes this space so unique in a street full of restaurants and takeaway joints is its air of sophistication. From the understated olive green façade with simple branding, it opens up into a room featuring a monolithic brass dividing wall and point of sale desk. The wall is a stunning statement in raw metal, a material Wilson has become familiar with, having used it extensively in his own objects and accessories range of wall hooks, bookends and other accessories. As the wall ages, it will acquire a natural patina, creating an ever-changing object of personal beauty. It is this same transition over time that many of Wilson’s customers note in response to his product range. The space is completed with a simple rubber plant and vintage armchair upholstered in green velvet.
Recently it appeared as though wherever you turned, a Henry Wilson design was providing the impact in a well-designed space. Was it a case of timing, or was there a gap in the market? When asked why his designs have been so well-received Wilson responds, “I’m not sure they are that well-known… There was a bit of an unplanned gap filled with the A-joint range. This component has grown to become something that architects can specify and design to particular jobs. There’s not much like that on the market”. When Frost Design set about their new office fit-out in newly established Redfern Lane, the massive open plan was perfect for the A-joint range of stretched desks for their huge team of creative and account services.
In an attempt to fish for some 2017 spoilers I ask Henry what is in the pipeline for the year ahead. Any secret projects or products we can get the inside scoop on? “Not really. We are always working on new things but it’s hard to know when they will be released,” he says. “We will be exhibiting this year in Milan for Salone and also at DENFAIR in Melbourne, where we will be launching the new A-joint website and some new product”. What about new brand partnerships or concept projects? “I’m increasingly working with architects on custom products. It’s rewarding to work within a brief set by someone else,” Henry states, adding, “We have recently collaborated with George Livissianis on lighting for the Paddington Inn and Aria restaurants”.
I wonder if working locally is something Wilson will remain content with, or if the international exposure his work is beginning to gain will lead him to target clients abroad. Although Studio Henry Wilson is based in Sydney, its products and furniture are distributed internationally through Matter in New York and Very Good & Proper in London. It was often the case in the 1990’s through early 2000’s that designers, like many artists or creatives, were forced to travel and work abroad as a requirement for full recognition of their design excellence, and potential customer base. Although Henry studied overseas, having received the HSP Huygens Scholarship for Postgraduate Studies (Design) at The Design Academy Eindhoven, he was happy to return to Sydney to set up his studio in 2012.
“Australia is becoming a very nurturing place for designers. There is growing interest in design and I think local talent is being swept along with that,” he believes.
Outside of his day-to-day work life, I wonder what After Hours life the man lives. If holidays are rare, and running the studio is a full-time commitment, how does Wilson relax, regroup and get inspired? “I enjoy cooking, reading and I try to get outdoors to do something that challenges my comfort zone,” he replies. Does he have a strict work day schedule or does he work odd hours? “It’s not very structured. Usually designing 10% and admin 90%”.
With a uniquely calm and quietly confident personal style, obviously in sync with his design creations, does he keep the other eye on the world of fashion, design, music or travel? “I’m doing my best to keep my eyes off my phone. I think being disconnected is becoming more and more important each day”. END
by Cameron Baird
PHOTOGRAPHY BY FRED L’AMI
An After Hours interview with George Byrne.
There’s something about the urban landscape that has attracted photographers for decades — the light and shadow, the man-made structures that tower over the same men who made them.
It’s the urban banal that poses another question all together, and that is: is there beauty within this hard, cold, often-dull construct? Is there a way of finding colour, the natural, the softness and mystery within this concrete jungle?
George Byrne’s study of the urban banality of Los Angeles is one that draws instant appreciation. His ability to find rare beauty — the splash of colour, a spot of nature, the wink in a crowded room — is what makes his work so interesting. What others miss, Byrne isolates and focuses on, creating worlds of surreal simplicity and wonder in the everyday.
As a talented Australian, Byrne is an unlikely hero of the Los Angeles photography landscape, finding himself pursuing several artistic slants at the same time. He knows how to pour a good coffee, and as a musician and writer, knows a few things about creating a damn good tune. Most of his profile work is married with a beautiful piece of music, composed and performed by the man himself.
In our After Hours interview, we sat down with George when he returned home over the new year, and picked the brain of a man who has taken social media success, gallery representation, and recent residencies all in his stride, without breaking a sweat. This is a bloke whose modus operandi is as casual and as cool as the crisp photographs he takes. And, typically Australian, he’s keener to go for a beer and tell a story than talk too seriously about his work, or about himself.
CAMERON BAIRD: There is a common misconception that LA is a place limited to tourists, smog, traffic and posers, when in truth there are so many beautiful aspects to experience. Do you agree with this, and do you feel you need to convince people of this?
GEORGE BYRNE: Yes. I think broadly speaking, LA is not a very well understood city, and with good reason. It is so 99c Silverlake #2 2015. vast and lacks a simple visual icon thats ties it all together such as the Eiffel Tower, or the Opera House. Gavin Lambert put it well when he wrote ‘Los Angeles is not a city but a bunch of suburban approaches to a city that never materializes…’ . This makes LA more a collection of smaller cities that don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other, stitched together by giant freeways and — almost for convenience — labelled as Los Angeles. There is certainly ‘smog, traffic and posers’ but there is also stunning wilderness, rich Mexican history, a melting pot of cultures like no other city I’ve ever been in, and a massive art and music scene (and every other obscure subculture you can think of), all thriving and butted up against each other. It’s a ‘choose your own adventure’ town. In my experience, the only really negative assumptions about LA come from people who hate driving (fair call), who feel claustrophobic living in the centre of the acting universe, and displaced, proud New Yorkers that don’t get it. Other than that, most people I come across are very curious and positive about this strange place.
How did your Instagram success come about and how did it change the way you took photographs?
My Instagram following actually came about very unexpectedly. I had resisted getting an iPhone for years (I was worried it would take over my life), but as a photographer I was curious about the whole thing. Once I got a phone and started posting pictures, I found that more and more people were reacting to them. I’d been shooting with square format film cameras since my university days so I was immediately comfortable with that. I just began to have a really good time with it and it didn’t cost me a cent so it was win/win! The whole thing actually helped me in that it enabled me to take tons of photographs and get better at what I was doing, at seeing this new city I was living in. In terms of how it’s changed the way I take photos, I think it just helped me refine and explore a type of minimal urban aesthetic I’d been practising on and off since the very first time I started using cameras — but this time in colour.
Knowing that you studied Fine Art in Sydney in the early 2000’s (at Sydney College of the Arts), is it frustrating being thought of as someone purely from an online medium — or does it even matter?
I don’t think it matters too much. To be honest it’s still a real thrill to have people recognise my work at all, whether they think I’m an Instagram photographer or not. People who come to my exhibitions or purchase work tend to learn a bit more about my CV anyway. I also think that as I increasingly use Instagram to promote my broader art practice (not just post images), people will get a more all-encompassing sense of what I do.
How do you feel about the current breed of online photographer, one who may not have studied, or ‘done the hard yards’ learning the craft?
I think it’s cool and it serves it own purpose. Stephen Shore talks a lot about this, how photography in the smartphone age has become a language in itself. We wade through so many images every day that we’re incapable of retaining or processing in any deep or meaningful way. I say if someone takes a good picture they take a good picture, it really doesn’t matter to me which camera they use. Cameras are just a means to an end and it’s great that with phones, so many more people are engaged with images and art than ever before. Having said that, there’s obviously a giant technical and conceptual leap between taking a great photo for your ‘feed’ and going down the path of being a visual artist and trying to make a living out of it. For the latter you need to learn how to make physical prints, then think in terms of a cohesive series that has some degree of conceptual grounding. Then you have framing, presentation and galleries which is a whole other beast. What I’ve learned is that just like with any other trade, you only get good and make interesting and original creative breakthroughs when you immerse yourself in it completely, whether you use an iPhone, a 8×10 film camera or a paint brush.
What was it about the streets and people of Los Angeles that first grabbed your attention and made you look at it so differently?
Honestly it’s the strangest thing and lots of people feel it and see it. There is this mysteriously beautiful, often unsettling musky emptiness to the LA urban street life. Its raw aesthetics are all washed-out pastel planes and run-down 80’s architecture. It’s kind of playful and post-apocalyptic. It’s primarily the light, the air, the buildings, and the fact that there are so few pedestrians. You get to see things really clearly and unimpeded. It’s a strangely beautiful place.
Your work has been associated with ‘New Topographics’ photography. Do you feel your work fits this kind of categorisation, or any other?
Yeah I do. My work is definitely influenced by the New Topographics crew. They were spawned in part by the groundbreaking images of Walker Evans, Dorothy Lange and the other photographers of the Farm Administration Act era (1940’s). To a large degree the New Topographics steered photography away from its conventional use at the time, and set the stage for photography to be appreciated as an art form that didn’t necessarily have to document a story or event. It didn’t need to be a portrait of someone or capture a traditionally beautiful landscape. Their pictures were more nuanced, painterly and abstract in their intention — all elements I like to employ — so I was keen on them from the outset. In terms of other influences and categories, when I started out taking pictures I was actually more interested in getting into painting. I was obsessed with European Modernism and the American Abstract Expressionists and spent a lot of time imitating them. Later down the track I also discovered the Color Field painters of the 60’s and 70’s. I think my work borrows from all these genres in different ways.
As one who is always looking at the everyday instance as a possible image (and travelling so much to find that ideal shot), how does your work affect your personal life?
Yeah it can be hard to switch off at times but it’s not too bad. Years ago I experimented in shooting more Robert Frank-inspired street photography and I found that much harder. The
pressure that came with looking for that ‘decisive moment’ (i.e. where the dog walks past and the kid falls off his skateboard while the couple kiss on the sidewalk all at once), ended up making me feel like I was unable to properly experience my own life. It started to feel less creative and more like the art of trying to be in the right place at the right time and banging out tons of photos. As much as I love and respect that genre of photography and the people that do it well, it just stressed me out. What I’m doing now better suits me; I still get a little manic when I’m in the zone but — aside from the sun — my subject matter stays still and it’s up to me to make it work.
What is your usual creative day like? Do you have a structure to how you work, or is there no strict time to when you move creatively?
My day-to-day life is pretty varied and depends mainly on what’s due and whether I have an exhibition I’m working towards.
I try to get up and at it by 9am. I recently got myself a little studio at werkartz.com, which is a fantastic multi-use art and photo studio space right near Chinatown (right near Downtown LA). This has changed my life considerably as I’m now able to split my professional life from my home life (massive coup), and possibly be more productive.
During the day I’m either there working or running boring errands in the vehicle. The roads in LA become asphyxiated by traffic after around 3pm so the challenge is to get everything done by then. So I’m basically either working towards a series for a show, printing work for private sales, or looking at YouTube clips that have nothing to do with anything.
The post-dinner 9pm–1am slot is usually reserved for hard-core emailing. Not very glamorous!
Do you believe in the After Hours, whether it is a time or place? And if so, how do you enjoy it?
I really just enjoy an IPA or two with my lady or a mate at a decent pub with some sport on.
You had a pretty packed year in 2016 with shows in Sydney and LA. What is coming up this year, and what projects and partnerships can we look forward to seeing?
It’s shaping up to be pretty busy in 2017. I have an pop-up exhibition (19-21 May) at Halcyon House, a beautiful little boutique hotel on Cabarita Beach, half an hour north of Byron Bay. I did a residency there over Christmas last year so I’ll be showing some of the work I shot in the area alongside some LA work. This show will then travel and hang in the Olsen Annex Gallery in Woollahra, Sydney, for two weeks following that. I’ll also be having my first major exhibition in NYC! Tim Olsen (of Olsen gallery) recently partnered with Gruin to open a space in Soho NYC called OLSEN GRUIN. My show there — NEW ORDER — will open late June and run for a few weeks; all the details will be posted up on my website soon. END