27 February 2009

Stylish Kids: Itch Designs

Welcome to the edgy-cool world of children's clothes that is Itch Designs. Jodi from Itch creates punchy graphic tees and clothes featuring kawaii* characters to stimulate the imagination of our little ones. They are definitely clothes to have fun with.

I love love love the hooot owl design shorts and dress. I'm hoping Jodi will make an adult version? Itch Designs has also expanded into a range of hip homewares for tots including bedding and tableware that you just have to check out.

You can find Itch Design at specialty boutiques across Australia, Japan, US, Europe, China, New Zealand and online stores, and other stockists listed on the website. You can also find out more about the Itch Design world on the blog.

Check out more cool Aussie kids' clothes at Australian Designer Baby Clothes. And shop online for kids fashion from great stores in the Australian Online Kids and Baby Store Directory.

* kawaii is Japanese for 'cute'

Image: Itch Design

26 February 2009

Hip Products: Beckybean bags and accessories

Yesterday was for the guys, today it's all about the girls. Jade and Bec are two clever crafty sisters who design and hand-make fantastic bags and accessories under the Beckybean label. You will find really cool modern totes, vintage-style clutches, gorgeous reversible handbags and more.

You can also feel good about your Beckybean purchase as the bags use fabric, trims and buttons that are recycled or eco-friendly. I particularly love the eco market totes using fabric from some of my favourite textile designers who use environmentally-friendly practices.

Beckybean bags and accessories are available on Etsy. Find out more about Jade and Bec on Bec's blog Special Small Stuff and Jade's blog Just Need Salt. You can also find Beckybean designs on Flickr.

Image: Beckybean

25 February 2009

Hip Products: haul recycled accessories

Made in Victoria and Tasmania, Scott Kilmartin creates cool accessories with plenty of street cred under the haul brand. The beauty of Scott's products are that they are almost entirely constructed from recycled materials including used billboard vinyl, inner tubes and license plates.

You'll find a whole range of hip recycled products including messenger bags, satchels, journals, photo albums, CD holders, aprons, dog collars, notebook covers and sleeves for your MacBook. Look out for the eco-friendly bags and bean bags which have been certified by the Good Environmental Choice Australia. The bean bags are so cool that they grace the bottoms of Google employees in Sydney.

I'm pretty sure that the guy in your life would love something from this range.

You can find haul products on the online store.

Image: haul

24 February 2009

Hip Products: Dinosaur Designs jewellery and homewares

This post is really for overseas readers, as Dinosaur Designs is now practically a household name in Australia. Established in 1985 by Louise Olsen, Stephen Ormandy and Liane Rossler, the Dinosaur Designs team create beautiful jewellery and homewares including their chic signature resin designs. Now you can find Dinosaur Designs products in more than twenty countries, including stores in Sydney, Melbourne and New York .

Dinosaur Designs' distinctive pieces are modelled three-dimensionally by hand, using a type of plasticine and then after casting are hand finished in the Sydney studio. The uneven lines and handmade design are part of the label's charm. And not only do the pieces look beautiful, but they are made for everyday use.

Dinosaur Designs is a climate-friendly business with a strong sense of corporate responsibility. You can find Dinosaur Designs pieces at the online store and at stockists around the world.

Image: Dinosaur Designs

23 February 2009

Drool-worthy Design: Imprintables stationery

When the founder of stationery studio Imprintables says that there is no excuse not to be stylish, she means it. The Imprintables range is modern and chic, so you do have an option other than generic photo cards printed at your local photo store.

I love the whole collection which includes birth announcements, baptism stationery, invitations, party products, thank you cards, note cards, and my favourite - personalised stamps. And if you can't quite find what you are looking for, Imprintables also offers a custom design service.

You can order Imprintables stationery from the Website and find products at stockists around Australia and an exclusive range only at Amity Child.

Shop online for kids products from great stores in the Australian Online Kids and Baby Store Directory.

Image: personalised stamps from Imprintables.

20 February 2009

Stylish Kids: OUCH childrens clothing

Are you ready for your kids to look hipper than you do? Enter Victorian children's clothing label OUCH. Now you can take some fashion cues from your little ones.

Launched by Donna Schneider in 2003, OUCH is a delightful children's clothing brand inspired by Donna's life and travels. The look is cool and the feel is soft with the range made from cotton and knits.

As well as children's clothes, you'll also find OUCH knee high and ankle socks, knit toys, pyjamas and throws.

You can find OUCH online at The Hip Infant. For OUCH stockist info, contact Michelle at OUCH.

For more Australian designer kids clothes, check out Australian Designer Baby Clothes. And shop online for kids fashion from great stores in the Australian Online Kids and Baby Store Directory.

Image: OUCH

19 February 2009

Australian Artist Spotlight: The Red Thread

Kim has a great eye for Australian art, so if she is featuring an artist in her online gallery Udessi, you know their work is going to be great. Lisa Tilse from The Red Thread has a lovely selection of cards and paintings on wood in the store that I love.

The cards are cleverly printed on thin wood that can be popped into an envelope and would make a real impact upon opening. The tiles are also timber and feature hand painting and Japanese paper collage to reveal delicate birds nestled amongst foliage.

Lisa is based in Sydney and creates unique one-off and limited edition art. Her range includes montages and painted timber pieces, children's potraits, and delicate framed paper hearts that are heart-breaking. Lisa also works as a graphic designer, and accepts commissioned work including art, illustration, and pattern design.

You can find The Red Thread pieces on the website as well as stores across Australia and online at Udessi. You can find out more about Lisa's world on her blog.

Image: The Red Thread via Udessi

18 February 2009

Events: Art Fights Fire - art raffle for Victorian Bushfires

This is another fantastic way to find out about some great artists, maybe win some amazing art, and contribute towards rebuilding the areas devastated by the Victorian bushfires this month.

Gemma Jones (curator of the Outre Gallery and The Kaotic Kraft Kuties website) has teamed up with Outre Gallery to organise the Art Fights Fire raffle and fundraising event on 25th February 2009. Tickets are only $10 and prizes have been donated from more than 20 amazing artists including Aussies Ali J. and Beci Orpin (the illustration shown above is part of the prize pool).

The event will be held at Outre Gallery, 249 Elizabeth St, Melbourne, VIC. Apart from the raffle, artwork will also be auctioned on the evening. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Australian Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal 2009.

If you can't make the event, you can still buy raffle tickets from Gemma's site (international tickets welcome if you are able to pay $25 postage for prizes). More info at The Kaotic Kraft Kuties.

Get onto it!

Image: You Let The Light In by Beci Orpin

Australian Artist Spotlight: Emma Magenta books and illustrations

Emma Magenta is both a celebrated Australian artist and author. And a trained singer. And she dances. AND studies capoeira! So inspiring.

Emma's books 'The Peril of Magnificent Love', 'Gorgeous Sense of Hope: A Love Fable' and 'Origin of Lament' are full of delightful illustrations and clever "Magenta-isms" that are honest and thought-provoking. A new children's book 'Planet Yawn' was released in 2008, written by Toni Collette and illustrated by Emma Magenta. Emma's designs can also be found on photo albums, tea towels, decals, t-shirts, and cards to brighten your day.

Emma Magenta (an assumed name based on the female character that she has developed over many years) was discovered while working at Berkelouw Books in Paddington, Sydney, where she would hang her artwork and scribblings. Two influential publishing folks visited the store, and the book sale turned into a book deal. There's a lesson there for all of us to just get our work 'out there'.

Emma Magenta books are published through Andrew McMeel Publishing, Random House and Pan Macmillan Australia. Tea towels, handkerchiefs and decals are available through Third Drawer Down. Photo albums are published by Coral Coast. And you can find some very special t-shirts, tea towels, bags and cards at the Mirabel Foundation Website with proceeds supporting this important charity.

Image: from Gorgeous Sense of Hope: A Love Fable by Emma Magenta

17 February 2009

Hip Products: Ari Athans contemporary jewellery

Thank you Libby for the introduction to contemporary jeweller Ari Athans. Based in Brisbane, Ari worked in the mining and exploration industry before turning her love for gems into a creative outlet that we can all enjoy.

Ari creates limited edition neckpieces, earrings and rings that are both simple and stunning. I love the clever riff on 'Diamond Crytal Earrings' in gold and silver that would work well for day or night. And I'm putting the wrap bangle on my birthday wish list.

Ari recently exhibited in the 'Freestyle: New Australian Design for Living' show featuring 40 Australian designers across Australia and at the Triennale Museum in Milan.

You can find the latest Ari Jewellery designs on the Website, and for sale at the gallery workshop at 1/760 Brunswick St, New Farm, Queensland, Australia.

Image: Ari Jewellery

16 February 2009

Drool-worthy Design: Earth Greetings

I love Earth Greetings: Made in Australia. Super-cool designs. Australiana. And most importantly, printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper with vegetable ink.

Heide Hackworth launched Earth Greetings in Adelaide in 2003 with a strong vision to create an eco-friendly line of paper products that celebrate nature. Now, the Earth Greetings brand includes sustainably produced greeting cards, gift cards, wrapping paper, bookmarks and Christmas cards. All producst are printed carbon neutral in Australia, with minimal and recycled packaging, green office management and offset carbon emmissions. Truly an inspiring model for Australian (and international) businesses.

You can find Earth Greetings products at more than 300 stockists around Australia and New Zealand listed on the Website.

Image: Earth Greetings

14 February 2009

MOZI Bushfire Appeal

This message from our friends at MOZI:

This is a great way to support the victims of the Victorian bushfires. So if you are looking for some great Australian-designed cushions, stationery, accessories and homewares for bathroom and kitchen, get shopping!

Image: MOZI

13 February 2009

Australian Artist Spotlight: Jeremyville

Some of coolest cartoon art in the world comes from our own Jeremyville who has a studio in Sydney and is currently based in New York City. Jeremyville is well known for both his edgy-cool artwork and published books, including designer toys tome Vinyl Will Kill.

As well as creating art, Jeremyville is a clever product developer and you can find Jeremyville satchels, sneakers, toys, skate decks, t-shirts, caps, stickers, and other hip products. But I'm most excited about the incredible wallpaper (see image above). There are lots of potential applications both commercial and residential, and you can pick it up from French site Domestic.

You can find Jeremyville products and more information about the man himself on the website.

Image: Upper West Side wallpaper by Jeremyville

12 February 2009

Stylish Kids: Wild Bear clothes for little girls

I'm constantly receiving compliments about my daughter's Wild Bear dress. It's beautifully made, simple, features lovely detail, and she can climb anything in it. It's timeless, and is a dress that will be passed on.

Wild Bear is created by Di Leeson who hand crafts lovely dresses and ruffled bloomers for little girls. Based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Di infuses an inherent beach style into her designs with just a touch of nostalgia. These clothes are great for everyday and beautiful for special occasions too.

You can find Wild Bear designs on the online store and at the Eumundi Markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

You can find more Aussie kids clothes at Australian Designer Baby Clothes. Shop online for kids fashion from great stores in the Australian Online Kids and Baby Store Directory.

Image: Wild Bear

11 February 2009

Hip Products: Mud Australia ceramics

Oh Mud. A must-have on any wedding registry, and a collectors' dream. I'm talking about one of our best known ceramics brands - the adored Mud Australia. Fired with Limoges or imperial porcelain, Mud Australia produces gorgeous pieces in delicate shades that are beautiful to display and functional (oven, microwave and dishwasher safe!) to use everyday.

I particularly love the matte feel of each piece. This is achieved by applying glaze only to the interior of each vessel. These ceramics are meant for use - with handling, they become more smooth. This is one of the characteristics that bring an artisan quality to the pieces and ensure they get lots of attention at dinner parties!

Mud Australia makes and hand finishes all ceramics at the studio in Sydney. I also admire that the company embraces the values of craft, community and sustainability. You can now find Mud Australia at stockists online and around the world.

Image: Mud Australia

10 February 2009

Australian Artist Spotlight: Alma B. art and jewellery

Alma B.'s whimsical artwork features doe-eyed girls with flowers in their hair and pod-like botanicals nestled amongst cosy villages. Her signature character Alba is a young girl with a special connection to flowers and speaks to them in their own flower language. Growing up, Alma B. loved the characters and native flora of May Gibbs' stories, which is reflected in the special bond that her own characters have with the environment around them.

Artist and graphic designer Alma B. is based in Brisbane where she paints her dreamy artwork. She also designs jewellery and accessories using her designs including necklaces, brooches and mirrors. Her art takes me away to another world, and I love the use of book pages and printed paper in the mixed media pieces.

You can view more of Alma B.'s art in the gallery on her Website, where you can also purchase prints, jewellery and accessories. Prints and original artwork are also available on Etsy. There are a list of other stockists on Alma B.'s Trunkt profile. You can also delve a little deeper into Alma B.'s world through her blog. I hope you enjoy exploring Alma B.'s artwork as much as I have.

Image: Home Is Where The Heart Is by Alma B.

9 February 2009

Hip Products: Aesop skin care & beauty products

To me, skin care heaven is being surrounded by gorgeous bottles and jars of Aesop beauty products. Made right here in Australia, Aesop uses the highest quality plant products as well as proven anti-oxidants to create a luxurious line of hair, body and skin care products for men and women. Aesop founder Dennis Paphitis doesn't subscribe to the anti-aging marketing ploy, preferring to focus on using quality botanicals without promising miracles. (a beauty company you can trust?)

The packaging is right up my alley - minimalist, ultra-cool and ensconced in dark jars to keep the contents from breaking down. And for a real treat for the design-savvy, check out any of the hip Aesop signature stores - each individually designed to complement and reflect its location.

I'm a huge fan of the Purifying Facial Cream Cleanser (I can't face cold water to remove makeup at bedtime), and an even bigger fan of the decadent Camelia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream for sensitive and dry skin.

You can find Aesop products at the online store, Aesop signature stores in London, Paris, Zurich, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei and across Australia, at large David Jones stores, and stockists (listed on the website).

Image: Aesop

6 February 2009

Drool-worthy Design: Saffron Craig textiles

With Valentine's Day around the corner, I'm seeing heart motifs all over the place, but this particular design (pictured above left) caught my eye. Sydney-based Saffron Craig's hand printed textiles are youthful and fresh, and this heart print with fairies would be perfect for a child's craft project - maybe a bandana, or an apron dress, or a backpack. I can also imagine it on a lamp shade, throw pillow or laundry sack in an all-white nursery.

Saffron is a master of children's fabric design, but she also creates a range of chic nature-inspired textiles for grown-ups, quilt kits, and handmade products including girls' dresses (like the delightful one pictured above right). I just have to mention the funky owl and dinosaur softie craft panels that would be especially good for anyone new to sewing.

You can find Saffron Craig goodies at the online store as well as various stockists. Find out more about the projects that inspire Saffron on her blog. (and a shout-out here to her husband Patrick, too, who is an integral part of the design team).

Image: left - Saffron Craig via Kelani Fabrics; right - Saffron Craig

5 February 2009

Hip Products: Akina limited edition art book

You'll have to be quick for this one. Celebrated Australian artist Akina has just released her third handmade book. The masterpiece is titled The Little Mermaid and is a riff on the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale, twisted in true Akina fashion. The story is themed around Valentine's Day (perfect timing!) and includes all new artwork and a haunting tale of tragic romance printed on heavyweight art stock.

Each page is lovingly created by hand and the book is finished with beautiful details such as traditional hand-stitched binding, an individual wax seal, an artist’s statement, velvet ribbon, fold out fine art print, a pop up cover, embossed pages and a certificate of authenticity.

As with most Akina pieces, the book is highly collectible. Akina creator Lang Leav has only created 100 numbered copies of this art book making it truly limited edition. Previous Akina art books have sold out immediately. You have been warned!

You can buy The Little Mermaid book only on the Akina Website where you can also read the FAQ's.

Image: Akina

4 February 2009

Hip Products: Zaishu designer stools

You wouldn't expect designer seating at a cafe in Yamba on the north coast of NSW, but that's exactly what I found at the Beachwood Cafe when I perched upon a perfect Zaishu stool (one of about 20!).

It turns out that talented Matthew Butler and Helen Punton create this iconic Australian furniture from their studio in Yamba where designs are handprinted onto certified sustainable Native Australian Hoop Pine. The eco-friendly panels are then slotted together to create a piece of furniture that can be used as a seat or table, and is guaranteed to be a conversation starter.

I chose to eat my breaky ensconced on the Florence Broadhurst design Zaishu, but there are many more fantastic designs available that are the result of collaborations with Australian artists and special projects around the world (check out the Fiji edition and I look forward to the upcoming Argentinian designs).

You can find Zaishu pieces at the Zaishu online store, as well as stockists around the world. You can find out more about Zaishu projects on their blog.

Image: Zaishu

3 February 2009

Hip Products: Simona Chytil

The last thing you expect to discover at your Mum's birthday party is a fabulous jewellery designer. I did just that this weekend when Mum received an incredible pair of Simona Chytil earrings. Simona is a Goldsmith, based in Noosa, Queensland, who creates beautiful modern jewellery.

I adore the Cicada range, inspired by a real cicada's wings. The Braille collection is also irresistible, featuring raised bumps. I'd love the silver Braille "Wild Child" ring.

Simona splits her time creating pieces for private commissions, exhibiting, and developing her own range of jewellery. Organic forms and nature feature prominently in her collections, with names like Wild, Bloom and Pod.

You can find Simona Chytil jewellery at very cool stockists Yoshi Jones and Funkis Swedish Forms in Sydney, and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

Image: Simona Chytil

2 February 2009

Hip Products: Lark ethical children's gifts

Based in country Victoria, Allison Jones designs, develops and sells delightful ethical children's products under the Lark label.

Lark aims to make products that are not only beautiful and well-made, but also socially and environmentally responsible. The knitted and embroidered products are made by a Fair Trade partner organisation in Bangladesh. And all products on the site are marked "organic", "handmade", "recycled", "fair-trade" and/or "sweat-shop free". Kudos!

The hand-knitted cupcake, doughnut and vegetable rattles are now baby gift classics. I also love the adorable vintage-themed children's products including Bambi soaps and activity kits. Check out the Website and you'll also find a great range of party goods, paper products, handmade accessories, books, craft kits, and gifts for grown-ups too (including a range of very popular Keep Calm and Carry On products).

You can find Lark products at stockists across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, France and the US. You can also buy Lark products online at the Australian Lark Website, and the UK and World Lark Website. And while you are there, why not read about the goings-on behind-the-scenes on the Lark blog.

Image: Lark
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