Monday, May 31, 2010

sign of the times

It can be very useful to write your way through the core values and practical aspects of your business. Finnish textile company Marimekko 's core values deeply resonated with me. 
  • ethics
  • genuineness and honesty
  • freedom of creativity, courage and responsibility
  • enthusiasm, commitment and goal orientation
  • positivity, aestheticism
(They also have a fine Vision, Objectives, and Strategy - read here

I was talking to a friend a while ago about how we cannot change the people around us, or who we work with for that matter. What we can most certainly do is take the initiative and follow what we think is best. For my friend this meant resigning from her work as she could no longer support the way her workplace was being run. My husband is having an ethical debate at his workplace, also on behalf of his colleagues. It seems to be 'a sign of the times' for many to make new and conscious choices. A boss is no longer able to simply tell his (qualified) workers to do what they're told. Nowadays managers and leaders have to set an example, which usually means improving how they act. Naturally this creates obvious dilemmas as bosses are human. They have to inspire their work force, if they don't they will lose them. As someone put it to me: how can they expect us to do what they want, if they don't want to do the hard yards themselves, do not respect us nor our opinions and change the rules to fit their needs? The fact is de-motivated staff is dangerous territory.

Work has changed much from the perception of just earning wages that pay the mortgage to supporting some sort of cause or vision. We also have to be able to respect our bosses, the companies that give us work and our leaders. We do have a choice, and many employers don't realize this. Why stay in a situation we can change nothing about? It's a dead end. Once growth stops, it's game over. 

So, ending on a positive note: that what we can change, add upon, give our dedication to, what inspires us and fuels our passion; that we will stay true to and work very hard for. So there is good news after all. Work shouldn't be 'just' work, preferably it should be great fun and a passion to boot. What is yours?

An inspiring story about an ethical way to run a business is Bholu, read about that on my friend Lucy's website The Design Files here

Friday, May 28, 2010

the Interior "how to" Forum

pic: on Julie-Ann's blog
Via Twitter I keep meeting wonderful and inspiring people! Today I'm doing an interview post with the lovely Julie-Ann Hind from Perth Australia. She is an interior decorator and has started the Decorating Forum, which is now ranked #1 in her country on Google.

Julie-Ann, what are your passions and professional background?
I have always had a passion for renovating and decorating homes. Our very first home had a rainbow painted over all 3 walls of the toilet and the bathroom cabinets. We sold that home for double the money 18 months later, minus the rainbows. I had caught the renovating bug! Since then I have renovated many homes for our family and many more for clients. I tend to specialize in renovating kitchens and bathrooms. However, the work varies enormously, one day I will be working on an Alfresco area for a client and the next day the selections for a client who is building.

(pic: by Julie-Ann Hind)

Why did you start the Decorating Forum?
Being an Interior Decorator I am constantly asked questions about decorating, renovating, building, or simply caring for our homes. I started the forum as a way to make it easier for clients, family and friends to ask me those questions. But it quickly became more than just people I personally knew. 

Why is your forum THE place to visit online when wanting help on interiors?
We have several experienced Interior Designers as members of the Decorating Forum and many very creative people who love to chat about decorating. Also, many members have joined looking to bounce around ideas for their homes. It is not only great to talk about decorating all day but we love to have a laugh and it is all very light hearted.

Julie-Ann, what are your goals for the next 2 years?
I have recently designed several kitchens for exclusive custom designed homes. I would love to do more of this work.
My passion is reaching more Australians and New Zealanders through the Decorating Forum and our blog "A Very Fine House". I love how we have been able to help so many people create a beautiful home for themselves and their families!

What are you most proud of?
That’s easy- my 17 year old son. He is adorable but then I am just a proud mum. With work I am so proud of reaching number #1 ranking on Google so quickly, we are the number #1 Decorating Forum on Google in Australia! 
Well done Julie-Ann and thank you very much for you time.

Below are some pictures of Julie-Ann's smaller projects that show how a makeover can make such a big change in any room! 

Kitchen before:

Enormous change isn't it?
Julie-Ann's tip: how to organize a kitchen easily? Read about it here on Julie-Ann and Katrina's blog.
Bathroom before:
And what a difference! Meet her on the forum and ask Julie-Ann anything you like that is driving you crazy about your interiors: visit 
Most of all: have fun with your home and do what you love, you don't need to follow the latest trends. 
(Please remember too to cast your vote on the give away tea towel post if you haven't done so yet!)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

tea towel design

The following designs I have made are being printed as we blog-tweet-post, and due to arrive chez moi in about 2 weeks. These unbleached lovelies will be for sale on the Paperroom online store website and my own. Yes my online store is finally springing to life! (I am working on having it up and running by the time these babies arrive.)




swanndri horses

My inspiration for these come from different fields, but safe to say: living in New Zealand and on my farm have a lot to do with it. I try to design as much as I can by staying true to the Australasian spirit. 

Now as a surprise for you all: I am giving one tea towel away to one of my lovely readers! If you are wanting to get your hands (quite literally) on one of these goodies, mention the design you like and leave a comment about it underneath this post. I will draw someone on Saturday. Good luck!

Monday, May 24, 2010

changing the game

Currently I'm reading Gary Vee's book "Crush it". The man is an inspiration, and what he does well too is being so genuine. He connects naturally, even in writing, and his book is very readable.

One of the questions he asks is: why start growing a personal brand and leave our current employment/situation? I'm sure many of you would like to do what you love doing 24/7, instead of having to go through the treadmills. I guess things come to us too when we're itching to change what we're doing, but more so in what format we are able to do what we want to do. The weird part for me is that what I love to do is taking off like a goat on crack and the "I have to but don't quite love to" bit is only mildly humming along, not being very impressive. To me this is unhealthy and I feel painful about the fact I know I can do much more and much better. So I'm doing my homework and am changing what I can about it.

My husband is changing his game and I'm very proud of him. It's not easy for him to do so. He's been wrestling with it for years. It takes guts and effort to change direction. It also takes simple doing. I realized that our attitudes determine greatly how well or how badly things go for us. I've been somewhat grumpy for weeks (trying my hardest not to be). Something wasn't right and I knew damn well what it was: me. Still, there is a time to whing zhing around and there is time to just maturely fluff along. Or so they keep saying. But I don't believe it. As you can tell, the just carrying along is not my passion. I decided I have to make a decision and change the way I go about things. Surely there is a different way to improve matters, before I'm taking "the plunge".

So how can we change the game of Now?
First we assess what it is we LOVE to do. (the Goal)
Then we look at our current situation and ask ourselves: can I change anything to improve where I am now? (the Now)
Then we make a link from the now to the goal and devise a 'transit' phase: the in between and thus draw a timeline:
from "the Now" to "transit" to "Goal"

If we don't put a time frame on it, the now we'd like to change could drag on too long which wouldn't be fair to ourselves, and neither to others. (This is what I have noticed quite fervently.) Realizing what it is specifically in the now that we'd like to change will give us peace of mind, and allows us to accept how we feel enabling us to move to "transit" more easily. I discovered that aspects of the now can actually work as a springboard to where I want to grow to. A vision board can come in handy here too, to remind and help us. This is a great practical tool. (Learn how to make on here.)

Like Gary says: "Do what makes you happy. Keep it simple. Do the research. Work hard. Look ahead."

Indeed Gary! Truer words were never spoken.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

the art sense of nonsense

At the moment I'm working on new textile designs for Hemptech (and myself too). It's the putting together of that which doesn't make sense and also does make sense, at the same time. It's a controversial process. I tried to team up clover with various items, have filed away pics of pelicans, and suddenly have a brainwave about implementing knives, forks and spoons. Where that came from, nobody knows. Least of all me, my brain associates the craziest things.

Today I came across a designer, who also finds the 'outside life' helpful in keeping her ideas "fresh". I don't have to tell you that reading about a designer who has a farming background (or someone who still IS a farmer) is a joyous occasion for me. It's the moooo aspect that rocks the kazba. In this case, designer Matali Crasset spoke to Fastcompany about the benefits and all enticing aspects about the quirky in art. (The quirky can be so under valuated. I mean what can be more hilarious then murky quirky? Exactly.) 

This lady has right handedly come up with a domestic UFO (always handy those), a coat hanger that transforms in a bed (good to hang around in) and some goofy interiors. No wonder she is French and well known throughout the quadrant. 

Recently she has produced kitchen utensils for Alessi (pic above). She says about these: 
" I start by giving intention to an object and I start drawing only at the end. I don't draw to shapes; the shapes are coming from themselves. For example, with the bowl, I just had a vision of one bowl and I wanted to make it more practical. To be two bowls. And I combined them." 
So what does the farming life mean to her?
"You know I come from a small village of 80 farmers. I am kind of an ET. I had nothing to do with this kind of culture when I was growing up. For me it's easier to break codes because I'm still not inside. The best you can have in a collaboration is to have this outside look. And that's my position."
(Read the whole post later here. Source: Fastcompany) 

I also read about a Canadian pigfarmer lady, who like me, has to look after animals by herself usually. She got inventive (thats' what you do if you have to tend to animals and not be pummeled to the ground, have them dash out the fields or see you poking yourself with the drench gun.) What did she do? She invented a roller that dispenses a swath of red cloth--a sort of farm version of the retractable "lane guides" that movie theaters use. 

She had noticed that the hogs didn't like a red material moving about and she could use this idea instead of electric prodding to move them where she wanted them to go. This is industrial genius. And very self sufficient I must say.
(Source Core77, whole post here)

So: the outdoorsy life can inspire us in various forms! Whether you own a green pasture or not, thinking outside of the concrete box is groovy. So if you like to have a bit of zesty farm design right at home, to uplift you, try these:

Japanese artist Koshi Kawachi takes old Japanese graphic novels and carefully adds a few radish seeds to create miniature indoor farms.
(source: greenmuze)
So who says oddball-ism doesn't pay off? It turns out that it can be very practical indeed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

friends and strangers

Interesting ponderings lately. I'm having "Happy Tuesday" and am sharing another mindpoppy with you. (Feel free to give feedback in the comment section.)

Many of us yarn or rabbit or talk or chat or tweet or post or write or brag or ponder about learning and the art of progress. This takes individual forms and unique expressions. For each and every one of us there is a goal or direction of some description, there may be a dream or vision, there may be some cash available or maybe not, there may be support from others or maybe not. Still: the fact that you are reading this post implies you have:
a. things in common with me, otherwise you'd be on YouTube watching some chimps in action, or actually doing your work or getting those dishes done and
b. you have things in common with the other readers of this blog as well. This I find a very nice idea. In this time of rapid technological advancement they say there is no solitude anymore, unless you seek it. The beauty is really to meet other groovy souls we otherwise wouldn't have, as the beaming up technology is not yet available to us.

This morning I received an email from Simon Mainwaring to say I had won the book "Crush it" by Gary Vaynerchuk, signed, sealed and delivered. I was surprised. I was excited. I was grateful. And I thought: interesting how inspiring people are so compelling and also: how cool to befriend people all over the globe. To have dialogs, questions, more questions then answers, stories, at time advice, and always the joy of discovery.

After the first phase we get the second phase: personal stories and more sharing. To offer more details of the things we did that were embarrassing, the cock ups, the sheer stupidity, the learning curves. A friend of mine told me there are many posers out there. I understand the sentiment. It is true that it is hard for some to be transparent and genuine. Instead of getting annoyed we might feel these people we come accross are maybe not yet sure of what they are really about. I don't know, but it's worth considering. The point is we have a choice always whom we want to give attention to. We also have the inhibitions to be careful, as our parents drummed into us not to accept candy from strange men and not walk home alone. Especially not when you're a girl.

Still, I'm all for keeping the door open, more so then keeping it shut. When we have been snubbed, conned, let down, hurt or just plain feel disappointed, it's tempting to say: they did it! And not try again. But really; who's losing out? In the end you find it's in your best interest to keep trying and happily hoping. Be sensible, but keep that door open, because there are great people out there and basically you make the choice yourself, by expressing who you are, to draw towards you those that you want to find. If you are not happy with who you are seeing, focus on those you would like to see instead. 

The world is diverse, and it's truly amazing to be alive and kicking today. Kudos to you all. "Live long and prosper."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

the when

I came accross this insightful question today, I just had to share as it resonated with me:

"One person once said it's time to move when the answer is no longer yes to these questions:

1. Am I doing good?

2. Am I challenged?

3. Am I learning? "

(Now maybe I'm the only one excited  about this. Fact is: many things are so frilly simple, but we usually don't see it as such. It's so nice to see it concised don't you think?)
So now you know what to do. Plan your next adventure today.
With thanks to Kate Robins the fabulous PR lady on Linkedin.
Her websites: