Welcome to this weeks Open Call. Melbourne-based interior designer Chelsea Hing has partnered with stylist Emma Barnett to create StillLife an exclusive range of limited edition pieces designed in collaboration with 3 emerging Australian makers. Chelsea and Emma saw an opportunity to create a collection that would enable clients to simply ‘shop the look’, purchasing a pre-styled collection of pieces to instantly transform their coffee tables, entrance halls or mantels into a magazine-worthy styled vignette. Clever idea no?
The first collection features 15 pieces by Melbourne makers Thread Architecture, Andrei Davidoff, and Brahman Perera, each having collaborated to design new pieces exclusively for StillLife.
The duo’s combined experiences in interior design and styling imbues the whole collection. All those classic design maxims of scale, proportion, silhouette, texture and finish, pepper the collection. It takes quite a while to master the tools of design and what’s great about StillLife is they do that for you.
A concierge service is available for Melbourne metro customers only, where stylist Emma Barnett will personally deliver and style the look in your home. Even better to celebrate the launch of StillLife they are currently offering their concierge service free during the month of July for all orders over $300, where stylist Emma Barnett personally delivers and styles the StillLife Look in your home (Melbourne metro only). It may not be relevant to everyone but I know we have heaps of followers in Melbourne.
I whizzed over some questions to Chelsea to find out more about her new venture which I think makes for very interesting reading especially for those thinking of striking out on their own!
What lead you to start your own business?
I started my own business by accident, like most of the best things that happen in life! I was working in a large firm and had lost touch with the things I loved most about being a designer. I quit and slowly the private work started to flood in. Starting my own business from scratch has been a steep learning curve but seven years on I now feel like we’ve established ourselves and have a body of work to be proud of. The last five years we’ve focused exclusively on residential work as it’s the most satisfying and has led us to branch out into product design that complements our interiors. Our first styling collection for the home called StillLife by Chelsea Hing was produced with interior stylist Emma Barnett and launched in June this year.
What has been most difficult?
The most difficult things have always been the most rewarding. Continuing to stay true to the interior work we love to do has meant we don’t take on everything that comes our way, and sometimes that proves hard to say no. Staying small has meant that the workload is unrelenting but it also means we can keep tabs on the quality of what we do. Producing StillLife in collaboration with our makers has been an amazing road but also meant a real juggle between the two sides of our business. Hence I am no stranger to the odd 5am start either Abi!
How do you get your work seen by customers or retailers, is it through tradeshows, mail shots etc.?
We’ve chosen to stay boutique with everything we do so we can make sure the message remains personal. We have a weekly blog – The Chelsea Papers – as well as our other social media channels which keeps our on-going presence up to date. We also have some great relationships with blogs, digital magazines and printed press for coverage of our design projects as they happen.
Any tips/advice to people starting out;
Knowing what you are about takes time to work out and it’s not something I was clear on from day one of opening our doors. Fairly quickly though I found I needed to craft my business around doing work I was challenged by and proud of was going to be critical if I was to justify the long hours and energy it takes to build something worthwhile. Having a point of view has been really important to help keep the vision on track and tell an engaging story about what we are about.
What has been most successful about the business?
For me its not awards or press, it’s the relationships we build with our clients and the impact we see our work has on their lives. I love thinking about how we live and what we need to live well and I try to spend as much of my day as possible (often a challenge!) dreaming up ways to improve on that philosophy. Over the years some of our clients have become friends and given renovating is one of the most stressful things you can do, I chalk that up as a great success. Releasing StillLife has also been a real personal triumph as it comes out of seeing what our clients struggle with time and time again after we leave the project – how to make their house a home. The idea evolved from a simple styling concept into full-blown range of beautiful limited edition pieces that was a major task to pull off. Emma and I remain really proud of it.