Friday, 2 December 2011

The World's First Androidland

Today marks a big day for my team at Retail Engine...we made history by launching the world's very first Androidland in Melbourne, Australia.

This project really showcases what can be achieved when you are truly passionate about what you do and are allowed to let your creativity run wild.

I'm still buzzing from the day's events...sure I was tired, stressed and very anxious for most of it, but as I sit back and look at the environment we have created and see the smiling faces...I feel very proud.

From an interior design point of view this project was complex because it was never just about the design. It was about creating something which was new and exciting, something which enticed customers to interact within the space and showcased a number of brands, products and messages in an integrated and innovative way.

Technology played a big part in the design, with projected touchscreen zones where you can play Angry Birds or browse Google books, scent machines using freshly cut grass and gingerbread scents, video walls controlled by a 3D mouse to zoom through Google Earth and an augmented reality window display.

Its not everyday you get to create a spaceship inside a store or specify custom clown machines and skill testers and design collectible pins but perhaps that's why this has been such a great project. 

Our clients Telstra and Google are the real stars here because without them we wouldn't have had the chance to create what I feel is our best brand experience work yet.

If you are in Melbourne please head down to the Telstra Icon store in Bourke Street and experience this `Androidified' environment for yourselves...and please tell your friends.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Nanette Cameron Interior Design Tour - Crown Metropol

Director of leading Melbourne architect firm Bates Smart - Jeffery Copolov is not only an awarded interior designer but also a very generous man with his time.

During the 2 hour guided tour this week, myself and the NZ Interior Design Tour group were given amazing access to every key area of the huge commercial interior project consisting of 658 guest rooms.
This large hotel, the newest of the Crown Casino complex, from the outside seems like any other large hotel, but inside is quite a different experience.

In fact this project can be best described as a `boutique hotel' which has been achieved through clever design and details throughout.

We started the grand tour in the foyer of the hotel where the detail begins with a beautiful blue stone floor flowing from the outside pavement in using a diamond pattern.
As we step out of the elevator on the 28th floor the design starts to reveal itself with   custom designed carpets, textured wallpapers and beautiful artworks adorning each surface.
Level 28 itself showcases not only the best view in the property but the unique s-shape of the building maximising the outlook. Screens have been inserted into the large bar and restaurant space to create lovely positive and negative spaces throughout, each with their own identity.
The boutique feel becomes apparent with the custom carpets flowing throughout each space changing colour as you enter each zone, feature bookcases showcase a collection of colour matched classics and low and comfortable seating of different shapes and sizes is placed to maximise both views and conversation.
It is difficult to make such a large hotel space feel boutique, but this space certainly has achieved it. 
We next head into the leisure zones of the day spa and pool areas where the beauty of this design seems to reach even greater heights.
The first feature which strikes you in the pool area is the amazing oversized feature lights which accentuate the ceiling height of this space.
The pool itself is of course beautiful, covered on 3 sides with floor to ceiling glass and a solid ceiling, enabling use all year round.
As we walk toward the first of 3 different guest rooms, the hallway reveals a clever use of lighting, led lighting behind a patterned grate throws shadows and interest onto the ceiling, as well as tree like art installations around unexpected and often forgotten corners creating interest in a space which is often dull.
The best room in the hotel is The Apartment, a huge space featuring a large living and dining room, entrance hall, kitchen, walk in wardrobe, plunge bath and amazing views.
The interior has been designed to feel more like a home away from home than a hotel room, with lots of personal touches throughout.
Priced between $2,500 and $5,000 per night this room is available for exclusive guests who clearly have alot of disposable income.
There are a cluster of rooms connected by a private staircase straight to the spa in the hotel also which allows guests to come and go without needing to integrate with the rest of the hotel which is a nice feature.
What I found most interesting during this tour was understanding the process the design firm goes through to finalise a design for a project of this scale. A prototype of each room is created and reviewed by up to 50 different people to ensure it functions to the highest standard. Imagine having 50 clients all with feedback which you need to incorporate into the design...nightmare.
I will never look at a hotel in the same way again and am definitely going to book in to stay at this one very soon.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Nanette Cameron Interior Design Tour 11 - Cloud House

I was lucky enough this week to take part in the Melbourne leg of the Nanette Cameron Interior Design Australia Tour. I studied interior design with Nanette in Auckland between 2006 and 2008 and took part in this fantastic tour in 2007 where myself and 26 others were inspired for 10 days straight, getting access to some of the countries leading architects and designers because of Nanette's amazing connections.

This years tour was no exception...the first house I visited was designed by leading Melbourne architect firm McBride Charles Ryan - Cloud House, Fitzroy North.
From the exterior the house appears a typical Australian heritage home, almost plain and simple, if you drove past it you wouldn't think twice or ever know what amazing creativity lies inside.
As you open the door you immediately are greeted with something very unexpected and know you are at the right address...the most amazing carpet adorns the entrance hall. The bright coloured floral design picks up the purple hues from the original glass in the front door and beckons you further inside to see whats next.
The original part of the house has been restored with simplistic beauty but it is the extension on the back where the real creativity and vision of the architects comes to life.
As the name would suggest, a Cloud shape, inspired by the owners love of the outdoors, forms the extension architecture of this property which can be enjoyed from every angle both inside and out.
With no gutters, the curved shape not only looks good but functions well to capture rain water run off into a tank.
Connecting the old and new aspects of the home is a red cube structure housing the kitchen. The linear shape contrasts the extreme curves of the cloud, creating a real wow factor.
The joinery shapes create a pixelated effect, with clever use of stained and laquered timber finishes and a comcork floor. The red certainly is striking, perhaps not to everyone's taste but as Nanette says it is exciting to be bold with colour.
The Cloud shape really does create some amazing spaces and views within the home both above and to the sides of the cube. The shapes inside are also accentuated with the use of spotted gum battons with a black backing underneath which flows inside and out creating a seamless finish.
You really do have to admire people who embrace architecture in this way, truly trusting the creative mind.
I was lucky enough to meet Debbie Ryan during my tour in 2007 when I visited 2 of her homes in Mornington Peninsula including the Letterbox house, her bold designs and use of colour are a signature which ensures her work stands out from the rest.

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Real Shopping Experience

In my day job as a retail marketing consultant, I work with clients to maximise the 4 walls of retail by introducing marketing, advertising, design and technology smarts - this is all designed to positively influence the shopping experience.
However its been hard to stay positive about my profession lately when all I read in the media is doom and gloom suggesting retailing is dead and consumers would prefer to sit at home on the internet shopping.
Personally I believe the tangible experience will always win over the virtual one, sure you can get a bargain online, you can browse for hours uninterrupted and you don't need to queue but the trade off is the experience is impersonal and uninspiring.
I should point out I am a typical `new consumer', my smart phone is my companion, I spend way too much time on social networks than I would care to admit and I embrace new technology however this does not mean I want to spend my spare time glued to my computer.
So why do we need stores and what is their role in this changing world?
I have a theory that the retail store is an essential part of our society and no matter how technology evolves the store will always be needed, why you ask?
1. Consumers have 5 senses and a great experience is a full sensory one 
2. Shopping is a social sport and socialising involves people
3. A picture tells a thousand words but being their in person tells you even more
I have been road testing this theory with some friends, all of whom are avid online shoppers, for most women the main draw card of online tends to be bargain basement designer clothing and shoes.
So when asked if the clothing purchased online had been seen or tried on in a store before purchase, almost everyone said yes, this part of the shopping experience was critical to ensuring the product was of good quality, the right size, the right fabric and the right choice - so you could say for the brand itself they still won in the end because they got a sale. Unfortunately for the reseller, they got a browser not a buyer this time, but could they have done things differently?
I believe all is not lost here, there are alot of great examples of innovative retailers adding value to their shopping experience, enough to make the customer want to show their loyalty and keep coming back.
I came across a great one on the weekend in Yarra Glen, Yarra Valley wine region. A small home interiors and gift store added a new twist to their experience with an art gallery out the back of the store. This was particularly clever for a number of reasons: it encouraged people to walk through the store, regular exhibition events will drive repeat visitation and even more impressive their first exhibition paired local boutique wine labels with erotic art, something for everyone.
I was also pleased to see today in Westfield Sydney some great branded environment design and visual merchandising which always makes me feel inspired. I get such joy out of walking into stores which are visually appealing. For me the experience starts outside the store, the window display needs to be intriguing and unique, then as I step through the door I want to be wowed by the interior design of the space and see something new and innovative.
So if you are thinking of shopping this weekend please think about taking a stroll to your local retailers and rewarding them for their hard work and efforts because without them we would be lost.
I apologise this subject is not strictly about design, I actually am a guest speaker at the Retail 2011 Expo and Conference next week and just finished my first live television interview on Sky News Business so my head is filled with retail thoughts tonight.
Thanks for reading...and please share your thoughts on this topic, I would love to hear them.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Marvelous Melbourne

What's not to like about Melbourne...from a design point of view the city is full of inspiration. The city not only has some of the best architecture in Australia but it simply oozes with creativity at every corner.

Some of my favourite views including looking up in the centre of Melbourne Central, looking across Carlton Gardens to the Exhibition Building and of course Parliament lit up at night.

When the decision was made to move to this great city my husband and I knew we wanted to move into a classic warehouse conversion. We now live in one of the amazing Foy and Gibson textiles warehouses in Collingwood with amazing original features like exposed brick walls, timber floors and large full height windows. Foy and Gibson was one of Australia's earliest department store chains modelled on Le Bon Marche in Paris.

Street art has come to be one of my most favourite attributes of this great city, graffiti is celebrated here as a true art form which seems to encourage less tagging and more beauty. Some of the best grafitti art is found in unexpected laneways or side streets, usually where you would least expect it. 

Whilst winter can be cold, well actually it can be really cold, you can't help but feel happy when you wake up to find the bright blue winter sky full of hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes. One of my favourite sights driving to work in the mornings is the balloons riding high over the famous Nylex sign toward the city.

Next on my list of favourites has to be the coffee and dining experience here. I suspect the high standard set has something to do with the strong european influence throughout the city, but they really do know how to discourage cooking at home.

There is always something to see and do in Melbourne whether it be a new art gallery, festival or event, you could never be bored here. One of my favourites recently was our local Gertrude Street Projection Festival where artists set up evening projection installations all along this iconic street. The projected imagery transformed buildings and windows into live art pieces for passers by to admire. 

Exploring the laneways is another great past time in Melbourne, if you want to experience some street art, great coffee and food and soak up the atmosphere this is a nice mix of all. I think for me the laneways are the place I feel most like a slice straight out of Europe somewhere.

Finally if Melbourne is one thing it is certainly the shopping mecca of Australia. Whilst there are plenty of great shopping malls if you are into that sort of thing, for me I prefer the more quirky high streets of Prahran, Fitzroy and of course my local Collingwood and Smith Street. I have a love of all things eclectic and industrial so for me these areas are a haven full of treasures to explore each weekend.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Piero Fornasetti

Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988) was a Milanese painter, sculptor, interior decorator, engraver of books and a creator of more than 11,000 products, many featuring the face of a woman, operatic soprano Lina Cavalieri, as a motif.
I first learned about Fornasetti design during my interior design education with Nanette Cameron. There was something facinating to me about his work, particularly the collection of over 500 plates, some would say I became a fanatic.
When I visited the Milan store last year I was like a kid in a candy store so to speak, I wanted to savour every minute of this rare opportunity and absorb as much of the experience as possible.
I began collecting Fornasetti plates in 2007, my first small plate was purchased in Sydney during an interior design tour, I was so excited to finally own a little piece of my favourite designer and from there I have built up a small grouping of 3 large and 2 small plates.
Fornasetti’s son, Barnaba, is perpetuating the Fornasetti tradition by continuing to produce, and revive, Fornasetti designs. At the helm of the company and its creative heart, Barnaba is the custodian of his father’s legacy. He continues to create new Fornasetti designs, renew hand-crafted production and works in collaboration with industries which manufacture Fornasetti products under license.
If you have a chance to visit Milan make sure you stop by this amazing store:
Spazio Fornasetti Corso G. Matteotti, 1/A 20121 Milan Italy

My Inspiration

Nanette Cameron - NZ Interior Design icon
Welcome to The Design Side of Life...
This is a blog about my journey to discover my inner designer and reconnect with my true passion in life.
My love of design began at an early age, as a child I was surrounded by creativity and design.
My grandfather was a talented artist and creative explorer. 
Charcoal sketches, oils on canvas and intricate china paintings filled walls and cabinets throughout the house.
He had a love of antiques and interiors with 
lavish turquoise upholstery, neutral velvet embossed wallpaper and crystal chandeliers among my favourites. 
My grandparents travelled extensively and always collected pieces from around the world.
My mother inherited the creative gene, turning her hand to artistic endeavours like painting, sewing, cake decorating and furniture renovation throughout my life.
As a student I developed a love of my art and photography subjects, at 14 I began designing and making colourful fabric handbags to sell to friends and in year 11 painted my first mural which formed the basis for our school year book cover.
At 18, I began work as a journalist, photographer and designer at our local newspaper in regional South Australia which was an opportunity to continue exploring my creative passion. I won Best Feature for Suburban Regional Press at the South Australian Youth Media Awards in 1999.
My journalism career continued after moving to Queensland at 21 when I took up a new role for a Brisbane local paper, I still craved creativity so started my own freelance graphic design business designing business documents and newsletters. 
Before long I decided to explore the world and traveled to London to begin a new chapter in my life. This experience opened my eyes to say the least.
My career took a new path into the world of publishing, account management and retail marketing. This was an exciting new direction and over the next 2 years I had the chance to work for some great publications including The Daily Mail and The Evening Standard.
After meeting my now husband, a kiwi, I moved to Auckland, New Zealand and continued working in publishing for ACP Magazines. Surrounded by design and creativity once more I enjoyed working with titles including Home and Entertaining and Your Home and Garden but with a focus on the marketing side I began feeling I needed to reconnect with my own creative flair.
And that's when I met Nanette Cameron.
In 2006 I enrolled in the Nanette Cameron School of Interior Design, Nanette is an icon in the interior design industry in New Zealand and has inspired over 8,000 students in the past 40 years.
For the next 2 years I treasured my weekly classes, rediscovered a strong passion for interior design and met some life long friends.
Paul Hecker - Comme Melbourne
I had the opportunity to travel to Melbourne and Sydney with Nanette in 2007 on an amazing design tour. Nanette's reputation enabled us to meet renowned interior designers and architects including Paul Hecker, Scott Weston, Steve Varady and Debbie Lyn-Ryan, with personal tours of their projects, an experience I will never forget.
During this trip I learned 2 things, 1. Melbourne is the place to be if you love design, architecture and coffee 2. I want to be an interior designer.
Around the same time I began a new career in the advertising industry and started to merge my marketing and business skills with my creative eye to create a new division at DDB focusing on branded environments and communications.
I had the opportunity to relocate to Melbourne last year to expand Retail Engine into the Australian market, and with this I found myself back in Australia and in the city of creativity. Believe it or not my office is across the road from Paul Hecker's studio in Melbourne which was a great start. I have been fortunate enough in this past year to have travelled through Europe and the US presenting on the subject of Engaging the 5 senses in Retail through design and innovation...a subject I am passionate about.
Fornasetti store - Milan, Italy
During a trip to Milan, Italy I was able to fulfil a dream to visit my favourite designer store - Fornasetti and explore in amazement for hours.
Whilst I have spent the past 5 years surrounded by creativity...managing and directing interior, graphic and 3D designers, working with leading brands like McDonald's, Lion and Telstra, designing and delivering over 100 retail design projects and building a successful business unit within an international advertising agency...I have become one step removed from my true love of hands on design.
So today I have decided to take steps toward my ultimate goal - to be an Interior Designer in my own right....step 1 - start a blog (tick), step 2 - explore further education options and enrol (tick).
Thanks for following me and I hope you enjoy my updates...