Interview: Chelsea Hing and Emma Barnett (plus Member giveaway!)

Melbourne interiors designer and CWC Member Chelsea Hing has teamed up with stylist Emma Barnett to release a range of products with a unique underlying concept, titled Still Life. Read on to learn more about this creative collaboration, and their generous giveaway to one lucky CWC Member. Interview_chelsea-hing-emma-barnett How did you and Emma meet?

Emma & I met five years ago when I was engaged to design the interior for a major renovation she was undertaking on her house. We got on really well and seeing how she styled her home once it was finished, I suggested we keep working together styling my projects for magazine photoshoots. And so we did and found we had a great synergy and a similar way of looking at things.

How did the idea come about to collaborate and launch Still Life?

Shoot after shoot we found clients were constantly amazed at how we transformed their houses, often we would style with things they already had, just placed and combined differently with pieces we would bring in. We did really simple things, like creating little vignettes, doing big flowers in main areas or small blooms next to beds, a throw where you need it on the couch, a stack of books arranged on the coffee table. I started to think, wouldn’t it be great if we could give our clients the confidence to do that themselves without having to style a whole house at a time. So the early idea for StillLife was really about creating pre-styled vignettes for those classic areas that people need the most help with - the coffee table, entrance hall and mantel - in essence to deliver what Emma & I do when we style an interior instead as a shoppable look.

Tell us about the maker artisans you are working with on this range. How did you choose them?

Early on we realised that the collection had to have a unique element that couldn’t be reproduced by anyone else. Our starting point were things that we loved and would have in our own houses. They were hand made objects that had a story, that were organic in some way and were not generic mass produced pieces. We already had one maker Brahman Perera on our radar who had made some great sculptural objects for us. Emma & I then separately discovered Amber Lucy of Thread Architecture at Designex (I told you there was synergy!) At the time she had just started experimenting with combining rope and leather which we loved. Our final piece in the puzzle was always a ceramicist as we knew a key styling element is always vessels. We met quite a few before settling on Andrei Davidoff whose aesthetic was the right fit for ours.

2_Still_Life14728 How did the creative process work in the collaborative sense - did you each design individual products or did you combine ideas with the maker on each one?

We briefed each maker for three pieces specifically to suit the three areas we wanted the collection based around, sometimes this meant an existing piece was adapted to our size and material specifications, in which case the collaboration was less around the idea and more about finessing the piece into something beautiful to suit our brief. Other times, it was a completely new piece that required collaboration from the get go on all fronts; shape, scale, size, colour and finish. These pieces required more prototypes to get the final design right but have also been the most rewarding. Amongst all this, Emma and I designed our own basics range of styling pieces to complement our maker pieces as we realised that we wouldn’t be able to put just anything with these beauties our makers were producing. We had to make sure that the scale, proportion and finish of all the complementary pieces were just right if we were going to properly deliver on the StillLife concept. Again that was a great collaboration between Emma and I in our weekly meetings, bouncing ideas off each other and me drawing directly onto my iPad. 11_Still_Life14986

How long did the range take to design, make and launch and were there any unexpected challenges along the way?

There were so many challenges and quite a few times where we considered the project too large to pull off. One of the biggest difficulties was developing our own basics range and getting all the prototypes ready within a tight timeframe. Many a night was spent worrying if our pieces were going to make it out of the kiln in time. Our original idea to have each look anchored by one maker piece evolved into putting the best combinations together which has had a knock on effect to how we did things behind the scenes. Overall it has taken just under a year from the initial idea but really six months since finding the makers to launching the concept.

What's in store for Still Life going forward - regular collections, collaborations with other artists?

As we’ve received such a great response from our first collection and all our pieces are limited editions, we’re already busy working on our next collection.

Thread Architecture Belted Vase

CWC Members can enter our giveaway to win the Thread Architecture Belted Vase (pictured directly above) from Chelsea and Emma's debut collection, valued at $240. Log in and enter the competition here.