Bricks and Mortar: Saint Gertrude Design & Letterpress

By Catherine Harvey There is something intrinsically beautiful about letterpress that everyone seems to love. Perhaps it's the tactile nature created from the combination of ink on a soft cotton stock. Or maybe it's the knowledge that letterpress is a centuries old art form that is mastered by so few. Whatever the reason, there has definitely been a huge increase in the amount of letterpressed paper products being produced over the last few years.

As a designer, I notice the reactions of clients when they feel something that has been letterpressed and it's generally always the same - moving their fingers over the print whilst 'oohing' and 'aahing'. It is this tactile quality that surpasses many other printing techniques as a favourite of mine. And it seems I am definitely not alone. Amy Constable also shares this love and has taught herself all about this impeccable artistry over a number of years while running her business Saint Gertrude Design & Letterpress.

Photo - Catherine Harvey

Photo - Catherine Harvey

At a time when there wasn't a great deal of information on this centuries-old printing technique, Amy bought herself a 800kg letterpress (affectionately known as Gordon) and began the process of educating herself on the history of letterpress and the knowledge required to actually be able to use the press. Now let me tell you about Gordon… the best word to describe him is impressive. He commands attention and respect from the moment you see him - maybe this is primarily due to his large size or perhaps the fact that he's a very good looking press! The other thing about Gordon is that he is quite daunting and after watching Amy show me how he works, I have a new found appreciation for the skills required to operate a letterpress machine. It is indeed manual labour that requires a lot of love, time and effort. But the results you can achieve are clearly worth this effort.

Photo - Catherine Harvey

Amy started Saint Gertrude Design and Letterpress in 2009 and since that time has primarily been involved in creating beautiful wedding stationery. From save-the-date cards to custom designed invites, Amy knows how to achieve the perfect stationery for your big day. In addition to this, Amy has also recently created her own retail collection that includes cards and prints inspired by children's stories.

It all seems to be happening for Amy - including possibly holding some Letterpress Workshops in the future at her new studio.

Amy's new range of prints. Photo - Catherine Harvey

Photo - Catherine Harvey

And this isn't just any studio. Amy and her press now reside in Little Gold Studios (how good is this name!?) in Brunswick. The studio is filled with natural light, lots of plants and is the ideal environment for a creative to thrive. The space is shared by like-minded creatives from a range of other disciplines and I was instantly impressed with how the space had been so beautifully decorated. Let's just say I wanted to leave my job and move in, it was that good.

Photo - Catherine Harvey

My afternoon with Amy (and Gordon) was a pleasure and I can only recommend that if you get a chance to attend one of Amy's letterpress workshops, then do. It will be memorable, inspiring and, like Gordon himself, impressive.

Saint Gertrude Design & Letterpress Little Gold Studios 13 Little Gold Street, Brunswick, Victoria 3056 Email:

All photos by Catherine Harvey.


Catherine Harvey lives and breathes design. Working at one of Melbourne’s top studio’s, she is rarely ever away from her computer. She loves to keep up to date with the design industry in a global and local context and follows too many blogs to count! You can follow her findings here.

Bricks and Mortar: Bequeath & Bestow

By Catherine Harvey Bequeath & Bestow is a vintage furniture and homewares boutique owned by Chella Monaghan. Chella not only owns this store, she also manages it full time - sourcing all the unique items and restoring all of the pieces of furniture herself. What this creates is an eclectic mix of 'one-offs' that would easily satisfy a range of tastes.

Photo - Catherine Harvey

Although the store is relatively new (having opened in July 2012), and also relatively small, within it contains some of the most lovely and affordable pieces of furniture that I have seen.

Chella's has added her own personal touch to the many items and in this way it is definitely an easy store to come back to again and again. Fortunately, since the stock changes quite quickly, you can return and enjoy a unique experience each time you walk in - what you saw in the store last week has probably sold, but it has also been replaced with another equally amazing item.

Photo - Catherine Harvey

Photo - Catherine Harvey

Photo - Catherine Harvey

In addition to keeping up with the demands of a retail space, Chella devotes a lot of her time to ensuring that Bequeath and Bestow's Facebook page stays current and provides an accessible way for customers to find out what is in store now or what may be coming into the shop in the future, along with the prices. The Facebook page describes the store perfectly. "We have an eclectic mix, so whether you are after the French provincial look, a bit of rustic, a little taste of industrial, something up cycled and reinvented for a new life or maybe just the quirky, please drop by."

Photo - Catherine Harvey

Chella has embraced the shop's location on Brighton's Martin Street and has even joined the Traders Association to promote and help attract more people to the area. The street itself, I must admit, does seem to lack it's own identity and sense of community. But although Martin Street may not currently be a destination in itself, Bequeath & Bestow certainly is.

144 Martin Street, Brighton, Victoria 3186 Phone: (03) 9596 7591 Wednesday - Friday: 10am – 5pm Saturday: 10am – 4pm Sunday: 10am – 2pm

Catherine Harvey lives and breathes design. Working at one of Melbourne’s top studio’s, she is rarely ever away from her computer. She loves to keep up to date with the design industry in a global and local context and follows too many blogs to count! You can follow her findings here.

Bricks and Mortar: Empire Vintage

By Catherine Harvey Vintage, adj. - Too old to be considered modern, but not old enough to be considered antique. Source: Urban Dictionary.

There is something about the word 'vintage' that instantly conjures up an image in my mind of an amazing collectible that I don't have, but definitely want. There is a distinct sense of accomplishment when I find a unique item that could either be a perfect addition to my home or a thoughtful present to someone who has it all. Empire Vintage is exactly the store to find these unique pieces.



The design aesthetic, as described by owner Lynda Gardener, is "a mix of vintage industrial, rustic, country, touch of French, which forever evolves and changes, however the aesthetic is always vintage. I may change colours and styles but it must always be old and filled with character." And character is certainly what fills this store. There is an eclectic mix of old jars, boxing gloves, gardening books and industrial lighting (along with pigeon hole shelving that contains plenty more) that really does cover a large spectrum of potential 'finds'.


The store itself, perhaps similar to the items it houses, also has it's own unique history that has evolved over the last twenty years (to be celebrated next March 2014). Firstly, the interiors were decorated in country rustic, then it became more feminine with lots of whites and florals whereas now the current, and very recent, fit out has an old hardware store feel that has been painted with charcoals and greys. The aesthetic changes to the store does, fortunately, coincide with the fact that Lyn also runs her own interior design business (Gardener & Marks). In addition to this, she also owns and runs the boutique accommodation in Daylesford (The White House) which is basically a combination of 'Empire Vintage' in an actual 'home' environment - styled, of course, by Lyn herself.


Now Lyn (as you can already tell) is a woman with drive. Her career began as a visual merchandiser/stylist for Levi Strauss setting up concept stores and training employees around Australia. It was this, along with being a collector from a young age, that propelled her into the business woman she has become today. As to work and life balance, Lyn now manages to juggle all three businesses whilst at the same time giving herself every weekend off. Now that is inspiring! How has she achieved this? As she says, "I have believed in myself and always given opportunities a go. I never wanted to to hear myself saying, 'I should have or I could have.' " So, to this day, Lyn still has a list of challenges she would like to achieve - including one she is secretly working on right now so keep your eyes out for what's next.



In the meantime, you could always head to Empire Vintage to find the next item for your own collection.

63 Cardigan Place, Albert Park Victoria 3206 Phone: (03) 9682 6677 Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm Sunday 11am – 4pm

Catherine Harvey lives and breathes design. Working at one of Melbourne’s top studio’s, she is rarely ever away from her computer. She loves to keep up to date with the design industry in a global and local context and follows too many blogs to count! You can follow her findings here.  


Bricks and Mortar: Peony Haute Parfumerie

By Catherine Harvey Straight away, I feel the need to confess two things - Firstly, I must admit that I have never been an avid wearer of perfume and, secondly, that after I left Peony I really did want to keep this store my own little secret!

Jill Timms started Peony Haute Parfumerie nearly ten years ago and it is clearly evident that her passion for artisan perfumery has remained strong. Rather than stocking mass produced fragrance brands, her store contains (as she calls it) "a curated collection of historical and contemporary brands."

Photo - Catherine Harvey

Jill is a self professed 'storyteller' and after spending only a short time in her store, it is the stories behind the fragrances and their creators that adds another dimension to the experience. There are so many brands in this store that are unique, such as: James Heeley - one of the few owner-founders of a luxury perfume house in Europe, Olfactive Studio - where perfumeurs have teamed up with photographers to draw inspiration from their works and also Naomi Goodsir - who had previously spent more than a decade being a milliner creating couture hats prior to turning her talents to perfume. Jill shares their stories and invites you into a sensory experience that is quite captivating.

Photo - Catherine Harvey

Whilst in the store, I had a brief perfume consultation where Jill chose a selection of scents to ascertain which fragrances I preferred. After all, perfume is an emotional purchase and one that differs for each individual. There were quite a few scents that I actually liked but didn't feel quite reflected my personality - a realisation that made me aware I had never put much thought into the perfume I wore.

Jill discusses with me that it's about translating the purchase of a perfume into your everyday reality. And this is where the skill and expertise of Jill comes to the forefront. Whether it is based on your career, your upcoming wedding or purely your love for wearing perfume, Peony provides a personalised service that takes into account individual tastes and circumstances.

Jill has created a retail experience that feels as though she has allowed you into her own private sanctuary. An experience that you can't buy online and also an experience that would be difficult to replicate.

Photo - Catherine Harvey

Photo - Catherine Harvey

I left the store with more knowledge than I walked in with, a greater appreciation for the creators themselves and a newfound love for the scent I had purchased (Still Life by Olfactory Studio). I was a completely  happy and satisfied customer - and how rare is that these days?

So now I have shared my 'secret' store with you and my new perfume has now become like my favourite pair of jeans - we are rarely apart. As to Peony Haute Parfumerie, I am now a customer for life.

Peony Haute Parfumerie, 107 Auburn Road Hawthorn 3122. Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 10-5pm, Saturday 10-4pm.

Catherine Harvey lives and breathes design. Working at one of Melbourne’s top studio’s, she is rarely ever away from her computer. She loves to keep up to date with the design industry in a global and local context and follows too many blogs to count! You can follow her findings here.