A design blog to capture a collection of thoughts from a bowerbird who is in love with unique design - fashion, furniture, art, photography, interiors, jewellery and creative minxes

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Summer holidays are ....

I love summer holidays. Nothing beats warm water, sun kissed skin, yummy fruits and total relaxation. It’s like a good chocolate; it fills you with enjoyment as you savor it for as long as possible. My husband and I do the same road trip every year…. Camping in Byron Bay, then a luxury apartment in Noosa by the water… this is thinking time for both of us. We spend hours talking about the future and our projects for the coming year. I’ve already spent time thinking about this blog and I have some exciting ideas for 2010.

I also wanted to ask for your input – what do you like, what you want to see, ask me any questions. I’d also love to make my Friday limelight a weekly feature so if you know of any talented minxes who own their own design store, or make their own product or who are just insanely creative please dob them in and I’ll line them up for an interview!

Wishing all of you a sensationally happy and enjoyable new year and I look forward to sharing my thoughts and finds with you in 2010.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Holidays

As 2009 draws to a close I want to thank you for supporting my little blog. May your holiday season be magical, with time to rejuvenate your soul and inspire your mind!!

Design Detective is heading north for the silly season so posts may be a little infrequent until early in the New Year.

Until then… stay safe, eat well and be merry.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Luxe Christmas Crackers

I’m currently on the prowl for some Christmas decorating ideas for table settings. One “must have” item is the humble Christmas Cracker. Whilst I love the cheesy jokes, the little plastic toy inevitably ends up in the bin which is a complete waste and not good for the environment. So, I’ve decided to attempt making my own this year!

I found Mecca Cosmetica’s Limited Edition Lips Bon-Bon, which are a fabulous luxe version for lunch with the girls, however this year they are a little out of my price range at $26 each.

So I’m going to take some “inspiration” from the luxe Christmas cracker concept, head down to spotlight and buy some cardboard, snappers, ribbon and either use up some beautiful Japanese paper (that I’ve been saving for the “perfect occasion”) or I’m thinking of heading to the local Vinnies/Salvo’s (thrift shop) and sourcing some beautiful old silk scarves that could be used to cover the cracker and then double as a decorative scarf (for their handbag, headband or neck). I've got a budget of $10 per Cracker and I think I can do it!

To fill the crackers I’m going to grab a hot shade of nail polish (from somewhere like dotti or sporsgirl where you can pick them up for around $5-$8) and add one of the jokes from my dad’s collection (100% guaranteed to be cheesy!). If you wanted to spend a little more you could put in a perfume miniature but they cost about $20 each.

I’ve set this as a project for this weekend so I’ll post some photos when they’re completed!

(Bon Bon kits can be purchased cheap [$2+] from craft stores or some bargain stores)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Free DIY Advent Calendar

No advent calendar yet? No fear. Thanks to Mibo, we have access to this print-and-make-at-home project for FREE! Doing awaywith over chintzy-ness often seen on advent calendars they have designed this simple and chic calendar to bring the essence of Christmas to your home in a non-frilly way! The calendar takes about 5-15 mins to make - all you need is a ruler, a craft knife and a gluestick. Full instructions are included. Follow this link to download: http://mibostudio.co.uk/freeadventcalendar

And while you are busying yourself in craft corner why not knock up their little Christmas Creatures as well?? These little chaps have just been featured in December's issue of Elle Decoration and at just £3.50 these printable versions are a nice and cheap way to give your home a bit of Christmas cuteness. Each critter takes only 5-10 mins to make and everyone will think you are very clever. http://mibo.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=91a10ffc8b5b85a125f7c079e&id=d8808fff1d&e=e96298b2b1

*images and copy from http://mibostudio.co.uk

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Party Feet

Warm weather = party season, and thanks to the early arrival of Summer, my social calendar is already in full swing.

For me, the party season means I can flaunt pretty summer dresses and a hot pair of killer heels. However, a night out is often cut too short when those heels literally kill me with pain and I have to pull out a pair of daggy rubber thongs.

Not only do the thongs ruin my outfit, they're also bulky and dirty and then I have to hold onto my heels because they never fit into my evening bag. Thanks to Sydney Industrial Designer, Michelle Chung I now have a fantastic solution!!

Chinelas by Michelle are the sexiest pair of foldable flats I've ever seen - perfect for this little socialite!

These little inventions come with a massive range of features:

• Despite the delicate appearance, the outsoles are tough enough to wear every day on hard surfaces like concrete and will protect feet from glass and other hazardous.

• Chinelas by Michelle are small enough (just 240 grams) to be tucked into your handbag, gym bag or carry-on luggage. So small you can even keep them in your back jeans pocket!

• Chinelas by Michelle are the only foldable shoe on the market that folds outwards with soles that can lock together; avoid touching worn, dirty soles!

• After swapping from heels to Chinelas by Michelle, The satin pouch transforms into a sling to carry your heels home in.

• A zip pocket inside the pouch is the perfect place to stash your cash and a lippy, meaning you can travel light and just take the pretty satin Chinelas pouch out and about instead of a handbag.

• Available in a range of tempting colours such as silver, ruby red, classic black and plum purple - something to go with every outfit.

• Priced from $39.95, they are affordable enough to ensure more wear out of your heels, and save on cab fare getting home to ease aching sore feet!

You can buy them now from http://www.chinelasbymichelle.com/product.html

I can't wait for my pair to arrive!!!

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Limelight - Margaret McAteer (Screen Printer)


On a recent trip to Tasmania, I visited an artist run cooperative called Inka Gallery. I fell in love with many of the artworks in the store especially the amazing screenprints created by artist, Margaret McAteer. Margaret's use of bold colour, vintage images and tounge-in-cheek political humour really struck a cord with me so I'm very happy to be profiling her today.

How did you become interested in screen printing?
I grew up in Sydney and there were a lot of posters (mostly) screen printed, plastered over building and renovation sites in the CBD and these fascinated me.

What inspires your work?
People inspire my work and this leads me into politics. I have been interested in politics ever since I can remember.

How effective is art used as a tool to communicate a political or environmental messages?
Art can be very effective in communicating political views, this becomes obvious if you look at old posters from all over the world. If you add humour to it I find the artwork is more successful in getting its message across.
I am currently working on an exhibition using nursery rhymes, fairy tales and politics.

Do you have a favourite artwork?
I don’t have a favourite artwork but I like to collect books on posters , both present day and historical for inspiration. Historical advertising and political posters can be simple, bold and very clever.

Price Range?
It varies depending on how many prints are in the edition. I produce my political posters in small editions. The price ranges is $100 - $200.

Where can we purchase/see your work?
It is only available at the Inka gallery in Tasmania, and can be purchased through the gallery directly or via our website: www.inkagallery.org.au. Examples of mine and other artist artwork can be seen on Inka's website.

Do you have a favourite retail shop in Hobart ?
I don’t really have a favourite, I like Inka Gallery as it exposes me to many different art forms and artists, but I will also go into any jewellery shop.

John, Margaret and Dorothy Bendigo 1952

To view more of Margarets artwork or purchase a print please visit http://www.inkagallery.org.au/.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Love Colour

I love the happy feeling you get from a home splashed with a kaleidoscope of colour. This house was featured in Real Living (Christmas 2009) and I was very impressed by the bold use of colour especially in the kids rumpus room. I've always loved floor cushions and the use of gigantic floor cushions to make a low seated sofa is wonderful idea.

Daul a Beauty

* I've just found out (21st November 09) that Daul Kim took her own life today. May she continue to light up the heavens like she did the camera. ox

I was perusing the November/December 09 issue of RUSH when I was blown away by a photo shoot with Singapore born model Daul Kim.

Daul Kim was definitely tapped on the head by the beauty wand when she was born. A stunning and engaging model with an ability to envelope the camera with her quirky charisma.

The photo shoot is a brilliant example of how magic can be created when a talented photographer, model and stylist work in harmony. Credit definitely needs to go to Beau Grealy (photography) and Stevie Dance (Fashion Editor).

The November/December issue of RUSH is still on the stands and I’d highly recommend grabbing a copy to view the full photo shoot with Daul Kim.

All images from Rush magazine. See more details http://russhmagazine.com/russh/home.html

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Swedish Design

How does Sweden, a small country on the other side of the world create so many effortlessly cool and creative individuals?

Camilla Engman is just one of these creative Swedes. She’s a talented illustrator, paper artist and painter. Her artwork is playful and it makes me smile. I love the way she layers her designs with interesting characters, patterns and colours.
Her designs are created from home so it's not a wonder her house and work space are fun and relaxed - see the images by clicking this link http://www.sharesomecandy.com/workspaces-camilla-engman.html

To see more of Camilla’s work, visit her website or you can purchase her designs via an online shop and Aussie company Third Draw Down has commissioned one of her art works for their signature tea towels.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Limelight – Sanaz (Sanaz Designs)

I met Sanaz about 5 years ago and was immediately captivated by her vivacious personality.
Sanaz’s love of design and fashion has always been apparent so I was very excited when she made the jump and started her own label “Sanaz Designs”.

From humble beginnings as an accessory brand, Sanaz Designs has grown very quickly into a fully fledged fashion brand. Her range is sexy, comfortable and flattering and I am always greeted with lovely comments from complete strangers when I wear one of her designs.
Today, I’m giving you an insight into the girl behind the brand.

You've worked in fashion for a long time but what made you decide to start your own business?
I’ve worked in fashion for ten years and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I have always been passionate about fashion and can see the positive impact it can have on your self-esteem.

I have spent years styling people and helping them create feelings of amazement they didn’t even know they could feel about themselves through fashion.

So why did I start my own business you ask? Why not?! I can’t think of anything else that I could offer more passion and love toward. I now have the pleasure of creating beautiful pieces of fashion that transform women from the mundane into the new and exciting.

Fashion is fickle, how do you decide on a new range?
Fashion is fickle and I don’t always conform to all of it’s dos, don’ts, trends, or colours. I find my inspiration through women, life, love, culture and art. Then take the time to meticulously interpret what I hold to be beautiful and elegant, in the most practical and yet luxurious ways.

Fashion may be fickle, but beauty and elegance never fades.

What would you like your customers to gain from your designs?
I’d like my customers to gain a slice of seamlessly stitched elegance and beauty, which acts like a key unlocking their inner potential.

A piece of fashion they can treasure through the times like a dear friend who has shared with them many special moments, but has yet many more to come.

Hot pick for Summer?

My hot pick for the summer has to be the Bella Dress….
If this dress could talk, everyone captivated by it would hear sexy, flirty, feminine and exotic sweet nothings gently wrapped up into warm air caressing their ears, brightening their eyes and leaving its image behind long after you’re gone.
Now that’s hot!

Where can we find you?
Rocks Moonlight Market, Paddington Market, Manly Steyne Markets, Manly Market.
Events: Fashion Weekend, Nov 12-15th.
Store Stockists: Belinda’s Store, Yamba, Blossum & Co, Grafton - Cauchois & Calo, Collaroy – Cauchois & Calo, Mosman - Dea Lopes, Mosman - Emporium Bellingen, Bellingen – Hawks General Store, Orange – Mary & Me, Dubbo – Saliba, Dee Why - Savvi Galleri, Coffs Harbour – Surreal Life, Manly – The Boutique, Kempsy – The Boutique, Taree.
Price range of items?
Prices ranges from $55 for an antique brass cage pendant to $399 for a lace evening dress.

Your favourite retail therapy is?
What isn’t my favourite form of retail therapy?

I have to confess that I love retail therapy in all its forms. Fashion, shoes, jewellery, bags, accessories, cosmetics, décor and well even food. I am a consumer in every sense of the word, however I would rather buy one magnificently, beautiful, quality item of great grandeur than ten lesser quality items to the same value.

It goes with out saying that I love nothing more than fashion therapy! I particularly love pristine kept vintage, one off pieces, all things unique, individual, heart felt and of course items which are beautifully crafted with the utmost quality.…

I love treasure hunting and this for me is very therapeutic!

If you’re inspired by Sanaz’s work, support her by visiting one of her retail outlets. If you want more information on Sanaz Designs visit http://www.sanaz.com.au/ or join her
facebook fan page

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Print and Make Yourself (plus FREE 2010 calendar)

I’ve always found making paper dolls, origami and other paper crafts very therapeutic. I love the challenge of folding a crisp, straight line or using scissors to cut around a corner without damaging a perfect curve.

It’s for all these reasons that Mibo print-and-make-at-home projects caught my attention. http://www.mibostudio.co.uk/

Based in the UK, Mibo specializes in surface pattern as well as a range of cute as a button DIY paper projects.

“Wise Guys” and the new “Christmas Creations” can be purchase for £1.50 - £3.50. The instructions and templates are sent to your email ready to download and print. The projects are guaranteed to keep you entertained for at least 5 mins! I love the end result -

Mibo has also produced a 2010 calendar with gorgeous illustrations for each month of the year. It can be purchased for only £2.40 http://www.mibostudio.co.uk/#/mibo-deluxe-calendar/4536426928

And because they’re nice guys, Mibo is also offering a FREE 2010 year-at-a-glance that can be downloaded from their website http://www.mibostudio.co.uk/#/2010-calendar-details/4536336646 - Thanks Mibo, you rock!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reuse, Recycle and Make Sheep?

While we are debating over Emission Trading Schemes, Global Warming and other environmental topics, designer Jean-Luc Cornec has solved one environmental landfill issue – recycling old telephones and cords.

The Museum of Communications in Frankfurt is the current home for these intriguing and cleaver “Telephonic Sheep” sculptures! Check out their feet!!!

I love one bloggers comment "maybe this is where optic fibre is spun from!"

...there's always one black sheep in the family :)

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friday Freebies

Happy Friday everyone!! What better way to head into the weekend than with a funky freebie.

I discovered the delightful Amy Moss and her blog “eat drink chic” a little while ago and immediately fell in love with her style. It was like she was reading my heart with every image and blog she was posting.

Amy is a talented graphic designer who not only shares stylish ideas with the world but also creates the cuteist free DIY projects for her avid audience.

Some of my favourite projects are listed below which you can download for free from her blog http://www.eatdrinkchic.com/archives.cfm/category/free-stuff.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sister Act

I have always been surrounded by handcrafts. My Nan’s impeccable needlework leaves most people in awe and my mum was a full time artist for most of my life.

It’s not a wonder I felt a strong connection with Lizzie Fortunato Jewels, a label run by USA twin sisters Elizabeth and Kathryn Fortunato. They produce beautiful accessories that are influenced by their grandmothers craft skills. Their accessories are incredibly unique and feature a range of embellishments and detailing that has a wholesome, handmade feel whilst screaming unique style.

Some of my favourite pieces from their website are listed below. To ogle at more of their work visit http://www.lizziefortunatojewels.com/collections/

I love how the little flags on this necklace stand to attention and take hold of any outfit

Since cutting my hair short again I can't live without a headband..... these examples are super funky

I love the little bows on this necklace.... how pretty

They can also do rock star chic...... studs are back in girls!

They make a plait look so cool

All images from Lizzie Fortunato Jewels http://www.lizziefortunatojewels.com/collections/

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Limelight - Toby and Dannielle Clutterbuck (Favourite Things)

Pittwater Road, Dee Why was the last place I thought I’d find a delightful retail store that would captivate my imagination. “Favourite Things Homewares Emporium” is a hidden gem behind the hustle and bustle of Dee Why’s busiest road. Operated by Dannielle and Toby Clutterbuck, the store is a beautiful fusion of handcrafts, homewares and a quaint café which is so beautifully styled you’ll never want to leave.

I’m happy to introduce you to Dannielle and Toby Clutterbuck:

Why did you decide to open Favourite Things?
We originally took over the secondhand furniture store which Dannielle’s parents had owned for a number of years. We knew from the start we wanted to make it our own and had some ideas of what we wanted to do but it has been a gradual evolution into what it is today. The most recent addition, the espresso bar was decided upon because it is something we both have always wanted and it really seemed like a perfect fit for the store. We have always believed that you must love what you are doing and our store is a reflection of this. To us it is the little store that could, with a lot of hard work, perseverance and against expectations we have created our dream.

What can people expect when they walk into your store?
The unexpected! We aim to offer a complete experience from gorgeous aromas to exciting displays to captivate your imagination and provide inspiration. We have customers who spend hours in the store chilling out with a coffee and delicious cupcake and browsing around hunting out something special for a gift for someone or pieces for their own home.

Young children to adults alike are delighted by our range of sweets and have a fantastic time choosing out which to have. Our focus is in products that are classic and not mainstream and that will continue to delight generations to come. We hear everyday that our store is a gorgeous little haven in the middle of Dee Why a place you can come and forget about everything for a little while and this is exemplified by our broad range of customers who keep coming back again and again.

Favourite item in-store?
Oh gosh, that is a tough one. It is hard to choose as we put great consideration to everything we choose for the shop, from the toast and cupcakes to the coffee and the gift cards to the homewares. If we don’t love it and think our customers will love it, it doesn't get to our store. Although it is a good thing we work so hard because rarely a day goes by that we don’t have a cupcake or sweet treat and we have been known to go to the store a ten at night to get sweets to have while we watch a DVD!

You're married, how do you manage being around each other at work and at home?
Well we have been working together full time for a few months now as Toby has just left his job to come and work in the shop. It does take some work and it was an adjustment at first but if you remember that you are a team and working for the same goals you find a way to make it work. We also have different areas of focus, Toby is currently focusing on expanding our online store, www.favouritethings.com.au and I’m (Dannielle) focusing on new product ranges and head turning displays in-store.

Any new products coming into store that you want to tell us about?
We have some fabulous Christmas decorations and gifts for the festive season this year, we love Christmas and so do our customers!

We also are very excited to have Walnut shoes for ladies, we have had lots of people asking for them and the company which originally only did children's shoes have listened to their customers brought them out for ladies too which we love. Favourite place for a lazy brunch?Well, we have two beaches we love to go to one close to our home which we ride to and another near our store in Dee Why. We grab a takeaway coffee and some toast and just sit and stare at the water, it is very relaxing and there is something very rejuvenating about it.

If you'd like the look of "Favourite Things" visit their retail store at:
902 Pittwater Rd Dee Why 2099 NSW Australia

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


And I thought my husband was obsessed with Lego..... A couple of years back he reconstructed our kitchen plans with Lego. At first he was using blocks from his treasured Lego box until a friend told him about the virtual Lego programme http://designbyme.Lego.com/en-us/default.aspx. After a week he had built the entire renovation with Lego - very helpful, but a little obsessive. Obviously this designer shares a similar obsession and I love the end result.

Thank you, The Cool Hunter for sharing this with me. You made my day http://www.thecoolhunter.com.au/design

Sunday, October 25, 2009

DIY – Chunky Chain Heart Necklace

I came across this sexy gold necklace during my daily visit to Garance Doré’s über cool blog by the same name. Garance is an unbelievably talented French illustrator/photographer and all-round creative type with a penchant for fashion. You can check out her blog at the following website http://www.garancedore.fr/en/

Anyway, I’ve been obsessing over the necklace ever since I spotted it, so first thing Saturday I bought some supplies and made my own super sexy, chunky chain heart necklace!!!

If you’re interested in making one for yourself all you need is the following:
  • 40-50cm of chunky gold chain (I found mine at Empire Beads in Surry Hills. They have an online store http://www.empirebeads.com.au/)
  • Heart pendant
  • 2 jump rings
  • Hook clasp

Total time to make = 2 minutes
Total cost = $5


  1. Use a pair of wire cutters to trim the chain to size

  2. Use pliers to attach jump ring and hook clasp to end of chain

  3. Use another jump ring to attach the heart pendant

Ta-da! All finished in 2 minutes!!!

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