We designed our new collection — Solarize — deep in Covid lockdown in mid-2021. Remember that time? Everyone stuck at home, homeschooling kids, neighbourhood walks, daily case numbers. Repeat. Repeat, Repeat. For a design company with its roots deeply planted in joy that finds inspiration in the theatre, the gallery, the ocean, the bush, music, food and people — all the celebratory things OUTSIDE our homes! — it was tough. Where do you find inspiration when limited to just one hour of exercise out of the house everyday? Where do you find the brightness for your creative brain when you are deep in the homeschooling weeds?
The design duo gets to work
Luckily, Miss Jones and I could snatch an hour here and there in our Surry Hills studio. Husbands doing the morning shift of schooling at home while we immersed ourselves in our archives of samples and the soon-to-be distant memories of our travels. Indulging our passion for design and colour came rather easily when the alternative was algebra and endless snack-making at home! Coupled with the flow state that we enter when we are together as a design team, our studio became a sanctuary in those months. Silent, focused and free from the 11am bulletin from Gladys.
Instead of focusing on our humdrum lockdown life, we dreamed of summer in Sydney and beyond. Our new collection, Solarize, is inspired by the radiance and healing power of the sun. As the clouds break, warmth and elation can be felt in every cell of your body. Colours become sun-kissed, flowers are bountiful. As we kept designing and designing, it became obvious that this range would be a celebration of bright new days ahead. Solarize would embody a reinvention for all of us.
Behind the scenes of our photo shoot
Ironically when we came to shoot the samples for Solarize in September 2021 we were once again back to lockdown restrictions. Trying to find a house to shoot the collection in, coupled with see-saw restrictions proved too hard, so we pivoted once again. We were so lucky to be able to shoot at Sun Studios (aptly named!) in Alexandria, Sydney. It’s a big open studio space with miles of room for tables and tables of our samples, plus fresh fruit, food props, plants and flowers.
We love shooting our products in beautiful homes, but we equally love a studio shoot. It just means we have to be extra creative with the backdrops and bring in absolutely everything! We simply rolled up our sleeves and kept smiling through our masks. Keep calm and carry on!
Smell the flowers…or fruit?
We are nothing without the team on shoots. As always, we had our flower wizard Leah on board. Her brief was to create colour explosions in our signature palette. Unfortunately life had other plans. Although it was Spring and the flower markets did deliver some goods, Covid supply was low and prices were way up! Time to pivot! Again.
We decided to use “fruit as flowers” as it is reminiscent of the abundance of the new collection. It’s also super fun to play with and create crazy unexpected shapes and combinations too. The camera just loves our products paired with colourful fruit. It made our job of getting the winning shot even easier. Something about handmade products combined with other natural elements always works. Luckily Chris Chen, our able photographer was on board, always ready to get busy on our marathon shoot!
Leah uses chicken wire cut to fit inside the vase that the flower stems are passed through. This means all of the flowers stand to attention without minutes (hours?!) of flower wrangling for the perfect shot!
Green thumb adventures
We always source our plants from the multiple garden centres in Dural. We’re always spoiled for choice with the variety. All of the big nurseries buy from these guys in Dural so we know the quality is fantastic. Especially when you are selecting every single plant based on its modelling ability! No dead leaves or asymmetrical weird plant shapes allowed!
Unfortunately this time around, plants were hard to come by. It seems everyone in Covid lockdown got their green thumb on and the shelves were bare! Luckily we managed to scour some plants up from Newtown to Bondi. No nursery was left un-entered!
Lights, camera, action!
Stretched over four days we spent the first two days shooting the collection photos. This means changing backdrops, sets, furniture and colour palettes every few shots. Then it was on to two days of shooting the product photography (the single shots you see on the website).
It’s always such a delight seeing all of our new designs stretched out on the tables at the shoot. Usually, our assistant John has to employ his precision supergluing skills when something is inevitably dropped. Typically when I’m trying to create some gravity-defying stack of products. Or attempting to pick up 20 vases at once! Don’t even talk about the photoshoot when a whole table collapsed. We all have PTSD from that experience. We watched a whole table of one-off ceramics crash to the ground. (Deep breaths!)
Luckily, this shoot was a dream. We had no major disasters. The products looked incredible. The gorgeous models were full of energy and positivity. Our team worked together like a dream. We feel so proud of ourselves for working our magic around a global pandemic from design to launch. We hope you love Solarize as much as we do!