This month as we explore some big-name Design Duo’s, we couldn’t go past these local legends, shaking the creative mold and kicking goals in their respective industries. Here are our top five local picks.
Romance Was Born
Australian fashion label Romance Was Born is the theatrical, outlandish love-child of local design duo Alana Plunkett and Luke Sales. The pair met while studying at Sydney Technical College, have since carved their niche in the Australian fashion scene with their distinctively bright, bold and beautiful catwalk shows.
In their beginning, at the Fourth International Support Awards in Italy, the pair remarkably turned down the chance to work with the incredible John Gallianov – something few designers can say they’ve done. The risk paid off as they pursued their passion, curating their creativity and starting the inimitable label in 2005, having gained media attention at Australian Fashion Week.
The label’s signature design is extravagant, using intricate hand-worked details such as beading, sequins, embroidery and bold prints, forever dancing the colourful line between art and fashion. Their catwalk shows are immersive experiences that look to provoke emotional responses with their dreamscape, grand and whimsical vision engulfing its’ audience.
The duo’s list of collaborations is not only extensive, but impressive, with the likes of big name productions Marvel, Disney and Lego, as well as dual Archibald Winner Del Kathryn Barton and Sydney Theatre Company. More so, the label’s reach attracts attention from true individualists, being worn on international platforms by artists including Cate Blanchett, Nicki Minaj, Karen O, Cindy Lauper, Miley Cyrus, Grimes and more.
As result of their brilliance, the label’s embellished fashion and textile collections, are proudly exhibited at The National Gallery of Victoria and Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. Not only this, they are former Residents of The Office Space and Paramount Royalty, having shot a recent collection at our award-winning offices in the iconic Paramount House. Feel the romance, and shop the Seven Wonders collection.
Arguably Australia’s most iconic and celebrated design business, Dinosaur Designs is most recognizable by their eclectic signature style of tactile shapes and bright, bold colours.
The business was originally founded by long-term creative couple Stephen Ormandy and Louise Olsen, with a third partner Liane Rossler in 1985. Louise and Stephen met at art school and with an immediate connection, began designing jewellery together and selling their pieces at local Sydney market stalls.
Carving an incredible path to success from it’s humble beginnings, the studio’s handmade, one-off designs are it’s biggest point of difference in the industry. With no two pieces the same, each creation has the upmost integrity, from sketching to being hand-poured from their Sydney based studio in Redfern.
Both respective artists in their own right and with more than 30 years in the business, Dinosaur Designs are a household name, both locally and internationally. With Australian flagship stores in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, they also have an impressive space in New York stocked with their signature jewellery, art and home wares.
Winning many accolades over the years, the duo’s creative output has won Dinosaur Designs numerous awards, inciting astonishing collaborations with Louis Vuitton and Paul Smith, and exhibitions at London’s formidable Victoria and Albert Museum. Their unique designs have also been worn by Kate Winslett, Elle Macpherson, Hilary Swank, Rachel Weiss and more. Stay tuned as the couple continue to push the creative boundaries, branching into rugs, furniture and more.
The design duo behind Amico Agency are our in-house resident creatives. Having met while sharing studio space in Brisbane, Mel was working as a designer and Drew as a designer and musician, when their friends were quick to set them up. After years of working in separate studios they launched The Eatery Group, a hospitality consultancy in 2016, and a year later Amico was born from a desire to better service the pair’s non-hospitality clients.
Amico acts as a multidisciplinary design agency, specialising in branding and design for lifestyle, travel and professional service clients. With a key focus on hospitality branding stemming from their parent company The Eatery Group, both businesses combine design, branding and marketing. With the additional skills of their two operational consultants Sunny and Kiehyon, Mel and Drew have created a unique team equipped to service hospitality clients from inception through to opening and beyond.
While both are talented designers, the couple’s dynamic is the perfect professional balance behind the scenes. With Mel looking after design and strategy, quoting, finances and general running of the business, Drew sinks his teeth into creative strategy. With their combined skill-set, the agency serves as long term creative partners, with their clients considering the pair their creative directors, and a part the team.
The duo have some big projects lined up this year including the opening of a new Melbourne café for a client this month, and two high profile restaurant launches on Sydney Harbour at the end of the year.
Local young guns Will Canning and Maurice Santiago met through mutual friends in high school and through a shared love of music, started the independent record label Burning Rose.
Born out of necessity, the duo were already independently releasing music for their own band Death Bells and working closely with other artists and projects, when they made the decision to collectively call it a label. Wanting to provide a platform for their talented friends and constant collaborators, Burning Rose is run inclusively through the exchange of ideas and common lines of thought.
Although Will and Maurice both have successful international tours under their belt, the label serves as their main creative outlet. Burning Rose is a community representing a wide-range of artists, and they aren’t interested in running the traditional stale, one-dimensional record label.
Opened in February, the creatives now operate a brick and mortar shop front on Oxford Street, creating a tangible space for people to engage and open a dialogue with them directly. Stocking their own records and merchandise, they also work with other local organisations such as China Heights Gallery, Lilac City Studio and ACP, to showcase what the broader community is doing.
In their two short years of operations, the duo have put out an impressive 22 releases, with most acts originating from Sydney & Melbourne. Fostering a real community-focus, the boys have presented an audacious array of artists whose voices may have gone otherwise unheard. Keep an eye on what the guys are up to here.
The Nest Creative Space
Husband and Wife duo Missy Gilbert and Daniel Bourne are the ultimate creative collaborators. Both are musicians and artists respectively, having met 12 years ago when Missy was playing a show with her all-girl indie band, and it was pretty much love at first sight. Fast-forward to 2012 and the couple co-founded Sydney’s thriving artist community The Nest Creative Space.
The Nest is a cultural incubator for local artists and a proud holistic and innovative community for it’s Collective Creatives. Its purpose is to motivate and inspire, but also to nurture a deep sense of belonging, allowing growth and reflective space for the artists’ personal practice.
Motivated by the lack of space for their own large-scale creative productions, The Nest was born and designed to be a dynamic, shape shifting, multi-use melting pot. It houses artisan studios, performance art and music shows, immersive dining experiences such as Nights at The Nest, and much more. The duo believes it’s of cultural importance to keep artists in communities, to create space for expression and connection, and this is really felt throughout the space.
After a recent warehouse upgrade the new Nest feels like a bright artist precinct, with a street level gallery, communal workshop, Zen Room and Cloud Room, as well as the very special Nancy’s Greenhouse inspired by Missy’s late grandmother. The couple have personally renovated it through much blood, sweat and tears, and it’s now the proud home of 40 permanent creatives, with a high rotation of events, concept installations, exhibitions, open days and interactive dining experiences.