We chat to the design duo behind Dinosaur Designs, Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy and talk business and branding…
You live, create and work together. What’s the trick to a happy home and successful business?
People often ask us what it is like to work together and we’re very lucky because we have a lovely harmony together as work colleagues, as well as in our relationship. We understand each other’s passions and strengths and will often work on different elements of the brand – Louise tends to do more jewellery while I gravitate towards homewares – but in the end will always produce a collection that is representative of the both of us. We also both share the same passion for creating at home and in the studio, which is why running and designing for Dinosaur Designs has become a way of life for us.
How did you come up with your name, Dinosaur Designs?
We were art students in our early twenties looking to make more money to buy art materials and pay the rent. We started making small pieces and selling them and suddenly we were picked up by some great stores, and then noticed by Vogue. From there the company took on a life of its own. The name came one night when we’re sitting in a restaurant called No Names and throwing ideas around. It was the eighties and New Romanticism and Punk were big and we were listening to bands like Devo, Talking Heads and The Sex Pistols. We consider ourselves more of an art movement rather than a commercial organisation. Dinosaur Designs just seemed to work, it’s a surrealist type of name, and it’s a name that people always remember.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about your story, how you first started and how you’ve evolved?
Louise and I started Dinosaur Designs in our graduate year of art school thirty years ago. We were good friends for the first two years of school and always used to pair up on projects – we naturally felt very comfortable working together and so it made sense to formalise our partnership and Dinosaur Designs was born. Originally we sold hand painted fabrics and jewellery, now we sell a large, constantly evolving collection of handmade jewellery and homewares made from resin, precious metals, ceramics and glass, in stores and galleries around the world, including seven stand-alone stores in Australia, New York and London.
You are based in Sydney, can you tell our readers a little bit about your studio and where your inspiration comes from?
Our studio is in Strawberry Hills, Sydney. It’s a very important place for us almost like an extension of our home. Light pours in through the windows and helps to create a happy environment, which has a big effect on what’s created and produced in it.
Are there any exciting projects you are working on you can share with our readers?
To celebrate our 30th anniversary, we recently launched our Rainforest collection. We looked at the very essence of our visual language and, as nature’s always been a core inspiration it seemed fitting that a collection inspired by rainforests with its lush environment full of wonder and full of life, should mark our anniversary.
Are there any collaborations in 2016 that we should be aware of?
Not so much collaborations but we have a new exhibition we’ve just started work on. We also have a book we’ve been working on with Penguin on “The Art of Dinosaur Designs”.
How would you describe Dinosaur Designs signature style?
Dinosaur Designs is bold yet delicate and soft yet strong. We are most known for our resin work but we also design in sterling silver, brass, copper, gold, and glass.
You’ve recently opened your first flagship store in London. Can you tell our readers a little more about the store?
Our first London store is at The Ham Yard Village. The interiors of the store have been developed in collaboration with renowned interior designer, Ian Halliday, of Burley Katon Halliday. We think of it as a colourful jewel box.
What are your roles during the design process?
We’re Creative Directors and Designers.
You have collaborated up with some exciting brands, who has been the most exciting to work with and who would you most like to work with next?
We’d really love to do another collaboration with Louis Vuitton.
What is an average day like for the both of you?
Louise – It’s usually a 7.00am start. We live near the beach so a morning swim is the best way to start. Try and have breakfast at home. We drop our daughter Camille off at school before heading to the studio with a stop on the way for a coffee at one of our favourite cafés, Three Blue Ducks.
The first thing we do is catch-up with Richard our General Manager and the team, and then it’s onto emails. Fortunately, most of my time at the studio is spent designing, but at times I can get pulled in different directions, so it becomes a juggling act. My day does vary depending where I’m at with a design.
I try and leave work by 6.00pm to spend time with our daughter and cook dinner and reflect. As a designer you never really stop thinking about what you’re working on. When you’re in the process of creating you never stop thinking about the endless possibilities or what you need to do next – maybe it’s a colour or the form – it totally sweeps you up.
Do you have particular piece you have designed that you are most proud of?
Because each piece is made by hand each has their own idiosyncrasies. Sometimes I see a piece and just fall in love with it, but I have to let it go to store, but then being a designer is as much about letting go and getting pieces out in to the world as much as it is about creating.
When you’re not busy working, what do you do to unwind and relax?
Louise: I love going for swims and walks at Bronte Beach, there’s something so refreshing and invigorating about being close to the ocean.
Do you have any favourite spots around London to eat and shop?
We love dining at Bocca Di Lupo, Nopi, The River Café, Granger & Co.
When it comes to shopping we love going to Dover Street Market, Selfridges, Liberty; there’s so many great stores to see.
With Christmas approaching, what advice would you give our readers for shopping for the perfect gift?
Come to Dinosaur Designs for all your gifting needs!