Louise Olsen from Dinosaur Designs
Louise Olsen, Stephen Ormandy and Liane Rossler met while studying drawing and painting at a Sydney art school in 1983. They formed the company Dinosaur Designs in 1985 and began selling handprinted fabrics and painted jewellery at Paddington Markets. Dinosaur Designs now stands as one of the most visible and successful design-based businesses in Australia, operating its own stores in Sydney, Melbourne and New York.
We caught up with Louise to find out more about Dinosaur designs, as well as hear about their new collection.
What’s inspiring you at the moment?
With the crisp, clear nights, we’ve enjoyed through the winter, I’ve found the Moon very captivating – watching it travel in ever changing scale and proportion, stage by stage revealing its wonderful round organic forms. It’s silver tones, reflections and shadows are very inspiring for jewellery and objects.
Your collections are centred around different themes, or ideas, many focusing on different materials. What are some of the more interesting materials you like to work with and the challenges involved?
Our eco-friendly perspective has us experimenting with bio-resin. Finding the right technique or formula to get it to work has been a real challenge!
I find that each material has its own special quality that offers me a new way to express an idea. It’s always surprising and interesting combining materials and seeing how they respond and react. Putting the unexpected together inevitably opens new doors for ideas. Recently, for example, we’ve been combining resin with silver, stones, feather, wood, coral, cotton and cork. I’ve also found a silver which is like a modelling clay. I’m very excited about its potential.
For a business, Dinosaur Designs has an impressive environmental/philanthropic record, including being carbon neutral. Has this affected your competitiveness in the market?
Our environmental and philanthropic activities come from our heart so they bear little relationship to competitiveness. They are focused around issues that are important to us as a company – issues that we feel passionate about as individuals and in turn bring to the group. Being carbon neutral for example may not be the easiest path to take but we incorporate it into our business plan and we make it work.
You have opened stores in Melbourne, Sydney and New York. How have your designs been received in the different markets?
There are people in every city who are attracted to our way of mixing design and colour. What varies is the way a city responds and reacts. Some pieces resonate more in different areas, so sales of that piece may be higher. I think the local environment is very influential on taste. Textures and colours play such a vital role in reminding us of special places and times in our lives.
You are about to release a new collection called “Sun”. Tell us a little about it.
Yes…Leonard Cohen’s line “And the sun pours down like honey”. That was the starting point for this collection and those lines really inspired it. Resin is like honey – inky, transparent swirls of sunlight and sunshine, dazzling and shimmering flecks of light. This is a very shiny, glowing range. It’s been wonderful capturing the feeling of light in a bowl or in a piece of jewellery. It’s quite personal too. There are many people in our lives who touch us like a ray of sunshine. My sister Jane was one in mine. Earlier this year I lost Jane to cancer and we are donating a percentage of sales from the Sun collection to Cancer Council.
When will it be released?
It’s available in stores from mid October 2009.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Our upcoming collection – Moon, will be in stores next year. We’re also exploring the sculptural element of bones and fossils for a future collection.