Featured Designers: Me and Amber

FK talks to Karen and Amber from Sydney based label, me and amber.

Tell us about your duo – me and amber.
me and amber is an image making and graphic design business based in Sydney. We handmake a range of objects, including screenprinted greeting cards, limited edition artworks, linen cushions and tea towels. All our work is lovingly created in Australia… we wouldn’t have it any other way!

We began the business as a way of fulfilling our passion for design and making things. After experimenting with different techniques and ideas, we found a real love for screenprinting, and put together a small range of greeting cards. Initially we popped into various stores, small box of cards in hand, and were extremely lucky with the response. We are now fortunate enough to be stocked in a number of beautiful stores around Australia, and as of a month ago, one in Norway!

What are your backgrounds and how has your collaboration changed since you started? We’ve been friends forever (quite literally, since we were four!!), and have studied together through both school and uni. In our final year of design (visual communications at UTS) we were fortunate enough to collaborate on our major project. We just loved working together, and it turned a stressful time into something really enjoyable. This got us seriously thinking about starting up a partnership, and me and amber evolved from there!

Our collaboration is essentially the same now as it has always been. We have always had part time jobs on the side, so the main difference now is that the business is taking up more and more of our time, which is really exciting.

Over time, we have had to take on all sorts of roles and responsibilities beyond design and making. This has been quite challenging as neither of us are very business minded, but we are learning along the way!

Describe your style and where you get your inspiration from?

The essence of our style comes from a love of simplicity – we truly believe in the principle less is more.
Our work combines bold silhouette graphics with more delicate typographic touches inspired by old books. We adore everything about old books… the tactile quality of their worn pages, beautifully refined typography, hardback covers in more shades than you could dream of, and their sense of memory and nostalgia.

Inspiration comes from everywhere. Walking down the street and noticing something you’ve never seen before, old shopfront signage, an amazing window display, visiting our favourite galleries… there are too many amazing and beautiful things around, you can’t help but be inspired!

What do you love most about designing together? It’s not like work at all! We are the best of friends, so we are in a really lucky situation, where we are the best bosses / work colleagues you could ever hope for! We share similar values and aesthetics, so it is really easy to bounce ideas around and we both get it. We don’t know how anyone could start a business on their own!!

What is your workspace like?
We both work from home, so our workspaces are filled with lovely things that we’ve collected over the years – artworks that we’ve fallen in love with (many by our wonderfully creative friends), beautiful art and design books, handmade ceramics pieces, heaps of old books and magazines.

We screenprint from our homes and meet a few times a week at karen’s, where we have a small studio space.

Working from home has its ups and downs: the flexibility is great, but it can also be a little bit difficult to find a good work life balance. While we try to keep things organised, and put everything in its right place, there are times when work overtakes the entire house (at the moment our dining table has turned into a work bench, and the hallway is an obstacle course!).

What are your plans for me and amber in 2011?
In the next few months we’ll be bringing out some new designs across our range. We’ll also be launching a couple of new products, but they aren’t quite finalised yet… we’re really keen to get some t-shirts out.

By the end of next year, we hope to focus solely on the business, and give up our casual jobs. Things are slowly building momentum with me and amber, so fingers crossed everything goes according to plan.

Our dream of one day opening our very own shop never leaves our minds, but 2011 is probably a little too soon…!


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