FK chats to Tess of beautiful iconic Sydney based label Polli and their inspiring light filled creative space.
Tell us a little about your range and what kind of things you create in your space?
Our current jewellery collection is inspired by the seaside, Australian flora and fauna, filigree feathers and exotic flamingos! We’ve been making stainless steel jewellery for over 10 years and in that time our range has evolved and grown with 100s of designs. Our timber range is only 2 years old and it’s been great exploring different painted, printed and screen printed finishes. Last year we also produced a wooden flower press to add to our sweet Polli children’s range. In our studio we create jewellery, working in mediums like stainless steel and plantation ply. All of our products are made in Australia and they’re all finished in our studio here in Stanmore. We also create cups of Chai and delicious lunches in our little kitchenette.
What is your work space like and what things do you like to surround you when you work?
Our studio is a beautiful, converted Ginger Beer Factory in Stanmore. The studios are designed around a central, leafy courtyard they’re protected from the busy streets with high rendered walls creating a quiet sanctuary inside. The front of our studio is the sunny side, the two front doors are as wide as the whole space so when we open them we get lots of fresh air and light, integrating the inside and outside spaces. The studio is organised into two levels – downstairs is our production area, storage and kitchen; upstairs is our design and admin area. The space is a mix of white walls, solid hardwood beams and exposed brick; the floors are a combination of salvaged timber floor boards and polished concrete. We have large, charcoal pin boards on the walls covered with inspiration from samples to greeting cards, photos to magazine clippings. While the studio is quiet compared to the busy streets it’s never really quiet, we’re always chatting, laughing and listening to music, there’s a real buzz of activity in the space.
What are some ‘tools of your trade’ that are essential for you to work with?
The tools of our trade are sketch books, pencils, water colour paints, computers and jewellery tools. Our designs are all sketched or painted by hand then finalised in Illustrator. While the jewellery is produced using a semi-industrial process everything is finished by hand in house using many pairs of pliers, crimpers and cutters. They are the practical things but you can’t work without inspiration – mood boards and pinterest; sunlight; music; those around you and something good in your belly.
What keeps you motivated and inspired when you’re working?
Our main motivation – aside from periodic deadlines like tradeshows and Christmas – is working in a partnership. Working in a partnership means that you’re constantly encouraging and supporting each other, for us it really increases the drive within the company. We’re always keen to show each other something new and collaborate on new designs.
Our inspiration comes from so many sources – nature, vintage treasures, animals, architecture, our local environment and trips overseas. We’re also inspired by those around us – chatting with each other and our team about new designs, colours, materials or themes for new collections.
What does a typical day for you involve when you are working?
While the hours and routine are fairly similar each day is different. Depending on the time of year we might be busy with photo shoots, installing a window display, visiting suppliers, reviewing samples, selling at tradeshows or packing orders. We all arrive at the studio at different times, between 8.30-9.30ish, when Hannah starts making coffees and chairs. Each day we’re generally reviewing some phase of our production as we make everything in small batches there are always changes. We’ll often instagram new pieces or something interesting (or delicious) that has happened through the day. We all break for lunch together around a communal lunch table. Then the afternoon winds up quickly in a whirlwind of last minute orders and tasks before all the mums start rushing off to collect children. Lucky for us the youth of the studio are happy to finalise the last things before they leave.
What do you love and recommend to others to do & see in your surrounding area?
The inner west has so much to offer, especially in terms of great food with Black Star Pastry (Newtown), Bourke Street Bakery (Marrickville), Bread & Circus (Alexandria) and the Veggie Patch Van cruising around.
We’d recommend dog walks at Black Wattle Bay, kids bike rides at Sydney Park, gallery hopping in Chippendale (White Rabbit is a fav of ours), shopping and pony rides at Marrickville Markets (Sundays).
What things would you love to add to your creative working environment?
Practically (and probably universally), we’re constantly trying to keep the studio tidy and organised so are always thinking up new and improved ways to do this – an organisation genie in a bottle would be fabulous.
This season we’ve introduced a screen printed collection and we’d love to experiment more with screen printing and perhaps set up a printing table and tubs in our studio.