Featured Designer: McKean Studio


FK chats to Megan of marvellous Sydney based label McKean Studio. Who will also be debuting at the upcoming Sydney Markets!

Tell us a bit about McKean Studio and what we can expect to discover?
McKean Studio is a Sydney based label, run by husband and wife duo, Joshua & Megan McKean. We started McKean Studio a few months before we got married, when we were both blogging and designing independently. We were always working on different projects together, and decided it made more sense to combine efforts and make working with each other a bit more official! Coming from separate design fields means that we each bring something unique to the table, and our product range changes quite a lot.

What are your creative backgrounds and how did it lead you to where you are today? 
We both studied design, and were working on side projects all the way through our degrees. Joshua finished his degree in Industrial Design just before we got married in 2011, and I wrapped up my Visual Communication degree just a few months ago! We never really had a ‘start’ date for McKean Studio, it’s mostly just been the collaboration of our work and anything that happens to fall under a pretty wide umbrella.



What inspires your work? and what keeps you motivated creatively? 
We’re very inspired by travel. It’s something that give you a fresh perspective like nothing else, and keep you encouraged for such a long time afterwards. I’m trying to convince Joshua that we need more overseas holidays (for the benefit of our business, of course) but I’m not having much luck. Our travels together has been the main inspiration for our most recent project, the City Series of Souvenir Scarves. We travelled around the world for our honeymoon, and visited the US again last year, and I was always so disappointed at being unable to find good souvenirs from the wonderful cities we had visited. There’s something about travel that resonates with so many people, so we’ve dreamed up an illustrated series of cities around the world to replicate onto lovely silky scarves. They’re a good combination of cute and kitsch, but also wearable and with a lot of personality. The response to the scarves has been hugely encouraging, and this definitely helps to keep us motivated to work on new things.

What is your creative workspace like, and what inspires you about your surroundings? 
I wish we could say we have a wonderful dreamy studio space, but it’s really just the dining area of our tiny one bedroom apartment! We spent the first year in this space living without a dining table in favour of a workbench, but just a couple of months ago we’ve switched up the space so it’s more of an ‘all things to all people’ type of situation! We’ve now got a nice extendable table that changes from being the illustration desk, to the computer table, to the sewing area, to the model-building desk, and then back to the dining table. Since we work on different things each day, embracing this has really made our whole home a lot happier. I’m quite the neat-freak and can’t concentrate when things are out of place, so this way whatever project we’re working on has to get packed up and put away before we can eat dinner! Living in a tiny space definitely comes with challenges, but we’re lucky enough to live in a great area that we love. Close enough to parks for a leg stretch and some greenery, and still within a mostly industrial area which is great to wander around and admire the buildings.




What challenges have you faced starting your own label, and what are some things you love about it? 
McKean Studio is still very much a fledgling label. I think because we never started out with a set plan, all of it’s evolution has been a very natural process and we’ve just taken it as it comes! The biggest challenge would be finding the time to fit everything in and get everything done, it sometimes feels like a never-ending to-do list!  Since we both have different areas we specialise in, we try to make that a priority and something we value within our label (and our relationship). I don’t really know how to wield a power tool, but Joshua loves the practical building side of things so makes all of those crazy ideas come true. I’ve had more experience on the graphics side of things, so I handle the branding and illustration. We do love the flexibility that comes with a small label, and being able to work together to see projects through to completion is very rewarding. Of course working together isn’t for everyone, but for us there is nothing better than being able to share the hard work and the benefits of that, with someone you love!

What can we expect to see from McKean Studio at the upcoming Sydney Markets?
Our souvenir scarves will be our biggest product at the markets, having sold out of them a couple of times previously online, we’ll be well stocked for the markets and have been sewing furiously! We’ll be debuting our London scarf, and also a super-special-secret new city especially for the Sydney Finders Keepers. We’ve also been working on a range of homewares and will have clocks and cushions, as well as some animal themed illustrations for good measure!




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