FK chats to the Sarah of fabulously cheeky design label Foolhouse.
Tell us about your tongue in cheek label Foolhouse and what the concept is behind it?
I think Foolhouse was a brand that my inner-child created when living life as a grown-up felt too daunting! My corporate job was taking itself far too seriously so I dreamt about creating a product label that indulged in a more whimsical world. Being a designer, I had always loved a myriad of styles from modern through to vintage, so I knew the range would always emanate the essence of old and new. Foolhouse, thus became an emporium (used for humourously for formal effect) dedicated to producing unique products with a tongue-in-cheek aesthetic that sought to make the ordinary things in life…less ordinary.
What is your creative background and how did it lead you to where you are today?
I have been a graphic designer and retail interior designer for over two decades, mainly working for blue-chip corporates designing shopping & restaurant precincts in Australia and Asia. But there came a point in my creative career, when sitting in front of a computer creating the ‘big picture’ for ‘big projects’, made me long for the smaller things in life… small things with intricate detail. I loved directing the image of the brands I worked for but I wanted to create my own and apply my skills in a more hands-on fashion. And so I jumped ship, albeit carefully, considerately and with toes dipping in and out.
What do you love about working with such a wonderful collection of designs? and what keeps you creatively motivated?
Creating something unique is exceedingly motivating, as is coming up with ideas that re-interpret what we already know or haven’t already thought of. My inspiration comes from the oddest of places at the oddest of times, often it is inexplicable but more often for me it has quite fanciful storybook origins. Sometimes whilst choosing the perfect vintage illustration and writing a quaint anecdote for my Secret Book Safes, I produce something that so tickles my heart strings that it’s hard to give away! Luckily the Santa Claus-complex in me always wins out, and the ideas and creations are soon bundled up in sacks and shared with smiling faces all over the world!
What is your creative workspace like, and what inspires you about your surroundings?
After following the usual workplace trajectory of cafes, enclosed verandahs & dining rooms, I am finally in my own space and my family can have dinner together once more! Foolhouse now nestles in a converted Californian Bungalow garage in our garden, that is nowhere near California! I moved all my ‘dirty’ tools and equipment into a new weatherboard work shed and painted it to look like an Amish barn which I can see through the window in my studio. Surrounded by conifers, it makes me feel like I am a world away from the ordinary and this is inspirational! Lining the studio with vertical boards gave the space more texture, less granny flat-ness and keeping the ceiling pitched meant space for the impact of large pendant lights. White walls also double as product shot backgrounds and clean hanging space for all the inspirational art & objects I love.
What challenges have you faced starting your own label, and what are some things you love about it?
It is a lot of work! But there is so much I love about being my own boss and being the creator of my very own label, my happiness quotient without a doubt has doubled ten-fold. The challenges come in the balance of the processes required by the big wide commercial world beyond the walls of my safe creative nest. If you are passionate about propelling your brand down the right avenues then you have to be employer, employee, merchant, maker, accountant, researcher, marketeer, social media guru, coffee-gopher, friend and harshest critic all rolled into one, or have enough capital to hire them! So many foundations for new and signature products need to be laid down everyday, that it is a challenge to find time (but eminently imperative!) for the creative process that spurred you into the adventure in the first place!
What new plans do you have for Foolhouse this year?
This year, my goal is to enjoy my new studio space, find new homes for Foolhouse products and to simply value the market that has lovingly embraced our label and indulge that niche with new designs and twists on Foolhouse‘s existing products and bring out new takes on more ordinary things. I’m going to relish showing my products to new audiences at Australia’s face-to-face indie markets, I’m going to solve the staying niche vs. commercial dilemma and I’m going to carve creative time out of an already full and foolish week with a double-shot macchiato beside me! (One sugar please.)
Image credits: Photography by Deb Kent