Most of us know by now, the power of Instagram. No longer is it just a place to discover cute puppies in cuter scenarios, it is a powerful tool that can launch a weekend project into a fully fledged business! Today we discover how exactly that came to be for Kitty and Al, the clever cats behind Fifteenthirtyeight. You can also find Fifteenthirtyeight at our Brisbane AW15 market this weekend!
Tell us about your label Fifteenthirtyeight and what the concept is behind it?
The label began accidentally. Al and I had been searching for a coffee table that wasn’t just another boring replica, or one that required obligatory meatball consumption. So we decided to if you can’t buy it, build it! From there, a snap on Instagram led to orders and voila! Fifteenthirtyeight was born.
Our designs focus on industrial materials with modern geometric lines and a nod to of mid-century inspiration. We love experimenting with new materials and designs through our main line and custom one off pieces for our fabulous clients. We’re committed to being a local label and being hand made here in Australia and love being a part of such a supportive design community that has welcomed us so warmly.
What are your backgrounds and how did you start working together?
Our backgrounds are quite diverse, not your typical path to starting a design label but it helps that we live/work/life together so design conversations often happen in the middle of the night or while we’re eating breakfast. Luckily we’re not sick of each other, yet.
Al has a background in mechanical wizardry and worked in film and TV building all kinds of crazy pieces which came in handy when we wanted to build our first prototype. I (Kitty) worked in construction for the first few years after high school, building industrial concrete tilt panel warehouses and developing my love (read: obsession) for concrete and industrial inspired designs. Then after studying Journalism, I worked in PR for a few years before having the urge to indulge my create lusts full time.
How has your creative style developed over time? and what inspires your work?
Each design is a process that brings new concepts and methods of making. We are slowly incorporating materials like brass and copper into our pieces which brings with it new challenges and skills as well as tweaking our original aesthetic. We’re constantly inspired by our surroundings, materials, travel and need. After a month long adventure in Mexico last Christmas we touched down full of new ideas and inspiration. It’s so important to take yourself out of the everyday and see things with fresh eyes and possibility.
As for need, after we made our coffee table we couldn’t find a bedside so with a rough idea of what we wanted to create we pulled the materials and got our hands dirty. So many of our pieces stem from a space to fill in our own home- it’s getting a little crowded now!
What is your creative workspace like, and what inspires you about your surroundings?
We’ve just moved into a larger studio which is gives us a lot more room to play/fill with junk. The light streams into the space in the mornings when we brew up some coffee and chat about what we need to design and make for the day. Our space is full of materials that inspire us, steel, marble, concrete and brass as well as plenty of greenery and pieces by our favourite artists.
And sometimes it’s the lunch at the pub next door that brings the best inspiration…
Where do you source materials for your range? Are their challenges in doing so?
We try to source everything we can from small local suppliers where possible. Sometimes it’s difficult to get exactly the material we want, but often the best designs come from pushing the boundaries and finding a new way of making it work. One of the biggest challenges is finding materials that are consistent with each supply in order for us to make our pieces visually cohesive but as we buy bigger and bigger quantities it’s becoming less of an issue.
What new projects are you working on and where would you like to see Fifteenthirtyeight in the future?
We are working on some really exciting commissions at the moment that we can’t wait to share. We’re pushing some of our designs with new materials that are challenging but worth the headaches.
As for the future, we have so many new ideas and concepts that it’s hard to focus on the first collection! We would love to collaborate with other creatives on new designs and branch out into smaller object design. At the end of the day, we just want to have fun and make cool shit!