Featured Designer: A Bird of Play

FK chats to Liz about her Melbourne based eclectic, eco friendly label A Bird of Play.

Tell us a bit about A Bird of Play and what we can expect to discover?
A bird of play is an independent outfit, run out of my Melbourne studio. We design and make fun, original jewellery, homewares and stationery. Our focus is on bridging the divide between creative and very functional and I pay much attention to design and material details that will help our products function and last. Looking great just isn’t enough! Being eco-friendly is also a core part of our work. All our materials are sourced and chosen with care to minimize environmental impact; we choose recycled when we can and renewable and recyclable when we can’t. It’s awesome to see so many other design brands taking the same approach.

Who are the team behind A Bird of Play and what are their roles?
A bird of play began as a solo adventure. I’m designer, maker, assembler logistics coordinator, marketer, and the plethora of other roles involved in creative enterprises. Slowly but surely my near and dear are starting to keep me company on the journey. My partner is increasingly involved in logistics and my sisters have been super support with sales, modelling for photo shoots and providing the honest feedback I need to keep it real.

What inspires your work? and what keeps you motivated creatively?
I’m a pretty random person with a loose handle on what’s normal, expected and required. I often think and do things that are a little quirky or unorthodox. Sometimes, this gets me in trouble. In the design world though, it’s my greatest asset; an unexpected combination of the literal, logical and tangential.
I love nature and all its quirks simplicity and randomness. I love to combine ideas in unexpected and quirky ways to add surprise and interest. Why have four identical coasters when you can have a matching set of bird and birdhouse coasters? Or four different coasters all based on an Alice in Wonderland theme? Or two little bird stud earrings when you can have a bird and a leaf? I love history and the warm fuzzy nostalgia it inspires. I also love sciences and to embrace my inner geek. Some of my latest jewellery reflects this; my bamboo necklace collection is based on the Chinese art of the tangram, with all its underlying mathematical properties.

What is your workspace like? and what is your creative process?
At the moment we’re renovating our home. So my workspace is whichever spare nook is free from building materials, supplies, or piles of household items! Currently, my workbench is one of our big old doors sitting on two well-loved saw stools. Actually it’s pretty cool and very enormous and I might just have to keep it. My creative motivation is fueled by time to myself, freedom to think creatively and total absence of technology. A couple of minutes in the shower or a good long walk with our two dogs always does the trick. I spend hours perfecting my designs on the computer and love the hands-on aspects of finishing products: sanding, painting, lacquering, gluing and everything between.

What challenges have you faced starting your own label, and what are some things you love about it?
Without a doubt my challenge has been bringing the ‘business’ to ‘design business’. I love to be creative. I don’t love to be organised. I love to go with the flow. I don’t love to plan ahead, down to the teeny tiny last little details. But I’ve had to learn to plan, develop strategies, think through the details carefully and organise my ranges in advance. This has been absolutely critical in allowing a bird of play to maintain design quality and meet product demand.

What new projects are you working on and where would you like to see Bird of Play in the future?
I’m currently developing a range of homewares and accessories that move beyond eco-friendly materials to playing a more active role in reducing and recycling waste. Stay tuned as we launch these later in the year! We also have lots of new designs planned for our jewellery, stationery and coaster ranges and we’re playing with new ways to combine and use materials. A bird of play would also love to be more accessible to our customers in bricks and mortar stores. So many of our products are a little novel and need to be seen and felt to be understood and loved. We’d love to be nestled in amongst other original and quality products by Australia’s wonderful independent designers at a broader range of independent design stores.


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