To all the dads out there that have positively influenced our lives. Thank you!
MICHAEL MABUTI (Interview 2)
Michael has over 20 years’ experience in the construction industry and is owner of building company Seventy7 Projects. Michael is also a founding partner of Made By Pen. Michael has two primary school-aged boys, Jasper (8) and Mannix (7).
He answers ten questions for us on work, inspiration and fatherhood.
1. How did you first discover an interest in building and architecture?
My father was a builder so I grew up around building, but it wasn’t my initial career path. My strong appreciation for the built form – houses, buildings, public spaces – came later. Initially, I studied science out of high school majoring in physiology and then ended up doing Chinese Medicine for the next 3 years, including an internship in China for a year. When I returned I set up a clinic in Melbourne, and then studied a Masters in Pharmacology. Throughout my science years I continued to build houses. It became apparent my interest for architecture and building was larger than my science career, so I went back to university and studied Property and Construction at the University of Melbourne. For close to a decade I then worked for a Project Management firm building large commercial projects around Australia, before embarking on Seventy7 Projects – a high-end, boutique, residential construction firm based in Clifton Hill, Melbourne.
2. I hear you have a thing for chairs…..
I have a complete passion for chairs, I think it is the natural built form companion to good architecture. My all-time favourite chair is the PK22 by Poul Kjærholm. It’s currently manufactured under Fritz Hansen, but the one I have was manufactured under Kold Christensen, so it’s vintage. I was lucky enough to pick it up in Belgium at their yearly Design Market. It’s such a beautiful chair – the thin profile steel frame has a strong architectural feel to it.
3. Tell us about your favourite projects, and why?
My favourite projects? Houses I build for my wife and kids – we’re up to our third now. There is something satisfying about building a roof over their heads….
The original idea behind our current place, the Hawthorn Gallery House was for the build to be our ‘home office’ for Seventy7 Projects and Made By Pen, but we out grew that even before we started construction! Despite this, the front part of the house retains its ‘study room’ purpose and is relatively isolated from the rest of the house.The brief to Bagnoli Architects was straightforward – 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms upstairs, open plan living room downstairs and a lot of wall space for art. The design met this brief and more. Material selection such as the timber batten roof, glass floors, waterfall staircase and brass kitchen was all Stefan’s idea, and we weren’t too difficult to win over.
4. Seventy7 Projects specialises in one-off homes. What makes it exciting approaching work on a custom-basis like this?
I built a lot of spec houses with my father before Seventy7 Projects. When houses are designed specifically for the clients there is something very personal about it. There is a definite emotional investment, and most often something that the client has been saving towards for awhile. To deliver on this is hugely satisfying.
With Seventy7 Projects, we strive to be different with our builds. I’m lucky to work with some very talented architects that challenge standard conventions of building through form and materials. It brings about a lot of challenges, but also diversity and fun as we champion new forms.
5. What do you think makes Australian architecture stand-out from the rest of the world?
Australian architects and their clients aren’t afraid to be different. This has become a growing trend over the past decade and it’s only going to get better. This is why Australian architecture features daily in popular international architecture and design blogs.
6. Which person or people influence your work most?
Susan will read this and laugh, but it’s definitely my wife and my boys. I love what I do, but my work always revolves around them. Decisions I make, where I take the business, what challenges I take on next.
7. Your other role is being a father to two pretty active school-aged boys. Tell us a little bit about fatherhood.
It’s the most beautiful thing. My boys are 7 and 8 and I still pinch myself sometimes that I’m their dad. My work revolves around them not the other way around. I’m lucky to have that flexibility in my career. As a father I just want to show them everything, and take them to as many countries as possible – experience the world and meet different people – develop a network outside of their postcode.
8. Does how you interpret the world from an architectural point of view influence your parenting style?
I see design in everything! That’s the reason why Susan and I started Made By Pen. We are constantly showing the boys what design means, how we live around it, and how it influences everything that we do.
9. What values from your career do you want to instil in your kids?
I want to teach them to be passionate about what they do – not chase money, but to chase satisfaction in work. It doesn’t matter what they choose to do. What’s important to me is that they enjoy doing it – even with its challenges.
10. What have you got lined up for Father’s Day this year?
This year Susan will be in Paris launching new products for Made By Pen so it’ll be all the boys doing!! We are always outside, so if we’re not playing basketball somewhere we’ll be on a golf course (we’ll do the family thing in LA when she gets back).
Jeremy Hughes Interview
As Father’s Day approaches, Pen takes time-out to interview some inspirational Dads. We chat work, design, and how their creative disciplines spill over to their parenting styles.
Jeremy is an Associate Director at Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects and was one of the Project Architect’s on the creation of
the award winning Sydney contemporary arts space, Carriageworks. Jeremy is also father to Basti (4), Rafa (2) and Frankie (1).
1. How did you first discover an interest in Architecture?
I stumbled into architecture really. I had always wanted to do something creative but I was originally thinking of doing a communications degree. When I didn’t get my first preference at uni I discovered architecture. I liked the idea of a broad design based course with a practical bent. I’d always had an interest in building and hands on work so it seemed a good fit.
2. Tell us a little about your career and favourite projects, and why?
I started working at Tonkin Zulaikha Greer as a student between my degrees in 1999. Once I’d graduated, I gathered experience in other firms for a short stint and then returned to TZG. I’m still here!
At TZG I get to work on an amazing breadth of projects from public buildings to bespoke houses and fit-outs. I’ve been particularly fortunate to work on a number of significant adaptive reuse heritage projects. I love the challenge of respecting the old yet providing distinctly new and contemporary interventions and revitalised use.
A stand out project would be Carriageworks which I worked on from concept design through to the end of construction.
3. What architect or creative people influence your work or work habits the most?
The most important people are those around me in the office. It’s so important to be part of a collaborative team who respect each other. Apart from this, I’d find it hard to identify one architect that’s influenced me the most. I do take inspiration from many creative fields – from art, street art through to my interest in car design and car modifying.
4. What’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of architecture today, and what do you think should change?
The good – there’s a lot of good out there. It’s easy to get hung up on the bad but you only have to look at the recent Institute of Architects awards to see the high quality of projects being delivered in Australia.
The bad – I think, to a certain extent, we’ve lost the value of design in large scale infrastructure projects as they tend to get rushed through and a lot of the design elements get cut for budget reasons.
5. What skill has served you best in your architecture career?
I think it’s my people skills. Large scale architecture projects involve a huge team of people that the architect has to manage. Getting everyone to work together to deliver the design result you want can be extremely challenging.
6. One of your other valuable roles is being a father to three pre-schoolers. Tell us a bit about fatherhood.
It’s an intense juggle but with unbelievable rewards. We (Kate, my wife and I) take the view that all of the tasks that come with parenting are shared as we both have careers. We need to share the load as much as possible and try to be flexible when needed. Its not easy though! Watching three such different little people grow and develop is such a joy …. when you remember to look.
7. Do the influences, insights and disciplines from the world of architecture shape how you approach parenting?
They probably do without me knowing. I think patience and being in it for the long haul are things you require on big architecture projects, as they are for parenting. My interest in design and art are also things I try to share with my children (when they listen).
8. What values and skills have you learnt from your career that you hope to pass on to your children?
One of the things that architecture has taught me is to seek out and understand how things have been made and put together. Architecture teaches you to look at the world around you, and I hope I can pass on that ability to my children. I hope they become aware of their environment and find inspiration in it.
9. What have you got lined up for Father’s day this year?
You’ll have to ask my wife. I’m sure it will involve some attempt at breakfast in bed at some ungodly hour! And, then time with the kids and family.
What everyone ought to know about design
Designers of innovative, popular, and beautiful products are—unfortunately—well aware of the modern phenomenon of knock-offs that is prevalent these days.
Decades ago, when a designer created a fashion item, piece of furniture, textile print, or other creative item, admirers would purchase the actual item at its deserved market price—and enjoy it for years. Today however, low-priced imitations flood the market, some are brazenly sold without apology whilst others dupe the consumer it convincing they are somehow ok by promoting them as a branded-replica.
While knock-offs continue to pour into the consumer market, a discerning eye will always be able to tell an original from an imitation. Why? The answer lies in design integrity, which is the artistry, the design foundation, form and principals, that defines an item from its very inception, and is impossible to fake.
We at Made By Pen were recently made aware firsthand just how important design integrity is to our products. To our surprise, we discovered that a major retail chain has imitated our inaugural product—The Dog Room, an original, designed dog kennel —and is selling it at a fraction of the cost.
While both items feature a clean-lined shape and lightweight construction that might initially please the eye in either format, the integrity is present in our innovative design in a way that the retail chain could not copy. Let’s take a look at why this is so.
First, Made By Pen’s principal philosophy rests on collaborative efforts with leading designers and architects. The Dog Room design was conceived by award-winning architect Michael Ong, a professional with extensive experience in residential architecture which fueled his ideation process. Furthermore, Michael Ong did not simply come up with a design for the kennel, he applied his many years of structural training, design insights and intellect and continuous inquisitive observations of design principals, into the blueprint. Made By Pen expertly guided the collaboration through drawing on the team’s expertise in identifying the market opportunity, the research and interogration of the idea prior to the deliberate joining with Michael Ong as the principle talent. It is only then, with this considered partnership of expertise, did the Dog Room birth.
Moving past ideation, research, and design procedures, a quality original will go through a number of stages before it’s ready for you to admire and use in your home. A prototype of the design will be tested, with as many subsequent refinements as necessary executed to make it perfect. Materials will be carefully selected to best suit the construction’s purpose. The item will go through consumer testing, and there is also a process of determining pricing and an appropriate marketing plan.
Contrast this with an inexpensive dupe. Whether we are discussing a handbag, sunglasses, an evening gown, or The Dog Room—the cheaper duplicate will not have any of this integrity. Since it is simply a copy, there is no original thought to the design (save a desire to create a “look” at a lower cost). Likely the materials will be sourced for price, not function. There is no concern for the longevity of the item, nor any effort to refine it to make sure it’s the best possible iteration of the initial concept. In last week’s blog we spoke about buying once and buying well. Imitations or poor-quality knock-offs only confirm our position that we must stem the throw-away attitude of the society we live in today.
At Made By Pen we advocate for, and will continue to champion and educate on integrity of design. It is in every product we offer. We believe that integrity is visible to even an untrained eye, and creates a refined and distinctive impact that is impossible to “knock off.”
Buy Once and Buy Well
Without a doubt, there is a great argument to be made for buying a product once and well. To consider quality as primary motivator in your purchase decision and buy the best possible product that you can afford at the time. After all, poor quality products don’t last, discarded as waste they are detrimental to the environment. Today, however, instead of considering the life cycle of products, many people have grown accustomed to accepting that consumer products will eventually fall apart and need to be replaced. Re-purchase is acceptable and consumerism in developed nations is prevalent.
However, if we re-address our principles for product choice, and begin to support the realm of well-designed and articulated products, where quality, aesthetic and functionality are measured equally in design, we can all begin to more responsibly acquire beautiful things.
At Made By Pen we believe in sustainable design, one that encourages consumers against buying short-lived products – to buy once, and buy well. This is the design philosophy that is highlighted in our signature product Field by Helen Kontouriss A tiered ‘lazy susan’ serving tray, Field possesses all of these important qualities.
Why Wood for the Long Term?
Wooden kitchen consumer items often boast of a sophisticated, elegant and beautiful design. Truly functional works of art, they add a unique look to the home and are perfect for both entertaining and day to day use.
As long as you take proper care of any wooden kitchen products, you can be assured that these tools will last a lifetime.
Resists Bacteria and Germs
According to research, wood possesses innate germ-killing characteristics. In fact, bacteria and germs can grow faster on metal and plastic than wood. Ideal as a material for to use to host to your get-together food.
An Environmentally Friendly Choice
When sourced responsibly compared to plastic and other materials, wood is a more environmentally conscientious choice as it is a natural, non-toxic, renewable resource.
How to Take Care of Wooden Kitchen Boards
For optimal use, wooden serving trays including Field, need to be cleaned in the appropriate manner. For instance, it is a good idea to clean your Field or other wooden boards with soapy water after each use. Remember not to soak any wooden kitchen products though as this practice can lead to warping and cracking.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to more effectively preserve your Field:
1: Clean the Field or wooden board thoroughly. Using a half lemon and coarse salt can be helpful – just remember to clean off and let it dry completely.
2: Next oil each tier /board. Our preference is to use a good quality grapeseed oil bought from a health food store. Apply this oil evenly on the wood with a paper towel or soft cloth.
3: Let the oil soak into the wood for a few hours or ideally overnight.
4: Clean up the excess oil again with a soft cloth or paper towel – making sure that the Field surface is not sticky nor damp.
For best result we recommend doing this monthly. The process is quick and the wooden surfaces will respond beautifully to their maintenance.
An additional tip in preserving the longevity of your serving board is to include a food grade paper (or baking paper) under meats, soft cheeses or any other oily products each time you use your Field to serve food.
About the Field by Helen Kontouris:
Buy Once and Buy Well, wooden products such as Field by Helen Kontouris offer exceptional design and sustainability in one great product that will be sure to bring you a lifetime of both joy and use.
Field design inspiration is borne from the thousand-year-old history of agriculture carved into cultivated landscapes. From an aerial view, the natural timber grains the crafted tiered centrepiece expresses stratum forms of landscape terrains.
A Made By Pen signature product Field breaks the mould of traditional static serving platters incorporating movement akin to the ‘lazy susan’, each layer swivels to allow access all sides. The whirling tiers elicit an emotional response from the user, inviting them in and fostering a tradition of sharing food and bringing people together.
Field is available in Oak and Walnut. For more information on this design, please visit www.madebypen.com/product/field/
Become a rockstar host following these 5 easy grazing platter tips
This week’s post is from our guest, Marilyn Hew founder of Gather n Graze, Hong Kong. It is in response to our reader’s questions on how to perfect the grazing platter. Gather and Graze believe food should come from the heart. They are firm believers in sharing food, and the warmth, energy and benefits generated by such an experience. In parallel Field by Helen Kontouris and Made by Pen’s design aspiration was to develop a serving platter which would become centrepiece to a meal table surrounded by loved ones. The deliberate whirling ‘Lazy Susan’ tiers draw people in, and foster a tradition of food sharing and drawing people together. With similar ambitions we are pleased Field by Helen Kontouris can now help facilitate this as part of Gather n Graze’s catering occasions. Thanks to Marilyn for sharing with us her tips to master a grazing platter. Enjoy!
Guest post by Marilyn Hew
Four months ago, Gather n Graze went live. Hong Kong is a transient city known for shopping, partying and, of course, eating, and it’s the place where Jen and I decided to launch our idea of a grazing table. More than just a big charcuterie board, ours is a table of quality decadence styled to feast the eyes while filling the stomach. Our tables are tailor made for each event, with authentic cuisines by private chefs, designed to set the right mood using floral and props and food styled to impress everyone at the party.
People often concentrate so much on the food that they fail to see the silent hero beneath the sumptuous delicacies — the serving tray. Choosing the correct plate, board or platter is as important as deciding what food to serve.
When designing an ever-popular rustic spread, one of my favourite props is Field by Helen Kontouris, a modern-day take on the Lazy Susan and available at Made By Pen. Its versatility enables us to use it against a wall or as an island spread. With its 360 degrees movability, the Field lets me present food in multiple directions, and the three tiers give our work height and dimension, making our spread resemble art more than food.
How to prep a grazing plate?
Often I would use the Field to highlight important ingredients of a charcuterie board, like showcasing a Brilliant Savarin or 36 months Compte.
- Choose 3 to 4 quality cheeses, a soft cheese, semi hard cheese, a hard cheese and a blue cheese. As these are generally the big pieces, place these cheeses first on the Field. Be sure to keep the dainty cheeses on the top tier such as the carefully sliced up pieces of Compte or Mimolette.
- Carefully place a long bunch of grapes that will overhang from one tier to another.
- Next, on the board are crackers, we use our signature artisan Gather n Graze crackers. You can substitute this with any store bought cracker, but to keep the standard high, choose crackers that pair well with cheese and deli meats.
- Now select 3 to 4 types of deli meats such as parma ham, truffle salami and Serrano ham, and style them in the gaps between the cheeses.
- Add the final touches such as dried fruit, nuts fresh fruit or chocolates.
Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: @gatherngraze
Photo credits to FOODTRAVELBABE.
Spin away the winter months with the warmth of friends
It’s getting cold, brutally cold if you’re anywhere near our design studio in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. With just 2-degrees measured on the thermometer this morning staying warm and surviving these winter months has become a priority.
The endurance of the cold however, doesn’t mean paling your mood to match the grey palette of the exterior landscape. In fact, winter months can bring about a joyfulness in the harmony of slowing down, nestling in the comforts of your home decor and gathering with loved ones in the warmth for long lazy get-togethers.
This optimistic wintery outlook can be largely attributed to the wellness Scandinavian trends of Hygge (pronounced Hoo-gaa), and more recently Lagom (pronounce La-gom as in ‘prom’). Neither trend has a direct translation in English but both elicit tenderness, comfort and an uplift in mood. They are platforms which stand for ‘togetherness’, ‘coziness’ and ‘warmth’.
Hygge which first emerged in 2016, is softer and more of a soothing trend translating in interior design to lux knitted throws, soft fabric cushions or rugs, dreamy-creamy hues and scented candles. Translate this to activities such as staying in your favourite bed socks all day, curled up with a good book and a cup of tea, drifting off in thought within the comfort of a warm candle-lit bath, or spinning the night away with tunes and friends by the fireplace. Lagom the more recent trend corresponds to Hygge but is more measured. It is mindful moderation, an indulgence that is not too much, not too little.
Events to lust after, but if the bath isn’t available and your bed socks have holes, how else can we capture the trending mood to maintain our wellness this winter?
Maintain your connections
As the winter deepens many of us experience a diminishing desire to venture outside the home and a sense of separation and loneliness can creep in. Maintaining your connections is ever more important in fighting against winter seclusion. Make a plan with your friends or family before the temperatures drop, which excites you and gives a reason for continued catch-ups. Winter book clubs hosted on rotation bring a warmth, coziness, and happiness to weekly gatherings, as do regular board and card games nights.
Eating with satisfaction
Whether it be your “one and truly”, a group of friends, your neighbourhood gang or your extended family, finding ‘your people’ and sharing mealtimes with them can instill a sense of happiness and wellbeing. A recent study by the University of Oxford looked at social interactions and mealtimes revealing that the more often people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and gratified with their lives. This winter stow away your dinner plates and replace them with serving trays and decorative platters, place a photo of your loved ones of the fridge, buy up in bulk and purchase a new entertaining cookbook giving yourself every reason to share a meal.
Hygge your home
If home is where the heart is, and the place you are mostly likely to be during the winter months, then spending time on your home design is definitely worth it. 2018 winter interior design trends are all about bringing light, colour, and texture into the home to brighten your mood. There are plenty of articles online which guide you through your winter home make-overs. The ones we love include 5 winter decorating ideas and How to style your home Hygge.
A showpiece to invest in
And, if you’re not able to revamp your entire home, then investing in a piece that facilitates connections might just bring you the happiness needed to keep the winter blues at bay. We love Field by Helen Kontouris and Made By Pen. A serving platter which reflects the simplicity of Hygge exactly, and is the goldilocks of Lagom.
A three-tiered sculpted platter inspired by the elegance of the carved landscapes of agricultural fields. The platter combines the utility of a traditional “Lazy Susan,” to allow each tier to swivel freely. These whirling layers elicit an emotional response from its audience, drawing them in, conjuring a sense of traditional community sharing, and bringing people together during the cold winter months.
How we’d use Field by Helen Kontouris
- Purchase Field and perfect the 2018 grazing food trend. Exact your styling techniques ensuring you use the tiers to give your platter the height variations needed to be impressive. Choose your colour theme and purchase complementary foods to match taking into consideration colour and texture. Finally, support the visual palette using greenery or floral garnish.
- Alternatively, use the tiered layers of Field to take your audience on a food journey, using the layers to reveal one course at a time. Or even pep some fun into the feast and use the tiers to build your course – one of our favourite desserts at present is Churros so we’d used Field to create a dessert bar. Cover the base with churros, the next tier with chocolate and other dipping sauces and the top with the variety garnishes – sprinkles, nuts, icing sugar or fresh chopped fruits.
- Replace your book club with a weekly curated meal challenge. Create a light-hearted food competition within your family or friendship circle – choose categories such as method-type, ingredient source or pick specific ingredient inclusions and take turns to serve up the dish on a weekly or fortnightly basis using Field as your serving centrepiece.
Facilitating connections to warm from the inside will help you stay contented, snug and happy this winter. We hope, like us you’ll surround yourself with loved ones and begin to relish the plummeting temperatures.
Share with us and go in the draw to WIN your own Field by Helen Kontouris
We are offering the chance to win your own Field in either Oak or Walnut. Simply share with us your tips for maintaining your winter happiness or for enjoying a Hygge moment.
Plus, share our article with a friend to double your chances of winning.
For more information on Field by Helen Kontouris visit our website www.madebypen.com or if you have any questions simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interviewed: Jen Bishop (Interiors Addict)
Jen Bishop (Interiors Addict)
Today, Jen Bishop, founder of Interiors Addict and much loved Australian reno addict shares her
experience and insights on being a flourishing business entrepreneur, wife and mother.
Here’s her take on being successful in her achievements, the emotional hurdles which occur
with multiple role conflict, and 1-2 life lessons she’s learnt along the way.
You can do it all. Truth or myth? What’s your take?
It depends what you consider all and what you’re happy with. Personally, I love being able to juggle a satisfying and enjoyable career, and to contribute financially to our household, while being a stay at home mum two days a week (although things aren’t always that straightforward!). Life is always a bit hectic but I think I’d be bored if it were any other way. I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder but somehow I still have more freedom and flexibility too. You can’t do it all yourself though; I think that’s the key. I have great people working for me and a wonderful part-time nanny and I couldn’t do it all without them. I had no childcare (and virtually no mat leave) for the first 13 months of Sebastian’s life and that was too long. I’m not sure how I didn’t lose the plot! Delegation is a wonderful thing and you have to spend money (on people) to make money.
Interiors Addict is an impressive achievement. What are you most proud of, and what satisfaction has come in building your dream?
To be honest, I’m just proud and grateful to still have a growing blogging business after five years. It’s a funny thing to call yourself a full-time blogger and you have to constantly keep on top of the latest changes and developments to stay relevant and making money. The absolute best thing about my job though, is being my own boss and being able to spend more time, more flexibly, with my son, Sebastian. I still pinch myself that I get to do what I love for work, even though it’s not always as glamorous as people might imagine!
Best business mentor advice you’ve been given?
I think it was the good friend and fellow business owner who encouraged me to take on my first part-time staff member a few years ago. That was a game changer.
You managed to build Interiors Addict whilst also being a wife and mother. Working and managing a family is well documented as stressful, with most of us experiencing the daily the tug between family, and work commitments. How do you cope with the role conflict?
I’m forever grateful that I started Interiors Addict, and made the transition from it being a hobby to a business, before I became a wife and mum. And then becoming a mum a couple of years later just made me a power multi-tasker so I could handle anything! I’m not sure I would have had the time or energy to get the business off the ground in the early days if I’d already had a child. I take my hat off to anyone who starts and establishes a business when they already have kids but then again, those aforementioned mum multi-tasking super powers do come in incredibly useful!
Planning and organisation are critical to being able to successfully make things happen – can you share with us your organisational routine.
I wish I had some amazing secrets to share but to be honest, a lot of the time I’m flying by the seat of my pants and making it up as I go along! I swear by my paper week-to-view diary, to many people’s disgust, as well as various paper to-do lists scattered around my desk! Working from home, I find a physical office is essential so I can keep things somewhat separate.
*Jen Bishop is a former newspaper and magazine journalist from the UK who moved to Sydney 10 years ago. She started her blog, Interiors Addict, as a hobby, as a way to write about what she was passionate about; interior design and homewares. Five years ago, that blog became a business and is now one of Australia’s largest design sites. Jen is married to Damian and mum to Sebastian, three. She is currently renovating her own home in Sydney’s north.