Monday, 22 October 2012

profile polli - maja rose & tess lloyd.

maja rose and tess lloyd
Today's creative duo really don't need too much by way of introduction. If you have a penchant for accessorising, chances are you'll have a piece of Polli jewellery, whether it be their distinctive stainless pieces which are as fine as filigree, patterned wooden brooches and necklaces or an intricate woven pair of earrings inspired by nature, vintage treasures and travel. Celebrating ten years since the launch of Polli, Maja Rose and Tess Lloyd have maintained their sustainable sensibility and continually expanded their range which draws on myriad influences. Their current collections feature native flora, nautical motifs and neon hues. Adored by many, I think there are a quite a few men out there who also love Polli, particularly when they need to find birthday or Christmas presents for the special women in their lives. With such an impressive and diverse collection to choose from, set aside some time to study the entire range here.

How would you describe yourselves in five words?
Happy twosome busy making things.

How did you two meet?
We met at university in 1999 while studying industrial design and have been pretty inseparable ever since!

What prompted you to launch Polli?
We graduated from uni and were working for a competing design consultancies. Still wanting to collaborate and make things together as we had done while studying we started Polli as a weekend project. Happy in our day jobs we saw Polli very much as a hobby and launched a range of die cut polypropylene (polli!) bags at local markets. From the bags came offcuts which we hand made in to simple, bright coloured earrings and hanging mobiles. We started working in stainless steel to create a range of hanging mobiles for an exhibition in Surry Hills. As our range grew and we started to wholesale our products we began to take annual leave for trade fairs and faced the difficult decision to leave our jobs.

polli studio
It was such an exciting step and within a month we were off to a trade show in NYC, within six months we had a group of friends working for us often with babies or pregnant bellies. After that first year we were busting at the seams and moved to our current Polli Studio in Starkey’s Ginger Beer factory in Stanmore. It’s been an exciting 10 years with so many trips, laughs, cups of tea and fun designing.

What do you love most about what you do?
We love creating things – not just the designs but the business, the relationships, the team and the space. We feel very lucky to work in such a beautiful environment with such an inspiring team.

sweet polli collection

Where do feel most inspired? 
Our studio is a really inspiring place with pinboards overflowing with postcards, sketches and photos; beautiful salvaged timber beams, floors and doors; and natural light which always makes us happy.We also love stepping out into nature leaving the hustle and bustle of urban life behind us and being able to breathe.

polli studio

What was involved in producing your latest collections which encompass Australiana, Secret Society and a nod to nautical?
This current collection shows so much diversity with inspiration from so many places; locally and globally, organic and geometric. To produce a range we often start with simple brainstorming and sketching, often collecting inspiration on our physical pin boards or on pinterest. We both collaborate on every design so there’s a lot of backward and forwarding with feedback and drawings. We consider how designs might translate in different mediums – wood, stainless steel and woven pieces. Each piece is sampled and reviewed before the designs are finalised for production and photography.

Do you have favourite pieces from latest collection?
So many! We love the watercolour effect on the wooden pieces which is a new technique; we love the soft hand dyed silk ribbon on the graphic parachute; the ropes of the nautical range in the wood and stainless steel and oh the neon! The neon is so mesmerising, months ago we couldn’t believe this trend but seeing it painted on natural timber like the flag rings or woven into the stainless steel it’s hard to resist!

Who do you admire?
So many people! Our parents, big time. But we also admire so many other Australian brands who are still making their products here: Shelley from Mud has been like a mentor for us for many years; likewise the sisters behind High Tea with Mrs Woo put so much love into every detail of everything they do you can’t help but admire them.

What challenges have you had to overcome?
Like with all small businesses you seem to have to learn on the spot so you face challenges like fluctuation in economies and exchange rates, cultural difference with export and manufacturing issues with our suppliers as we’re passionate about being Australian made.

What's been some 'pinch yourselves' moments over the past 10 years?
In 2007 when we quit our full time jobs and boarded a plane for NYC we did a serious high five! But they’ve been so many moments over the years which have made us so happy – setting up our studio, seeing your products in a store you love, in print or on a person in the street is still such a highlight. Having the opportunity to collaborate with artists and institutions like Emma van Leest and the AWM.

What are your top creative resources?
Spotify for never ending streaming of music.
The Design Files and Design*Sponge to read and admire.
Travel for absolute inspiration!
+ Pinterest and Instagram of course!(@pollidesign)

What is your idea of happiness?
Achieving a work life balance where you’re happy and content most days, all year. At Polli we are only open four days (mon-thurs) as we reserve Friday as a family flexi day to spend with our kids. Those little things, like being able to bring our babies to work while they were young (and containable)are important to us and so important in that work/life balance. Oh and plenty of tea and cake.
tess and maja and the tiniest polli fans
What's next?
We’d love to work in new materials and we’re researching exciting new jewellery shapes and forms. We’d also love to expand our sweet Polli collection; with children of our own we’re really passionate about making products for little people too!

When the weekend rolls around what do you love to:
Read – Sewing patterns for softies.
Watch - Our children playing in the sprinkler.
Cook - Bourke Street bakery pizzas at home.
Create - Remoulded crayons.
Listen to - Spotify. 
Dream about - A Polli conference in Hawaii.
Look forward to - Everyone getting together at Christmas time.

*stay tuned for a Polli giveaway soon.