When the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in 2013, killing over 1000 Bangladeshi garment workers, Jade Sarita Arnott felt devastated. It had not been her relatives who’d perished in the disaster, but the event confirmed that she’d made the right choice in disbanding her fashion label, Arnsdorf, the year before.
A trained artist and fashion designer, Jade had stepped away from her business, disillusioned by the endless cycle of seasonal garment releases and the punishing pressure to constantly reinvent and re-launch. She couldn’t see how the fashion industry’s traditional working model could sustain itself. There was some measure of relief there, too, in not being involved in an industry that could so easily ignore human rights.
“While I’d never manufactured in Bangladesh,” says Jade, “I’d just had children and had so much maternal grief for these people, the lives that were lost. I felt I could not be part of that,” she says.
The question that hung in the balance was this: could she be part of the change?
A multidisciplinary creative with natural entrepreneurial nous, Jade studied creative arts at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, before pursuing the infamously tough fashion design degree at RMIT University.
Business success fell upon her, in many ways, and the launch of Arnsdorf in 2006 taught Jade many things. The enduring influence of art and sculpture shaped many of her design ideas. The everyday archetypal garments that fill our wardrobes – suit trousers, jeans, t-shirts, jackets and coats – became a feast for the imagination. She reinterpreted and subverted: a trench coat came with an attached trench coat scarf, a leather jacket with a leather jacket scarf. “It was built around the respect for those items that have survived in people’s wardrobes for decades, even centuries,” she says.
Arnsdorf took off, touted by media as ‘the new one to watch’. Growth was exponential but as Jade points out, success can also be disillusioning. In 2012 she found herself at a crossroads. The label was gaining international momentum, but “it felt like I was caught up in a never-ending cycle of rushing for the next deadline”, she says. “The pace of each fashion cycle, marking down three months of every season – things completely lost their value. It just didn’t make sense any more.”
She quietly wound down her Arnsdorf operations and took a four-year hiatus from fashion. This coincided with time spent living in New York with her boyfriend (now husband), Andrew. A myriad of new vocations emerged, with studies in furniture design and photography, a home renovation and parenthood. She spent some time working with creative enterprises and had the opportunity to contemplate alternative business models and imaginative approaches to customer engagement.
In 2015 Jade found herself back in Melbourne with a new-found sense of perspective and maturity. She looked beyond what she’d perceived as the limitations of the fashion industry and sought to “break the model” with the relaunch of Arnsdorf in 2016.
Vertically integrating her business, Jade fashioned a one-stop-shop, setting up her own factory of cutters and machinists. “The foundation and structure of the business came first. We set up sustainable and ethical production, sourcing certified organic fabrics and deadstock fabrics.”
Consumers were similarly undergoing an “awakening”, Jade says, increasingly aware of what they were putting into and onto their bodies. Their demand for transparency, and a strong sense of social responsibility resonated with Jade’s own vision for Arnsdorf. A brand was reborn.
Today, Jade maintains tight control over her supply chain, embedding meaning and purpose into her work through a fluid and iterative working process. She is supported by her Collingwood-located studio and home base in Kew.
The studio is the epicentre of her working operation, a hive of activity where design, sampling and production happen in tandem. Home, away from the working chaos, is where the seeds of new ideas are planted. “I do a lot of sketching,” she says. “And sometimes in the initial design stage, I’ll work from home to get away from the hustle of the factory and find some peaceful time to concentrate and get inspired.”
From home, she moves back into the studio to cut out toiles and samples. Her art studies are ever-present, manifesting through sculptural processes, like “draping fabrics on mannequins and embodying the toiles, turning them inside out and pushing the ideas further”.
The meditative to-and-fro between home and work is vital to her creative process. “It’s the balance of solitary practice, of getting in the flow and generating ideas in an almost meditative state,” she says. “Then taking those ideas and working collaboratively with the team on fabrications, talking through construction.” A jigsaw puzzle of ideas and ingenuity coming together piece by piece.
The vision of that time-transcendent piece still looms large for Jade, who continues her exploration of modern archetypal garments. But now, with renewed clarity. “The mission is to create greater transparency, so we educate the wider public of how much it costs to make a garment ethically and sustainably.” Once armed with that knowledge, Jade says, fashion-conscious customers will be better able to navigate the retail landscape and question the origins of what they put onto their body.
Arnsdorf arnsdorf.com.auPhotography by Benjamin Hosking We think you might also like Viktor&Rolf's outlook on whether or not fashion can be art. abc
If you want to give an architect the dream brief, make it as open as possible. That’s exactly what the residents of Edsall Street in the Melbourne suburb of Malvern presented to architects Gilad Ritz and Jean-Paul Ghougassian, shortly after buying their Victorian cottage in 2015. A skylight in the bathroom was one of their few design stipulations. Apart from that, Ritz&Ghougassian was free to create what the studio describes as its “essay on architecture” – a harmonious layering of four distinct spaces, each flowing seamlessly into the next.
Trust between architect and client was vital to the success of this renovation. Owners Julien and Kristy-Lea, who share the home with their Staffordshire terrier, Zeus, had previously worked with Ritz&Ghougassian on the design of their hospitality projects, including Bentwood café in Fitzroy and Penta in Elsternwick. There were no other architects they would entrust with their home. “We always look for architects who are passionate about their work,” explains Julien. “We know Ritz&Ghougassian and we love their taste. We understood their vision and had total trust in them.”
However, the open brief was not without its challenges. The house sits on a 375-metre-squared sloping block at the boundary of a commercial zone and the architects needed to balance the desire for natural light with the less-than-desirable view of a neighbouring liquor store. The residence also has a heritage overlay and the local council took close to nine months to approve the final plans.
It was worth the wait. Since forming their studio in 2015, Ritz&Ghougassian have forged a distinct reputation for architectural rigour and design finesse. This is perhaps a consequence of their complementary backgrounds – Gilad leads the studio’s architectural projects and Jean-Paul specialises in interior architecture. They have brought the best of both worlds to Edsall Street.
Early design conversations centred around creating singular spaces within a home that is largely open plan. “We wanted there to be a sense of one activity for each space,” says Jean-Paul. “We didn’t want it to feel like just one big open space at the back.”
The solution, he goes on to explain, was to dislocate the envelope vertically so one part of the house looks on to the other. The first part – the original front section of the residence – was restumped, reroofed and its decaying walls were repaired. The rest of the house was flattened and replaced by three spaces: a kitchen and dining area, a sunken living room and a master bedroom upstairs.
Much of the heritage details in the front of the house, which now consists of three bedrooms and a bathroom, have been preserved or overlaid with contemporary touches, such as black steel shrouds around existing fireplaces. The floors feature smooth blackbutt timber boards with a matte finish to celebrate their natural characteristics. “We like to keep timber in its natural state,” says Gilad. “We like the fiddleback effect.”
The junction between the old house and the new is characterised by what Gilad describes as a ‘Ma’ moment – a Japanese term often applied by architect Isozaki Arata to signify the space between objects or structural elements.
“It’s like a moment of pause,” says Gilad. “In this case, it marks the transition from the old to the new section and, in this moment, you can look out the windows to the garden of native plants. We wanted to create connections between the exterior and interior.”
The movement from old to new is also delineated by a change from weatherboard to masonry walls. “We chose masonry because it suggests the idea of protection from the elements and it also allowed us to wrap the material from outside to inside so we could bury windows in between,” says Gilad.
This is achieved through a cavity between the internal and external masonry walls. “Glass doors in the kitchen and living area that lead to the courtyard slide inside the cavities when they’re opened,” adds Gilad. “It’s like they disappear.”
The cavities are not the only clever nooks within the home. A small glass alcove near the back of the house, for example, adds more width to the living area and brings more northern light into the space. “I think of light as another material,” says Gilad. “It creates shadow and texture.”
Concrete is also a material favoured by Ritz&Ghougassian and they have incorporated it into the flooring of the kitchen and living areas. The blackbutt floor in front of the house is referenced through joinery in the kitchen, master bedroom and staircase. “We’ve worked with joiner Adrian Hall on other projects and we love that he is a perfectionist,” says Gilad. “We purposely sat the joinery off the masonry walls in the bedroom so that it looks like a piece of furniture.
No design detail within Edsall Street has been overlooked. The vertical air grills carved into the timber joinery, for example, reference a series of soaring blackbutt battens on the exterior walls. They are designed to help slice up the view of commercial buildings to the west and to create a screen to prevent overlooking to the east.
The battens also created an unexpected issue for the owners shortly after moving back into their home. “The tannins from the blackbutt bled down onto the masonry bricks on the west wall,” says Julien. “I called The Graffiti Eaters to remove it and they did an amazing job. It’s all sorted now.
“What we love most about the house is the way that every space flows into the next one so naturally,” adds Julien. “We recently got back from an overseas holiday and when we walked in the front door, we felt exactly the same way as we when we first moved in after the renovation. The only difference was that it was winter when we got back, so I had a new appreciation of the under-floor heating.”Ritz&Ghougassian ritzghougassian.com
Photography by Tom BlachfordDissection Information Blackbutt veneer joinery with gloss finish from Timberwood Panels Concrete blocks from Austral Masonry Extrasoft sofa for Living Divani from Space Furniture Daybed PK80 by Fritz Hansen from CULT Downlights form Euroluce Cooktop, oven, steam oven and fully integrated dishwasher form Gaggenau Fully integrated refrigerator form Fisher & Paykel Classic duo rectangle bath with Satin Chrome Overflow from Kaldewei We think you might also like How Architects Are Modernising Heritages Houses abc
The Centquatre Sofa from DOMOA strong and minimalist structure, with comfortable and generous cushions, the Centquatre sofa is casual in its design and appearance. The cushions are filled with a blend of newly washed and dusted duck down feathers for softness and synthetic fibres for resilience. DOMO
WoodWall Eveneer and natural timbers from Elton GroupProduced from high quality timber veneer, WoodWall is applied directly to plaster or plasterboard with no requirement for any heavy substrate such as MDF and at less than half the cost of traditional veneered panelling. Elton Group
The ICONS Collection from DOMOSika Design looked to the past to some of Denmarks most skilled and important architects and designers when establishing their ICONS Collection. The designers were all significant to Danish design history with their experimenting and ground-breaking designs. DOMO
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The Harmon Side Table from CamerichThe Harmon Side Table is available in a walnut top and a leather body. The top can also be done in marble for an extra modern feel. It looks great paired with the Harmon Ottoman. Camerich
The Wing Lux Desk from ApatoThe Wing Lux is a compact desk that can be flexibly placed at different angles. The orientation of the drawers can be easily changed by swivelling the rotatable tabletop. The attention to detail, evident inside the drawers, the accompanying wooden accessories tray and the triangular joints heightens the user experience. Apato
The W102 CHIPPERFIELD desk lamp from EuroluceThe W102 CHIPPERFIELD adjustable task lamp designed by David Chipperfield for WASTBERG, comprises of a forged copper base, and spun copper shade and stems. The head can be adjusted 140 degrees (+/-) horizontally, and ball bearing construction allows the smooth movement of the arms. Euroluce
The Coledale Rug from Designer RugsColedale was created as a 'post-script' to the Sandscript Collection by Caroline Baum – a revisit of the inspirations of the original designs with an updated twist. Based on the eroded rock platforms of its namesake suburb, this textural and organic design maintains Baum's signature coastal style mixed with all the opulence of a handknot rug. Designer Rugs
The Mito Lighting Series by Tom Fereday from Rakemba LightingThe Mito lighting series was designed to celebrate the natural beauty and character of raw materials. Minimal in design, Mito juxtaposes precision manufacturing techniques with natural hand finished timbers and stones to create a truly sculptural light. Tom Fereday
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The Porthole Infuser from Top3 by designA must for every “foodie”. The Porthole is a simple, beautiful infusion vessel designed by Martin Kastner of Crucial Detail design studio. It can be used to create striking cocktails, oils, teas, dressings, lemonade, coffee, or any other type of cold infusion. Top3 by design abc
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The café is many things: an object of nostalgia, a stage for inventing oneself, a place for creating relationships and a home, in the words of the Austrian critic, Alfred Polgar, “for all who wish to be alone but need sociability for this”.Grounded by a similar understanding, the Labotory design team behind Café Oriente say a space of this kind needs not only to “deliver beautiful visuals but also offer a unique emotional experience”. Café Oriente is located amidst Itaewon, Seoul, an area that was avoided for political reasons in the three decades prior. What used to be a United States Military Base has now revolutionised into one of the most vibrant parts of Seoul, grabbing the attention of tourists and university students alike. Found at the very end of Hannam-Dong’s narrow alley, the café is somewhat sunken into the ground. Informed by the client’s desire to have a space “where the oriental aesthetics are implied,” local interior design practice, Labotory, pairs the traditional Hanok (a Korean house) aesthetic with a contemporary minimalist design. Korean architecture places a lot of emphasis on positioning the house amongst the surroundings. In this case, synonymous with a Hanok, the café layout is designed around a front courtyard. The expandability of this space serves as a bridge between the interior and the exterior, decorated with a small garden that has been styled underneath customer café seats. Cement plastered walls, terrazzo and stone tiles, and exposed concrete curved ceiling form the framework of textures evident in Hanoks around Korea. Where natural wood was used for the barista bar, it was also introduced as wall panels and furniture to add a sense of familiarity and warmth. The semi-subterranean space has a repeating motif of curves, seen once at the awning that meets the ceiling as guests move indoors and again as a seating arrangement. The curved ceiling adds depth and appears as though it is floating. The ceiling, which is backlit with a white hue, resembles the cream colour of traditional Korean paper and contrasts subtly with granite. Providing a refined sense of nuance for all visitors, Café Oriente successfully shows respect to the country and to the architecture it resides in. Labotory labotory.com Photography by Yongjun Choi We think you might also like A Cultural Guide To Café Designabc