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Design Hunter Q+A with Gascoigne & King

Producing beautiful handmade candles from her home in Sydney’s Surry Hills, Bronwyn Gascoigne’s design favourites range from loungers to soy bottles.

Your name: Bronwyn Gascoigne

What you do: I hand-make a range of luxury scented candles in Surry Hills. I only use sustainably farmed, non-GM soy wax and have developed a range of my own uniquely blended fragrances. The packaging is all made locally from recycled products, but we have managed to do this and maintain a luxury style. The best of both worlds really.

Your latest project: I am currently working on a new line of fragrances that are reminiscent of older times.  Classic fragrances such as tobacco, bay rum cloves and patchouli. I have been inspired by winter this year – this range will be perfect for cold nights inside.

Who are two people that inspire/excite you:

1) My father Ray Gascoigne, who makes beautiful ships in bottles. He has spent his life on the sea and as a shipwright he is able to make exact replicas of real boats, some of which he even sailed in or captained himself.

2) Drag race car drivers. The drivers of top fuel drag cars sit behind an engine with 7000 horsepower and accelerate to 350mph in 4.5 seconds. Just watching from the crowd is deafening and the sound waves distort your vision and shake your whole body. These guys are sitting in the cars! It’s insane.

What is your favourite…

Car/bike/plane/boat model: A 1968 AC Shelby Cobra. Very sexy and very fast. Caroll Shelby was a race car driver and also worked with car Vendors, to make they’re cars look amazing and perform even better. He mainly worked with Fords. However when he came across the AC Ace he worked with the manufacturer to redesign the body, and put a ford V8 engine into it and the Shelby Cobra was born.  

Chair model: I love the Eames Recliner. It’s beautiful, functional and suits any space. 

Residential space: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water House. Truly inspirational, and you can watch it on fallingwater cam.

Commercial space: I haven’t been there yet but it would have to be Mona in Tasmania. I’ve seen the pictures now I need to get down there. 

Decorative product: Contemporary Art. We have lots of great contemporary artists in Australia, Hugh Ford, Krista Berger, Judith Wright, Paul Davies… I also love Contemporary Asian artists such as Zhang Xiagang and Fang Lijun.

Functional product: a vacuum cleaner makes life a bit easier.

Handmade good: My Father’s ships in bottles. Every one of them is astonishing. Each one is a little story from a particular place in time.

Mass-produced good: The 1960’s Kikkoman soy sauce bottle is a classic design still used and recognised after all this time. 

Meal: Hawker street food in Singapore. Absolutely everything is good but I particulary like Hai Nan chicken which is poached chicken on rice which has been cooked in the poaching juice. Its then served with a ginger and shallot sauce and chilli.

Restaurant: The fantastic Argentinian restaurant Porteno, and Billy Kwong in Surry Hills. Chairman Mao in Kensington also serves up delicious and very spicy dishes from Hunan provence.

Drink: a shaken Margarita with a very salty rim

Bar: Gnome in Surry Hills. It’s small and the people are friendly and it’s a great hangout for locals who live and work in Surry Hills.

Item in your studio: a candle top melter. I made it myself to make my candle making process a bit more efficient. It comprises of a hospital style bedside table and an outdoor heater. It is a good example and function but not form. It’s ugly but it works! 

Piece of technology: my iphone and apps. I love getting text messages because they’re always from people I love.

Historical figure: Albert Einstein. His theory of relativity has changed the way we view physics forever.

fictional character: Sodapop from the book The Outsiders. I read it in high school and I had a huge teenage crush on him. The great thing about characters from books is that they look just the way you want them to.

Vice: Extensive socialising in and around Surry Hills with my great friends. There are so many cool bars and restaurants in Surry Hills its hard to stay home. 

Virtue: My candle making helper who was once homeless and a heroin addict now helps me on a daily basis making candles. It’s given him a purpose and has helped him to get straight. He just needed the break. We met in the local park a couple of years ago and we have become friends. He loves to talk and he’s slow to get things done but we enjoy each other’s company. 

What does the term ‘Design Hunter’ mean to you? The first thing that comes to mind is ‘be open to everything around you’ Design is more important in our lives than many people recognise.

Gascoigne & King