Elaine Devereux has been working in the design business for the past 20 years. The Irish-born furniture importer and designer gave up a job in international marketing throughout Europe before moving into buying, renovating, styling and selling property in Amsterdam and London.
Now in Perth, Elaine is developing and styling properties locally and has launched Sebastian Alexander, a trade-only showroom dedicated to her own furniture line of contemporary colonial-inspired pieces – called Sebastian Alexander – and the exclusive Australian distributorship of Jakarta-based Zapp Design.
Zapp Design is the mostly handcrafted work of a Brazilian industrial designer Reynaldo Maldonado, known as Zapp, who has worked as a product and graphic designer throughout the US and France before moving to Bali in 1997 and launching Zapp in 2000.
“My main principle is to design pieces that are useful, simple, contemporary, sophisticated – but never ostentatious – sensual, well-proportioned and with an artistic quality. It needs to mean something else to the user more than just its functional aspect. It has to fill a space with a certain sculptural quality. It has to bring the experience of touch as much as its visual aspect,” says Zapp.
While his pieces have the relaxed lines of resort-style living, there is also something South American about them, particularly in pieces such as the Sooki, Flying, Crab and Jungle chairs. Zapp calls it ‘tropical Latin’.
“From my native country, I look at the rich elements that Brazilian music brought to the world… I believe that, like Bossa Nova and the new version of this distinctive Brazilian sound, my designs have this unmistakably tropical Latin influence that we call ‘bossa’, which is a special and unique sensual touch I inherited while growing up in Rio de Janeiro. From living in the US, I learned about being practical and functional… From Paris, I learned about taste and refinement… From South-East Asia, I look for simplicity, spiritual values, nature, tradition…” says Zapp.
It’s a passion for wood that also drives Zapp’s designs. He feels strongly about the use of plantation woods, so works mainly in plantation teak and mahogany, plus rattan and is experimenting with bamboo and FSC-certified timbers.
“I also work with a local Indonesian species called mindy, which is a fast-growing timber from the pine family and is very similar to cedar in grain and colouration, and some fruit species, like mango, as accents.
“I am also part of an independent group of entrepreneurs who produce and maintain a tree nursery that is then given to villagers to use in the reforestation of devastated lands, by which we maintain a sustainable supply of timber and, at the same time, contribute to the livelihood of local communities, which is also an effective alternative for them against illegal logging,” says Zapp.
Elaine launched Sebastian Alexander in March this year and says her line of furniture is all about “modern classics with a bit of fun”. “A lot of the lines are based on my experiences in Amsterdam and London, and they have colonial-style, luxury finishes such as lacquer, tortoiseshell, hide and brass,” she says.
Elaine will be bringing out two Sebastian Alexander collections a year – one in September and one in March – but there will be key pieces that she will carry all year round. There are standard pieces in the Zapp range, which will be added to as new pieces are launched.