You won't find a hand-poured, hand-moulded pepper grinder made
from New Zealand beech and Australian brass at Ikea. Nor will you
find bespoke chefs' knives crafted from re-purposed skateboards or
stunning shibori-dyed napkins in deep indigo hues. Let us save you
the queues and the qualms (and throw in a little wabi-sabi to
boot): here are five Australian makers to look out for right
Rowland Perry hasn't been making knives for very long, but as a kid growing up fishing and hunting in rural New Zealand, he always had the need for a blade. A friendly competition with his dad to make a knife in 2013 prompted the now Sydney-based designer to start Skate Shank, a backyard business refashioning old skateboards into bespoke kitchen tools such as chef and cheese knives and pizza cutters. No two Skate Shank designs are the same and 95 per cent of Perry's work is done by hand. Talk about sharp.
Skate Shank, skateshank.com
While you might have come across Shilo Engelbrecht's designs in Jac+Jack, Sportscraft, or in the lifts at the Ham Yard Hotel in London's Soho, her own collection of homewares, Älv, is equally striking. The magic begins on canvas: Engelbrecht's oil paintings - expressive layers of pink and burgundy, offset by forest green, navy or peach, perhaps - are photographed then digitally printed on soft European linens and silk. Her linen napkins, for starters, will completely transform your next table setting. But be warned, you'll have your eye on the bed linen or a wall hanging, next.
Älv by Shilo Engelbrecht, shilo.net.au
The Seasonal Circle
After studying nutrition, Hannah Archibald went on to work as a private chef, and spent her days growing and preparing wild and native Australian food for clients such as activewear designer Lorna Jane Clarkson. Now she's a designer, but still lives and breathes the rhythm of the seasons from her home in Cabarita Beach in northern New South Wales. What originally began as "knocking up some simple labels for the garden", she says, has since turned into sandblasting and cutting marble French vanilla-hued egg trays and Calcutta-gold salt and pepper wells for her food concept and homewares line, The Seasonal Circle.
The Seasonal Circle, theseasonal.com
Between her backyard and laundry in Melbourne, Victoria Pemberton has spent the past four years up to her elbows in vats of indigo, practising the ancient Japanese art of shibori dyeing. Pemberton only uses natural, plant-derived dyes and everything from PVC pipes to beer coasters to create patterns. The result is a unique collection of hand-sewn tablecloths, napkins and tea towels that will brighten your table setting and mood in equal measure.
Bind|Fold Napery, blog.bindandfold.com
Christian Tucker and Breeze Callahan grew up as family friends in Canberra, but it wasn't until the pair moved to Melbourne independently as adults that they decided to work together on their brand Hank. The pair's first product, Forbes, is a hand-moulded pepper mill made of concrete, brass and New Zealand beech timber; and its sidekick, Ike, is a salt bowl. While Hank's pieces might be minimal in style, they're certainly not short on character.
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Subtle in style, strong on character.