Australian House & Garden
Bonnie Ashley and Neil Downie
Former florist Bonnie and furniture-maker Neil are the duo behind textile brand, Bonnie and Neil. Their hand-screenprinted products are sold on every continent.
THE THINGS THAT SPARK JOY FOR YOU? Bonnie: Growing flowers and being out in the garden; cooking feasts for family and friends; painting, researching patterns and colours and visiting art galleries. Neil: Music. I love finding new artists and exploring their back catalogues. Travel is also a big hitter for me, revisiting favourite places and exploring new ones.
UNEXPECTED POSITIVES OF 2021? Bonnie: People spending time at home and wanting to improve their home has driven an increase in sales. It’s been heartwarming to see our stockists doing well as their communities have an appetite to support local businesses and Australian-made products.
A LESSON LEARNED FROM THE COVID ERA? Neil: That lots of things are out of our control! Going with the flow and taking each day as it comes has been a difficult but rewarding lesson.
HOW WILL YOU CELEBRATE THE FESTIVE SEASON? Bonnie: We hope to visit family in New Zealand or Queensland. If we stay in Melbourne, we’ll have a long lunch with friends, with plenty of seafood, salads, desserts, bubbles and cocktails!
FESTIVE TIPPLE OF CHOICE? Bonnie: Champagne, prosecco or a cocktail with summer berries. Neil: Dirty Martini, which I’ve been perfecting over the years!
GO-TO STORES FOR GIFT SHOPPING? Bonnie: Mud Australia and Dinosaur Designs for homewares, Readings for books and Haigh’s for the delicious chocolate.
AN IDEAL SUMMER’S DAY INVOLVES…? Bonnie: A leisurely sleep in, prepping and enjoying a long barbecue lunch at home with friends. Neil: Heading out of town and exploring a new location – coastal towns or inland villages. And record shopping.
HOLIDAY FASHION MUST-HAVES? Bonnie: Linen dresses in pretty prints and colours with sandals. And sunglasses!
TRAVELLING OVER SUMMER? Neil: If allowed, we would love to head back to Tasmania and visit Freycinet in January.
ULTIMATE HOLIDAY DESTINATION? Neil: Having both grown up on the South Island of New Zealand, we are probably biased but we love New Zealand. Queenstown is hard to beat.
KEY TUNES ON YOUR SUMMER PLAYLIST? Neil: Current favourites include Source by Nubya Garcia, Salt & Pepper by Dope Lemon and Fantastic Man by William Onyeabor. BOOKS YOU’LL BE READING OVER SUMMER? Bonnie: As an avid cook and entertainer, cookbooks are my go-to.
QUINTESSENTIAL SUMMER MEAL? Bonnie: Delicious fresh seafood with salads – Ottolenghi recipes are favourites! – and summer fruits to finish, accompanied by organic wine.
FAVOURITE SUMMER SCENT? Bonnie: Tom Ford ‘Bitter Peach’. In nature, I love the scent of gardenia and garden roses.
HOPES FOR NEXT YEAR? Bonnie: Visiting family and spending time with our friends. We’ve missed out on so much over the past 18 months, so there’s lots to catch up on.
WHAT’S AHEAD FOR BONNIE AND NEIL? We’re adding new categories to our product mix – so much on the horizon! >
“Top of our list is visiting family and spending time with friends.”
“The last two years have forced us to adapt and think about new ways of doing things...”