VOGUE Living Australia - - Contents - Visit na­tiveswin­ VL

A life­long love of na­ture emboldens this artis­tic Syd­ney de­signer

PAST AND PRESENT EX­PLOITS amid the Aus­tralian land­scape and a care­free coun­try child­hood were the in­spi­ra­tion for Na­tive Swin­son, a new col­lec­tion of hand-crafted wall­pa­pers and fab­rics by Syd­ney de­signer Kate Swin­son. “I grew up on a farm in south­ern New South Wales and my own kids [Oona, 14, Frida, 11, and Teddy, 3] have trig­gered all those mem­o­ries,” she says. “When I was a child, we’d all wan­der around in our gum­boots and climb trees, and we made tree houses out of wood, so that def­i­nitely comes into my chil­dren’s wall­pa­per.” A sense of the hand-drawn helps to con­nect de­signs that are evenly weighted be­tween those suit­able for chil­dren — such as the won­der­fully whim­si­cal ‘ Na­tive Tree­house’ mu­ral and ‘Teeny, Tiny Na­tive Birds in a Large Flock’ — and her more so­phis­ti­cated mo­tifs. “The idea is to make it like a draw­ing on your wall,” Swin­son ex­plains. Once she has com­pleted her orig­i­nal, in­tri­cate line works, her team of graphic de­sign­ers change their scale to suit wall­pa­per or fab­ric re­peats. “I like to draw smaller, half the size of what it ac­tu­ally needs to be, be­cause then you get the de­tail,” she says, pulling out the orig­i­nal work for her ‘Banksia’ print. Swin­son is in the en­vi­able po­si­tion of be­ing able to turn her pas­sion into her liveli­hood. “I went through RMIT Univer­sity in Mel­bourne with first-class hon­ours in paint­ing then did my mas­ter’s in draw­ing at COFA [Col­lege of Fine Arts, since re­named as the Univer­sity of New South Wales School of Art & De­sign] in Syd­ney,” she says. Af­ter her stud­ies, she spent three years de­sign­ing home­wares in In­done­sia. “The wall­pa­per and fab­ric has been a great join­ing to­gether of the fine arts and the de­sign. It just made sense to me — two of the things that I love, I can ram them to­gether.”

Sus­tain­abil­ity is also close to Swin­son’s heart. Her wall­pa­pers and fab­rics are screen-printed in Mel­bourne and use non-toxic cer­ti­fied inks on or­ganic pa­pers and cot­ton-base cloths. “I want ev­ery­thing to be very eth­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tal, and find­ing the right ma­te­ri­als and the right screen-printer was ac­tu­ally harder than I thought,” she says. Na­tive Swin­son wall­pa­per and fab­ric is cur­rently made to or­der for the trade, but there are plans to branch out into high-end Syd­ney re­tail­ers and add fin­ished prod­ucts such as cush­ions. “There has also been talk of win­dow cov­er­ings and the fab­ric is suit­able for up­hol­stery,” Swin­son says. Sheers are planned for sum­mer and new de­signs will fo­cus on del­i­cate wax and flower flan­nels. “It’s pretty lim­it­less,” she ad­mits. “I have been re­ally for­tu­nate. So far, so good.”

clock­wise from top left: Na­tive Swin­son de­signs in­clude ‘Banksia’ (front, right). Kate Swin­son at her Bondi stu­dio in Syd­ney. Biro draw­ings for ‘Teeny, Tiny Na­tive Birds in a Large Flock’ typ­ify the start of the process.

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