At Hale Mercantile Co, we are passionate about the quality and integrity of the products we create and recommend. Our hard work, care, and passion for what we do is rewarded when we see Hale Mercantile products styled in a beautiful space. Suffice to say we get a buzz when we see how our products are loved and cherished by others. This is why we are excited about this particular blog feature we are about to share with you.
Nestled in the quiet river-sde town of Jugiong, beside sweeping paddocks in the countryside of NSW, sits an unassuming old fashioned country pub by the name of The Sir George. This hidden gem brings old-world nostalgia and contemporary comfort together. Originally built in 1852, the historic venue has been restored to create an eclectic space filled with character and charm, and now includes a restaurant, boutique bar, accommodation and artisan bakery.
Just off the hume highway between Sydney and Melbourne, The Sir George makes for the perfect watering hole or overnight stop for the weary traveler. Grounded in a philosophy of simplicity and authenticity, you’ll be treated to a menu of locally sourced Hilltops produce, a quaint beer garden, and fresh-baked goods.
Should you decided to stay the night, you’ll be welcomed into warm and homely rooms adorned with stunning linen by Hale Mercantile Co. With everything The Sir George has to offer, you’ll find it hard to leave!
The Sir George showcases Hale Mercantile Co Crush Linen Throw, Flocca Linen European Pillowcase, Basix European Pillowcase, and Linen Cushions
Years ago I was lucky enough to travel to Tasmania for the very first time. I was amazed by the raw beauty of it and I inevitably fell in love with it right from the start.
One of the many great things about Tasmania is its history and rugged coastal beaches that still seem untouched to this day, many of these places are small islands off the main land where you can visit. One of Australia’s best kept travel secrets is Satellite Island, about a 40-minute drive from the Bruny Island ferry terminal and a five minute boat trip across the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. If you have ever dreamed of owning your own island here is your chance to experience that feeling for your very self.
Satellite Island is owned by Melbourne based couple, Kate and Will Alstergren and is one place that everyone should have on their bucket list. The island, which some say is at the ‘end of the world’ is part of the Partridge Island Group, lying close to the south-eastern coast of Tasmania surrounded by an ancient fossil clad rock shelf, home to an array of local shellfish, including crayfish, native scallops, abalone and oysters.
The isolation of Satellite Island does not mean all of life’s comforts are left behind. In fact, just the opposite. Satellite Island is the definition of modern luxury when it comes to styling and design. Interior Stylist Tess Newman-Morris, along with owner Kate create the ultimate getaway by using calm beachy neutral tones, deep greys and blues and soft luxurious throws and linens by us here at Hale Mercantile Co. We spoke with Kate about the island and what draws visitors here from all over the world.
What is it about Satellite Island that draws visitors here from all over?
It is hard to say but our guest book is filled with comments about the peace, the perfect isolation, the beauty of the rock shelf, the secret coves, open fields, the night sky, the sense of having the whole world to yourself. Guests love the understated luxury of the Summer House and the Boathouse and the beauty of the surrounding Tasmanian wilderness. There are no time frames on the island, no breakfast cut off, you set your own clock. There is no one to grab that sun lounge next to the water first. All these things combine to connect you to what is real in life and silence what is not. The experience is one of complete relaxation. These things draw visitors to the island.
Who are the typical travellers that are attracted to Satellite Island?
We have many couples visiting for holidays, anniversaries and getaways. We have had many very special wedding proposals during stays, which are always wonderful. There are also families visiting for special occasion birthdays, groups of friends and solo travellers. We have many international guests and many from interstate.
Is there a part of the island that you love the most?
I adore the Boathouse. I love sleeping there with the doors wide open, the sea gently lapping underneath and the stars twinkling above. The top of the island is also a favourite spot. I always take a deep breath here, as this spot fills your soul. From here you have a 360 degree views of Bruny Island, the Hartz Mountains and the beautiful D'Entrecasteaux Channel. In winter the snowcapped mountains are heaven and in summer the sunsets are breathtaking. And then there is Last Glimpse Point on the southern most tip of the island. Here as you look towards Antarctica, the island's sheer cliffs fall away to the rock shelf and the Southern Ocean below. There is a silence here and, immersed in nature, you marvel at the beauty of the world.
What goes into the process to the select the brands that you choose to represent you on the Island?
We have carefully chosen the brands we use on the island. We have chosen natural products that all complement the understated luxury of the island aesthetic. They are brands that reflect care, simplicity, luxury, truth, beauty, quality, passion and have a connection to nature. That is why we use and love Hale Mercantile. Pure European linen is a beautiful natural product using the finest flax and produced with care and passion. We adore the colours of Hale Mercantile's linen bedding as they reflect the beautiful natural colours of the island and the surrounding wilderness.
How would you describe Satellite Island in five words?
Haven. Pure. Wilderness. Wild. Untouched.
Kate sweetly ended our chat with; “I agonised over the 5 words... and realised that magic was definitely one of them I forgot to put down. There is definitely a magic there!”
Accommodation can accommodate up to 12 guests. The Summer House sleeps 6 guests across three bedrooms with a king-sized main bedroom. The boat house has two bedrooms and is located right on the jetty’s edge. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can try glamping under the stars in a queen sized bell tent.
Virgin, Tiger, Qantas and Jetstar all fly to Hobart and Satellite Island is a five-minute boat ride from Bruny Island’s hamlet of Alonnah which is a 40-minute drive from the Bruny Island ferry terminal. Guest are then met by the Island Manager who transports them to the Island by boat.
Juz Kitson is a ceramicist from Sydney’s Central Coast who has been based in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen (often known as the world renowned porcelain capital) for the last 6 years. Kitson uses her fascination with organic forms to create objects of unsettling beauty.
Her work consists of wall sculptures, taxonomic collections of small works displayed in groups usually built around that enduring signifier of love, death and desire – the heart. Just as Kitson’s sculptures appear undefined in their very form, they also blur the barriers between living and decaying.
We are absolutely fascinated with Juz’s work here at Hale and we were so lucky that she was kind enough to ‘Take Five’ with us and give a rare insight into her fascinating world.
HMCo: Tell us a little bit about your background – what path led you to what you’re doing now?
I learnt from a very early age that I wanted to pursue a career in the arts, attending art school at The National Art School in Sydney and surrounding myself with an eclectic group of people from all walks of life meant I was exposed to a lot about art, music and culture. Originally I wanted to pursue photography but I became sidetracked by the endless possibilities of ceramics and have never looked back.
HMCo: What does a typical day of yours involve?
A typical day doesn’t exist in my world. I thrive on chaos and tend to be ‘go go go’ all the time. I lead a very nomadic lifestyle, constantly moving; I need a lot of visual stimulation to make the type of work I do. The different landscapes and cultures I surround myself in influences the type of work I make.
A day involves; a coffee of course, healthy breakfast, yoga or a walk with my Tibetan spaniel, check emails, a few phone calls and then straight into the studio. My work is incredibly labour intensive and often demands 10-16 hour work days. I’m a night owl, so often I burn the midnight candle.
HMCo: Who inspires you inside & outside the design world?
I’m inspired by strong independent women in the contemporary art scene. The artists Patricia Piccinini and Del Kathryn Barton, the gallerists Jan Murphy and Roslyn Oxley, the curator Alexi Glass, the writer Miranda Darling and Chinese artist Cao Fei based in Beijing.
HMCo: Which other Australian designers, artists or brands are you loving at the moment?
I’m loving Skarfe at the moment, based in Sydney’s Potts Point and working collaboratively with artists to produce the prints for their beautiful scarves.
In terms of ceramics I’m a big fan of my fellow contemporaries like Brendan Huntley, Lynda Draper and Glenn Barkley. All pushing the traditional notions of a medium steeped in history onto a contemporary platform.
HMCo: What would be your dream creative project?
Most of my work to date has been site specific within the white cube gallery space. A dream project would be to cover an entire facade of a beautifully designed architectural building with hand built porcelaneous objects or to create a major suspended ethereal installation in a foyer with objects illuminated with LED Lights.
HMCo: While you are based o/s - what do you miss most about Australia?
I’ve been based in Jingdezhen China for 6 years - for me it’s the hustle and bustle I’m attracted to there, the realisation of ideas in a short period of time and accessibility to materials and processes. It’s a fast paced life and I thrive on it, although I often miss the Australian bush, the diversity of our land here is like nothing I’ve seen elsewhere in the world.
Citing craftsmanship, innovation and research as their core values, one of our favourite online journals, LE PARADOX' ethos befits HMCo's philosophy of culture, tradition, pride and centuries of craftsmanship. A recently published article by Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Cecilia Musmeci caught our attention where she chats to Italian label Archivio J.M. Ribot and their artisinal approach to creating garments.
Describing Archivio J.M. Ribot's collection as "digging into the past to give a new identity to clothes that have a memory," Cecilia expressed that she "really hopes we will have the chance to actually touch and see the pieces in person as they are truly outstanding. One can sense the incredible craftwork behind each stitching."
So do we.
ARCHIVIO J.M. RIBOT – CAPSULE I
Nostalgia is an active and useful creative tool that brings the old times back.In this spirit, Archivio J.M. Ribot digs into the past to give a new identity to things that have a memory. Officially launched last year, Archvio J.M. Ribot is a research clothing project split in two capsule collections: Riforma, consisting of one-of-a-kind pieces created by combining antique parts of clothing from early 20th century, and Archivio, a series of limited edition garments made with ancient fabrics collected in a textile archive throughout the years. The concept that inspired the project subverts codes of sartorial conservatism, showcasing a great engagement with craft...
It would be hard to imagine anyone more passionate about ceramics, and the more imperfect the better.Interior designer Janine Vasta takes us to meet Justin van Nierop, artisan, designer and founder of the Melbourne tile gallery Urban Edge Ceramics.
Justin van Nierop started Urban Edge Ceramics 15 years ago in an inner city Richmond warehouse that he says had seen better days. “It was supposed to be a hobby project, a toy.” Justin set up the showroom after the pace of the successful Sydney renovation company he ran with his sister left him looking for something more low-key.
Instead the thriving business now sees him crossing the globe several times a year in search of the best and latest surfaces in Europe and beyond. But meeting Justin you get the feeling that nothing he does stays small for long. He’s the kind of person who reminds you that success really can come from following your passion and trusting your own sense of style. Oh, and that perfection is way overrated.
The highly skilled Portuguese artisans Justin has teamed up with to produce his latest collection had a hard time understanding that he wasn’t seeking a faultless tile. “The first samples they produced were just too perfect,” he says. “It was a really difficult process. They just didn’t believe that we actually wanted the tiles to have wobbly edges and for the glaze not to be perfectly even and flat.”
Justin says that his partners in the new range are Portugal’s only government certified producers of ceramic tiles. “They kept looking at us and saying, ‘but no!’,” he laughs. “These guys have been conditioned to create the perfect handmade tile. It was a bit of a shock when we actually wanted them to relax a bit.”
The result, “Fifth Element Handmade Tiles”, is completely artisan-made, from sourcing and mixing the clay and grinding the pigments for the glaze to the firing process that creates the little imperfections that make every tile in the collection unique. “Everything is done as it has been for centuries,” he says. Laying them out on the table back in Melbourne, Justin looks like a proud father. He loves them. He dreams about them he tells me unashamedly. “They’re my gems.”
This isn’t such an odd analogy when you consider Justin trained as a goldsmith in Sydney and spent his childhood fixing old watches with his father, a Dutch watchmaker and jeweler. The youngest of five and the only boy, he learnt from his father to love and respect handmade objects and the artisans who create them. This passion for craft and the happiness that comes from beautiful textures and surfaces shapes the collection at Urban Edge Ceramics.
Justin’s Dutch-born mother played her part too, making everything at home from bread and cakes to clothes by hand. “Nothing was bought," he says. “It was the seventies and there was a lot of sameness but everything we had was handmade.” Fast forward to 2015 and Justin thinks his mum’s handmade fashion would be way cool today. “Handmade clothes, handmade food, handmade whatever is cool now,” he says. “It’s self-expression. Whatever is cool for you is cool.”
For Justin, along with his fierce anti-sameness ethos, certain inspirations never falter. When I ask him where he finds most of his products for UEC he’s quick to single out Italy as his go-to place for everything from lifestyle and coffee to tiles. “The Italians are the best,” he says. “I know them and I know their quality is going to be first class."
But he’s also ready to add a new muse to the list. “Lisbon is amazing,” he says, recounting the story of a dinner for two in the Portuguese capital (Justin works and travels with his partner Mia) that turned into a late night sightseeing tour with the local couple at the next table. “The Portuguese are so open, ” he says. “They say ‘this is our style’ but they’re not too proud to reinvent themselves and try new things. I could move there tomorrow."
Orchard Keepers is a superb 10-acre property nestled among the vineyards and orchards of Red Hill on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. There are three cottages that have been standing since the 1890s and 1950s, which have been restored and rejuvenated to create the ideal holiday accommodation with a touch of luxury.
When I phone Poss Sampieri early one Monday morning to arrange a time for this interview, she is busily changing linen bedding after a full weekend of guests. Since opening Orchard Keepers in 2013, her hands-on approach has well and truly paid off.
Warm and vivacious, Poss is the first to admit that maintaining Orchard Keepers requires a huge amount of work. However, she does it with passion, which makes the effort possible, and ultimately, deeply rewarding. “Unless you are actually prepared to do it yourself, get your hands dirty and feel it, it’s not going to work,” she says.
A 24-year background in sales and marketing with Ansett and Air New Zealand has given Poss a wealth of knowledge to apply to running Orchard Keepers, some of which is purely innate. Every detail of the business is carefully considered, from the slick website to the fresh flowers in each room, which are lovingly sourced from local gardens.
Indeed, Orchard Keepers is attracting guests from as far as Singapore, England and America due to her business savvy and dedication to creating a “chic country” escape. Sweeping sea views, an established garden and children’s playground are just a few of the details that make Orchard Keepers stand out. Antique furniture, original artworks, Grown Alchemist and Hale Mercantile Co. bedlinen ensure guests feel suitably indulged.
“The biggest thing for me is that people appreciate the space and feel at home,” she says. “I don’t want Orchard Keepers to be a design success and for people to go there and think it’s awful. I always say it’s not about how it looks, it’s about how it feels.”
After deciding to open a holiday retreat, it took Poss three years to find the right location. Initially she was interested in the neighbouring property but when Orchard Keepers came up for sale, she bought it immediately (it had only been on the market for two days). The charm of the old cottages, beautiful garden and surrounding scenery completely won her over.
Running the business hasn’t been without challenges, but Poss always manages to find clever and positive solutions. You can’t foresee issues that may arise before beginning a business, but these are the things that strengthen your approach and grow your wisdom. “It’s a fine line between picking up on things and becoming too cynical,” she says. “You have to just allow things to happen and you have to let them go.”
Poss says that Orchard Keepers wouldn’t be what it is without the people she works with and is quick to sing their praises. Every few months, she takes her small team out for a meal to touch base and express her gratitude. This open-hearted nature is characteristic of everything she does.
“All the people I work with are not picked randomly, they are who they are because I need them and I know I can’t run the business without them,” she says. “It was basically getting the best people, putting them all together and making it happen.”
Never in her wildest dreams did Poss imagine Orchard Keepers would be such a hit. The picturesque property is already booked out until November 2016, and the future is bright. She has bonded with the Red Hill community, and works closely with local wineries, restaurants, builders and gardeners. Poss is keen to open another holiday retreat in the area, one that offers the same unique features of Orchard Keepers, but with a different design aesthetic.
It seems that part of Orchard Keepers’ success stems from the energy Poss injects into the business and her generous philosophy. With editorials in Elle Decor Ukraine and Condé Nast, Germany, Canada and more, obviously she is doing something pretty special.
“In the last six years of my corporate life I commuted to Sydney every week, so on a Monday morning I’d get on a plane to Sydney and stay for two or three days and I’ve got three kids. I was sometimes in Perth, Brisbane, New Zealand and the States,” she says. “Now when I go to work, I drive down the peninsula, I drive up the driveway with a beautiful hedge and I see the workers’ cottage, which is 150 years old. It’s just such a nice place to be.”