Friday, July 30, 2010

Parent Room roll call #2 - Victoria Gardens

Maybe this can be seen as a community service, but I reckon Parent's Rooms (PRs) should be held up to some sort of review process. They are used incessantly, can be a haven for brand-new mums or refuge for strung-out experienced ones so we need to know where the good ones are!

I can remember when Lucas was very new, I felt a little alien getting back out amongst it with a newborn so having somewhere to go where a) it was warm (Lucas is an August baby) and b) had somewhere I could run to in case he started screaming/I started having a meltdown - so large shopping centres with their fully equipped and comfortable Parent's Rooms were the destination of choice, even if the sad line-up of clothing chains were all the same - it's not like I was going to fit my post-baby arse into a pair of Dotti jeans any time soon.

Vic Gardens Parents Room
So it was we ended up in the PR at Victoria Gardens in Richmond today. A long room with family loo at the end (equipped with adult and kiddie loo for simultaneous pees!) We are toilet training at the mo so this is the facility we utilised today - and all good. Lucas loved the kid-sized seat (he's still a newbie at this - I was very impressed with accident-free shopping trip, and we even went to Ikea). Large cubicle so we could fit the pram in as well. Only gripe would be maybe including a kid-sized handbasin as well so he could wash hands on his own (or else a stepping stool provided).

The boys suss out the kids facilities
The room itself is comfortable, providing a good kids corner with table & chairs for kiddies who are waiting, and includes a cute bug-lamp installation on the wall above. There are 2 sofas for feeding, as well as 2 feeding booths with curtains. I have used these booths for feeding before and I have to say I did find the harsh lighting a little much for bub, plus the fact that, being a long room, the booths are along the wall on the way to the loos and found all and sundry traipsing past to get there a little distracting too (booth doors are pretty but flimsy Ikea curtains), this might be OK if you are all good with the feeding gig but if you're having difficulties with it all as I was, it could get a little off-putting.

Feeding booth (bright lights!)
Other than this, the room is good, 2 change tables (probably could fit more) and  microwave for bottle heating. Ideally located beside the dining space at Vic Gardens too. I find this shopping centre a good size, as it is well equipped but not too big - really important when you have toddlers who love to run - I can't help giving him a little freedom, esp in winter it's hard to get to the park for wide open spaces...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Clean Lines made the awesome tree

How great is this tree?

the awesome tree

A friend and I stumbled across it while attending the Clean Lines exhibition for the State of Design fest, which was also fab... Adaptive Re-use was the theme of the night, some highlights for me:

Stencil & Screen Art - Ralf Kempken

We were absolutely captivated by the entrance artwork for the exhibition below, and to think it's a cut-up bed sheet!
Unknown Laundry by Ralf Kempken - with cute terrier
Jewellery - Shimara Carlow

Lovely and delicate silverwork, fashioned into pretty pieces inspired by nature. Loved the 'Adaptive-Re-use' of the milkbottle jewellery too! I reckon I might be commissioning a piece of my own...
Image courtesy Shimara
 Lighting - Volker Haug

I had seen Volker Haug's designs on The Design Files and was fascinated, so it was great to see his stuff in the flesh. I love Rudolph!

Animal Art - Rona Green

We loved Rona's work, esp since my companion is an animal lover, Dutch, below was a favourite and my chosen bookmark.

Dutch by Rona Green

All the exhibitors were great, and loved seeing the Adaptive Re-use (theme of the night) of the Mercator Studios (which was originally a laundry), but I do have to say the find of the night was the tree! Have to head back for more shots with the tripod I reckon...

Oh, ending the night with tapas at Kojo Brown was pretty special too - Thanks E!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

boys and their (big) toys

I'm constantly amazed at how (almost) absolutely anything happening in our world is captivating to small children, and it's fabulous being reminded everyday.

This is not so much a design post as a parenty one, but good if you don't have heaps of cash to be able to take kiddies to the zoo/aquarium/playcentre to keep them occupied. To get out of the house today the boys and I went for a stroll up the street.

Just near our local shopping centre, a brand new block of apartments is being demolished after years of being unoccupied and becoming a dodgy squat due to there not being proper environmental studies done on the site and it being contaminated with something or other... ANYWAYS, a building is being knocked down, and it's right next to a park. The park is where we were headed but upon spying a large excavator like this one...

Image: JCB

the boys, esp Lucas, were happy to hang out and watch it destroy things! super free entertainment if you are ever in need of something low cost and different to do, find a construction site and plonk them near it (from a safe viewing distance of course), they'll love it. I only have boys so not sure if girls would find it as interesting but you never know. They are pretty mighty machines close up so it may capture their attention.

So there we are, Lucas shouting "There's Grabber!" every 20 sec or so (Grabber being an excavator from Bob the Builder), Robbie munching on something or other and pointing from his pram and me standing beside them, bemused. I did wonder what the guys thought about having an audience for a time...

A warning, it did wear off eventually, I guess the boys were into it for about 20min before remembering they were actually at a park, handy for us but not so great if you have made a trip into town to watch some bobcats in action, so be mindful of some sort of escape plan.

Found any good outside the square freebie activities?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

2 little boys

Inspiring notebooks from 2 Little Boys

How cool are these notebooks? Available from UK company 2 Little Boys, they are a steal and would make a fab gift for the budding world changer. Some other excellent titles...

Alas, I have not found a way to order these from Australia, and am waiting to hear if they have any retailers here. Will post if I find a way!

Found it! The lovely Sarah from 2 Little Boys sent me this link for purchase from Lark in Australia. Much more on this site too, happy browsing!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mad Men - ultimate cool

I have just finished watching the third season of Mad Men, and yes I am behind everyone on the web but I don't get much telly watching time OK??! Wow is this ever a good looking production, the people, the fashion, the sets - OMG the sets! I was very chuffed to see the brass valet in the Draper master bedroom - I found one at the op shop a few years ago and have been arguing with hubs ever since on it's value - i love it. And now since we've seen it on Mad Men, I've won the argument of course ;)

The super stylish cast of Mad Men (amc)

The sets were created by set decorator Amy Wells along with production designer Dan Bishop, and they did an amazing job. The fact that you spend equal time admiring the surroundings these characters are in as the characters themselves really make the sets another star of the show. Check out this video.

This article mentions the interesting ways they worked with incorporating colour into the sets by using corresponding characters and what colours complement them as their brief. E.g the tan & black wallpaper in the Draper kitchen was used to contrast with Betty Draper's 'blondeness' (January Jones). While Don Draper's (Jon Hamm) complexion looks better against blues.

The Draper Family Kitchen (Photo by Carin Baer, courtesy amc)

Don Draper Office (courtesy amc)

Draper residence hallway (Photo by Carin Baer, courtesy amc)

How cool is the tile picture in the hallway? By far my fave scene regarding the interiors is in Season 3 Episode 7, when Betty hires a decorator to re-do the living room (awesome chairs btw) only for her to add an antique chaise longue to the mix - love the decorator's reaction!

New Draper Living room (amc)

New Draper Living Room (amc)

As well as the production values, being set in the 60s, it is an amazing insight into this much talked about era of "The American Dream". It's been fascinating watching Betty Draper struggle with her so-called idyllic homelife and the gender roles that we so take for granted now, were startlingly different, and this is but 2 generations ago. I have had my own struggles with homelife recently and the constant push and pull between wanting my family to be fulfilling in and of itself, and yet have the yearning for more without feeling guilty or selfish. Sounds silly on the page but I wonder how many of us have the same struggle? And why are we ingrained with this idea that the doting partner and children should be the fulfillment of our lives? I know the feminist movement strove to change all this and maybe it isn't said out loud anymore but there seems to be an underlying expectation that once we do all this, women should be happy.

Then you have the supermum brigade - you CAN have it all, fulfilling career, happy children and the home you had always dreamed of - too bad you won't have your sanity to enjoy it all. Interesting that there were women struggling with this issue 50 years ago, and seeing it portrayed on Mad Men. How long ago was this seed planted?

Please excuse the rant, the show touched a chord I guess. And the treatment of children! You hear the old adages, 'children should be seen and not heard' and 'spare the rod, spoil the child', hell I was even around for the use of the second one... but it's such another thing to see it played out on screen. A place where we are spoon fed happy families and where our general philosophy of respect for all people, especially those who cannot defend themselves, is widely accepted. To then see a show, albeit a period piece, show how things used to be, was a real slap in the face (literally) when I saw it. Really shows how far we have come as a society, and in some ways how far we still have to go.

I highly recommend this series, for the sumptuous design, restrained performances, a glimpse into one version of our recent history and the amazing fashion! ...and for a philandering bastard, Don Draper is one sexy man!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Design Files - a big thank you

This blog would not have come into existence if I had not had the chance to see Lucy Feagins of The Design Files speak at Coco Republic in Richmond recently. It was a timely meeting for me as I have been trying forever to find an avenue for writing and design to come together, and here it was!

Such a shame I came to hear about this amazing blog so late, although when it began I did have a 6 month old, so you know ;) The site is bursting with beautiful homes, products, people and places - all with gorgeous pictures and loads of info. The best thing about it is Lucy's writing style, I feel as though i am getting hot tips from a friend.

Thank you again Lucy!

The State of Design fest

I'm excited, it's about to start... State of Design festival from this Wednesday!

This is the flyer I got in the mailout...

and perfectly sums up one of the reasons why I started this blog - design really is about everything. Thought it was too timely not to post about it here...

Some events I think worth your consideration...

Melbourne Open House 24-25 July
Alas I won't make it this year as hubs is away and no babysitter - not really a practical event for kids

Design:Made:Trade 15-18 July
I will be attending as part of Furnitex this year, worth a look if you are into new products from local designers (a talented lot)

Booked out this year but a good event with kiddies - build your own patch of the city!

Get those plane designs out there! A hands on workshop and aerial obstacle course for budding plane enthusiasts, one for the older kiddies.

Clean Lines 23-25 July
Looks like a fab exhibition on Adaptive Re-use, a fave topic of my studies. One for the interior designers out there...

There is so much more on, check out

see you there!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Westfield Donny Parent Rooms are grouse

Friday. Raining. Cold. Two boys under 3. Not a lot of cash til payday.

Where or where do we go? Shamelessly I pack the boys into the car and head to a large shopping centre in Doncaster. It’s free (unless tempted), large and spacious for running up and down ramps, and the parent’s room is a godsend.

Now, as a disclaimer, I have only ever used the one near the Drum eating space (which in itself is nicely designed, being a large circle Lucas can run away, only to end up where he started. Also fabulous window wall beside tables where little boys can count red trucks going by to their heart's content) so I’m not sure on the other ones. But the room near here is fabulous.

Has all you need for feeding, taking little people to little loos, changing smaller people’s

smalls and an excellent ‘enclave’ for roaming siblings if you are breastfeeding a bub. It is this feature that I reckon makes this parent’s room the best.

I’m not breastfeeding, but on this particular day the niggling cough I had been keeping at bay turned into a hot-&-cold flushes head cold.

Lucas decided to be insistent about the running up and down of ramps while I concentrated on not passing out or letting the pram with 1 year old Robbie roll away alongside him. Ifind an extra cache 0f strength, scoop up the boy under an arm and roll/run to the hallowed ground.

Robbie roams about in a lovely enclosed carpeted space, Lucas is fixated by the ball/maze activity board and I collapse into a deep comfy armchair usually reserved for feeders but luckily for me, today all 3 booths were free and I could fade in and out of consciousness without fearing I looked like a junkie mum.

Rest assured, after a quick 5 min lie-down, the lunch I had scoffed down 20 min before started to do it’s work (heavy-duty cough syrup also had it’s place) and I was right as rain before the next pooey bum entered for changing.

So, if you are needing good shopping with decent support/facilities, this is a good place to start. I recall trying to breastfeed a one-month old Lucas on my first ever shopping expedition on my own, I reckon it was a 2 seat sofa situated on a parent highway, with everyone getting a gawk on the way by – not great when you are still figuring things out.

For this reason I reckon this parent room design is fantastic, the enclosed area has 3 feeding booths which ensure privacy while older brothers and sisters can be free and within easy reach. Great job Westfield – and retail designers take note – we need more!

Have you found any great Parents Rooms? What made them so good?

and so I begin...

There are a million design blogs out here.

There are also a million parenting ones.

And plenty of opinion blogs as well.

Dear friends, this is a one stop blogshop for you! My name is Sandra and I live in Melbourne, Australia. At the moment I'm full-time mumming 2 small boys, Lucas who's almost 3 and Robbie who just turned one. In my former life I was an interior designer (still trying to hold onto this mantle - fricken hard) and in the life before that I worked in graphic design. So let's say I am interested in design. Of all things, from salt-shakers to tourist destinations, playgrounds to cities. I'm particularly into things that work on all levels, and have a biased parental kind of viewpoint, so if I see something that works for parents, you'll see it here.

I was inspired after a friend commented on the ridiculous amounts of money some designers (talking your Marc Newsons here) get paid. At that end I can see how it looks a tad unbalanced for the level of work committed. As she said, "it's your job, right?". Then over dinner with my mate Emma, she told me I need to get blogging, and gave me the idea of design of the everyday (Thanks Em!). Since then I have been seeing design everywhere with fresh eyes, and yeah it's your job, but that creativity has to come from somewhere, even if you are designing a playground.

So this is my focus. Days, designed - what I (or the boys) see, like, love, hate, want, encounter, do, whatever. Everyday. (Or nearly everyday).

Welcome. And enjoy!

PS. The stuff I will write about is not necessarily the latest, or the greatest. It's generally local, and if it works for me, or the boys, you'll hear about it.