Say hello to the Design Twins, A.K.A Crystal & Mitch and welcome to their world of concrete happiness. I stumbled across these guys on one of my morning walks in Cronulla, they had a cute little sign in their apartment window surrounded by lots of concrete amazingness. I snapped a pic on my phone and thought I will have to insta stalk them when I get home and I am so glad I did. Enjoy all of the wonderful below.
Tell us a little about your background, what path led you to starting Design Twins?
Crystal: I have been in the music industry since I was 16 in a band with my brother and sister called Chasing Bailey. We were signed to Sony music and EMI records, toured the country and had a blast. As much as I loved playing music with my family, I couldn't help but get more excited about making the band merchandise and stage props. I've always been naturally addicted to styling homes and interiors, but I wanted to know everything about designing a home from the idea, through to completion.
I enrolled at Commercial Arts Training College in Circular Quay 2010. I was planning on studying for two years, but after a few months into the course, a little surprise (crazy baby) came along. So I studied the rest of the course pregnant, emotional and surprisingly creative. This is where I discovered my love for concrete and industrial finishes, because I seemed to naturally use it in every project.
After finishing my course, I began assisting Lisa Hilton for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, which I absolutely loved! They are all such a beautiful team to be a part of. I was also working as Visual Merchandiser for Myer Sydney CBD.
Last year I met Twinnie (Mitch). He finished my sentences and we think the same things at the same time. We are twins, Design Twins! He knew how much I was inspired by Megan Morton, so he bought me a ticket to her class for Christmas (what a sweetie!). In February, I attended her class. It was life changing!! (Literally). It was so inspiring to get an insight into her mind. I left inspired and hungrier than ever to want to start something different. Something that came naturally to me, yet something different to what was out there in the world of homewards.
So I bought a visual diary and for several weeks, I sketched, wrote and designed everything that I loved, I then grew that idea into another and before I knew it, we designed the start of our range. Then it was time to bring the ideas to life! So I went to Bunnings, pulled up in a Mini convertible and bought a bag of concrete (the tradies looked at me weird, girls in Minis don't buy concrete?) This is where our concrete obsession began. Twinnie and I went from making pots to candle holders to anything and everything out of concrete.
After months of experimenting, the ups, downs and complete fails, we ended up with a range of bespoke homewares.
Design Twins was born!
Mitch: After working in the local supermarket by day and completing University by correspondence at night, I decided to open my own gourmet grocery store in the Hinterland town of Bangalow, located about 10 minutes from Byron Bay.
After a little over a year, where I would spend hours just getting to know the local customers, I would often find myself still in the shop at midnight constructing merchandise displays and trying to get that apple to just sit right. It was then, that I decided, I wanted something different so I decided to do a complete life change.
I sold everything I owned and brought a one way ticket to Bali, where I spent the next 8 months enjoying the simpler side of life.
After a fate struck event, I ended up back in Australia running a gym on the Central Coast for a close friend who needed help. This is where I eventually met my "twin" Crystal. We finished each others sentences and would spend hours on the phone to each other everyday. We both worked for the same company and after being asked to choose between my job and "Twinnie", I made the easy decision to follow my heart and once again I made a complete life change.
I quit my job and within 2 weeks we had crammed a Mini Cooper full of our belongings and signed the lease to our new apartment in Cronulla.
I wouldn't say I have the typical design background of some but I definitely have my own style of controlled madness to my creation processes.
When you are developing new designs, can you give us a little insight into your creative process?
Crystal: I am pretty much the spontaneous crazy one who thinks of an idea, grabs a bucket, fills it with concrete and starts creating it without anymore thought. I feel my way through the process. Mitch is more of a logical thinker, who strategises how to do it the best and refines the ideas to make them more practical.
Crazy + Logical = us!
Where or who do you draw inspiration from?
1. Our biggest inspiration is everything around us! We are both crazy about textures so when we are out, we are constantly touching walls and different types of buildings and leaves, noticing the cracks in the road and different hues in the footpaths. It sounds weird but it's how we came up with our Lava pot! Our favourite place of inspiration is definitely The Rocks, under the bridge near the Argyle.
2. MEGAN MORTON!!! She is not only an inspiration to us, but the whole world! She is humble, honest, passionate about styling and so damn clever at it!
3. Tom Dixon 1980's - "The talented untrained designer with a line in welded salvage furniture". Today - The King of Industrial Design!
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
We usually wake up in the morning to a crash tackle from Jonny, the crazy 3 year old, some would call him spirit-filled ;) After breakfast and the kindy drop off, we respond to emails and orders, social media marketing and take a few snaps of our latest creations.
Then we get-our-concrete-on!! We work out what we need to make for the day, suit up (put on masks and gloves), mix the concrete and pour into molds. We then hand sculpt them and leave to set. We also remove previous sculptures ready for curing, scrubbing, sanding, sealing and painting. At the end of the most days, I will have a sore back, concrete in my hair and paint all over my hands. Mitch on the other hand is strategised and patient, so he's always much cleaner than me.
How do juggle being a mum with working from home?
It's definitely a challenge trying to balance being a mum and starting a brand new business. I really admire mothers who have done it and I guess that's where my inspiration comes from. Some days I just have to do nothing but take him to the park and the beach and let him run wild. Sometimes I'll get lucky and he'll have a sleep in the day, or timeout which lets me get some work done.
Having a supportive partner definitely helps too! I always find that when it's a busy week, the washing piles up so high that I could use it as a mattress and the fridge is screaming for groceries.
How would you describe your style aesthetic?
Industrial fun! We play with bold colours, metallics and geometric prints against natural materials and textures.
Tell us your 3 favourite online shopping destinations.
1. www.wallabuy.com.au - for all the trendy, bang on home wares. WANT WANT WANT!
2. www.theminimalist.com.au - For all things bespoke and limited edition
3. Etsy, because you can't go past a custom made bargain!
Can you list for us 3 resources across any media that you turn to regularly for creative inspiration?
1. Tom Dixon's website www.tomdixon.net, Yes we are a little bit obsessed
2. Studio Too Good - www.studiotoogood.com
3. Pinterest - whenever we need instant inspiration (when the brain starts to hurt)
Which other designers, artists or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
Beci Orpin, She is the queen of colour and pattern.
What is your favourite book of all time?
Crystal: Treehouses of the World by Pete Nelson. Because every time we read it, I feel like I've escaped to another world. I imagine what it would be like to live in a treehouse far far away from everything. And then I come back to reality :)
Mitch: Eragon by Christopher Paolini. I've loved the series since I was a kid
What is your proudest career achievement to date?
Launching Design Twins online store and having had such an amazing, overwhelming response. It's literally only been launched for a few weeks now!
What would be your biggest piece of advice for someone wanting to follow their dreams in the creative industry?
Find what your passionate about, and don't let anything stop you from doing it!
Stay curious. Stay creative. Stay hungry,
What is your wildest dream for Design Twins?
We dream of building on our range and putting together collections of cushions, prints, candles, pots and unique handmade items that can't be found anywhere else!