Meet Lara and Andy from the new Melbourne design label P0ly Designs. This creative duo started their business during level four lockdown here in Melbourne and have been busy designing and constructing their beautiful pieces for the home using imported tiles from Japan and Italy.
They were kind enough to take some time out of their busy days creating their beautiful pieces to share their creative process, professional journey and what it's been like starting a business from home during lockdown with us.
We hope you enjoy our chat with the duo behind p0ly designs.
Tell us a little bit about yourself - who are you and what gets you up in the morning?
Lara: I’m Lara - what get’s me up….coffee. I try to get on the yoga mat before starting the day or listen to some music in our living room - which looks a bit like a green house with all of Andy’s plants.
Andy: Hi I’m Andy a horticulturist by trade and a self-confessed plant nut. What gets me up in the mornings? Enjoying a coffee in my greenhouse checking in on all of my plant babies.
Can you share a little bit about your professional journey with p0ly designs so far, how did you get to where you are today?
Lara: I could have never predicted that we would be here with P0LY. I have a degree in Fashion Merchandising and a Masters in Communications, but we have always fantasised about having a business together. We both have a love of art and design and have a similar creative aesthetic so it made sense to dive into this together. We have plants in every corner of our house (and growing up all the walls) and always have fresh cut flowers in our home, and the entire idea came from the project of making a plinth to put a particular plant on.
Andy: As Lara mentioned initially we just wanted to let one of my new plant and planter creations shine on top of something beautiful and a few months later I’m now surrounded by tiles. I had done some tiling and grouting as a landscape labourer in my early 20s and I was quite surprised that I would be able to use that skillset again.
You and your partner work together to create p0ly designs - how do you make balancing personal and professional work?
Lara: We’re still working on balance and what exactly that looks like for us. We work from our beautiful garden which provides a nice backdrop for the sometimes painstaking work. Working from home has been both a blessing and curse. We have ultimate freedom but I’m still figuring out how to switch off.
Andy: The lockdown in Melbourne has given me a chance to focus entirely on our p0ly designs project, which is a sliver lining to come out of a fairly average situation. Working in the garden has been a blessing as well, when I get fed up with tiles I just go for a little wander around to see what flowers have opened up on my cacti.
What aspects do you each bring to the business - who does what?
Lara: We try to share the load as much as possible. I have been sourcing all materials and do all the customer service. I help Andy with grouting but I don’t have his keen eye for tiling.
Andy: I have a very keen eye for detail and I like things being organised so I feel like tiling is something I am very well suited to.
Have you always built furniture or did this stem from another form of creativity?
Lara: Never! The creativity comes from a love of colour and textiles.
Andy: I had never tried my hand at furniture. I have always had a strong appreciation of art but I never really found the right medium to excel in until I started working with plants. With plants I am able to let mother nature do the heavy lifting in creating beautiful forms and all I need to do is put the pieces together.
Your pieces are all made from beautiful japanese and Italian tiles - what is it like working with such an intricate piece of art?
Lara: The tiles are so lovely to work with, the hardest aspect is the incredibly long wait times as they come by boat from Europe or Japan. We love colour and appreciate the craftsmanship in each tile.
Andy: I already have favourite tiles to work with and some that can drive me a little insane. The aspect I really enjoy is seeing the difference in colour from one sample tile to the finished product. On their own the colours can almost look underwhelming but once they are stuck on the surface and then grouted the colours really come to life. I’m a real sucker for bright colours so I love it when someone orders a bold tile/grout combination like the blue tile/purple grout table we just sent up to Sydney.
Tell us a bit about your creative process - how does your day of creating go? Do you build everyday or have a set schedule?
Lara: Like I said, we are still working on what balance looks like for us. I usually get up really early before everyone else is awake and get through all the customer service enquiries and try to get in some ‘me’ time. Once we start working for the day it’s hard to press pause on the momentum.
Andy: Every day is different which is something I’ve always wanted from my work life. I can become irritated when I have to do the same task repeatedly so it’s nice to be able to pick and choose jobs on how I’m feeling at that point in time. The only thing I try and make certain is that I have some time in the afternoons to give myself some garden therapy.
Where do you find your creative inspiration comes from?
Lara: Tiles are an ancient material, but still gives such a modern aesthetic. I love to look at design books, especially one’s from the 1970’s mid-century boom.
Andy: I probably sound like a broken record now but the majority of my inspiration comes from plants. I remember visiting my Grandma a few years ago and she told me ‘Mother Nature is truly the greatest artist’ and that has really stuck in the front of my mind now.
With the current climate of the world today have you found your day to day changing? In terms of creativity and business, has this been affected.
Lara: We are a business started during ISO - so it’s all we know. I definitely think with people stuck in their homes they are wanting to invest in furniture that is fun and makes them feel good every time they use it. Also, it’s such a great time to be supporting small local businesses.
Andy: Our business has managed to keep me busy every day during isolation and for that I am very thankful.
We are all about sustainability here at LH, what are your views on sustainability in the creative industry today?
Lara: So are we. We are firm believers in not wasting money on products that will ultimately end up in landfill. We always try to buy good quality products and support small business. That’s another reason we feel proud of what we are doing - our products are well made and we they will likely outlive us.
Andy: I always see value in tiles that have cracks or are slightly deformed and I’m quite excited to have some spare time to create some pretty weird and wacky things!
Your business is florishing and the pieces just keep getting better. Where do you see p0ly designs heading to in the future? Do you have any exciting new ventures planned?
Lara: Yes - so many new pieces are in the pipeline. We also have some ideas for non-tiled pieces!
Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs out there wanting to get into the field of furniture?
Lara: Ask the experts. Get help. Give it a go - you will make mistakes along the way, but every mishap is a learning.