I get the distinct impression Rae Ganim is basically a living legend. It’s not an impression she gives off in person, mind you. No, in the flesh Rae is modest, matter-of-fact, kind of quiet… perhaps even a little shy. But her reputation precedes her. You see, everyone knows Rae Ganim’s name.
I must qualify this by saying I only moved to Melbourne in 1993, therefore I think (hope) I can get away with being a little less informed about her incredible work than most. But if you have a creative leaning or a love for beautiful things (I assume everyone reading this is / does) and you’ve lived in Melbourne for around 20 years (if you’re over 50, even better!) – then I’m willing to wager that you most certainly will know and love Rae’s work! She is, it appears, a bit of an icon. (*For further reading on this point, see Beci Orpin’s starstruck reaction to collaborating with Rae late last year!).
Rae is one of Australia’s most important textile and fashion designers. After a few years working for famed fashion designer Prue Acton in the 70’s, Rae launched her own label in the early 80’s, creating vivid, technicolour textiles, clothing and homewares which quickly gathered a cult following, and before long made Rae a household name. At the height of her success, Rae had three shops in Melbourne, and consulted to a number of companies including Hyatt Hotels and The Australian Girl Guides. Rae’s work was also stocked at boutiques across Australia and internationally – no mean feat in the pre-internet era! She’s been the recipient of a deluge of fashion Industry Awards, and in 1998 was inducted into the Design Institute of Australia’s hall of fame!
Fast forward to late last year… and Rae was ready for a new challenge. After a little hiatus from the retail race, Rae is now back in action, having opened her BRILLIANT new shop in Fitzroy late last year. Small, colourful and full of inspired, unexpected objects for the home and garden, Ganim’s Store embodies Rae’s passion for great, functional design, her love of travel and her nose for uncovering the new!
Ganim’s Store is a truly magical retail space, full of wit and wonder. It’s kind of a little bit mad. It feels so completely different from any other shop in Melbourne… it really makes you feel as if you’ve stumbled into a peculiar little pop-up in Barcelona’s Barrio Gotico, or New York’s East Village, or some hidden laneway in Tokyo. Rae is always changing the layout and theme in store – at present there is a fantabulous showcase of ‘Useful Things’! Each object has a specific function for the home, garden or body – think Japanese tableware, cord holders, timber trivets, bottle tops, and shoe brushes. Simple, utilitarian, beautiful… and not expensive. Truly!
DO POP IN and visit Rae to properly understand my ramblings about the extra-specialness of this unique retail space! It’s at the interesting end of Brunswick st (!) not far from Gertrude….
I defy ANYONE to walk out without buying something. It is impossible. (That’s about the only thing Ganim’s Store has in common with Ikea.)
61 Brunswick Street
Ph. (03) 9416 1001
Tell us a little about your background – what path led you to textile design and fashion originally, and now to opening Ganim’s Store?
I studied Textile Design at the tech in Geelong, majoring in printed and woven textiles. My family had been involved in textiles, and I guess, it was sort of in my head, in a way.
After tech, I worked for fashion designer Prue Action as the ‘textile person’ as part of the central design team. It was the 70’s and a lot was happening. I was thrown in at the deep end, and I loved it all – interesting and creative people, new ideas, international textiles and design.
Itchy to do something for myself, I left after 2 years, and starting small, worked with local factories on firstly womens clothes, then childrenswear and homewares.
Our niche brand was always based on my printed, woven and knitted textiles, with a strong colour statment. My husband Anthony (a hairdresser at the time), helped out at night, and as the business started to grow, our families also lent a hand. I vividly remember at one point, sleeping for some months with racks of clothes lining the bedroom, waiting to be distributed.
Anthony, who was very entreprenerial, came into the business full time, and the business just grew. We were partners in everything, and it was a wonderful intuitive relationship. We wholesaled nationally, opened 3 Rae Ganim Stores in Melbourne and consulted to a number of diverse companies including, Hyatt Hotels International, and The Australian Girl Guides – consultancies of which I am very proud.
Because of its colour and unique quality, the business attracted much attention. Most of the people we worked with became friends – from the embroidery lady (an astrologer, who consulted her astral chart before starting the work) to the people at Vogue magazine, the knitters, the printers, the makers.
It was full on but always interesting. We also won awards for our work (5 Fashion Industry awards, An FIA Hall of Fame award, a Girl Guides award for excellence and a Design Institute award for recognition for textile work in Australia).
It was an exciting time, however, following Anthony’s death from cancer, I closed the business.
I then freelanced for a period, working in interiors, furniture, colour consultancy and trend forecasting.
I travelled a lot and saw many great products, which lead to the idea – a small store, which would showcase local and international product, sometimes themed, and presented in new and interesting ways.
What are a few of your personal FAVOURITE finds from the current ‘Useful Things’ range?
Cardboard Eiffel Stool and Rivet Lamp Shade from Japan – great pure design.
Joost’s new Tableware and Recycled glasses.
Needle threader – ‘Perfecto’ from Italy.
Planet Luxe Household Cleaning Products – all Australian ingredients, made here.
Lucy Folk’s Taco Money Clip.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
6.30 – Walk, Coffee
8.30 – Computer time
10.30 – Ganim’s store … (I’m often late – apologies all those friends I’ve kept waiting)
5.30 – Home, Cat (meow meow, feed me! now), Dinner, Family, Friends.
10 ish – More computer time
Can you list for us 5 resources across any media you turn to regularly for creative inspiration?
Which other local designers other creative people do you admire?
So Many –
What is the best thing about your job?
The freedom to work with ideas, and to brainstorm them to reality with my family and friends.
What are you looking forward to?
Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?
Richmond – Close to the CBD, beautiful parks, my friends and family close by.
What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?
There was a meal I ate at a secret pop up restaurant last Saturday night in Fitzroy.
Where do you shop in Melbourne for beautiful things for the home? (besides Ganim’s Store!)
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
Melbourne’s best kept secret?
That meal in Fitzroy.