Foley Street in Darlinghurst is a bustling little community of five neighbouring shopfronts, each leased (at subsided rent) to five local designers and creative businesses for three years, through City of Sydney’s Oxford Street and Foley Street Creative Spaces Program.
Today we meet another of Foley Street’s inspiring creative tenants, Naomi Taplin of Studio Enti, whose sleek, understated slip-cast ceramic tableware and lighting has gathering an impressive following amongst Sydney chefs, restauranteurs, designers and stylists.
Naomi Taplin, Studio Enti.
When did you start Studio Enti, and what inspired the name?
Studio Enti is soon entering it’s fourth year of trading. It has been a busy and constantly evolving few years. Enti is inspired by a phonetic abbreviation of my name (my initials ‘N’ and ‘T’!). Choosing a business name was almost as hard as choosing my daughter’s name! I wanted something that would be simple to remember, whilst holding relevant meaning, but that would take on the character of my work and my business as it grows.
Briefly tell us a little bit about yourself – what did you focus on in your Bachelor of Design studies at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW and what path led you to what you are doing today?
I have always felt the deep pull of creative arts. I began my studies in fine arts, had a small foray into studying law and journalism, before taking many years to travel and decide where I might find my vocation. I returned to COFA (Now UNSW Art and Design), to study a Bachelor of Design and I majored in Object Design and Ceramics. I grew up with pottery in my life as my parents also had a pottery business for many years, so it has been a slightly nostalgic (and a little bit scary) jump into the not-completely-unknown.
The ceramics component of my design degree had a very strong direction toward contemporary production techniques like slip casting, so I fell in love with this process, and it is the main technique I use for the production of my tableware and lighting.
For me creating a business that would allow me a creative outlet, financial independence and the flexibility to manage home life has always been the goal.
How would you describe your tableware, lighting and other designs?
My pieces are all designed and made with strong consideration of their usability, and the connection they will create with the user. I have aimed to create a coherent series of classic forms, which have a gentle beauty. The slip casting technique, when done on a small scale and by hand, allows me to create pieces which have variations and unique markings that add to their imperfection and beauty.
I am influenced by the endless possibilities of working with clay and the interaction between human and raw element – the commitment to the fire or heat, the creation of everyday items which serve constantly to enrich the lives of the user.
When did you become a part of the Oxford Street and Foley Street Creative Spaces program, and what impact has this had on your business?
The tender process for the program began back in 2015, but due to the nature of the heritage building and complete restructuring of the Foley Street Spaces, occupation of the tenancies started earlier this year.
I have been here for just over two months, and the energy and excitement present from all involved is incredible to be a part of. All of the Foley Street tenants run diverse creative businesses and we have the beginnings of what we hope will be a thriving retail strip and design destination.
The opportunity afforded by this program is hard to quantify – subsidised commercial space in the centre of Darlinghurst allows me retail opportunity for the very first time – this opens up my networks and connects me to the heart of Sydney. Setting up the space to accommodate workshops and classes means I have a locale that will connect humans, and bring both locals and travellers together in a creative capacity.
What’s next for Studio Enti?
Looking to expand my range into structural pieces such as tiles and more lighting – exploring the possibilities and application of ceramics to other elements and objects while creating a dynamic retail and studio space hosting exhibitions and workshops here on Foley st.
Foley Street is part of the City of Sydney’s Oxford Street and Foley Street Creative Spaces Program, which aims to foster the creative community by providing more affordable spaces for artists and designers. To find out about the types of spaces available, go here.