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Cathy Hope of Douglas & Hope

Studio Visit

27th May, 2011
Lucy Feagins
Friday 27th May 2011

Details from Douglas & Hope in Fitzroy

Quilts, cushions and accessories by Cathy Hope

Douglas & Hope, Brunswick st, Fitzroy

If you are in Melbourne, you should defo buy The Age today, because it comes with the Melbourne Magazine, where you will find another page of locally designed loveliness from me. :) 6 beautiful handmade QUILTS from 6 wonderful local designers  One of the very lovely quilts featured is by Cathy Hope of Melbourne's much loved boutique Douglas & Hope, who I have been keen to interview for quite some time!

Cathy opened Douglas & Hope 12 years ago. That is a helluva long time in retail-land, and Brunswick street was certainly a very different place back then!  Since then D&H has gathered a cult following amongst many style-savvy Melbourne ladies.  Remember in 1999 when EVERYONE in Melbourne had one of those D&H tote bags, with a different fabric on the front and the back?!  Yes you know the ones.  Over the years D&H have become known for their pretty yet quirky and eclectic product range - including quilts, cushions and lightshades designed by Cathy, other product by local designers such as Beci Orpin, and many obscure but brilliant international finds.

Like many local designer / retailers, Cathy juggles the design and production of her ranges with the everyday demands of running a busy retail store.  What you mightn't know is she's also a single Mum with twin boys, and she lives in CASTLEMAINE!  BONUS points right there, Cathy.

Do read on for an insight into one of Melbourne's favourite indie design retailers!

Douglas & Hope
181 Brunswick street,

ph. 03 9417 0662

Douglas & Hope will also be at MARKIT @ Fed Square this weekend!

One of Douglas & Hope mascot owls on the left (not for sale sorry!), and gorgeous Marimekko bag on the right.

Tell us a little about your background - what path led you to opening Douglas & Hope originally?

My background before Douglas & Hope was in fashion production, and I had started my clothing label - Immune.

I had been making quilts since I was taught by my aunty at 21, I went on to study garment construction and studio textiles at RMIT, but never finished as Douglas & Hope was taking up most of my time by then.

Fashion range

How has D&H changed in the last 12 years since you first opened?  Has your vision for the business changed since you first set up shop?

When Douglas & Hope first opened my focus was more on fashion, and wanting an outlet to sell my quilts, as no-one else was selling quilts back then.  In the last few years I found myself wanting to design more product for the home, soft furnishings and homewares - melamine is my latest love!  I have a new range out and there is another on the way….

Melamine things from Douglas & Hope

How would you describe the Douglas & Hope aesthetic?

The aesthetic of Douglas & Hope is happy, colourful, thought out utilitarian pieces.  My quilts look best on a bed with white linen, they become the feature of the room. I think walking in to a Douglas & Hope store it may seem a bit ‘over the top’, but in context the individual pieces look incredible in your home, we have customers who come back time and again for more cushions, they are addictive.

My own home is decorated very differently to what people may think, quite white with color accents…. Lots of cushions and art….. and quilts for miles….

In addition to running your business you are mum to twins!  It must be a super busy household!   What’s your secret for balancing your business and family life successfully?  Are you good at outsourcing / delegation?

My secret is keeping weekends free for my boys, and just ‘being’ as opposed to rushing around madly, we escape to the country 9/10 weekends. During the week its quite mad juggling kinder, work, kids….

I outsource the kids to childcare and to their grandparents!

I individually co-ordinate every Douglas & Hope item, every cushion combination, every quilt and lampshade, but outsource the sewing, quilting and printing…..

Interior - Douglas & Hope, Fitzroy

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Coffee and checking emails, a quick run into the city to drop off stock, I am constantly sourcing new product and dealing with manufacturers, then more emailing and visiting factories….. updating my blog….. sewing quilts together, cutting cushions…..

Where do you turn for creative inspiration – travel, local and international print media, books or the web etc?

Inspiration comes when you least expect it… I am an avid people watcher, magazine devourer, and try to keep an eye on a few international blogs. At least once a year I will travel overseas, mainly Asia, Bali, Thailand, and then I can mix holiday with a bit of work.

We spend most Summer holidays at Wilsons Promontory National Park, and the colour combinations you find in nature can often be the best.

Which other designers, retailers, creative people do you admire?

For a long time I have been drawn to the work of Phillippe Starke, I bought a piece of his when I lived in London in my early 20’s, and since then subconsciously I have bought many other pieces, chairs, gnome tables, I admire how he seems to make design accessible and fun.

Most recently I admire Ben Quilty and Dane Lovett’s artwork, and would LOVE to own some.

I love Natalie Wood as a designer, she does a great job with her label Something Else.

What would be your dream creative project?

I have wanted for 20 years to spend time in an Amish community, they make the most beautiful quilts in the world, live the most simple lives, just to work along side them is my idea of heaven.

More recently I have been wanting to set up some quilting groups/classes with Aboriginal women, I imagine they would create an amazing style of their own, I am still working on the logistics of this one, but it will happen one day…..

What are you looking forward to?

Douglas & Hope is participating in their first MARKIT @ Fed Square on May 29th, it should be lots of fun, come down and say hello…..

Timber toadstool by Greg Hatton!

Melbourne Questions

Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?

Fitzroy, Brunswick Street remains as one of the most independent shopping strips in Melbourne, it’s close to the city, great shops, restaurants and cafes...

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

I love Joes Shoe store in Northcote, pizza can be ordered from Meine Liebe next door and eaten while you have a drink, I’m happy, kids happy!!

I also loved Izakaya Den recently for a friends birthday.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

At the country market near my house in Castlemaine, we meet up with friends, have a coffee, stock up on all local produce to feed us for the weekend, as well as plants and herbs, we spend a lot of time in the garden, and now the drought is over we can finally grow vegetables.

The boys have broccoli and peas on the go at the moment, and we had figs, nashi pears and nectarines this year too.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

La Belle Miette, the best macarons in Melbourne, Hardware Lane.  My favorite is the pink grapefruit, and the violet and blueberry, and to quote my son Rocket, ‘mum they are so yummy I can’t stop eating them’.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email