Studio Visit

Moya Delany

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
25th of January 2013
Moya Delany in her home studio.  Photo - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files
'Nato lampshades' made from vintage flags by Moya Delany.
Work in progress in Moya's studio.  Photo - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files
Studio details.  Photo - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files
Sometimes I think I know everything and everyone making anything cool in this city.  And then I stumble across some total legend making the most amazing things, who I have shamefully never even heard of, and I am reminded that the pool of talent in Melbourne is seriously endless, and I will never get to the bottom of it!  Case in point - multidisciplinary designer Moya Delany, whose work I was recently introduced to by Felicity Rulikowski of Safari Living (now there's a woman who really does know everyone making anything cool in this city!). Moya is amazing!  Her impressive career is varied and full of surprises - after originally studying and practising fine art, Moya made the move into jewellery and accessory design.  With her distinctive use of feathers, leather, found objects and intricate beading, Moya's handcrafted pieces quickly gathered popularity in the 1990's, featuring in magazines such as American Elle, Elle UK, Australian Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. In 1996, a chance encounter with Deborah Harry (!!) and a fashion buyer in New York city also led Moya to a string of high profile New York stockists, including Barneys - as well as the incredible retail store of Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field!  Um, AMAZING!  Locally, her accessories have been stocked at Le Louvre, Christine and Husk amongst others. Although still making made to order costume jewellery, at the moment Moya's main focus is creating architectural objects for interiors and custom lighting, including her AMAZING 'Nato' lampshades, constructed from vintage flags, which are available from Safari Living in Melbourne.  I LOVE THEM TO DEATH. Moya works from a little home studio in her St Kilda apartment, getting most of her work done by snatching time whilst her son, Monty is sleeping!  Read on for a little insight into Moya's background and creative inspiration.
What are you currently working on/up to? And where can we see / buy your works?
At the moment I am emptying out my box of Nato signal flags and making as many shades as I can before those stocks are finished and I move onto the next thing. I'm also doing shades for the new Ichinee restaurant in South Yarra. The Nato shades are available from Safari Living in Prahran and also from my website. Samples and seconds from my accessory collection are also available from my website, as well as my new capsule range of Apache belts.
Moya's handmade accessories and trinkets.   Photo - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files
Tell us a bit about your background – what did you study and what path led you to what you're doing today? And is it true that Deborah Harry aka BLONDIE is partially responsible for motivating you to start your business, after stopping you on the street in NYC to compliment your style?!
I did Top Art, and then completed my B.A. in Fine Art, where I majored in sculpture and drawing. In the years following art school I practiced as an artist, and participated in many art exhibitions, before finally turning to accessories and working from a studio for the last decade. Yes it is true about Deborah Harry in NYC!  Just before I first went there I had made my first pair of wings for a client's wedding. As soon as I arrived in New York I felt like having a look around the amazing feather and haberdashery wholesalers, and then made a pair of big black wings and just walked around wearing them. It was a lucky day, after Blondie, another lady, Selima stopped me, she had lots of stores and commissioned me to do a range for her.  She actually ended up with her becoming my agent and selling my collections to Barneys and others in New York for the next seven years...
Your folio is expansive, incorporating everything from lighting to jewellery design to apache inspired accessories and headdress. With this in mind how do you manage your time between projects and identify what it is creatively that you want to be working on next?
I am lucky to be kept busy with different projects at any given time with people contacting me to make something different for them, whether it be one of my giant feather wall pieces, a headpiece or a lampshade. It’s fun working across different mediums and dimensions. Somehow whatever I end up doing always becomes amazingly time consuming and labour intensive, but that’s a commitment you have to make if you want to create something beautiful. My creative output is a little limited at the moment because I have a two-year-old son, Monty, so I have to work around him.  I have to work very hard, but I love it!
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Classic, decorative, colourful, tribal, Peter Beard.
Pumpkin lampshades by Moya Delany, including one (left) incorporating hand painted textiles by David Bromley
We love your latest lighting designs, constructed using the fabric from vintage flags. What inspired this idea and what process is involved in the creation of these pieces?
I adore flags, and all things historic, nautical and military. Since getting into lighting I am always on the lookout for something that will transpose well into a shade covering. I just did a huge shade out of old pianola paper which was a challenge. They are truly a labour of love. Making each lampshade is a lengthy process, the frame needs to be bound with binding first and then choosing the right flags that go together is no slapdash moment, it's all carefully thought out. Then I start to hand stitching everything for miles!  It's fun.
Amazing enormous Nato lampshade by Moya Delany!
Can you give us a little insight into Moya Delany inc.? What does a typical day at work involve for you?
Every day is a journey for inspiration, creating is my life, and I believe as Paul Smith said 'you can find inspiration in everything.'  I check emails and snoop around eBay in the morning, do things with Monty until he has his lunchtime nap, then I hold all calls and work like a fiend in those two hours. I find I can do almost nothing when he’s awake because he literally sits right on top of me when I am using sharp blades and hot guns etc. It's very distracting. I also go and see clients to discuss their dreams, drive around getting supplies, and generally hang around building sites talking about lighting. Then come back home and often work at night where I find I am most productive.
Can you list for us what resources across any media that you tune into regularly for a bolt of creative inspiration?
I don’t do much web hunting or blog reading because I just don’t have the time. I read a lot of historical biographies that take my mind in all directions. I visit eBay a lot, it's my online resource library. You can go deeper and deeper and find specialist stores and ancient things that you never knew existed. I like to read Sothebys catalogues about anything and everything from pre-Columbian art to Russian space artefacts. While I am working I like to have Mad Men on the television, it makes me feel cool, calm and collected, which is how I want to be when I create.
Studio details.  Photos - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files
Which other Australian local creatives do you admire?
I have to say my brother Michael Delany Korabelnikova. We studied at art school together so we understand each other and now I do all the lighting on his jobs. He has endless creativity and a very unique perspective.
What would be your dream project?
I’m pretty happy, but working for Richard Branson designing the intergalactic departure lounge for Virgin Galactic would be perfect!
What are you looking forward to?
For the first time in ages I’m thinking of doing a small accessory range and working on a sculpture exhibition.

Melbourne Questions

Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?
All the neighbourhoods that have houses backing onto the Yarra River have the best of Melbourne because they seem so country-ish and remind me of growing up in Swan Hill.
What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?
I had a martini on the weekend (the best kind of meal!) from Bar Di Stasio in St Kilda. The drink presentation was superb and we had some crazy chip snack.
Where do you shop in Melbourne for the tools of your trade?
I still go to Leffler for leathers and tools, and I hang out in the stinking hot garage of my lovely Italian frame maker while he finishes things off. When I'm being an artist I'll also pop into Eckersley's for supplies, and Spotlight when I’m being crafty.
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
At the pool, cleaning the house, or maybe breakfast at Fitzrovia.
Melbourne’s best kept secret?
Prahran pool.
Moya Delany studio.  Photos - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files

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