Oooh la la I am a bit excited to share this crazy creative pad with you today. It's been a while in coming (we took these shots late last year) but today is finally the DAY! This very eclectic, colourful space is home to two seriously inspiring and overachieving people - social entrepreneur Simon Griffiths, and his partner gallerist Melissa Loughnan (who we have interviewed back here!).
Simon and Mel have been living here for about 2.5 years, having taken on the lease from some friends who lived here beforehand... (because you know, the best rentals are never found in the usual straightforward way!). Though they're renting, Mel and Simon have still managed to personalise their home and make it totally unique! They've filled the space with their impressive art collection - including many works by the artists Mel represents in her gallery, Utopian Slumps.
Not surprisingly, asking Mel to name a 'favourite' artwork is kind of like asking her to pick a favourite child - impossible! 'The artworks are all pieces that we’ve been given over the years by friends, or that we've collected together, so it's all quite special!' she says! One particularly treasured piece is Thomas Jeppe’s ‘Light as a log’, which was a 30th birthday gift to Mel from Thomas, one of her artists. ‘Easey Street’ by Jake Walker is also special, bearing the street name where Utopian Slumps was first located (it's now in the CBD).
Aside from their impressive combined art collection, Simon and Mel's home also houses a wonderful mish mash of vintage furniture, collected ephemera and op shop finds. 'When we moved in we didn't have any furniture, or money, so we scoured eBay for a couple of months, and bought a few things that we liked as cheaply as we could' says Mel. 'Most of our furniture is vintage Australian, but we have a couple of imported vintage pieces as well'.
Though Mel and Simon's museum-like collection of 'stuff' certainly gives this home a unique aesthetic, the highlight of the space really is its functional versatility. Both Simon and Mel are self employed, so the home incorporates a generous workspace on the ground floor. 'Our home is very spacious and light-filled, it’s a really nice space to live and work in' says Mel. 'We both have businesses in the city, so we’re often in and out a few times a day – it's important that we're a short bike ride from the CBD'.
It's been a particularly busy year for Simon, whose two major business projects are both launching this month, after years in development. Both are incredibly inspiring initiatives which fund charitable projects in the developing world. Simon really is such a seriously amazing dude, I just have to give each one a quick plug!
Shebeen is a non-profit bar in Manchester Lane in Melbourne's CBD, opening in the coming weeks (*any day now!). 'Shebeen sells beer and wine from the developing world' explains Simon. 'The profit from each drink sale goes back to an organisation in that drink's country of origin – so an Ethiopian beer helps to provide a rural farmer in Ethiopia with agricultural equipment via Kickstart, and a glass of South African wine will give a local language book to South African school kids via Room to Read. It’s been a lot of fun pulling it together - it's the first bar of its kind anywhere in the world' he says.
Who Gives A Crap is Simon's other very clever start-up, which you might have seen in the media over the past few months! Essentially, it's a subscription service for toilet paper (!!), where 50% of the profits go towards building toilets in the developing world. Simon launched a pre-sales campaign in July last year to kick-start this project – you might have seen him sitting on a toilet for 50 hours to get the project off the ground!? HEY, you gotta do what you gotta do! You should TOTALLY support this brilliant and slightly mad initiative - because everyone needs toilet paper! (The first shipment is due in March).
OK THAT'S ALL! See I told you they were over achievers!