The Fortynine Studio

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
20th of June 2013
Handcrafted 'Flip Flop Slip' ceramics by The Fortynine Studio in Sydney.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.
Lauren Austin and  Ben Elbourne in their Surry Hills studio. Photo - Sean Fennessy.
Ben wokring on a new range of flop moulded bowls. Photo - Sean Fennessy.
The Fortynine Studio  team (minus 1!) - from left, Ben Elbourne, Lauren Austin, Sarah Spackman and Harriet Watts. (absent - Carly Vickers).  Photo - Sean Fennessy.
Whilst in Sydney recently I had the great pleasure of meeting a very talented bunch of designers who go by the name The Fortynine Studio.  This busy creative collective come from various backgrounds and disciplines, sharing a fantastic studio space in Darlinghurst where they create a variety of product, both together and independently. The Fortynine Studio was established in early 2011.  'We all studied the Bachelor of Design at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW, where we secretly admired each others' work, and began working together on a number of early projects' says Sarah Spackman.  In January 2012 the group moved into their fabulous big studio space in Darlinghurst, scored through the City of Sydney Cultural and Creative Spaces program.  This was when things really started to take off! The group includes Lauren Austin (a multidisciplinary designer working in object, environmental, graphic and ceramic design), Ben Elbourne (whose varied background includes horticulture, furniture, environmental and ceramic design), Carly Vickers (a graphic and object designer), Sarah Spackman (who works across object, textiles and jewellery design, and also works in production design for film, and as a Silver Jeweller at Dinosaur Designs!) and Harriet Watts (a textile and object designer). With such varied backgrounds, its no surprise that this prolific group have quite a few strings to their bow!  Between them, they've created lighting and furniture ranges, woven textiles and jewellery, as well as environmental design work, and have staged numerous group exhibitions.  However, what really caught our attention was their stunning Flip Flop Slip ceramics range, which fortuitously came about through a commission to create a series of ceramic vessels for Bill Granger's cookbook, Easy, released in late 2012. Each piece in the Flip Flop Slip range is unique, created predominantly using reclaimed white raku clay which is slab rolled, then flop moulded or hand-thrown on the wheel. The surfaces are textured using remnant textiles, and they're coloured using deep black, grey and indigo pigments.  It's an incredibly photogenic body of work - I'm not surprised this range has quickly become a firm favourite amongst many Sydney stylists, and in turn has introduced The Fortynine Studio to a whole new audience! 'Developing our Flip Flop Slip range of ceramic tableware has been a fantastic project, as it has been the catalyst for further collaborative projects and publication opportunities' says Sarah. 'It has been really satisfying to see the pieces being used. They look beautiful with food and have photographed so well for styling - something we had not really considered in our practice previously.  It has been a very rewarding body of work for us both as individuals and as a studio'. The Flip Flop Slip range is now available for sale and commission, with prices ranging from $18 to $110 for the largest platter.  Email the studio for details. (I loved them so much I bought FOUR different pieces during my visit.  No self control whatsoever!)
Harriet Watts creating a new series of plates. Photo - Sean Fennessy.
flop-moulded plates and bowls drying on the studio table.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.
Studio details.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.
Plates and bowls on display. Photo - Sean Fennessy.

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