This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Extraordinary Routines · Stephen Ormandy

Extraordinary Routines

Today our monthly contributor Madeleine Dore of Extraordinary Routines shares with us the daily routine of someone who needs no introduction – artist and Dinosaur Designs co-founder, Stephen Ormandy!

From fortuitously meeting his now wife Louise Olsen on the first day of art school, to starting their iconic homewares and jewellery business with a humble stall at the Paddington Markets, 2015 marks Dinosaur Designs’ 30th anniversary. Alongside the business, Stephen is also a fine artist represented by Olsen Irwin, known for his bold, geometric works.

Stephen explains how he juggles his business and his art practice, makes time for his family, and is always ready to start the day in the surf.

18th December, 2015

The studio of artist and designer Stephen Ormandy. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Details in Stephen’s Dinosaur Designs office. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Creative director of Dinosaur Designs and artist Stephen Ormandy in his studio. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Small resin sculptures by artist Stephen Ormandy. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Details in Stephen’s Dinosaur Designs office. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Madeleine Dore
Friday 18th December 2015

‘I never really understood the whole switching off thing,’ says Stephen. ‘I love what I do, so I am always thinking about it and always doing it.’

 

Designer and artist Stephen Ormandy always knows what the ocean is doing. ‘It’s a very fickle business, surfing, because it depends on so many elements – the swell, wind and tide. You’re always trying to pick the optimum moment to go for a surf.’

Stephen also recognises the ever-changing elements that make up our daily lives. ‘No day is exactly the same – some days I’m up early, some days I sleep in, it’s a bit of a mixed bag really. But there’s got to be good coffee, that is crucial.’

Unlike the surf, Stephen’s approach to business is far from fickle. As creative director of Dinosaur Designs along with his wife Louise Olsen, Stephen’s creative output is characterised by large doses of passion and drive. From starting out at Paddington markets in 1985, to launching a store in New York, fuelled by an intensely creative approach to business, Dinosaur Designs’ resin-based jewellery and homewares have reached cult status across the globe.

Stephen and Louise met on the first day of art school because both their surnames started with ‘O’. Nearly thirty years later, their daughter Camille has almost finished high school, and Skipper the family dachshund rules the household.

For Stephen, striking the right balance between his business, his own independent art practice, and family is simply about embracing a necessary fusion.

From his morning surf, dealing with procrastination, to what he has learned about the artistic process, Stephen shares both the remarkable and the mundane elements of his daily life.

Creative director of Dinosaur Designs and artist Stephen Ormandy in his studio. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

The studio of artist and designer Stephen Ormandy. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Studio details. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Stephen painting in his studio. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Stephen Ormandy’s Extraordinary Routine

7:00
If my daughter is begging me to drive her to school, then I will probably get up around 7am, if not I will probably wake up closer to 8:30am.

I’m a champion sleeper, but I always get out of bed really well. I’m not groggy, I’m not grumpy, but that is because I’ve had enough sleep – nine hours is gold.

The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is look at the ocean. If it’s looking good I’ll check my diary and see whether I can rearrange some meetings. (On the odd occasion, I have forgotten to the check the diary in the excitement of a possible good surf!)

8:00
If the weather’s not looking good, I’ll then head straight into the shower and get the old bones going. I’ll normally grab a takeaway coffee and maybe a muffin or toasted sandwich and bring something back for Louise.

But things are hectic – the whole process is laced with answering emails, checking Instagram, that sort of thing. But that’s the great thing about today’s world – you can just look at your phone and you’re in the office, it is so convenient and totally frees you up, which you crave as a creative person.

9:00
I hate peak hour traffic so I tend to wait for the people who have to be at work at a certain time to do their thing before I leave for the day. I’ve got to get back into riding my bike to work now it is summer.

Sometimes I’ll go straight to work after my surf. There’s nothing like sea-salt hair – that is the greatest luxury!

9:30
Once I’m in the office the focus is on whatever is screaming at me the loudest. I handle the financial side of Dinosaur Designs, so there is a lot bill paying, a bit of administration, and then there are always decisions to make, problems to solve, production questions, and stock issues. I’m always talking to someone about a lease or a squabble about something – that sort of business never stops.

I don’t love that side of it but I know how important it is, and when it is important, you pay attention.

11:00
After I’ve cleared the decks for Dinosaur Designs, I get straight down to the studio. My art studio is in the same building as our offices. I could be working on a collection for Dinosaur Designs, I could be working on a painting, or I could be working on a new sculpture. If I’ve got a show coming up I’ll be just working through that process.

I also think there is always a place for procrastination, and you just have to embrace it. Hopefully you have more good days than bad days, but you know you’re having a creative block when the studio is super clean and then you sit in your chair and you say, ‘Oh man this is tidy. I’m in trouble!’ But I also think tidying up is a productive kind of procrastination.

Stephen at work in his studio. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Artwork by Stephen Ormandy hanging in his studio. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

13:00
I’ve fallen into a bit of a rhythm of having a bite to eat around 1:00pm. Sometimes Louise and I go out, but mostly we just grab a sandwich or bring something from home. On Wednesdays a friend of ours who is a chef comes in and cooks a special lunch in the studio for everyone.

14:00
In the afternoon I might be dragged out of the studio into a meeting. I’m always moving between the studio and the office and I quite enjoy that.

The balance between Dinosaur Designs and my studio practice really just comes down to what needs to get done, but I think being busy with both works well for me. I’m terrible at lists – I write them but I never go back and check them. That’s also why I am really bad with diaries, thank God I’ve got a modern diary that beeps and chirps at me now!

18:30
Around 6:30pm I start to think it is time to leave, but if I am busy I can work through until 10:00pm. It’s not often, usually just when I have my back against the wall with a show.

19:00
When I come home we will have a glass of wine, chat about the day, watch the news, and just kick around. Then we will eat and clean up and normally collapse on the couch for a little bit.

I think my worst habit is just staying on the couch too long at night. Our couch is just so comfortable and before you know it, you are watching some rubbish and you think, ‘What am I doing? This is crap. Go to bed!’

21:30
I love going to bed and having a little read before I fall to sleep. I love reading biographies, especially about artists and their process in the studio and how they think. You can learn so much about how they go about what they do. When you are looking at an artist’s work it can be overwhelming, but if you can look at how they arrived at that you can learn a lot.

I’ve found that the most common artistic process tends to come back to drawing. I draw a lot and always have a sketchbook with me. If I have an idea I sketch it down and it is a visual note that I can go back to and feed off.

‘What makes our days extraordinary is when things line up. It can take so much effort to get to that point – the elements of nature having to line up for an amazing surf; all the research that goes into your work; or trying to solve a puzzle that eludes you. You never know how it’s all going to fall into place, but when it does, it’s magic.’

This Week

Interiors

11 Mirrors That Are Having A Moment!

Lauren Li's edit of her favourite mirrors out there right now, to take your space to the next level!
Lauren Li

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!
02:27

Travel

A Perfect Day in Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges, With Paul Bangay

Lucy joins legendary landscape designer Paul Bangay for a dreamy day trip in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, capturing the best that the
Lucy Feagins
  1 hour ago

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!
Lucy Feagins
  17 hours ago

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

News

Get Luxe Designer Furniture For Up To 15% Off!

Designer furniture retailer DOMO is discounting in-stock and custom items from HC28 + HC28 Cosmopolitan.
Sponsored

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored

Homes

A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Maddie and Mike Witter transformed a mould-ridden, dilapidated house into a bright and breezy family home for six!

Architecture

A New Zealand Villa Built For Hosting

Architecture firm Maud creates a home for a family of hospitality professionals, built around a generous kitchen, outdoor room + pétanque g...

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.

News

Delicious New Bed Linen From A Local Fave

Melbourne-based bed linen stars, The Sheet Society, launches a moody new winter range ripe for mixing + matching.
Sponsored

View Comments

Similar Stories

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards!
Lucy Feagins
  17 hours ago

Studio Visit

Two Best Friends' Lockdown Hobby Turned Cult Candle Business

Ruby Kannava and Emma Cutri pooled their creative skills to found Blazed Wax - a colourful, cult-status candle company!

Indigenous Art

15 Excellent Indigenous Art Centres To Support And Celebrate!

We've spoken to some experts, and pulled together this guide on purchasing Aboriginal artwork ethically, and some ideas of where to find it!...

This Week

02:27

Travel

A Perfect Day in Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges, With Paul Bangay

Lucy joins legendary landscape designer Paul Bangay for a dreamy day trip in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, capturing the best that the
Lucy Feagins
  1 hour ago

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!
Lucy Feagins
  17 hours ago

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored

Interiors

11 Mirrors That Are Having A Moment!

Lauren Li's edit of her favourite mirrors out there right now, to take your space to the next level!
Lauren Li

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.

Architecture

A New Zealand Villa Built For Hosting

Architecture firm Maud creates a home for a family of hospitality professionals, built around a generous kitchen, outdoor room + pétanque g...

News

Get Luxe Designer Furniture For Up To 15% Off!

Designer furniture retailer DOMO is discounting in-stock and custom items from HC28 + HC28 Cosmopolitan.
Sponsored
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

News

Delicious New Bed Linen From A Local Fave

Melbourne-based bed linen stars, The Sheet Society, launches a moody new winter range ripe for mixing + matching.
Sponsored

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

Homes

A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Maddie and Mike Witter transformed a mould-ridden, dilapidated house into a bright and breezy family home for six!

Similar Stories

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards!
Lucy Feagins
  17 hours ago

Studio Visit

Two Best Friends' Lockdown Hobby Turned Cult Candle Business

Ruby Kannava and Emma Cutri pooled their creative skills to found Blazed Wax - a colourful, cult-status candle company!

Indigenous Art

15 Excellent Indigenous Art Centres To Support And Celebrate!

We've spoken to some experts, and pulled together this guide on purchasing Aboriginal artwork ethically, and some ideas of where to find it!...

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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.