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Times Like These... With Artist And Designer Beci Orpin

Times Like These

It’s been hard to figure out exactly what kind of content to be creating in this moment. More than ever, we’ve felt a renewed sense of purpose in what we do – looking into beautiful homes, and sharing the work of Australian creatives provides a little window of escapism, and sense of normality, as well as supporting the industry. And that has never felt more important. But at the same time, it seems a little tone-deaf not to be acknowledging the ‘new normal’ we are all living in right now. We’ve all had to make changes. Every single person’s life (and livelihoods) has been changed forever by Covid-19.

When brainstorming ideas for how we can approach TDF content in the time of Corona, something we have kept coming back to is a focus on connection and community. So we’ve decided to bring you a new series, Times Like These, to help combat the physical isolation we are all experiencing. We’ll still be speaking to the creative people you know and love, but focusing less on their practice itself and more on how they are getting through this time – how their lives have changed, things they are doing to stay sane, what they are afraid of and their hopes for the future.

Much like everything else right now, we don’t know how long this series is going to go for. Maybe (hopefully) it will only be a few weeks. Or it might be a bit longer than that. But as long as we’re all in this time of uncertainty together, we’ll be bringing you one of these stories every Monday afternoon featuring a different creative person – from Australia and from other parts of the world – to help you feel connected.

23rd March, 2020
Sally Tabart
Monday 23rd March 2020

I just really want to keep my local community going. Who can we buy from and what we can do to support them?’ Beci Orpin. 

Prolific Melbourne artist and designer Beci Orpin is one of the hardest working people we know. She and her husband Raph Rashid, a Melbourne hospitality legend, and their teenage sons Ari + Tyke are bunkering down in Brunswick right now during this time of social distancing.

Although Beci has worked as a freelancer for a huge part of her career, it’s been over six years since she’s actually worked at home – and it’s been a bit of a challenge getting back into the swing of things. We spoke to Beci about reviving her home office situation, her fears for their family’s restaurant businesses, and hopes for reassessing humanity, when all this is over.

Hey Beci! Thanks for being the first person we’ve profiled in this new series. How has your work been affected by the current state of the world?

I had heaps of travel booked for April and May – I was travelling for more than a month in America, Perth, Sydney and Byron Bay and that’s been all cancelled. I’ve been pretty quiet with work and thought I might just not have any…but I have gotten some jobs over the last few days. They’re all kind of based around health, which is great because it’s something that is still at the forefront of what people are willing to spend money on and invest in right now. It’s not manic yet, but I was kind of preparing for it to be nothing for a few months. And it still might be.

What are your workdays looking like at the moment? 

I’ve got a terrible home office so I’ve just been trying to get it together, I can’t work in a space that I don’t love! I’ve been trying to make it into something that I actually want to spend time in. I try to keep a routine, but I am finding myself very easily distracted.

What are you getting distracted by?

The washing, the dishes! Also, my kids are hungry ALL the time!

What’s the biggest challenge for you guys right now?

Definitely Raph’s business [Beci’s husband, Raph Rashid, owns Juanita PeachesBeatbox Kitchen, All Day Donuts + Taco Truck in Melbourne]. It’s terrible for Raph. It’s awful. He had every event cancel that was booked, so that was just crazy. We’re definitely trying to adapt in any way possible by offering alternatives – coming to meet people, leaving food at people’s doors, we’re hoping that will get us through because a lot of the restaurant staff are on contracts so obviously we’d really love to keep as many staff as possible. Trying to ensure that it survives will be huge, and to try to keep supporting staff who we feel a responsibility to.

We’re pretty active, so I think it’s going to be kind of hard to stay inside. I’m kind of excited too though. I had such a mental start to the year, I am kind of excited to stay inside. Although I’m sure that will last three days and then I’ll be losing my mind.

Yeah! I hope I don’t go crazy or drive my boyfriend insane whilst we’re both stuck in the house together..

Yeah! I’m super grateful that we have a garden so I can go outside, and we’ve got a big park across the road so we can still go there.

Is there anything you’re feeling optimistic about?

I feel optimistic about, at the end of it, what people will learn from all this. About reassessing humanity. I don’t know. I hope it will give people a better definition of consuming, and what they can be grateful for in a modern society.

I think really good things come out of dark times – it’s historical. It will be horrific, but I hope there are some good things.

I’m hopeful for that too. There hasn’t been a time where everyone in the whole world is going through the same thing, and there is potentially a lot of power in that. 

Yeah, I think so too. It’s a bit of a wake-up call I think. I go up and down. At one moment I think everything’s going to be fine, and then the next minute I’m like oh my god, are we going to be okay?

Who or what is bringing you good vibes right now? 

The internet is really good right now, I think you can see all the benefits of social media, which might be one of the positive things that come out of this too. I’ve had so many great conversations with people already, there are so many incredible memes. I’ve been chatting to this girl in LA on Instagram (@gentlethrills) who has been doing all these cool projects at home, and I am so here for it! It’s what prompted me to do my home office, I’m loving all that kind of stuff because it’s really easy to put on the internet.

What are you listening to? 

I find it hard to focus on podcasts, but there are lots of cool Covid-19-themed playlists on Spotify right now I’ve been listening to!

What are the things you’re trying to do to stay sane on a daily basis?

I’ve got heaps of creative projects. There’s an embroidery that I want to do, I want to make some pillowcases, rearranging furniture… all of those things make me really happy. I’m planting vegetables at the moment, meditation, try to keep a routine for me and the kids, try to not watch too much on-demand TV. I’m thinking of doing virtual dinner parties where we Skype a whole bunch of our friends and eat dinner together.

What businesses are you trying to support right now?

Anything local. If you do have money and you’re not too scared to spend it, then definitely just find a homewares business and buy some stuff for your house! I just bought a vase from Ellie King. We’ve got some savings so we are kind of in the position to help people, so I’m kind of just like, can I subscribe to a weekly flower subscription from Hattie Molloy? Can I get a voucher and do it later? I’m trying to support friends who run their own businesses and who I know would really struggle. Also people like Tsuno, a subscription service for pads and tampons etc. I just really want to keep my local community going. Who can we buy from and what we can do to support people?

At the time of publishing Beci + Raph’s businesses, Juanita PeachesBeatbox Kitchen,All Day Donuts + Taco Truck are open for pick up and delivery. Please consider supporting these legends if you’re in Melbourne!

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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 bea@thedesignfiles.net