ELKE KRAMER, CREATING FOR A CAUSE
Sydney Designer Elke Kramer, creating for a cause
Amongst her busy days, established Australian designer Elke Kramer finds the time to travel and lend her creative talents to those in need. We visit Elke’s amazing Surry Hills studio in Sydney, to talk about travel and giving back.
Elke, you are so well known in the creative community for your design work now ranging from scarves, to jewellery and ceramics. Where did this love or art evolve? From your youth and now to what we see here in your divine Sydney studio space?
My greatest originating influence is my mother. I grew up in a really artistic household where my lovely mother was always creating. She was a graphic designer and when she wasn’t designing or illustrating she was doing anything from painting murals to Chinese calligraphy or quilting, as a result our home was a creative nest. My creative career was a natural progression for me, the love of art, surfaces and objects its in my blood. The longstanding creative community that I’m a part of is important to mention as well: everyone from the friends I made at COFA in the burgeoning stages of my life as a designer, to the geniuses I share my studio space with now and my darling photographer husband. We all feed off of each other through ongoing conversation and support which is essential inspiration for me. Even growing up, my mum’s friends were artists and frequently visited our home, I was always surrounded by wonderful weirdos – I still am! I can’t imagine a life without doing this and feel so blessed being able to make a living from it.
Your’e also a muma! Tell us a little about your work life balance now with a little person onboard.
It’s tough! But incredibly gratifying. It’s impossible to achieve a perfect, abstracted idea of “balance” in this situation. Once I let that concept go and just gave into the challenges of simultaneously raising my little boy and running my business, I found I felt a sense of relief somewhere in the chaos of it all. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How does your space and your location lend influence over your design? Have you always lived in Sydney, Australia?
I’ve worked in Surry Hills for the past ten years and yes – I’ve always lived in Sydney.
The location and creative community that resides in Surry Hills definitely lends itself to a rich sense of influence as a designer. I think the general lifestyle that Sydney offers has a greater impact on my work, though. I love this city so much. I love the culture here and the way the local topography impacts on it. To readily access nature or go for a quick dunk in the sea is essential for me to maintain any semblance of “balance” mentioned above! I work better because of this.
In 2014 you took a journey to The Himalayas with a group of creative women. A trip that many dream, yet few dare to take. Can you tell us about the experience? and how perhaps it has swayed or influenced a particular period in your work…
This was a singular event in my life to date! I will never forget those enormous mountains and the amazing team of women I walked them with. I was there as part of the On Top Of The World charity initiative for the Sunnyfeild’s association and managed to raise $10,000. Being dwarfed by these towering infinite masses and the truly spectacular landscape – it’s very difficult to describe. It definitely gave me a new sense of perspective and fed into lots of creative projects, that I developed in the 12 months since I climbed.
We share many common friends, a special one being miss Amanda Callan of Church Farm General Store, what a women she is too! We’d love to know more about your recent collaboration with Church Farm…
Amanda is my dear friend and sister in law. Church Farm General Store is such a beautiful project, once I saw her sumptuous soaps I knew I needed to collaborate with her. It was an interesting collab as her product is so entirely handmade, unpredictable and loose, and we have such a structured, exact approach to designing and producing our jewellery products. But I feel like we landed in a beautiful place in the middle, each equally contributing to the look, feel and scent.
Finally, where can we purchase the soaps and lend our support?
You can find our soaps at our online store. We also have sent a bunch to the Collector Store in Surry Hills, and the MCA store at the gallery.
We are donating $5 from every Himalaya soap sold to Unicef’s Nepal Earthquake Children’s Appeal.
All studio images by Hannah Blackmore