Meet The Designer: Ash Macedo's Electric Eyes
I'm forever impressed with anyone who has the balls to throw caution to the wind and follow their heart. Our dear friend Ash Macedo is no exception, owner of Electric Eyes homewares and Poco Uno Events & Styling, she threw in the corporate world and side tracked her successful singing career to pursue her start-up dream in homewares and styling. Now in its third year, Ash's baby business is thriving, her styling services are booked out and whilst I can barely get five minutes with her, she kindly took some time out of her busy week to chat about following your heart, her personal style and dream travel destinations. Kaz x
Tell us about how you got your start in homewares and styling
I’m not sure if this was the case for anyone else, but growing up, most girls around me would always say “I want to start a fashion label”, well I was the opposite, I would say “I want to be a singer and I want start a homewares brand”……pretty odd combination!
From a really young age I was always making things, I LOVE anything creative, it 100% feeds my soul and I’m so totally lost without it. When I finished high school I applied to study a degree in interior design and then at the last minute, changed my mind and decided I would move to London to live and pursue my music. I guess the design part of my career aspirations were put on hold and for the next few years I focused heavily on my music career and eventually moved back to Australia were I lived and breathed music.
It was in my last year at the Conservatorium of Music studying a jazz vocal degree that I decided I wanted to try my hand at creating some wares and see if that could generate some extra income for me, as the life of a student and full-time musician is somewhat challenging on the financial front. It was from here the brand was born and I’ve never looked back. It’s extremely challenging and everyday is different, it’s definitely not easy and funding the brand is another daily challenge I’m faced with but I just keep pushing myself along and I don’t look back.
I guess styling was a natural progression from me; it comes with the territory of being a designer and working on creative projects. Everyday I’m styling something, whether it is in the shop, on a photo-shoot, for a commercial or residential client or with my other business I own, Poco Uno Entertainment & Events. If I’m being honest, I never thought I would be sitting here today and saying that I generate income from being a stylist, it wasn’t on the to do list as far as career goals, it’s just grown out having the brand and the shop and people digging what I do. I guess I’m fortunate enough to have grown up with an entire family of tradesmen. My grandfather, dad and uncles are all tillers, one of my brothers is a builder and my other brother is a landscape gardener specialising in stone masonry. I’ve grown up on job sites and lived in homes that were always being renovated so design and construction is a familiar space for me. I’m currently back studying a degree in Interior Design so I can add that to the CV and get my hands even dirtier.
Who are your biggest influences in Australia?
My family would be the number one influence for me. My mum is uber talented at creating ah-mazing homes. She’s a genius at combining trends, past and present and making a humble little abode look like a space fit for a style master. Whenever we have family dinners, building and construction is always talked about and I learn a lot about current design trends from my dad & brothers as they’re building and creating on a daily basis.
Outside of the family, I’m always drawn and influenced by other creative & like-minded people that I’m close too or that I’ve had the chance to work with. I wouldn’t say any particular person within Australia influenced me, I’m more influenced by my surroundings and the places I go to that are linked to my businesses, for example my plant wholesalers & growers, seasonal flowers at the markets, botanical gardens, cactus gardens, cafes & restaurants that are design focused like the Merivale venues, Boathouse venues etc. Music plays a massive role in my life, it influences me everyday and this is 100% reflected in pretty much most of the creative aspects of my day-to-day life. It’s the driving force behind my emotions and this most definitely brings out a lot of creative direction for me.
Where do you look for inspiration when you're developing new products?
Would it be bad if I admitted that a large portion of my products are inspired, designed and put into production because I am missing them from my own home??? (haaaaa!) It’s so true!
My inspiration comes from the need to have really ah-mazing products in my house that are affordable and that I would be proud to say, “I made that!” I’m inspired by nature; I have an obsession with greenery & flora like no other and I like the simple things in life so the majority of my designs are clean, straightforward and simplistic. I want my customers to purchase my products because they love the look, feel, and style and most importantly, they feel they are getting value for their money.
I usually design a print or pattern, piece of furniture or décor item everyday and store it away in my scrapbook because I know I’ll come back to it later when I feel it’s the right time to bring it to life. I think for me inspiration is drawn from my day-to-day life without me even being aware of it. I have a love of antiques and recycled products and what they can bring to a modern space. It’s very common that you’ll find me at my local tip rummaging around the buy-back center; I’m quite the local there now! Raw timbers, concrete, steel, monochrome colour palettes and a LOT of white is my fundamental inspiration, from that, the world is my oyster.
How do you find working with overseas makers?
Like everything I guess, it has its positives and its negatives. Being that Electric Eyes as a brand is still in its baby phase, I have to spend most of my time here in Sydney looking after the shop, my wholesale clients, and the day-to-day running of the online store. I also manufacture roughly 50% of the current product catalogue myself from my warehouse on the Northern Beaches, this means I can’t physically visit my overseas suppliers and work through the R&D steps with them in person to iron out issues like fabric choice, manufacture quality, print quality, price etc. All correspondence is done via email, phone or skype and sometimes I receive products that are so far removed from the samples I had manufactured or from concepts and designs that I have sent, that it becomes a huge disappointment and creates a massive dent in the finances. I’ve learnt very quickly to move on from these disappointments and to just keep pushing forward, and that the next idea or product will be worth the time and will be rewarding for myself as a designer and for the business. That being said, working with my overseas manufactures gives me a lot more flexibility when it comes to choices of fabrics and materials and lead times are fantastic. I’ve managed to get a nice little crew of manufactures from all areas of the globe that I work with on a daily basis, and even though there are challenges, I appreciate their workmanship and the standard of what they bring to my products and the brand.
Describe your living space
Severely unfinished! We’re currently renovating a new space we purchased about a year ago. It’s a massive loft like open space which we gutted and have designed and fitted out with hardly any walls, as we wanted to keep the charm of its warehouse vibe. We have open brick walls that seem to run for days and a stunning sloped 3-meter high ceiling which we gyprocked and then added in three recessed over-sized automatic skylights, which is one of my favourite features in the space. The only areas of the space we gave walls to was our open plan bathroom and walk-in wardrobe, the rest is defined by pieces of furniture I have placed specifically to create key areas of the home within a very large space.
Everything is white: white walls, white ceilings, white floor to ceiling custom kitchen cabinetry, white stone bench tops and storage units and then we added in one of my favourite elements, a large 600 x 600 concrete look porcelain floor tile which runs throughout the entire space, to give it that raw & textural feel. We still have a lot of work to do and I haven’t even started to purchase appropriate furniture and styling items to finish off the space, that’s very much a work in progress. Our french bulldog Lola gets the most enjoyment of our home, she can run around the entire space three times and then pass out from exhaustion.
Tell us your dream holiday destination
If I could bundle up Morocco, Spain & New Orleans and give it a name, that’s where you would find me. I’d hit Morocco for its ah-mazing rugs, cushions, interiors, exteriors, encaustic tiles, markets, culture, basically an interior designers paradise, need I say more. Then I’d be in Spain to visit relatives and walk the streets finding every tapas bar and restaurant where I could devour as much of their gorgeous red wine and cuisine, booze & food pretty much hits the spot for me as I’m not much of a sunbake by the beach person, it bores me to tears. Then to feed my soul you’d find me walking the streets of New Orleans and stopping at every Jazz & Blues bar possible to soak up some of the best live music you’ll ever find on this earth. If I got the chance to visit these three places all at once, I may just explode with excitement.
When you travel - is it more about the destination or the experience?
For me, it is 100% about the experience. I want to immerse myself into the destination I’m visiting so I can leave feeling fulfilled and inspired, taking something from my travels to bring back with me and put into my creative work, whether that’s with Electric Eyes, Poco Uno Ent. & Events, or as a singer/songwriter. I want to walk the streets, eat at as many restaurants as I can, visit historic venues, talk with locals and live and breathe the city I’m visiting.
What's your best travel experience to date?
When I travelled to Osaka, Japan to stay with one of my friends who was living & working there at the time. For three weeks straight I ate at the most insanely amazing restaurants, danced and drank at epic clubs & locals house parties, visited remote areas with locals and shopped till I couldn’t shop anymore. I still dream about the silken tofu I had at a local restaurant, I would go there tomorrow if I had the chance just to eat that meal again….it was THAT good!
If you could tell your younger self anything about style, what would it be
Don’t be scared to embrace your style. Believe in your own creativity and run with it full steam ahead. I’ve never believed that style comes from well-known brands or trends, or from following what others do. I believe style comes from individuality and having the courage and creative ability to pull pieces old and new and make them your own.