Eloise Rapp, Textile & Product Designer
We wish we could condense Eloise Rapp's positivity and wisdom into a book and carry it around close to our hearts. Her work with The Old Clare Hotel has us dreaming of pretty pillowcases and leafy wild landscapes. Thanks for sharing your wonderful insights on the blog, Eloise.
What do you do?
This is the million dollar question when you’re essentially a slashy, so here it goes - I’m first and foremost a textile and product designer, but I also work as a creative producer and strategist. Slash slack student of the Japanese language.
Do you have a maxim that you live and work by?
Don’t ever let work become something you don’t look forward to. This seems pretty obvious, but it’s amazing how quickly something you love doing can turn into a time-draining burden, especially through the feast-or-famine nature of freelance work. I guess this can be summarised by the personal mantra of 'getting your priorities straight’; don’t accept or pursue work that makes you miserable, make time for the good stuff in life, and no amount of money is worth stress-related insomnia and falling back on cup noodles (though I do enjoy the odd Mi Goreng).
What is your dream project?
I’d love to do a very large-scale installation, particularly in collaboration with the performing arts. Or to do a project encompassing costume, set design, sound and light, a-la the most perfect collaboration between Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage and Merce Cunningham.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
I’ve been craving a consolidated outlet for research, curation and design (I know, pick one), so I started Three Lives last year. It naturally began its life as an online store, as I’d sourced some beautiful hand-made items relating to bathing and slow-lifestyle living through my travels in Japan. I’m more of the opinion, however, that a good product selection should be secondary to a solid concept and research-based approach, hence why I’m expanding it into a blog right now.
Design-wise, I’m in the middle of doing a friend’s album art, working on a print collaboration with The Social Outfit and new migrant students from Fairfield High School, and teaching a screen print elective at the UTS Design School.
If you could choose to hear any female contemporary present at Make Nice, who would it be and why?
I’d say Naomi Klein, a Canadian writer and activist, but I was lucky enough to see her speak at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas last year. The way she articulates her passion for the political and environmental future of our planet is acute, formidable and heartbreaking.
What is the best advice you’ve been given, or wish you had been told sooner?
That not everything has to happen at once.
What are the three milestones that have led you to where you stand?
The first was completing an undergraduate design degree at UTS. I don’t take for granted the good fortune of being able to hone my passions at a university level. Many other creative people don’t have that opportunity.
The second was not so much a milestone, but a series of unfortunate financial blunders on the path to running my own business circa 2012–2013. The cost of production, publicity, overheads, the hours it takes away from other forms of income... I’m now acutely aware of what is and isn’t possible in terms of self-funding. You can’t always assume your business will ‘just stand up on its own’. It could turn into a floppy mess like sad, runny pancake batter on a non-stick pan.
The third was leaving the commercial fashion industry. I felt stifled by the inability to create what I wanted due to micro-management, market-cautious design processes and megalomaniacs, and had issues with the ethically bankrupt nature of the industry (but luckily it’s starting to clean up its act, and fast). The opportunity came along to work with the Ken Done Studio a few years ago, and I grabbed it.
Do you have a supportive female network in your field? Was it always this way?
Of course, starting with my mum and sister, who are both very bold and creative in their own ways. Many of my dear friends and fellow designers are women who I’ve known from uni days, up to people I met only a few months ago. I often meet exceptional, like-minded women when I travel, too. As you get older, you really start to value integrity and no-bullshit attitudes more, and whenever I meet a sassy female with those qualities, we tend to end up becoming friends.
What are you listening to, reading, watching of late, that is inspiring or entertaining you?
My friend Miska put me on to Democracy Now!, which is an amazing news channel and is keeping me abreast of the circus that is the US election cycle. On the flip side, I’m thoroughly enjoying the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and am gunning for Chichi Devayne. Listening to a lot of Chances with Wolves, a great show from East Village Radio, and (speaking of amazing women), I’ve finally got around to reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem. Joan Didion’s writing really conveys this beautiful, nuanced observation of the world with brutal emotional honesty. I can see why she’s well-loved.
What is one facet of your field that you want to see change?
It’s hard not to say ‘all of the above’ (because that really is what I want), but I’d like to see more opportunities and recognition in Australia for women of Indigenous heritage and other ethnic minorities.