Stylish Traveler - Louise Olsen, Dinosaur Designs
Jewelry and home wares designer Louise Olsen is an avid traveler, splitting her time in Sydney, Tokyo and in New York, where she has an apartment. Here she reveals some of her most treasured finds for global shopping. By Julie Earle-Levine
SINCE Dinosaur Designs’ launch more than 20years ago at Sydney’s Paddington Markets, stunning, hand-sculpted resin jewelry has been turning up on chic women (and men) all over the world. DD co-founder and Sydney-based designer Louise Olsen finds inspiration for the gorgeous, often vividly colored chunky bracelets, necklaces and lust-worthy home wares, in nature and art. When she shops for herself, she resists the ordinary. “I really try to stick to the rule of only buying a few very special pieces and leaving the rest for memory. I get a lot of pleasure from objects, so those I do buy, I must absolutely love.” Here, Olsen shares her top travel discoveries.
(extra if can include: Louise travels with her husband and business partner, Stephen Ormandy, who is also a painter, and their nine-year-old daughter, Camille.
The daughter of John Olsen, the renowned Australian landscape artist, Louise comes from a family that traveled a lot, living in London, Portugal and in Sydney. DD has stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Nolita in New York and sells at 20 stores worldwide, including Tokyo Design District, Bergdorf Goodman in New York)
My favourite hotels are in Bali. At Bali Amandari (Kedewatan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia; (62) 361 975 333; www.amanresorts.com/amandari) you stay in these little huts right in the rainforest. It is very dense. There are these heady, incredible flowers, lush shaped leaves and Proteas, which are so wonderful to draw, so sculptural. I’m not a big beach person. Not a sun baker. More of a quick dip, then head off the beach and get into the sketching kind of person. The hotel is on the edge of a cliff, so you look down these valleys. It is so tranquil. It is lovely to go just for a lychee cocktail, or they do a beautiful range of Balinese teas. Oberoi Seminyak Beach ( Denpaser, Bali, Indonesia, (62) 361 73 0361; www.oberoibali.com) is another hotel that is very sensitive to its environment, to the Balinese culture, tradition and beliefs. My drawing book always comes back full after these hotels. I love spending time drawing the plants, insects and the most incredible butterflies. Both hotels are designed by the Australian architect Peter Muller, who worked with Jorn Utzon on the Opera House. He’s a wonderful architect who has lived in Bali a long time. The way he uses materials, like bamboo and grasses. It is just really beautiful.
New York. I love to go to Bar Pitti (268 Sixth Avenue; 212-982-3300) I love the buzz and the energy of it. You get a great sense of New York there. The waiters are cheeky, but fun and nice. You have to go early to get a place. The food is wonderful, simple food. The truffled pastas, using very simple olive oil with white sauce and pasta with truffle on top is so good. It’s very rich. I usually get it and share it. I love Bar Pitti for lunch or dinner. It just has great street life. One of my favourites is Cafe Gitane (242 Mott Street, Nolita, 212-334-9552) I love the Moroccan and New York feel it has. It is just down the road from the store, and the apartment, so it has become a lovely local place. Makes me feel really great as well, we love the owner, Luke, we are always talking about the street and all the things we can do. I love their orange blossom waffles. If Yoshi is on the coffee machine, you are set. In Brooklyn, we go to Lucali, (575 Henry Street, Caroll Gardens; (718) 858-4086) The man who makes the wonderful pizza is Mark, and it’s his restaurant. The store that is the restaurant used to be his favourite lolly story when he was a kid living in Brooklyn. It is just amazing. They don’t have any refrigerators there. They bring it in fresh that day. They make tomato purees by hand. There are boccocinis in big white bowls, tomato puree on the bench, the pizza man is working on a wooden table making the dough, by hand. You can see the whole process. If you come in with kids, he’ll give them some dough to play with. The menu often doesn’t stay the same. It is a matter of what produce you can get that day. The mushroom is very good. So is pepperoni. I go a lot since my friend has an apartment near there. When her son goes to sleep, he goes to his window and the ‘pizza man’ waves good night to him.
In Tokyo, I go to Tokyo Department Store, Shibuya (right on top of the train station) for the best tuna sushi bar. They just do it so well, incredible tuna. It is very, very fresh straight from fish markets. We wholesale in Tokyo so we have a long association there. We are part of store there called Idaye for lots of years, and have been in Tokyo designers block for three years. We have a real love for Tokyo and often do JAL, nine hours to Tokyo, and then stop to see friends en-route to New York. We go for at least for a week a year. I really feel at home now. It is a very exciting exhilarating city. It is very hard to give addresses. They don’t have map system like we do. Trickier, so you do need a bit of a map or you can ask the policeman in each area
Tokyo. It would have to be one of the best places in the world for gifts. It has such an incredible culture of gift giving to show gratitude towards each other. It is always important to take lots of gifts with you as well! I go to Cibone (Aoyama Bell Commons B1 2-14-6 Kitaaoyama Minato-Ku, Tokyo, 107-0061; (03) 3475 8017; www.cibone.com ) a beautiful homewares/design store. It has objects from all over the world, but with a beautiful Japanese sensibility. I have bought a lot of CDs from there. They have a really great selection of jazz, plus Brazilian, Cuban music in a collection of their own. They also do beautiful collection of own, beautiful colored towels, in incredible colors, wonderful cut out circles in them, really bright turquoise, bright coral red, deep luscious colors. At Tokyo Hands (Shibuya, 12-18 Udagawa-cho, (03) 5489 5111; www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/shibuya) a Japanese hardware store, where you can find everything you need to make anything, if you need wood, rope or string, light bulbs, kitchenware, cards, stamps, glue sticks, if you are looking for anything. Really handy things, a kitchen area, wonderful tea pots and great array of tea strainers, tea stirrers, I do like tea. Sushi roll section, buy bamboo mats to buy sushi, and other tools to make sushi and a wonderful array of knick knacks. There is an exercise section where you can buy exercise tights, back massagers and special foot socks that your toes can poke out of!
At Idee Store/ Cafe (Minami-Aoyama 6-1-16-3F, (03)-3409-6744) This design store has a lot of Italian pieces and Japanese. It is now owned by Muji, and has a little café attached. I love Sfera (D-0303 9-7-4 Akasaka Minato-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5413 3083; www.ricordi-sfera.com) beautiful hand-crafted Japanese objects that are purely Japanese design. The craftsmanship is wonderful, beautiful woven baskets that are finely, delicately done and beautiful hand blown glass pieces, wooden chopping boards.
I always go to Lammfromm (Yamaguchi Bldg.1F 1-1-21 Uehara Shibuya-ku Tokyo 151-0064 ; (03) 5454-0450; www.lammfromm.jp) It is a beautiful contemporary art concept store with small works by Japanese artists. My daughter Camille really loves this store. The objects are very imaginative creations. Yayoi Kusama is just one of the artists we love. We always end up coming back with one of her dot sculptures or Daisy Face’s. There is an idea that the art world is not accessible, that it is hard to have a piece, but with this store, you can buy a beautiful, inexpensive piece and really treasure it. It is really wonderful art work by Japanese artists.
Louise on Shopping
Her other favourite stores:
New York, Moss (146 Green Street, www.mossonline.com) for design; for clothes, Butter (389 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn);
Tokyo, Comme des Garcon – one of my favuorite stores designed by Future Systems. There is a wonderful sense of translucent space moving in and outside itself. Being its flagship store, the collection seems to be the most extensive. They have one of a kind accessories ranges you don’t see in the other stores
Loveless – eclectic collection of fashion with a funny and playful twist with a very Japanese aesthetic. I also love Tsumori Chisato, the Japanese designer, who does the most wonderful prints, also has a very unique store in Aoyama.