profile : mabel

Mabel duo Dave Boyer and Jemima Wagner began their creative process with some dirty old ply and acrylic, a handheld drill and an upside-down floor sander. While that might not appeal to some, this refreshingly organic/nitty gritty approach, combined with a sincere and ethical design process and some interesting aesthetical influences has resulted in a range of jewels that are totally original and supremely cool. Featuring stacked layers of timber pared with fun pops of coloured resin, Mabel wares are a perfect example of good Australian design…an awesome product with a feel good ethos behind it.

Do you have a day job, if so what is it? 
I’m back at uni studying teaching, so the flexible hours of self-employment suit me well. Jemima and her brother have recently taken over their dad’s framing business. It’s a more than full time job for her so she’s had to take a step back from Mabel for now, though she’ll still have a hand in the design process.

When did your business begin and why? 
Jemima had been playing around with pretty things for years, initially making one-off bits and pieces from whatever she had lying around for herself, then as favours for friends and the odd commission too. “My Mother Mabel” was born around three years ago when we decided to dip our toes into commerciality with a range of laser-cut acrylic brooches. People seemed to like them, and it was exciting for a bit, but the process seemed a little soulless and factory-like, and a little like cheating. Mabel take-two came about partly from necessity – Jemima had a little design shop at the time and were chasing that profit margin – but also to sate our creative desires. Armed with some dirty old ply and some acrylic, a handheld drill and an upside-down floor sander we got to work. Now we’ve got a shitload of awesome tools and it’s a bit become a bit of a factory again, but we’re personally involved in every step beginning to end. And it’s much more satisfying than sending Illustrator files off to Sydney. We recently dropped the “My Mother” from the front of our name — now it’s just “Mabel”. It didn’t really fit with the style of what we’re doing now, but we didn’t want to confuse people and murder the brand by making an entirely clean break.

Inspiration/design aesthetic? 
We’ve both got a longstanding art deco fetish, which is quite apparent in our designs. It’s more the architecture, furniture and industrial design that appeal – particularly the streamlined style that didn’t get really get taken up by the jewelers of the day – though there’s an obvious nod to the simple geometric stuff in some of our more recent designs.

Designers you admire? 
The deco gang: Raymond Loewy, Walter Teague, Kem Weber, Gio Ponti etc (thanks google). Most of them were architects, but weren’t snobby about what they worked on, churning out some amazing furniture, appliances, even packaging. Their best stuff was useful and/or comfortable, as well as beautiful – two sides that you’ve always got to balance when designing pretty things for humans. Marc Newson’s an interesting one – prolific (if a bit hit and miss) and not afraid to make a statement. And there’s some awesome local talent that’s always amazing us too: Emma Bugg, Meg Perkins, Ali Pyrke, Gabee Stolp to name a few.

What can our lovely customers expect to see you exhibiting? 
Some of the old designs will be phased out – they just become too much of a chore after a while – others are evolving. We’ll be expanding our range with some neckpieces – something we’ve been meaning to get around to for ages. By Christmas there’ll hopefully be some furniture too.

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Want to see who else will be at our September event? For more interviews with our exhibitors check out our look book.

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