Liz Watson

Liz Watson is one half of Queensland design label Everingham & Watson, whose homewares reference and reinterpret Australiana. Liz also works as Design Partnerships Co-ordinator at the State Library of Queensland's Asia Pacific Design Library.

Your partnership Everingham and Watson has led the way in resurrecting distinctly Queensland motifs and Australiana for design products. Pineapples, prawns, the Southern Cross, and even the Coat of Arms have made appearances in your collections. What inspired this, and why do you think there seems to be a popular taste for these local icons at the moment?

We love bold colour; Australia’s flora and fauna; vintage emblems and seals (that post-Colonial thing again…); our country’s short but ever-inspiring commercial design history. Mimmo Cozzolino’s brilliant survey of Australian iconography, Symbols of Australia, is a favourite resource. When I was living in London I certainly saw a revival in a similar vein and that was where the ideas started.

Our families, both past and present, are a constant source of inspiration and continually shape our aesthetic. My great-aunt, Olive Ashworth, was a very successful textile designer in the 1950s. Her iconic designs (of the Great Barrier Reef in particular) are a big influence on our work. My aunt and uncle are historians and curators, and their home has always been filled with vast collections of old Australiana—embroidery and spoon collections, amongst other things. Finnish design house Marimekko has always been a great love too.

In addition to your own design practice, you work at the State Library of Queensland’s Asia Pacific Design Library. We’ve spotted a number of excellent fashion titles there, and wonder how you see fashion sitting in the broader design discipline? Does it share the same concerns as industrial design, for example?

When the APDL was created in 2010 there was much discussion about fashion being included in the collecting categories (amongst public places, communication design, design thinking and design for better living). Through the APDL and especially the design lounge on Level 2, SLQ is all about creating a place centered around the creation of new knowledge. Having all areas of design together brings about the kinds of design accidents and serendipitous outcomes we’re all about! Conversations on Design Online are also presented together in a mixing pot of ideas about contemporary design.

What is your relationship to fashion; self-loathing, or self-expression?

Self-expression.

Where do you look for inspiration on matters of style?

It’s a cliché, but the APDL is a great resource. I’m always on the computer with the business and looking for various designers to write an article for Design Online, so you come across all sorts. I’m a big fan of Pinterest!

What is your most treasured dress-related object or memory?

I inherited a beautiful Burberry Trench from my aunt. I have been wearing it for nearly 20 years and it’s still in great nick! I have many amazing pieces from my aunts and mother.

Give us three words, people or places you associate with Queensland fashion…

Colour, suncream and cotton …. (I’m really not designed for the heat!)

Is there such a thing as a distinct Queensland style?

I don’t think it’s easy to define, as Queensland is such a large state and includes so many various things. Queensland includes Brisbane, beach, pastoral areas, sun and lots of tourists. Once you leave Brisbane it changes so much, so I don’t think there is an iconic style as such. One thing that does unite the fashion is the weather.

Liz Watson and Susie Everingham outside their Newstead showroom, 2013
Liz Watson and Susie Everingham outside their Newstead showroom, 2013
Everingham & Watson designed and screen-printed tea towels, 2013
Everingham & Watson designed and screen-printed tea towels, 2013Nadia Buick

Published in , on April 8, 2014.