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We have some really talented fabric designers in Australia but we hardly ever get to hear about them. In the quilting community we’re all aware of international designers like Kaffe Fasset, Amy Butler, Jinny Beyer and Etsuko Furuya but we don’t know much about the great talents in our own backyard. That’s why I thought I’d try to contact some Australian designers and interview them so we can get to know them and their work. The other day I visited True Up and found out about Chris Chun so he’s the first cab off the rank. [Please note copyright of all images in this post belong to Chris Chun and are reproduced here with his permission.]

Chris Chun – designer for Clothworks
Chris was born in Melbourne and is an an award winning designer who has worked around the world including Australia, Italy and the UK.  He started painting full time in 2004, and was selected as a finalist in both the 2004 Fleurieu Peninsula Biennale Art of Food and the 2005 Jacques Cadry Memorial Art Prizes. His exhibition Appetite was the opening event for the Tasting Australia 2005 Festival in Adelaide. The tag line for his site is Celebrating the joy of life! I guess you can tell from all this that Chris loves fun, food, adventure and beautiful things. His work has been licensed by renowned companies around the world for a select range of products including ceramics, cards and stationery, fabrics and homewares.

Chris Chun + Clothworks

The well-known fabric house Clothworks caught up with Chris at the New York Surtex Licensing Fair and commissioned him to design a fabric collection for them. The collection is due out in the US Autumn around November 2010. Isn’t it gorgeous!

I caught up with Chris this afternoon and he agreed to answer some of my questions, so here is the interview:

Munaiba: Chris do you think of yourself as an artist, first and foremost or as a designer? And what do you feel is the difference?

Chris: I guess my first answer would be “both”. I don’t know if it’s just the Gemini in me coming out but I get bored doing the same thing all the time. I think of art as being for me. It’s what I do to please myself, there’s no pressure involved whereas design is something I do with a particular client or market in mind. The most important thing for me at the end of the day, whether I am designing or painting, is that my work connects with other people.

Munaiba: Do you design with a particular medium in mind?

Chris: Mostly I paint what I love to paint and then a client will see it and say “I love that!” and then they’ll use it for whatever purpose they have in mind.

Munaiba: How did you hook up with Clothworks?

Chris: I was at the Surtex New York Licensing fair in 2007 – me with my stand amid 400 other artists –  and they came by, liked my work and we went from there.

Munaiba: This may sound like a strange question but are you tidy? The reason I ask is that designers are alway so aware of design elements and what works and what’s out of place that I often wonder if their apartments reflect this sensitivity to placement or not.

Chris: (laughs) No I’m not tidy. In fact if you visit any art studio you’ll usually find stuff all over the place. My place is a complete mess at the moment with open suitcases and samples and all sorts of stuff all over the place.

Munaiba: Is there a fashion element to design?

Chris: There are certainly trends. For example there are teals and chocolates in my new fabric range and they are definitely colours that are important for the US  market at the moment.

Munaiba: I‘ve noticed certain themes or recurring elements in your work such as elegant teapots, butterflies and cherry blossom. Where does you inspiration come from?

Chris: Much of my inspiration comes from my childhood. I was born and grew up in Melbourne but my father’s family came from China and so we had Chinese objects in our house and my Grandma had a wonderful teapot collection. Travel also inspires me. I’m always taking photographs of things that catch my attention. I’m planning to move to Asia later in the year and I’m sure that will prove to be a great source of inspiration.

Munaiba: Chris thanks for your time, it’s been lovely to speak with you and  I’m really looking forward to the launch of your fabrics. Good luck with your move to Asia.

Chris: Thanks

You can have a some of Chris’ art in your home

Chris has an online shop where you can buy cards and stationery and some really lovely cushions and eye pillows or if your looking for an original then Chris does take private as well as corporate commissions for work. And if you’re a quilter then stay posted, I’ll let you know as soon his fabric becomes available.