"Learn, learn learn, always. You always use everything you absorb."
One of Australia’s most celebrated designers, cult icon Rae Ganim rose to fame as Australia discovered it’s unique design voice in the 1970’s and ‘80’s. She has contributed as a partner, a leader, a collaborator and a champion to the ever-evolving local design scene for decades. From her Melbourne studio, Rae now consults for the fashion industry on everything from branding, through to color, design and styling.
Tell us a little about your current work - what do you do, and what inspires you to do it?
I am consulting in the fashion industry, working on range-building collections. I work with a small team on everything from branding, through to trend, colour, design and styling. It’s exciting building ranges and a brand story with a team.
How does your work enrich your life or the lives of others?
I love art and design and everything it encompasses. It’s tremendously important. It surrounds us every day on many levels, and it influences everything we do. We have a responsibility to produce good design, good aesthetics, for everyone to enjoy.
Can you share a recent project you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of?
I owned a store - The Ganim Store - in inner-city Melbourne for three years. The store's ethos was based on design work I’d seen while working for a large retailer and traveling. I met interesting designers with fascinating stories and we would share their work and tell their stories in playful ways. It was a lot of fun!
What was the pivot point that set you on your current path?
I was born in Geelong, a small industrial town and a centre for wool. Following the World War II, my uncle set up a woollen mill - The Returned Soldiers and Sailors Mill - developing extraordinary fabrics, which as a child fostered my initial interest in textiles, color and surface.
I initially trained as a textile designer working in fashion and, as my career developed, I worked in furniture and homewares also. Surface and color became my thing, as well as trends and why they move in certain ways - the psychology behind these shifts and movements.
What advice would you give to others to identify and embrace those moments of action?
Be open to possibilities around you. Learn learn learn, always. You always use everything you absorb.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s going through their own transformation?
Be resolute and listen to your instincts. Look within yourself. Don't copy or, if you do, learn from it and use it in your own way.
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration in shaping your career?
After studying textiles, I worked as a textile designer and buyer for an Australian fashion house ‘Prue Acton’ as part of the small, central design team. I learnt so much about every aspect of fashion design there and worked with a phenomenal team who were generous in sharing their creative ideas. I learnt the true meaning of the phrase ‘the end product is greater than the sum of its parts’.
Where in the world would you describe as the place that speaks to you - your soul place?
I'm not sure, but I do love visiting the Australian countryside - this image by Australian Artist John Olsen captures it perfectly.
All images used with permission from Rae Ganim.