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The Side Hustling Creatives Panel at Interiors Australia + DENFAIR Melbourne 2022

Earlier this year in February, I was honoured to be asked to be a part of a panel at the Interiors Australia + DENFAIR Melbourne convention for interior designers and architects. 

The Interiors Australia + DENFAIR Melbourne 2022, now rebranded simply as Design Show Australia, is Australia’s premiere event for design, architecture, and fit-out. The event was a collaboration between Interiors Australia known for architectural products, kitchens, bathrooms, , workplace designs and DENFAIR which provides high-end furniture and lighting. For those who work in the design trade, the convention provides a place to view a showcase of products and materials for interiors as well as collaborate with developers and other trade professionals to be able to provide the highest quality design experience for their clients.

The panel that I was asked to speak on February 11, 2022 was called “The Side Hustling Creatives: In Conversation with Designers and Architects Who’ve Branched into New Pursuits.” It consisted of an all-female lineup including myself, Jane McKenzie, and Megan Hounslow and was hosted by Cassie Hansen from Artichoke Magazine. Jane had a 20 year career as a heritage architect who now creates ceramic sculptures inspired by architecture as her full time career. Megan is an accomplished interior designer who also juggles her lifelong passion for oil painting. With my background in landscape architecture now turned into architecture-inspired modern cake design, the three of us discussed how our varied backgrounds have influenced our newfound creative pursuits. 

During the panel, we each touched on how we got started in chasing after our passions. For each of us, architecture and design were either our careers or educational backgrounds. However, as creatives at heart, we eventually realised that we needed an outlet to be able to express that creativity fully and freely. That need to express ourselves showed up as ceramic work, oil painting, and cake design – all extremely different from where we had been to start but fulfilling in different ways. I think Megan said it best when she said, “[Working with interiors] was incredibly rewarding, but it is a different joy to actually bring something that comes out of nowhere to life.”

Thao speaking at the DENFAIR SIde Hustling Creatives Panel.

One of the major topics that we touched on was how scary it can be to walk away from a stable job to pursue our creativity. Going after your passion can be terrifying, especially when you don’t know for sure that you’ll be able to support yourself and your family through it. We each spoke about the different ways we transitioned away from design and the deciding factors that make us take the leap. As Jane said, “If not now, when?” Sometimes you have to take the plunge and just do it.

Watch the Full Panel

If you have been fluctuating between choosing your career and pursuing your creative passions, I hope you enjoy watching this panel and if you take anything away from it, I hope it’s to find your reason and conquer your fears to just take the leap and see where it takes you. 

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    For the first 4 months of 2020, we donated $17,000 AUD to organisations that helped, and continue to help, those affected by the devastating bushfires that ravaged Australia:

    Foodbank NSW – $4316

    Wildlife Victoria – $4317,

    Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal – $4316,

    National Bushfire Disaster Appeal – $2025,

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    Foodbank Victoria – $1575.

    Between May 2020 and August 2021, we donated all proceeds to Foodbank Victoria who are doing incredible work to help with the COVID-19 Food Crisis.  To date (end of August 2021) we have donated a total of  $7251.00 to Foodbank Victoria. 

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