I thought you might be interested in reading a little about the campaign I created for Life Instyle Melbourne that is running from August 3-6th. For registration please visit the Life Instyle website and I hope to see you in Melbourne. Please come and say hello.
Life Instyle is celebrating its 15th edition by presenting a luxe creative concept in collaboration with stylist Claire Delmar showcasing the fine detail and design you can expect to discover this season.
When the Life Instyle team approached me to style a brief that encompassed words such as “timeless", “simple", “beauty" and “essential”, I felt immediately drawn into the story; my brand evokes those very words. My styling business focuses on still life, it is where my passion lies, and as the campaign images began to take form in my mind, I couldn’t resist the team’s offer.
I connect with elements around me in terms of images, and have always thrived on analysing components and creating a visual strategy. I am someone who thinks in pictures - every word conjures up a visual dialogue that excites and inspires me, and keeps me returning to the styling world. I am sure most of you are aware that set design and photo shoots are far from glamorous. The design is inspiring, but the logistics of packing and unpacking and building sets, are laborious and physically draining. However, the moment that image comes to life, all the sleepless nights in the pre-production phase and the nerves around post-production feel utterly worthwhile.
Life Instyle has always shown great initiative and I have fond memories of the first trade fair that I attended as a member of the media, working in publishing. At the time, it really stood out as "one to watch" amongst buyers and suppliers as it was so thoughtfully curated. Over the years I have seen Life Instyle fair develop into a well respected trade event. I was thrilled when asked to be involved in the 2017 creative concepting for the event because I personally love the story they tell, appearing to effortlessly combine a creative and individual edge to product presentation.
As a photographic stylist I think in scenes, still moments, or photographic captures, so I began the creative process by breaking the stories into spaces within a home that were relevant to both the suppliers and buyers. I then considered the set similarly to planning a home. Starting with the “shell" or the “bones" - the floors and walls - and working up to the “smalls” - furniture, ceramics- utilising the triangle effect/a little akin to a pyramid in the shape of idea formulation. As I was shooting in a studio, I didn’t focus too much on the practical elements. I tend to build stories as if they are real situations but often add an element of play when translating them in studios. I do seem to be drawn to set builds, possibly by the enjoyment I gain from adding a sense of the “illusory”.
Once the stories were set, the latest colour trends were considered, however it wasn’t my main focus. I didn't want the lasting impression of the campaign to be trend or fad-driven, but to emulate beauty and simplicity that could hold it’s own. With that in mind, I kept reverting back to the initial brief - reflecting always on the key words:
timeless - an element of past, present and future,
simple - uncomplicated in form, nature, or design; without much decoration or ornamentation,
beauty - a combination of shape, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight, and
essential - absolutely necessary; extremely important.
It was now that I turned my attention to the seasons and brought warmth through a deeper colour palette, carpets and velvet curtains.
As we aim for a life filled with quality over quantity, selecting products for the home is now more considered. We live fast-paced lives and desire products that are user-friendly in function, aesthetic to the eye and ones that can be rotated throughout our life, ageing gracefully. These ideas infiltrated my selection of furniture, accessories and soft furnishings for the campaign.
As with my individual style that has developed over time, as a stylist, I’m constantly learning and evolving with every shoot. I am humbled by the words offered by the talented author and curator Karen McCartney at the opening of my STILL Exhibition:
“Claire has an ability to source with great care and place the pieces in intelligent, thoughtful ways, that honour tradition, but are far from predictable. She also has the restraint to know that less is often more, and to find the optimum dynamic between objects - never over-styling or over-working.”
I hope the final images conjure up the key elements that were the foundation of the brief, and starting with products showcased by the event’s suppliers, you are inspired to curate your own collection. There is so much strength and experience behind each participating brand. And it is events like Life Instyle that promote collaboration, which is vital in giving an idea credibility, and in making a vision become a reality.
Photographer - Chris Chen