Alice’s artistic flair
In this Q&A Alice Kerrison (Ascham Old Girl 1992) shares a career journey that has led her to build an online program dedicated to fostering heart-led design.
You embody the spirit of pivoting during the recent COVID-19 lockdown. Can you tell me about your new project?
Lockdown gave me the space to think deeply about my business and come to the realisation that I needed to shift in a big way because I wasn’t feeling fulfilled in what I was doing and my light was dimming. I realised I needed to level up and step outside my comfort zone to grow within my business.
My family and I moved down to the country for the four months of lockdown, so being in nature was the most ideal place to explore my creativity and find inspiration. When you feel too comfortable in business it’s a sure sign for change! So, I signed up to a business attraction course with Powerful Steps, while also homeschooling my three boys and designing homes for clients. It was a busy time but I learnt so much.
I have always felt my purpose in life is to help people feel special about themselves. I now know how I can fulfill this off the back of a meaningful business. We are in the process of building an online program to teach and inspire people how to find their own style through the interior lens. I want to give people the tools and confidence to be able to design their own homes from what sets their heart on fire. What I call, heart-led design. This platform will also host an array of conversations with creative visionaries and designers from across the world and showcase the wonderful artisans who create the materials and finishes, the homewares, furniture, lighting that make our homes so joyful. There are many people who might not want to, nor have the need to engage an interior designer but not sure where to start. I will be their wing-woman to help with this process and to give them the confidence and an anchor to be able to make these decisions from the heart.
Was there a particular teacher or class at Ascham that made you realise that design was what you wanted to do?
Art was always my favourite subject and Ms Temple helped me enormously to develop my own style. I always felt very supported by her guidance.
What path did you take when you left School?
I had dreamed of becoming a film director so went to study at the UNSW College of Fine Arts (COFA). I majored in film and made a few short documentaries, one of which toured around Australia in a film festival. From there I went into advertising and marketing, and then had an opportunity to move to New York in my late 20s. I decided to change tack with my career and go back to study, so I enrolled in Parsons School of Design to study Interior Design. As the standout student of my year, I was offered an internship at one of the most elite design agencies in New York, Victoria Hagan Interiors, and went on to work with the firm for a few years. I do believe my drive and determination to be the best I can came from my experience at Ascham.
Your design business seems to have had many manifestations. You have been designing interiors, creating lighting and bespoke furniture. Is there one field that brings you more joy?
I adore creating bespoke, one-off pieces that are pieces of art but highly functional. For example, a sculptural wall sconce made from stone, crystal and aged bronze. Or a stone kitchen bench hand carved to resemble an eroded cliff face—this is where I peak in my creativity and imagination.
You have travelled extensively; what country has shaped your design ethos the most?
Living and working in New York was a pivoting moment in my life. The city is electric, eclectic, and incredibly diverse. There is not one single style and boundaries are pushed. On the back of this I have been strongly influenced by American design, specifically out of New York. Having grown up in England I feel very connected to the sophisticated elegance of European design. The layering, textures and fabrics, the colours and incredible antiques. I am also inspired by the relaxed manner and colour of homes across the Mediterranean and the use of colour.
You have one of the greatest eyes and your curation is incredible. Can you let us join on your favourite designers and their Instagram accounts?
Dorothée Meilichzon – @dorotheemeilichzon
Nathalie Deboel – @nathaliedeboel
Beata Heuman – @beataheuman
Kelly Wearstler – @kellywearstler
Athena Calderone – @eyeswoon
Marlene Zeiner – @mdezeiner
Piet Boon – @studiopietboon
Christian Liaigre – @liaigre_official
Vincent Van Duysen – @vincentvanduysen
Axel Vervoordt – @axelvervoordt
Joseph Dirand – No Instagram
Left: Tamarama House – architecture by Madeleine Blanchfield
Centre: Alice Kerrison
Right: Alice at work