When Louise Olsen, Stephen Ormandy and Liane Rossler began selling handmade jewellery at Paddington markets in the 1980s, the plan was simply to make enough money to pay the rent.
“We were at art school and we didn’t want to wash dishes to pay the rent,” Ormandy said. “We wanted to use our talents to make things instead.”
The trio formed jewellery brand Dinosaur Designs and almost 30 years on from those humble beginnings, its colourful resin pieces are now sold in stores and galleries around the world, including seven stand-alone stores in Australia and New York.
Rossler left the business in 2010 to pursue other projects, but Dinosaur Designs continues to go from strength to strength.
In June Ormandy and Olsen opened a store in The Strand shopping centre in Melbourne, and next month the duo will open a flagship store in London’s vibrant Soho district as part of the prestigious new Ham Yard Hotel development by Firmdale Hotels.
“The Firmdale group were handpicking and inviting people from around the world that didn’t have an existing retail presence in the UK, so we are thrilled to be part of the new precinct,” Ormandy said.
The London store is aimed at growing the Dinosaur Designs brand in Europe and in particular in the British capital, which has emerged as a global hub for design.
In London, the Sydney pair will showcase their jewellery, homewares and furniture in a space designed by Iain Halliday, of Australian architecture firm Burley Katon Halliday, and will complement the bricks-and-mortar offering with a new online store for the European market.
Despite the global expansion, every piece by Dinosaur Designs is still handmade by artisans in the brand’s Sydney studio in Strawberry Hills.
“We both came from art school so we can’t help but treat all our pieces as works of art,” Olsen said.
“The retail market is truly global now and you have to think about what you can give to the market rather than creating pieces that people already own.”