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While we struggle to match our socks each morning, our incredible Emily is pairing unlikely colours, textures and pieces to push the boundaries of interior styling

Emily was born with innate creativity and a talent for all things design.

When she's not working with clients on their dream homes or merchandising our Clifton Hill showroom, you'll find her hanging out with Slow Mo, a rescue Greyhound, or enjoying tacos with her fiancé. 

Keep reading for a peek inside Emily's life!

Curious Grace Clifton Hill Emily O'brien

Hey Emily! Where are you from and where are you now? 

I am from New South Wales originally. I was born in Goulburn, Australia’s first inland “city.” I moved to Canberra in my teens and went on to study Interior Design and Fine Art before moving to Melbourne 12 years ago.

Having studied Interior Design in my early twenties, I worked extensively in exhibition design and theatre as both a costume, prop and set designer which I loved, but this type of design work became exhausting with tight budgets and fast turn arounds. I loved the creative side though!

So in 2005 I went on to study Fine Art, majoring in Gold and Silversmithing which was a life long dream and passion! As soon as I graduated with Honours I moved to Melbourne as soon as I possibly could! I’ve been here for around 12 years now. 

I’ve exhibited my jewellery and small scale sculptures nationally and internationally. I have worked as a performance artist and toured Australia with international artists as well. I continue to make when I can, but I also get my creative fill working as a stylist and visual merchandiser for Curious Grace. So thats where I am at now!

How did you get started in the world of interiors? 

I’ve always been interested in the spaces we utilise, how we move around them, the histories and ethos they can imbue. I am a very visual and tactile person and I am really driven by colour, texture, form and materiality. I’m instinctively drawn to ways of expressing these interest through interiors, furniture, Fine Art and Design. 

Talk us through a standard day in your life.

I don’t really have a true “standard” day. I try to change it up as I can get bored easily, and boredom frustrates me! I generally wake up pretty early and  take my gorgeous rescue greyhound, Slow Mo for a walk through the local parklands and down by the creek were I live. Its a lovely way to start the day, and its generally calming, depending on Slow Mo’s mood!

Then work obviously takes up most of the day, but in the evening I try and mix things up regularly with dinner with friends, yoga, more walks with Slow Mo, exhibition openings, movies or a gig. But I also love to chill with my new (!) fiancé watching some addictive tv.

What's the most rewarding part of your job? 

I love seeing clients happy having chosen the right pieces to live with and enjoy. I love working closely with customers on furniture, fabric and colour choices, and I simply love merchandising our Clifton Hill showroom. We are blessed to have such a stunning light filled space. Its a lot of fun staging our furniture and hearing our visitors remark on how lovely our pieces are!

And a challenging part?

I juggle between assistant manager, trade representative and visual merchandiser and stylist for Curious Grace, Clifton Hill. It can be overwhelming at times, but I do love a challenge, and I like to keep busy at work!

Where do you look for creative inspiration? 

I gain inspiration from everywhere. I generally look to the arts and fashion for colour inspiration as there is ENDLESS material to go off. And I love the outdoors and gardening, so nature is also a true inspiration.

Who are the designers you are loving at the moment? 

I adore Tyler Hays of Philadelphia, he’s a painter, sculptor and the founder of BDDW in New York. Everything he touches is gold to me. I would lose a limb for a Kieran Kinsella stump table or stool, and I love the jewellery of Julie Blyfield for the colours and forms that reflect Australian flora.

What did you want to be at age five? 

An artist. But I also wanted to be a secretary manager because thats what my Dad was when I was five!

If you could perform on stage, with any musician ever, who would it be? 

Oh this is hard! I’d say David Bowie.

What would you sing? 

Under Pressure. That way I’d get to channel Freddie Mercury.

On a Saturday morning we’ll find you…

Trying my best to sleep in! Otherwise, I’ll be in my little garden enjoying coffee or in the park going nuts with Slow Mo.

If you could eat one meal, for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Tacos! I love Mexican food. So versatile and tasty! 

Okay, last question! What are the top three things on your Curious Grace wish list right now? 

This should be a top 10 list - to be fair! I’d totally buy the linear bed again if I had another bedroom, but I’ll go with the:

Pampa Mariposa Chair in Crude Nature

Pampa Mariposa Chair Leather Butterfly Curious Grace

Circus Pouf in Red Velour

Normann Copenhagen Circus Pouf Red Velour Curious Grace

Anything from our Sipa range! 

Sipa Collection Curious Grace


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