Couch couture

first_imgStep into Arite Kannavos’ apartment in Melbourne’s fashionable South Yarra and you know immediately that you’re in the presence of a creative mind. Kannavos has a philosophy: that colour in one’s home, is the soul’s reflection of a life being well celebrated, and the home of this young artist and textile designer sings with colour and celebration.At every turn there’s an object or artwork that tells a story: a tapestry of flags brought from New York to Greece in the 1920s by Arite’s grandfather, a ceramic hand made by Murano – the celebrated Italian glassmaker, a 19th century style two-seater upholstered chair, adorned with a loose sheepskin and three gorgeous cushions (more on those later), and of course, her own paintings. Three large canvases are on the walls; semi-abstract landscapes which were recently painted and inspired by a visit to Cape Schanck on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula on a wild and windy day. The paintings – made up of coloured shapes, impressions of a headland, sky, and a distant sea, swept by washes of more translucent colour – are as much dreamscapes as landscapes, and will form part of Arite’s next gallery exhibition. Highly collectable, Kannavos’ paintings sell for between $1000 and $2500. It’s easy to understand why. Dense areas of colour with light transparent veils of dripping paint give an innocence and purity to her paintings. Her rich palette of bold, fluorescent hues amongst fainter washes of colour creates fresh, uncluttered works that sing with energy. “It’s always been about collecting everything I see,” says Arite, “to understand some inner-truth.” A graduate of RMIT University in Melbourne with a Fine Arts degree (Honours), she cites de Chirico and Mark Rothko as seminal influences. Arite grew up in Melbourne. Her parents left the village of Livadi near Mount Olympus, to come to Australia in the 1970s. It’s obvious that artistic expression has always been a hallmark of the Kannavos clan: “Dad was a musician for a band called Anamniseis on the wedding scene,” says Arite, “mum made textiles back in the village. They’re very hands-on sort of people.” After graduating in 2005, Kannavos began work as a textile designer, creating bedlinen for a Shanghai-based company supplying major retailers in Australia and Asia. Seven years in the corporate textile world gave the young artist a deep insight into commercial textile production on a global industrial scale, but the pull to spend more time painting and become mistress of her own commercial destiny, proved undeniable. In March this year, Arite gave up the globetrotting job and set up Canter & Cave, a boutique homewares business which she runs from home. Why Canter & Cave? “Canter refers to a horse’s movement between a gallop and a trot, an exciting and forward-moving energy which my business travels at,” says Arite, “Cave is about the idea of the home as being a space where one can retreat to create and imagine.” Canter & Cave’s business plan is a modest venture to date, involving the transformation of Arite’s painted art into limited edition cushions. “It’s couch couture,” says Arite with a grin, “the ethos behind the business is to start as an artisan, do small runs, operate on an organic level. People these days are frightened by the cost of a real artwork so this is the next best thing. If you can’t afford one of my paintings you can have one of my cushions!” The bespoke cushions (printed in Sydney and sewn in Melbourne) are produced in runs of a hundred and sell for $135 each. Each is created from a different piece of the print yardage, making every cushion produced a unique item in a limited edition. It’s early days for the business but sales levels are encouraging. Distributed through boutique homeware stores, retailers as far as Brisbane have been keen to stock Kannavos’ comfy cotton creations. The cushion collection (there are three designs currently in production) is just the beginning of the project for Kannavos, who is looking to widen her range into other homewares – lampshades and furniture upholstery – all derived from the same process. But the artisan designer isn’t looking to mass-production anytime soon. “I’m open to seeing what happens, but I like the hands on feel, but who knows what could happen later on. To build the brand recognition I’m staying with retailers at the moment. I’d like to go online eventually.” Next month Arite will head to Paris and New York, “to get inspired,” as well as to approach retailers who may become the first international outlets for Canter & Cave’s bespoke products. Arite Kannavos is going places, and the sophisticated home furnishings created by this remarkable couch couturier, are destined to end up as collectable as her vibrant paintings.www.canterandcave.com Arite Kannavos’ cushion collection is available from Gaudion Furniture – Prahran, Melbourne and Double Bay, Sydney. Dagmar Rousset (Fitzroy, Victoria) and Rylo Interiors, Brisbane. Her new landscape works can be seen in the exhibition Ground Cover at the Gilligan Grant Gallery, 1B Stanley Street, Colingwood, Victoria, from 25 August until 24 September. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more