It is not every day you meet someone who once worked as a knife dancer, but Kaspia Warner is not your every day kind of designer. While she studied jewellery and object design, it is travel that has played the biggest role in her life. It was while she was travelling across India that was got the job as the knife dancer, and she later joined a burlesque troupe. But design has never been far away. In-between these more exotic gigs, have been turns at working in the jewellery industry. Kaspia has also amassed an extensive collection of wares from her travels. Now she has set up a pop-up shop, Kaspia’s Caravan, to sell some of her private collection, as well as other pieces she has sourced in recent times. The shop, in Sydney’s famous Yellow House in Potts Point, is in collaboration with Afghan Interiors, and open until February 2015.
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Which five words best describe you? Adventurous, romantic, kaleidoscopic, daydreaming livewire.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Graduated from jewellery and object design at Sydney College of the Arts in 2000 and have always loved learning new things. I’m at my best when actively creating, when making with my hands and exploring the untapped realms of imagination. During my studies I caught the travel bug and haven’t stopped since. I worked as a curator of contemporary jewellery in a gallery for a year and then left for India with my partner, travelling for months on a Royal Endfield Bullet motorbike. We crossed from India into Pakistan a month before September 11, 2001. Along the way I landed a job with famous Indian magician Jadugar Samrat Shankar as his “Knife Dancer” and performed my knife dance across India. Later I toured the same show in Amsterdam, Germany, France and London where I ended up working as a buyer for one of Soho’s most renown jewellers. The burlesque revival was just kicking off in the UK at that time. It swept me up and I joined a troupe and performed at the amazing Whoopee Club for a few years. It was a brilliant time. We returned to Sydney in 2004, via the the Boxing Day Tsunami in Thailand and another motorbike adventure, this time through remote Nagaland. Not long after getting back, we launched our own burlesque club Sugartime with a business partner in 2005, which lead to three sell-out East Coast tours. After having my daughter Paloma Rose, I began writing my travel blog, Kaspia's Caravan. We haven’t stopped travelling since, even with our second child Romeo, and have just returned from Cuba, Guatemala and Mexico. Over more than a decade I have amassed an incredible collection of tribal treasures, fashions and homewares from these travels. But this is the first time I am selling a good part of my collection. The pop-up shop Kaspia's Caravan is in collaboration with my business partner’s Afghan Interiors and is taking place right now at the famous Yellow House in Potts Point.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? When you’re fearless you see more beauty.
What’s your proudest career achievement? My children Paloma Rose and Romeo Safari Khan are my proudest co-creation. In terms of achievement, raising children to be great people can’t be topped. But opening Kaspia’s Caravan, which is like a walk through the amazing lands I’ve travelled to, is a real thrill. Styling such a gorgeous space and getting so much positive feedback from people has been humbling. Especially being in a venue like The Yellow House that has a wild artistic history and energy. Sometimes I almost expect to see Brett Whiteley and Martin Sharp painting together in a corner!
What’s been your best decision? Bumping into my husband Benjamin Gilmour in the middle of the night in Sydney 15 years ago and deciding to journey through life with him. Exploring some of the most remote corners of the world, venturing on crazy projects and not stopping even with small children has been the best decision.
Who inspires you? Apart from close friends and family, my husband Benjamin Gilmour is constantly inspiring. He is one of those people who makes magic happen, a go-getter, good-doer, my biggest support and collaborator. He inspires many people he meets on a daily basis in his job as a paramedic, writer and filmmaker. Oh, and Bjork! Bjork has been a life-long inspiration since I discovered her at the age of 13. She never ceases to amaze and surprise me, and her creative mind and talent is awe-inspiring.
What are you passionate about? My children and family, meeting like-minded and interesting people who are motivated to make the world a better and more beautiful place. Being compassionate and seeing deeper into situations, looking for the subtext in life. My obsessions are mother nature, art, design, travel, writing, music and adornment.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Artist Frida Kahlo, singer Yma Sumac and the fabulous adventuress Isabella Bird.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To launch my own jewellery label and designs, and open my own store overseas. There are many more far-flung destinations I want to explore and I’m eager to live and work in India in the near future. Environmental issues, especially the reduction of plastic production in the world, to help keep our planet alive for many years to come, is something I would like to spend more time contributing to.
What are you reading? Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan by Isabella Bird, my all-time favourite lady traveller. The world is a carpet: Four seasons in an Afghan village written so beautifully by Anna Badkhen. How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Keep reading this one hoping it will sink in!