You may recognise Amy Cunningham from one of the house features of this month's real living magazine. Or from a feature in Belle magazine, which called her a "shining star". Or read about her in the Sydney Morning Herald when she was selected as part of the Springboard mentor program. So after interviewing about her home decoration project, I was interested to know more about her business Zema Designs too.
Which five words best describe you? Passionate, caring, creative, playful and positive.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My first job was in a shoe store when I was only just 15, selling fancy ladies shoes. I loved fashion and felt very grown up working there! From there I worked in a newsagent, in my parent’s real estate agency whilst at university and then a furniture manufacturer and onto corporate interior design until I recently started to concentrate completely on my own design business.
What's your proudest achievement? Seeing my products come to life, from images in my head to drawings to the final product. It is an amazing feeling to see my ideas come to fruition. Having my pieces shown in public and recognised for the first time fresh out of university, through object gallery, Bombay Sapphire and workshopped exhibition. The public reaction from this first exposure made me realise I could do what I loved for a living. It was an amazing feeling knowing that my designs were going to be used in people’s homes!
Who inspires you? Many people inspire me in my life and industry. At the moment a lot of my inspiration and drive comes from the memory of my Great Aunt Sue, who was hugely important person in my life. She was an amazing independent woman who was before her time. I am currently sketching out a new design inspired by her.
What are you passionate about? I am passionate about producing products and spaces with longevity in both aesthetic and function. I hate to think of all the waste produced by the fashion nature of interiors, and aim not to contribute to this by creating simple classic yet innovative designs. My feeling is if a person connects with an object, and if that object can adapt with them and their space it will be retained for a long period of time.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? My Grandfather Ray always said, “If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well.” This has been carried on by my father as well and is really at the core of everything I do. When I set out to achieve something I put my heart and soul into it and try to stay true to these words in all areas of my life.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Eileen Gray, an incredibly talented designer of the 1920s and 30s. She was so before her time! Her pieces are still stunning and relevant today. I would have loved to have seen how her creative process worked.
What's next? Next is the launch of my re-vamped business in the middle of this year through the aid of the Springboard mentor program. I will be launching a new branding and marketing look as well as my Hat Stand ready for production and the market. I am working a new lighting series that will be created out of the scrap add off cuts from my manufacturer's factory. So keep an eye out on the Zema Designs website to see what’s new.
What are you reading? I am reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. It is really opening my eyes up and making me look at life with a different perspective. I am also reading The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville. It’s a beautiful book describing the experiences of an Astronomer's first experience of Sydney after arriving as part of the First Fleet in 1788.
Images courtesy of Amy Cunningham