Tasmanian designer Anita Dineen thought she wanted to be a wool-classer until she went to art school to study jewellery fabrication. She became so intrigued by metal and had so much fun learning to work with it becoming a designer was the perfect career choice.
What inspires you?
Without clear intention, almost all I made linked to entertainment – amusement or sharing food. I’m inspired to make by need and finding a better way.
When I design useful things my objective is to distill them to their very essence and feel as natural as possible.
The jewellery I create is more intricate storytelling and almost always composed of metal using different textures to illustrate.
Whether it’s another’s or my brief, I love the challenge of a really specific one.
The highly respected Italian home wares company Alessi produces one of my designs. It’s a cheese knife called The Antechinus and recently won its category in the New York Design Awards.
Applying the right combination of techniques made me I feel like a baker with dough and the possibilities seemed endless!
Why did you choose to become a designer?
I grew up in the practical world of a farm where being resourceful is a way of life. I played in the loft and sheds with my sisters discovering all manner of things invented from necessity by our ancestors.
My first memory of ‘designing and making’ was age five, the feeling of satisfaction and achievement it gave me was profound.
What are some of the challenges of being a designer in Tasmania?
Perhaps the biggest challenge of Tassie is the Bass Straight and not having the scope of resources bigger cities offer, although some days that is the reward.
Where can we buy your designs?
My award-winning creations are available online and through selected retailers in Launceston including Design Tasmania, Mill Providore and Josef Chromy Cellar Door. My jewellery is at Handmark Gallery in Evandale (just out of Launceston) and Hobart.
Describe a typical day
About five years ago my husband and I bought a house built in the 1880’s to restore.
We live in a state of constant flux and evolution which is mostly fun and teaches me resilience.
My workshop and studio are both at home so between renovating I might be creating jewellery, in the workshop making product or on the couch nutting out new designs.
I have half explored ideas in prototypes around the house and just waiting for a clear and finished space to set them free to the world.
What’s the best thing about living in Launceston?
Launceston is an easy place to live and so special having the Gorge on our doorstep.
I think it has a feeling of being five minutes from everywhere – the beach, rainforest and caves, the airport, they’re all so accessible.
Does Launceston have a design culture worth investigating?
Absolutely! Run by a committed team of individuals, Design Tasmania has forged its way to become a cornerstone for appreciators of Tasmanian design.
Together with The Tasmanian Wood Design Collection, the heritage building encompasses a retail and exhibition space.
It also hosts The Tasmanian Design Award, design orientated conferences, workshops, long table dinners and seasonal celebrations of design.
The wonderful thing about Launceston is that there is so much that can be accessed within a short walk or a free art bike from Design Tasmania. Go adventuring!
Other places to check out (in order of a rambling walk) are:
The Academy Gallery, 4 Invermay Road
Queen Victoria Museum, 2 Invermay Road
Gallery Pejean, 57 George Street
Sawtooth, 2/160 Cimitiere Street
Queen Victoria Art Gallery for, 2 Wellington Street
Mill Providore Gallery, 2 Bridge Road
What are your favourite design shops in Launceston?
For island artisan made head to Design Tasmania (to the right of the main gates of City Park in Tamar Street).
For cross-continent contemporary try Homebody (68 Charles Street) and Ecoco (51 Balfour Street).
For the eclectic, interesting and unexpected visit Red Fox Vintage (66 Tamar Street opposite Design Tasmania), Tullochs auction house (20 Herbert Street, Invermay) and Armitage auction house (9 Goodman Court Invermay).
What are the most beautiful places around Launceston?
I love an early morning walk into The Cataract Gorge from King’s Bridge (by the little cottage) at the foot of Trevallyn.
It’s a vast picturesque parkland with many beautiful paths to explore, full of wildlife, peacocks and exotic flowers.
If you stand in front of the restaurant and look through the valley to town you can see the clock tower.
I think there’s something quite magical about that. It feels like another world and you can finish off with coffee at Stillwater when you return.
The Queen Victoria Art Gallery (2 Wellington Street) is a fabulous building. It’s so serene inside and home to some magnificent works of art.
Prince’s Square is a really beautiful park flanked by Elizabeth, St John, Frederick and Charles Streets.
It’s home to a statue of Mr Pugh and the spectacular Val d’Osne Fountain depicting Neptune, Galatea, Amphitrite and Acis.
I love this park, especially standing under the Oak trees and looking up into their canopies – that’s inspiring.
Where would you find the best coffee in Launceston?
My three favourite places are all in George Street.
Amelia Espresso, Cocobean Chocolate (Irish Coffee truffles are OUT OF THIS WORLD) and Sweetbrew (56, 82 and 93 George Street).
I’ve always seen happy smiling faces, had great service and left satisfied wanting to go back.
What are your favourite restaurants in Launceston?
For lunch I recommend Josef Chromy Restaurant so you can enjoy the magnificent views.
For dinner I suggest StillWater, it’s very pretty at night. Both have very knowledgeable staff and present exquisite food in equally beautiful settings.
Where’s the best place to be in Launceston on a rainy day?
In front of an open fire at my house…
What should visitors buy to take home with them?
The award-winning Glide Gourmet Knife! It’s useful, small, light, has no ‘best before’ and won’t break in your carry-on bag!
It also makes a great gift. I still make and wrap each one by hand in a box I designed that’s printed here in the middle of town.
Or, maybe a gorgeous little tin of Leatherwood Honey from the Tasmanian Honey Company. The Leatherwood flower is unique to the island as is the flavour.
Where do you go when you want to relax and get away from work?
Doing what I do is my way of life and I love it. I am my most content when I am dreaming up ideas and that could be anywhere! Tassie has so many beautiful locations.
If you were going to head off on a road trip around Tassie what would your itinerary look like?
I love the rolling green countryside towards Deloraine.
I’d stop at Chudleigh for honey; Wychwood Garden to walk the Labyrinth; Marakoopa Caves to see the glow worms and keep winding our way to Strahan on the wild west coast.
Then I’d head south via the New Norfolk antique shop en-route to Bruny Island for some incredible freshly shucked oysters at Get Shucked, cheese at Bruny Island Cheeses and peek at the penguins!
Then Hobart, Salamanca, Mona Museum via Tasmania’s Eastcoast beaches on our way home.
If you had to move somewhere else in Tasmania where would you choose to live?
Hard question. I feel like places actually choose people …it’s all so gorgeous and everything and everywhere is so accessible that nothing is far away.
Most romantic place you’ve been to in the region?
Ben Lomond in the winter. It’s where I met my husband about 20 years ago!
What are your top tips for first-time visitors to Launceston?
Breathe the clean air and eat and drink anywhere that’s all about good local food!
Before you leave, order a totally decadent drink of clarified butter vodka at St John Craft Beer. It’s incredible.