INTERVIEW // CHARD INTERNATIONAL
Who / what is CHARD International, and what is your role/s within the company?
CHARD International creates bespoke spaces that aim to create or activate memories. I am Gary Chard, Creative Director.
CHARD takes a collaborative approach which enables fluidity and complete individuality in their development.
My interest was developed when I was a child in London, there was a vacant block where my friends and I used to play. One day we went down there and the adults had taken it over. There were bands, stalls, and the smells of amazing food. Everyone was having such a great time. I’ve always remembered that day and thought that’s what I want to do…to create spaces for people to enjoy.
Before starting CHARD I have led a national fashion festival, produced large scale public events for major arts festivals, managed corporate brands, created public identities, expos and commercial interiors, worked on political campaigns, exhibited and sold artworks to private collections, designed editorial layouts, contemporary theatre sets and luxury packaging, secured significant amounts of sponsorship from corporate investors, conceptualized launch events for new products, directed television commercials, and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity.
Which three words best describes you?
You’ve worked on many amazing projects throughout your career. One project that stands out to us the most is your work designing the rooms and spaces within the Australian Open. A relationship that has lasted 12 years! Are you able to share your creative process when designing new concepts and how you infuse newness into these spaces every year?
The Australian Open encapsulates everything that is important to me – It is a festival that encourages enjoyment and celebration. It has a global profile and brings so many people together and it encourages and celebrates excellence and achievement.
My scope of work for the Australian Open each year is extensive, with up to 20 venues, some catering for 350 guests and others for royal visitors. Each space must have its own identity and be delivered at the highest possible standard. – there are no two spaces the same and they cater for a huge array of clientele. There are no opportunities for deadline extensions. The secret to my success here is to believe in what I am doing, to surround myself with people that share my commitment and to give my life over to the work. This is not like creating one marquee at the races – it’s a marathon and the work must be robust because the Australian open runs for 2 weeks. This makes it one of the longest events on the events calendar.
The style of the rooms result from my interpretation of a brief supplied by the client. Each room has a specific demographic and in 2017 there was the additional driver that the rooms should have a sense of ‘fun’.
For example The President’s Reserve was a money can’t buy experience that hosts the likes of royalty and high level international guests, the new Founders Club was philanthropic, the Dressing Room edgy and experiential and the Laneway Club has a hawker style village. My job is to relate to the age and style of the guests in each of these differing spaces and then interpret what ‘fun’ would mean in each of these spaces.
I dedicate 3 months of my year to personal development and usually take this during the Melbourne winter, when I travel overseas to experience new things. For the past 6 years I have been spending most of this time in Madrid. It is an amazing city and I am learning the language. I visit furniture expos, artist spaces and view developments in retail and interior design for inspiration. During this time I start the conceptual frameworks for each Australian Open. This ability to escape allows my mind to consider new ideas without the boundaries of everyday restrictions. During my travels I discover new crafts, I witness extraordinary things and my mind is free to explore – I am inspired by colours, textures, smells, typography and then I bring it all back and apply it to the Australian Open. As well as the design of the actual spaces my role with the Australian Open includes the branding of these restaurants.
Tell us a little more about some other memorable projects you’ve worked on:
I’ve been extremely lucky to work on some pretty amazing projects some of which have provided me introductions to extraordinary people. In 2005 I came to Melbourne to take over the Creative leadership of the then L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival. It was an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience sculpting an event of that scale including parades, workshops, arts programming and parties. I have created massive opening and closing events for the Perth International Arts Festival entertaining upwards of 10,000 people and integrating pyrotechnics, sound and performance, As an artist I’ve shot fashion and dance photos and developed highly successful fundraising dance events that have enabled me to meet some of the world’s leading DJ’s and bands. For seven years I developed and managed an international arts festival for under 18’s, which was one of my favourite projects as it enabled me to explore the world visiting countries to source the world’s leading contemporary artists and to work with them to create memorable projects that would inspire young people to think creatively.
Do you have a philosophy that you instil into your work?
“I will take you to another place”
I believe my style is driven by my past, growing up in London. The wallpapers I use play a pivotal role in English houses and bars, the candles, incense and smells I utilize are associated with seasonal change and the transience of the streets where I spent a lot of my life. During the early stages of my career I studied fine art photography, graphic design and advertising. The qualities that underlie these principles add to the palette of my work. The strategy involved in building a successful advertising campaign, the bold illustration and balance that leads your eye through marketing collateral and editorial layout, the careful selection of image that sits within the frame of a photograph. My style relies on leading your eye through a space, taking you on a journey. I am a storyteller.
What is your own workspace like?
My workspace is my world, my work is my creativity and its around all day and all night there’s no limit to where I create.
Right now Im working from a white bench in an office overlooking the river in Footscray but from next week I will be working from a 5th floor apartment in Tirso De Molina Madrid. Most of the time my walls are filled with ideas (see images).
Which other designers, artists or creative people inspire you at the moment?
I’m motivated by all forms of creativity and adore working with people that work hard and express themselves creatively. Mostly I am inspired by artists. More than people though the world itself inspires me, the way sunlight trickles through and around objects, the manner in which wind moves, the sound, smell and colours of the ocean. I love watching as things evolve, I get bored with stagnancy nothing is meant to stay the same. I love the fluid photographic work of Nick Knight of Showstudio, the groundbreaking design of Gareth Pugh, Paul McCobbs minimalist work, the colour of Patricia Urquiola, the energy of Annette Saker, ceramics by Porcelain Bear, wallpaper by Timorous Beasties and electronic music by Holger Hecler.
Where else do you look for inspiration?
Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places but the Arts has always had a strong influence on me, so has electronic music and the exciting energy of the Fashion industry that is ever changing and evolving.
What are your favourite trends of the moment? Or what can’t you get enough of right now?
Anything Memphis, Brutalism, natural light shafts, mirrored reflections, music by Fog Puma and Holger Hecler, Madrid, Footscray, Cement, chromed mini orb sheet, velvet, affogato’s, furniture from or inspired by the 60’s, the smell of Frankenscene ‘Spiritus Sancti by Cire Trudon’, wallpaper house Timorous Beasties ‘Topical Tropical’ combos of sharp natural surfaces against hard industrial elements then layered with glam bronze fittings. I am excited by colour, especially nude flesh tones contrasted with dark rich accents. Fine Art pieces and meaningful memorabilia in the home replacing items like those ugly hand painted plant pots that have been kicking around for years.
What colour palettes are you enjoying working with at the moment?
I am leaning towards more minimalist palettes, but I am especially keen on smoky dark charcoal greys, mustard, navy blue and nude.
What would be your dream creative project?
I honestly believe The Australian Open is my dream project, as I have been fortunate to develop the brands over time working on the development for each space over more than 11 years. The broad range of spaces that I work closely with Tennis Australia to create help support the Australian Open’s position as a global brand, and this to me is incredibly nourishing.
I was invited a while ago to develop a concept for the Ministry of Sound’s first travelling super club. I believe that my presentation was incredibly strong and included concepts that I would be extremely proud to realise. The project is still on hold but if it should proceed it would without a doubt be a dream creative project.
What do you do to get away from it all?
I escape to Madrid…it’s a magical city which feeds my creativity.
Name your favourite Melbourne hang out and why?
I always enjoy my time in Vodka, Borsch and Tears – the food, vodkas and the brilliant ambience. Plus it offers a surprisingly great breakfast escape on a Sunday when all the other cafes are full.
Which Dann Event Hire piece is your favourite?
I love the versatility of The Block-It range. The way the bold colourways can be mixed and the modular manner in which the forms can be built. I believe these sofas are an innovative product that sets Dann Event Hire aside from other hirers.
If you were a piece of furniture which would you be? Why?
Boa Sofa by Fernando & Humberto Campana for Edra – This is a unique adaptable form which adapts to its environment and hosts its sitter in a warm genuine embrace.
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