There are some people that seem to posses a particularly special quality. Something you may not be able to put your finger on instantly, but that you sense as soon you meet them. Nicky Lobo is one of these people. Meeting this creative woman, the now-Editor of Habitus Magazine, leaves you feeling calm, inspired and a little closer to what matters. Of course, as someone who has seen (and sat on) her fair share of designer furniture, we were especially keen to hear what her chair of choice was.
With the aim of Chat in a Chair being to celebrate the importance of collecting objects and shed light on why it’s such an individual pursuit, Nicky is a perfect interviewee. She reminds us that in each object is a wealth of opportunity that reaches far beyond the object itself – if you’re willing to discover it.
Despite holding the much sought after title of Editor to one of our (your/everyone in Australia’s) favourite design magazines, Nicky ‘stumbled into the design world’. Working as a studio assistant in the interiors department at Group GSA, she decided to apply (and was accepted) for the Advanced Diploma of Interior Design through TAFE at the Design Centre Enmore. What she realised (and which makes sense if you know Nicky and her inquisitive mind), is that it was the ‘talking and thinking about design’ that she liked most. In true Nicky style, she followed her gut and went on to study Communications at UTS with a major in Writing & Cultural studies.
“It was then that I had a brainwave and thought I could combine my interests and write about design,” she says, “so I approached Indesign for some work experience.” Working with then-Editor Dr Paul McGillick and then-Deputy Editor Andrea Millar on Habitus from its inception means Nicky has seen and been part of a major project through its development.
The richness we see in the pages of Habitus today can be traced back to a strong idea at the beginning and a passionate team working on it, but also to Nicky and her integrity. Nicky isn’t about quick fixes or ‘instant gratification’ when it comes to discussing design, but about creating conversation that is accessible in ‘an intelligent and meaningful way’. Behind all those pages of beautiful words and images, which flow effortlessly from start to finish, is hours of planning and careful consideration.
When it comes to her chair of choice, Nicky’s answer is equally meaningful. Though as much as her eye for quality design and interest in the subject influenced her choice, it is clearly her love of yoga (and the floor) that made The Togo, from Ligne Roset, winner. This chair, she tells us, embodies the idea of ‘play’. “I believe we are at our most creative and productive when we are relaxed, comfortable and having fun,” she says. “The Togo encourages all of this. You can curl up on it and read, squash up next to your best friend on it, lay on the ground with your legs up on the seat, sit cross legged…”
Such an adaptable piece, it’s no wonder Nicky chose it. Togo is for its sitter, letting them decide the position that best nurtures them and their creative self. After talking to Nicky then, perhaps we can say it is the quality of connectedness we sensed. Whatever Nicky decides to involve herself in – whether it’s talking design or choosing a piece of furniture – she does with thoughtfulness and awareness. It was a treat chatting to her.
Your three great passions?
Creativity, yoga, education, food.
I couldn’t leave one out, sorry.
Your favourite works of fiction and non fiction and why?
Fiction: The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy. The writer is an absolute sorceress and transports me fully into the story, which is both beautiful and terrible.
A Tangled Web, L.M Montgomery. An old-fashioned book about a family clan, full of humour and wit.
Anything by Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton, to whom I credit my early love of books and reading.
Non-fiction: Age of Kali, William Dalrymple. Most of the books I’ve tried on the history of India and Pakistan have been quite dry but Dalrymple has a gift for narrative. It has a filmic approach in this sense – like a collection of short period stories rather than a documentary. I’m also reading the Dalai Lama’s autobiography (now 15 years old), Freedom in Exile.
Where do you turn for creative inspiration?
Conversation. Asking questions, exploring, interrogating, nudging thoughts along usually takes you to new places. Also internal conversation. Daydreaming, yoga and time alone is a constant source of ideas and realisations.
Describe or dream up the perfect corner of your home
A corner with natural light. A comfortable lounge to sit on, or a fluffy rug to sprawl on. A fireplace. A lamp for when daylight begins to dim. A side table for my cup of tea. A blanket and a book. This is the winter corner. For summer, head to the garden, replace the lounge with a towel or picnic blanket and the tea for a glass of rosé with ice. Greenery is a must in both.
Tell us about the path to becoming the editor of Habitus
I stumbled into the design world working as a studio assistant for the interiors department at Group GSA. While there I applied and was accepted into the Advanced Diploma of Interior Design through TAFE at the Design Centre Enmore, where I studied with the lovely (and hugely talented even then) Juliette Arent. I did a 1-year stint at PTW in the interiors department too. Working full-time and studying part-time made me realise I liked talking and thinking about design more than doing it, so I left my job and the course and went back to uni to study Communications at UTS with a major in Writing & Cultural Studies. It was then that I had a brainwave and thought I could combine my interests and write about design, so I approached Indesign for some work experience. That was back in 2007. I’ve been here ever since! When I went full-time after I finished my degree, I was so excited to work closely with then-Editor Paul McGillick and then-Deputy Editor Andrea Millar on a new magazine we were launching called Habitus. It’s been an amazing experience to grow with the magazine and see it develop into the multi-platform brand it is today. I still get a lot of joy from it. And am constantly inspired, stimulated and challenged too.
Three creatives who inspire you and the reasons why?
Gene Sherman of Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation – intimidatingly intelligent, yet warm and down-to-earth.
Fashion designer Alistair Trung – highly principled with a unique lens of the world. He makes the practical seem avant-garde.
Yoga pioneers Ana Forrest and Seane Corn – using yoga as a creative tool to heal and inspire change.
And television personality Lee Lin Chin for being fashion brave and hilarious.
There are many more, it’s hard to choose!
Tell us what have you learnt about the design community in Australia?
The community is strong, but the awareness of design needs to grow beyond the professional community in order to be sustainable. I would love for design, architecture and art to be as talked about in Australia as it is in Europe, as widely discussed as sport or politics. For it to be valued in an economic and cultural context. So it needs to be accessible, but in an intelligent and meaningful way – not in a fast-food, instant gratification way. As the conversation about design becomes louder, there will be more opportunity for the community to be collaborative and supportive and continue to grow.
Tell us about the chair of your choice, the Togo from Ligne Roset, I’ve heard you like sitting on the floor…. What makes it special for you? What does the chair represent for you?
I discovered this chair when scouting product for a Habitus photo shoot to represent ‘Play’ and that’s what the Togo means to me. I believe we are at our most creative and productive when we are relaxed, comfortable and having fun – the Togo encourages all of this. You can curl up on it and read, squash up next to your best friend on it, lay on the ground with your legs up on the seat, sit cross legged. It’s so flexible and casual. The construction is amazing too – 5 different densities of foam in a single seat. Quilted cover (all hand-finished) that begs you to touch and sit. Incredibly light to move around. And designed in the 1970s – possibly the coolest decade there ever was.
Credits: Photography by Luisa Brimble