There is always something inspiring about creative couples who manage to juggle multiple projects with the kind of tireless energy that Auckland-based Robert and Louise Sly pull off so effortlessly. The pair produce a fun and spontaneous accessories range with a focus on small curiosities under the label, Sly & Company.
What you will find via their online store are printed silk scarves with their crying eyes logo, whittled twig pendants in sterling silver, speech bubble earrings, and stylish leather pouches made from new and recycled leather. Of late, they have also added homeware to their design vocabulary with urban-chic, black and white pillowcases in a graphic cityscape print.
The range has enabled the couple to merge their artistic practices—Robert‘s background encompasses industrial, graphic and landscape design and he’s also an exhibiting artist. Louise studied spatial design and has dabbled in fashion; including a two year stint in the workroom of New Zealand clothing label World 10 years ago, and later, running her own label ‘Oui’, which she retailed out of Auckland’s St Kevin’s Arcade.
The couple have been together for the past 14 years and are truly in sync with each other’s processes, with Louise adding that there are very little disagreements.
“It’s always more fun coming up with ideas with two people, and it’s great to have a feminine and masculine perspective.”
Having ideas and putting them into action is a constant negotiation with two children under the age of five, but the pair’s creative drive pushes them towards new projects and they’re never short of ideas. Ultimately, Sly & Company provides an opportunity for the pair to create objects and art at their own pace, with an outlet to showcase their obsession and flair for accessories, art and design.
They cite nature — rocks and sticks, as a constant source of inspiration, along with printmaking and screen prints. Louise sells her screen print designs through Sly & Company, with Robert’s graphic-style artworks available online too. “Stylistically my artwork is very line orientated. I like to apply optical tricks and contradictory perspectives.”
While both Robert and Louise are enthusiastic supporters of the New Zealand art scene, they are also avid collectors with never enough wall space. They have what Robert calls ‘a modest and not-so-modest collection,’ which includes work by enthusiastic amateurs and emerging artists. Robert’s top list of inspiring New Zealand artists are: Seung Yul Oh ‘for his sculptural works’; photographers Sam Hartnett – ‘a master at capturing entropic spaces’, Maritta Hewitt and Alexander Burton, and Sydney-based Andre Tjberrings.
With a bent for kitsch, their artistic aesthetic and discerning eyes invariably filter through into their home with a taste that veers towards kooky ceramics and fabrics. This includes an extensive collection of tea-cosies — a majority of their ‘kitsch’ collection sourced largely from secondhand stores.
And when it comes to the physical layout of their architecturally designed 1970’s modernist home, Robert notes Louise’s fondness for re-styling and rearranging spaces: “Sometimes I’ll come home and wonder if I’m at the right house”.
Buy Sly & Company online.
Featured images by Howard Sly, with product images courtesy of Sly & Company.