Australian-born, Berlin-based artist Rilla Alexander is one fifth of the design collective known as Rinzen. Her illustrations have graced the walls of the Fox Hotel in Copenhagen, appeared on credit cards for the Swiss Cornér Bank and danced across ceramics for German porcelain maker Rosenthal. She is currently creating a range of children’s products for Madrid’s Museo del Prado based on the Hieronymus Bosch masterpiece “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. She shares her live/work space with her husband and her adorable little Jack Russell Terrier “Mr Tom”.
How long have you been working from home? I’ve been working here for two years now. Over the last fifteen years I’ve worked in a variety of studios as well as home workspaces, and I’ve got to say this is the best situation yet. Berlin apartments are huge and this one used to be three apartments. So the “commute” from home to work is, if not actually long, at least noticeable… but I can still easily start at 5am or have a mid-day nap if the mood takes me. (Below is a billboard illustration Alexander did for Australia’s Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.)
What’s a typical day like for you? Drawing at my lightbox while consuming a steady stream of radio documentaries from NPR, ABC and BBC. I have just spent a week in Italy and am itching to assume my favourite position at the drawing table again. It’s an addiction. Of course once the drawings are done I need to scan them over on the “computer desk”. It doesn’t have the drawing table’s sunny window position – so I make a quick retreat as soon as possible.
What do you like most about your space and is there anything you would change? I love that it’s a space all to myself, but that I can go to the next room for feedback/input/conversation from my husband, who is currently converting his space into a painting/sculpture/music studio. Our dog, Mr Tom shares his time between us – usually switching studios depending on who has the most food. I also love being surrounded by books. The only thing I would love to have is a view to the beach, or a tropical rainforest. Moving from Australia to Berlin does has some downsides.
I notice on your desk you’ve got lots of interesting objects. Can you share some of your favorites with us? Above my desk you can see the edge of a poster for Jacques Tati’s Mon Uncle – which, like so many things from Europe, I actually bought in Japan. Tove Jansson’s Moomins, her books “Who will comfort Toffle” and “The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My” and the box set of stop-motion animations from Film Polski are always within reaching distance. She is one of my greatest inspirations. You can also see a Porcelain Elephant money-box (designed by Luigi Colani for the Dresdner bank) and a ceramic jar from Nymolle – a Danish company that Bjorn Wiinblad designed for before he began to work primarily with Rosenthal. The Nymolle pieces are my favourite examples of Bjorn Wiinblad’s work – I’ve always been drawn to mono-coloured design and illustration – and I love that his work which would probably now be dismissed as “for children” is for everyone.
Do you have any tips for organizing your home office space? Feeling comfortable and cosy is very important to me – and surrounding myself with furniture and objects that inspire and excite me, makes me want to be in my studio more than anywhere else. The more teak and porcelain, the more likely I’ll stay. If only I had teak desks…