written by:
September 6, 2012

In their light-filled studio in Sydney Australia’s Strawberry Hills, Louise Olsen and Steve Ormandy fashion resin destined for landfill into jewelry and home wares of rare beauty. Their studio’s name, Dinosaur Designs, is a play on the longevity of their pieces—they last forever.

Modern colorful vases with flowers by Dinosaur Designs

Known for hosting entertaining gatherings in their beachside home overflowing with exotic flowers, Ormandy and Olsen—an off-work couple as well—make gorgeous vases.“We love the relationship between the humanness of the forms we create and the very modern material that we use—resin,” says Ormandy (who also created the abstract painting in the background). “We see ourselves as artisans and embody the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi where there's perfection in the imperfections. When you think of plastics you think of the mass produced, but what we do isn't like that. Each piece is handmade and designed with the intention of being cherished for a lifetime."

1 / 10
Vases by Dinosaur Designs

"We don't have any specific rituals for entertaining, it changes each time depending on the party and the people. Music's always very important as a way to get people to relax and be in the moment. Of course there's always a good glass of wine, great food and flowers, and a few pieces of Dinosaur Designs to add color to the table,” says Ormandy.

2 / 10
Pastel colored vases by Dinosaur Designs

Dinosaur Designs’ latest collection, Sorbet, was inspired by that most prized summer delicacy: sorbet. The idea is a departure from previous lines, where elements of pure nature have been the inspiration.

3 / 10
Modern jewelry made from resin by Dinosaur Designs

“Sorbet is nature sexed-up,” says Olsen, “We were excited by the wonderful transformations that happen to vibrant colors like watermelon, raspberry, apple, and mint when you make sorbet. The pure pigment is transformed and softened by the churning and the freezing. The color becomes cooler but there's still an intensity in the flavor.”

4 / 10
Blue housewares by Dinosaur Designs

“We work so closely with our pieces,” Olsen says, “they're all 'born' in our studio. When you see a still life of them, in whatever setting, you are drawn to look at the relationship between them and how someone has chosen to put them together. I always think they have a quiet conversation between themselves, and with the pieces that surround them. It's fascinating to see, as each piece has a personality of its own because of the way we make them by hand. I find that people love touching them and feeling their individual contours.”

5 / 10

Olsen has a practice of wearing the samples of each collection, to test the way they move and feel on her body. “When you design a piece you're always thinking of how it fits on the body; a really important part of the design process is wearing a piece,” she says. “As well as looking good, it's got to feel good. Jewelry is a very personal thing because we wear it so close to our bodies. It not only touches the skin but also touches the heart.”Ormandy and Olsen have collaborated with Louis Vuitton and Paul Smith, and have had work exhibited at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Pieces have featured in Carolina Herrera runway shows and have been worn by Kate Winslett, Rachel Weiss, Elle Macpherson, Hillary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, Anna Piaggi, and Alicia Keys.

6 / 10

“Nature has all the answers and has endless possibilities,” reflects Olsen. “In Australia we have big horizons and nature is ever-present. The light is so sharp and illuminating that you see everything in Technicolor. It's so easy to get lost in nature—figuratively and literally. I'm constantly drawn to and inspired by nature.”“In the studio, we are experimenting with new forms of resin and testing what is possible to make them more biodegradable. The resin we use is by-product and, if not used, solidifies and often ends up in landfill. We're giving it longevity and a purpose. We've been experimenting with soy-based resins though we haven't been able to get the results we need yet—but we will keep on trying.”Dinosaur Designs is supporting WWF Australia and their Southern Eco Region campaign to save one of the most species diverse areas on the planet with a donation from the sales of their Earth collection.

7 / 10
Louise Olsen in the Dinosaur Designs studio

“I went to university [University of New South Wales: College of Fine Arts] to study art and art history, and spent years in life drawing classes. To me the body itself is like a piece of jewelry ornamenting the earth—its intricate forms and movements have a beauty of their own. There are many crossovers between art, design and jewelry making. Adorning the body is a very primal thing to us, very fundamentally human.”“I am a bit of a people watcher. I love it! I've always been fascinated by the personal style of individuals and the way people choose to present and adorn themselves. What I love about jewelry is the way that people can take something I've created and interpret it in their own way, to fit their own style. It's great when a piece becomes a part of their own personal collage.”

8 / 10

Olsen, daughter of the dynamic art couple John and Valerie Olsen, whose bohemian childhood included many all-nighters eating paella with Picasso, comes by her imaginative creativity honestly. The ambiance of the Nolita shop—where rock-shaped one-off resin chests serve as inventory storage and showpieces—is no exception. “My earliest memories are of living in Spain and London, surrounded by art and artists, poets and writers. My home life was visually fertile and I was always encouraged by creative people to be creative. I learned and understood art almost by osmosis. There was never a time when there wasn't a new way of seeing the world. I was told that anything was possible in a creative world. Failure was not a bad thing; it was part of the process of learning and discovery. These were really valuable lessons at a young age. As artists and designers ourselves, Steve and I hope to pass some of that experience on to our own daughter, Camille. She travels with us whenever she can and she already loves New York…”

9 / 10
Designers Louise Olsen and Steve Ormandy of Dinosaur Designs

Steve Ormandy and Louise Olsen.

10 / 10
Modern colorful vases with flowers by Dinosaur Designs

Known for hosting entertaining gatherings in their beachside home overflowing with exotic flowers, Ormandy and Olsen—an off-work couple as well—make gorgeous vases.“We love the relationship between the humanness of the forms we create and the very modern material that we use—resin,” says Ormandy (who also created the abstract painting in the background). “We see ourselves as artisans and embody the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi where there's perfection in the imperfections. When you think of plastics you think of the mass produced, but what we do isn't like that. Each piece is handmade and designed with the intention of being cherished for a lifetime."

Boasting striking colors and softly familiar shapes, the handmade Dinosaur objects not only invite you to hold them but also seem to contain the idiosyncratic way of looking at the world that the designers share (Ormandy is an abstract painter, Olsen is the daughter of two of Australia’s most celebrated artists; they met at art school) giving them the quality of functional art pieces, as well as a talismanic emotional octave that borders on the magical. Motifs like playfulness, delight, and surprise underline the pop-art aesthetic, while inspirations such as mushrooms, exotic birds, and imponderable natural forces like the sun and moon, make each collection a journey of discovery not unlike that of uncovering a sculpture or a canvas—or a children’s book adventure. You could say that decorating your body and your home in Dinosaur Designs gives you a kinship with Alice in Wonderland, which is why these pieces are so adored by their owners.

In step with their latest collection, Sorbet, Dinosaur Designs will be serving Sorbet and Champagne in their Nolita boutique at 211 Elizabeth Street (at Prince) tonight for New York City’s Fashion's Night Out.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016