This week we launch a collaboration with one of our favourite Australian Design houses, Addition Studio. From our shared love of everyday rituals we’ve come together to offer a beautiful oil diffuser in smooth travertine. At the helm of Addition is Ryan Hanrahan – a man that thrives with routine, and so, on The Journal this week, we asked the prolific designer to share some of the personal rituals he keeps that make him so productive.
Can you share a bit about your journey before becoming a designer with us?
I had a bit of a unique trajectory to where I am today. I got knocked back from Fine Arts at university after I finished school, so I started a teaching degree, which I didn’t feel was a perfect fit. During that degree I took a creative writing elective in the arts department, and my teacher saw something inside me and pushed for me to join the creative arts department to become a writer. It was really her encouragement that made me take a blind leap. I loved writing but felt my true love was art, so once I was in I transferred into fine arts and spent 3 years painting, drawing and studying art history. I loved exploring and learning about art but never quite found the exact genre I was passionate about. Art is so open ended, it’s easy to get lost in it all. From there I worked for a bunch of different street and surf fashion labels creating graphics for clothing. I loved the whole scene of surfing, partying, making art and graphics, and living in Sydney. It was a blast for a few years, however I gradually side stepped toward object design, which is what I do now. My mind is pretty active 24/7 and I found that design gave me the parameters that I couldn’t find in art. Once I have an idea for an object it becomes like a puzzle in my mind that I need to solve. Visualising a vague idea about something then evolving it into existence is what I love about design, and it’s the reason that I run Addition Studio.
You split your time between Sydney and Tathra on the Far South Coast. Where are you at the moment?
Today I am in Sydney, but I head down the Coast tomorrow. I love the balance of opposites, so splitting time between Sydney and the South Coast is the perfect balance for me.
Tell us about the space you are developing in Tathra. What are your plans for it?
Our space is in the early stages of development. We rushed the basic bones late last year and have opened a small espresso bar out of it which has been fun, however we will be completing the space through August / September. I can’t say too much except that it will have a lot of greenery. We have been lucky enough to partner with Vittoria Organic Coffee on the project. They have a long history of supporting young designers through Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, and so they have been helping by not only supplying premium coffee beans and machine but also enabling us to design all the components of the fit out, which is really exciting.
Down the Coast we are also planning a Wellness style retreat that is emblematic of our Addition brand – so this is the ultimate end game, but is still one to 2 years off.
Did you grow up near Tathra? What kind of childhood did you have?
I grew up just out of Bega in a semi rural area. Tathra was like an oasis I dreamed of living in once I found surfing. I begged my parents to move there my whole schooling life but to no avail (They moved there the year after I left home. Still getting over that one, haha) Although Tathra was only a 15 minute drive, for a 15 year old in a country town that doesn’t have a bus service, it felt like living on Mars. I spent a lot of my time ditching school and hitching around the valley with my surfboard. I loved surfing so much I would get up at 6 in the morning walk the 2 kms into town, and try to time it with the bread delivery trucks that always came through early so I could get a lift. It’s pretty funny looking back on it all now.
Really I did have an idyllic childhood though, playing around in the bush, camping with all my mates on the weekend. There was no mobile phones – the thought of that sounds amazing now. Our parents would drop a bunch of us boys out in the national parks and leave us there for the weekend. We would just go full ‘lord of the flies’ for 2 days until they picked us up. Fishing, diving, surfing, rock climbing, esky shopping – we did it all. It was pretty fun, but thinking back on it I have no idea how we were allowed out into the wild like that.
Apart from that I spent a lot of time alone, as we grew up a bit out of town, I spent a huge amount of time during the middle of the week drawing. I would draw everything I loved. Mostly Ninja Turtles and Alf. One day it would be Alf playing electric guitar, the next day it would be Alf dressed as Rambo, the next day it would be Alf fighting Donatello, and so on.
I loved surfing so much I would get up at 6 in the morning walk the 2 kms into town, and try to time it with the bread delivery trucks that always came through early so I could get a lift.
Do you have a morning routine?
My morning routine is very specific. I am a creature of habit. I find routine grounding.
Wake up 5:45. Extremely hot shower, followed by extreme cold flush at the end to wake up all the cells in my body. Then I meditate for 20 minutes, always with Palo Santo burning. I have been practising Vedic meditation for 8 years, so after that amount of time it becomes a necessity.
Then its eggs, spinach, avocado and coffee – the best part.
Sometimes I swim laps at the ocean pool or do a quick pilates stretch, then I start work at 7:30 am. I like to start work early. For some reason it makes me feel like I’m ahead of the game. But in reality when you run your own company, it’s the only time you can have total peace to think the big thoughts and make clear and concise decisions.
It also means I finish work early. I usually finish work at 3 and go and surf or swim laps.
A bedtime routine?
Anything to switch my brain off really. I try not to work late at all otherwise I cannot switch off. I always have a shower and meditate for a second time which helps me transition out of work mode. I watch lots of movies – all genres, and of course netflix – it’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but anything brain numbing to be honest. Just to help quiet the mind. I also listen to a huge amount of podcasts as I go to sleep. Most of the quotes that come out of my mouth are from podcasts. Generally Tim Ferriss, Sam Harris and Here’s the thing with Alec Baldwin are my go-tos.
Tell us about where you work, what kind of a space have you tried to create?
I have a Warehouse on the Northern beaches of Sydney which has a great studio set up that I can stay and work in comfort and peace and quiet. Downstairs we have our company set up which has a sales office, a mini lab for our organics range, plenty of storage, and a workshop and dispatch set up.
My studio is minimal and simple. I am a bit of an organisation / clean freak / obsessive list maker, so I need everything to be in order otherwise I can’t focus. I feel like with a clean simple space it allows your mind to be far more creative. Of course that’s just my formula – many creative people are the complete opposite.
What feels most important to you at the moment?
To be honest, friends, family and health are the most important to me at the moment.
Last year was a huge year for the business with releases, travel and events in Australia, America and Europe. It was awesome, but I ended the year totally burned out and questioning why and what I was doing everything for. I ended up pretty sick. My body said no more, even though my mind kept wanting to go for it. I think it is the hardest thing being a creative in business – your mind wants to do everything – it can see it all so clearly, but the work taken to accomplish certain projects is always huge. My goal this year is to take on much less, so I have more time for myself, my friends and my family. This has been my focus the last 3 months, and funnily enough Addition is going better than ever. I think when you nurture the right things and for the right reasons then the good things come.
What are you looking forward to this year?
I am looking forward to creating space in my life. I have been working with a couple of business mentors who have helped me change the set up of my company and streamlined it. That has been life changing. I went to Art school after all, not business school. You just end up getting thrust into DIY’ing everything on the fly, so it is good to be setting up everything like an actual company that I can just creatively direct.
Apart from that we have some great projects releasing – firstly our collaboration with In Bed this week – Yay! We also have a new lighting piece showing at Sight Unseen’s OFFSITE exhibition at New York Design week which starts today. Later in the year we will release our new Ritual Collection, and then an experimental furniture collection titled ‘HI END’. We will also travel to Copenhagen to take part in CIFF (Copenhagen International Fashion Fair) again, which is basically just an excuse to party, haha (no not exactly, but we went last year and it was so fun, and we met so many cool people). Most of Europe’s top fashion people go so it’s a great place to be seen, especially with the emergence of ‘concept stores’ globally which feature everything from fashion to furniture.
My goal this year is to take on much less, so I have more time for myself, my friends and my family. This has been my focus the last 3 months, and funnily enough Addition is going better than ever. I think when you nurture the right things and for the right reasons then the good things come.
How do you foster originality in your work?
I have book after book full of ideas. I feel like if I head a team of one hundred monkeys I could really release 5 ranges a year. haha. But seriously, I’ve never really had design-block. It’s the one thing in my life that always feels to make sense. But for inspiration I guess I like to look at anything different to the genre I am working in. It’s all about cross-pollination for me. Having a broad set of interests is the best food for creativity, so I just try to focus on that and the ideas always come.
See more from Ryan & Addition Studio here.