Practising non-attachment: at home with Emily Devers and NICO


Seljak Brand teamed up with multidisciplinary artist Emily Devers, of Frank & Mimi, and NICO, leaders in Australian ethical and sustainable fashion, to capture Emily in her studio and her home. Emily shared with us her thoughts about her practice, her spaces and why conscious consumption is important to her. Here's a little slice of her philosophy:
What makes you connect with labels like NICO and Seljak Brand?
What is there not to connect with! Our shopping choices have such a huge impact on how businesses treat people and our planet, and I truly believe that our strongest vote is with our dollar. When you put ethics first as a consumer, not only are you investing in an aesthetically pleasing, quality product that's made locally, but you are committing to an economy that's built on integrity. I have so much pride in my Seljak blankets and NICO underwear and basics – knowing that they're an honest reflection of my values and will last really well. And what a bonus to know I'm also supporting my mates' positive creative initiatives!

What is most important to you as you buy and use products? 
What's most important to me as a consumer I think is transparency. When consciously purchasing something, it's necessary for me to feel like I can acknowledge my preferences for style while at the same time having measurable impact on the issues I care most about. Some of the issues that continue to impact my buying choices include transparency around fair wages, organic materials, localising economy, closed loop production, empowering women, disadvantaged youth and communities.

At Seljak Brand, we're all about collaborating with others to make change; especially when it comes to making and using things. We recognise it's not something we can do alone. As a multidisciplinary artist, does your community influence you?
It's definitely not something we can do alone! It's obviously something I really admire about Seljak Brand's approach, and that comes from a place in myself that seeks the same connection with community. When creating large-scale public artworks, my concepts start by first acknowledging the community I'll be impacting, connecting with them and making them feel valued. I then consider the things that are most compelling to me to share through that particular artwork. It's when I can use my visual literacy to begin this conversation that I feel most empowered and most excited. I believe it's not enough to just exclaim things at the world through your creative practice, but you have a responsibility to understand where and how it's going to land within your community, and consider the legacy it will carry into the future.
Photoshoots can be a really strange experience and something most of us are not really familiar with! How did you find the experience?
I actually had quite a bit of hesitation in the lead up to the shoot, but all of it dissolved on the day. The experience was so natural, and a lot of that came down to being so comfortable in the products, and feeling really comfortable with the photographer in my own space. There was no requests to "pose", and instead I was encouraged to enjoy the things I usually do in my space like stretching, making cups of tea and reading. It all felt so easy!

You have such a beautiful home and we chatted a little bit during the shoot about the value in creating a calming space and filling it only with objects that are meaningful. Perhaps you could talk a little bit about your approach to creating your space.
Thank you! Living in such a small space has taught me so much about simplicity, quality over quantity and living consciously. I've become really fussy with what I choose to include and not include in my space - recognising that every object (no matter how small) has an impact on my mental and emotional wellbeing. While I love the way it's set up now, it did take us a few years to understand the space energetically and get it right, and I definitely still consider it a work in progress. Because I pride myself in a somewhat loose philosophy of non-attachment, everything in our house has significance and meaning, but it's by no measure curated. It's because of this approach that it feels so sacred, it really is my secret little zen-space in the middle of Brisbane. 

Do you have any rituals or processes at home to help to relax? 
I do enjoy seemingly small rituals like taking the dog to the park, brewing myself a coffee and having a stretch. I also find it hard to fall asleep unless I have my diffuser on with essential oils that change depending on what I feel like I need at that time. Because of so much travel recently, feelings of routine have definitely slipped away and little rituals like brewing a morning coffee or burning essential oils have become really important to help me feel grounded. 

Tell us what you’re working on at the moment? 
Our creative studio (Frank & Mimi) is experiencing a really incredible transition at the moment - we've taken on a part-time designer and a bunch of subcontractors, and as a result we've freed up more time to chase the projects we're really independently excited about! Since I've had more time and energy this year to focus on creative projects that truly nourish me, I'm lining up a few really exciting things. These include facilitating Australia's first sustainable public art festival Sea Walls - built entirely on the desire to celebrate our oceans through world-class artwork and build a community language around ocean stewardship. I'm also making plans to dive into a residency in central Australia with the intention of connecting more consciously with my land, and in between that I'm working on a solo show towards the end of the year. 

Tell us a little bit about your work space The Foundry and particularly the value of the community you have going there.
The Foundry is without question the centre of my creative universe here in Brisbane. The family I have there impacts me day to day in so many ways, and having a support network of creative friends on hand really does make a world of difference to the way I approach things. They're the hardest working and most talented bunch of humans I've ever known. We all practice through different modalities, but these varying approaches to our individual crafts continue to offer me so much inspiration in my own creative practice, it's unreal. 

This series was captured by the multitalented NICO founder and photographer Lis Harvey