Some people just click together—from the first time they meet, just a nod or a simple hello determines a lifetime of friendship…and sometimes, partnership. Such is the story of Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy, two artistic souls that have met when they were really young, and eventually ventured into a jewelry business and later on, a life as a couple. Their successful relationship serves as a steady base for the brand too, both of them working in different capacities to ensure that the brand is well taken care of.
If you are wondering what brand we are talking about, it is Dinosaur Designs, an Australian brand of jewelry and homeware created, managed and have its pieces designed by real-life partners Louise and Stephen.
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From friends to business partners to real-life partners
As far as the duo is concerned, Dinosaur Designs started in 1985, when they were just five years old and just met for the first time. In art school, the two have established a different kind of bond, a natural one that seemed to be a part of their destiny (and also because of the alphabetical arrangement in class). The connection they had lasted until they grew up and had their respective passions.
Louise, being a daughter of a known landscape painter, John Olsen, had her mind set up for a life of an artist—a plan that somehow influenced Stephen. They knew they had to do something to support their painting, a tangible effort or a business to keep their passion for art alive as well. Hence, the idea of forming Dinosaur Designs was just their means to sustain their painting careers, and in the end it became their only career.
It all started with making clothes to sell to earn money for paints, yet it didn’t pan out as well as they thought it would. On the other hand, they sold brass jewelry that Louise made and offered them to various boutiques in Sydney. They added hand-painted shirts into the mix of products until the idea of hand-painted jewelry came to them as well. By that time Louise and Stephen have already grown closer to each other and developed a connection that’s more than just plain friendship…and the rest of that love story is history.
The partnership of Louise and Stephen served as the sturdy foundation of Dinosaur Designs, which they built up from a simple business idea into the design giant that it is today: employing a total of 80 personnel across all the brand’s stores in different cities like London, New York and in cities in the couple’s home country, Melbourne and Sydney.
The brand didn’t bother much with gimmicks—they are “old school”, as the two founders would say. The manufacturing and operations of Dinosaur Designs all happen in a studio in Surry Hills. The brand isn’t too influenced by the trends as well, as the two work separately; they get inspiration from anywhere and channel them into jewelry and homeware pieces through their innate creativity. The two only collaborate together after majority of their separate processes have been done, and complimentary details are needed. Luckily, with their long-time friendship and relationship, working together is always a harmonious experience for both of them.
Just recently, Stephen has taken different role—one that involves mainly the business side of the company. Louise, on the other hand, continues with designing the products the brand comes out with. This set-up has allows Dinosaur Designs to even reach further in the recent years, as they were able to sell their pieces through Net-a-Porter and was recognized to be the best-selling new brand for the site during its launch. Collaborations with big brands like Louis Vuitton, Carolina Herrera, and Paul Smith also took place, a great testament to the heights the brand has reached as a jeweler. Meanwhile in homeware, an early collaboration with Donna Karan catapulted the brand into being well-known in the home and lifestyle world, as their homeware pieces were sold in DK’s store in New York.
Jewelry and homeware collections
The value and charm behind the Dinosaur Design’s collections come from the careful process of designing, forming, hand pouring, and sanding of each piece in their workshop. This process is done only by artisans, expert jewelers, and talented designers—a total of seven sets of hands before they are ready for selling. This approach definitely sets Dinosaur Designs high above other brands with mass-manufacture techniques, as it can only mean that each piece sold by the brand is unique and does not have any duplicate.
Louise, being the creative director for all pieces, holds dearly in her heart each of the Dinosaur Designs’ collection. But among all of them, the Ocean collection is one of her most favorite, as it was the first collection she did without the help of Stephen. Other collections of the brand exude the artistry of the founder and creative director, with pieces including earthy white chalks, corals, and the brand’s signature material, resin. Other interesting materials used by the brand captivates inspirations from the nature, like bangles that has a form that copies that of a seaweed, completed with a sea blue hue; shells and corals that are coated with silver; and bowls and vases that are like real shells.
Dinosaur Designs has captivated some of the famous celebrities of today, including Jennifer Lopez, Zendaya, and Alicia Keys—all spotted wearing pieces from the brand during luxurious and high-profile events. Its continued effort to create wonderful pieces to add to its growing collections, like the most recent Luna collection in 2018, ensures us of more years of delicate and wonderful artistic jewelry and homeware pieces from our favorite duo.