Material Designer Georgie Brunmayr had the idea for Curio Practice bubbling away for at least a year before she was ready to make it real. A loss of work at the start of 2020 has given her the time and space to finally launch a brand that aligns her technical experience with her core values – to create products with measured intent, functionality, and durability. And of course – it needed to be fun!
After graduating from tertiary study, Georgie worked in Melbourne-based knitting factories for a few years before moving to Shanghai to work with Italian knitting manufacturer Santoni. She eventually returned to Australia after a health scare, which forced her to reevaluate the kind of work she was doing. ‘I knew I didn’t want to work in the same way’, she reflects of the rat race she’d been part of during her time in China. ‘I was ready to take ownership of the impact and process of material making… and I wanted it to be with Australian fibres in an Australian factory, building face-to-face relationships with every person involved bringing Curio Practice to life’.
Although Victoria once had a thriving textiles industry (Georgie tells me that 30 years ago there were ‘about 50 knitters between Kew and Richmond alone’), there are only a handful of knitting factories left. It was only by accident that she even found the factory she now works with to manufacture her blankets at Curio Practice. ‘I was driving around Melbourne one day and got lost, and came across a sign for their factory [Aklanda]… it was definitely one of those “meant to be” moments’, she says.
Georgie called the Aklanda factory owner, Louis, that afternoon, and learned that his family factory’s primary business is manufacturing Australian-made knitted jumpers sold in airports globally. The impact of the dwindling international tourist industry had been devastating, and their usual demand disappeared almost instantly once Covid-19 hit. ‘At this point I had a brand skeleton… but the factory’s willingness to collaborate was what prompted Curio Practice to take form’, she says. Louis and his brother took over from their father Spiro in 2015, and the family business employs eight staff – some of whom have been there for 20 years. Although Curio Practice is still in its very early days, a surprising influx of initial orders meant that she was able to help provide some business to Aklanda during a very challenging time.
The blankets are made using around 1.9kg of high-grade Australian Merino wool sourced from farms across Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia. Different sheep wool is used for different blankets – ‘it’s not a one-size fits all kind of thing’, she says. On average, each blanket takes two hours to knit. Then they’re linked, washed and pressed. The cotton Curio Practice labels are embroidered in Bendigo, Victoria, and Georgie hand stitches them onto the blankets with her boyfriend’s mum.
In a year where we’ve all been forced to slow down and take stock of our core values, Georgie has imbued this longer period of reflection into Curio Practice. And she’s trying to make something that means something, both to her customers and to the people she works with.
‘I think we all need to spend more time understanding what material value actually means, and how we, as consumers, can be of use to the product just as the product is of use to us’, Georgie shares.
It’s this philosophy and genuine care for every person and process involved that makes brands like Curio Practice worth investing in.
You can shop Curio Practice blankets here!
A Curio Practice blanket in the ‘Sage’ colourway. Photo – Diana Domonkos.
Georgie Brunmayr, founder of Curio Practice. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.
A Curio Practice blanket in the Cherry colourway. Photo – courtesy of Curio Practice.
Georgie has threading up the knitting machine. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.
The Curio Practice blankets take around 2 hours to knit on the machines. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.
Georgie in the factory with one of Aklanda’s long-term employees. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.
A Curio Practice blanket in the Splash colourway. Photo – courtesy of Curio Practice.
Spools of wool. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.
Georgie with Aklanda factory owner Louis. He and his brother took over Aklanda from their father Spiro, who worked in knitting factories for over three decades, in 2015. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.