I have struggled as to whether to post this profile on Monique De Jong. Not because she is not talented, she is. Not because she is not interesting, she is. Not because she is not funny, ‘cause she bloody well is! And her house…well, a feast for the eyes…
Monique is these things and a lot more: smart, well-travelled, hard-working, a mother, a partner and hugely supportive of working women in the creative arts.
The reason for my struggle is that when I interviewed Monique she was director of her own creative business, and ran it part-time from her home office and part-time from a studio in Prahran. However more recently she accepted a new role with Country Road Australia.
While her new position only highlights her talent and broad appeal it does challenge an early house-rule of TENANT, which was to profile Melburnians who are running their own business or projects, and how they add to the cultural fabric of Melbourne.
But some rules are meant to be broken, right? Perhaps there is a room for all of Melbourne in TENANT’s future.
And I am sure, like all creatives, Monique is still drumming up a creative project or two of her own.
When did you know you wanted to be a Graphic Designer?
I always enjoyed the visual arts and when I left high school I did a year of TAFE, exploring some of my favourite mediums further – these included printmaking and textile design. I consequently did work experience at the Gertrude St Printmakers which was a huge inspiration. From there I enrolled in Swinburne and studied graphic design. I worked for an advertising group after graduation, however when the company folded I took the opportunity to head overseas. I was 23 years old and I did not return for eight years.
Where did you go on your travels and did you continue to work in design?
I lived and worked in Bath, UK, then Scotland for just under a year and spent a long time in Amsterdam (my father is Dutch and a passport helped). I worked for the international brand agency Interbrand and two other branding companies and for a long time felt very committed to the place, – I even bought a property in Amsterdam West. Like many Melburnians, I travelled a lot around Europe and soaked up as many cultural experiences that I could. The galleries and the history were and are intoxicating.
What bought you back to Melbourne?
My family and my friends.
What has been the work you have been most proud of professionally to date?
Who inspires you?
Oh, so many things and people! My kids! Travel, insects, Karen Barbe, Japanese textiles, Timorous Beasties, Sanne Annukka, Salvia (brand behind Yurio Sekia a Japanese designer), Dick Bruna, Marc De Jong (my brother) …amongst others.
What work/ dream project would you like to do in the future?
I would love to work on a textiles range.
So you when you returned to Melbourne after being away for almost a decade. What struck you about Melbourne in the positive sense at that time? What are you most proud of about Melbourne?
I am proud of the people here. I think we are a talented, intelligent bunch. We have a humour, a curiousity and an open-mindedness that I did not meet everywhere on my travels. Yes, I know there are people who do not fit this mould, but honestly per head, per capita…I think we are pretty impressive.
And after being away was there a season, or a smell that stood out as being something unique to Melbourne?
I love the smell and the colour of spring in Melbourne. As you know I love colour, maybe more than the average Melburnian! I love the fresh scents after winter and the sunshine and the blossom. Other smells that remind me of Melbourne are: my mum’s cooking, the seaside, coffee, lemon eucalypt and the Camberwell market hot donut van.
So where is home in Melbourne now?
I live in McKinnon, postcode 3204. I have been here for 2 years with my partner and my kids. The choice was very much driven by family and around bringing up children – space, parks, schools etc.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Canterbury, and in my late teens my mother moved to St. Kilda, so I spent time there. I also went to high school in St. Kilda. My partner Rob is English and when we first met, we lived in Caulfield.
Tell us about a few of the things you like in the 3204 neighbourhood?
What is a place that feels like home that is not Melbourne and why?
I would have to say Amsterdam, probably because I lived there for so long. It will always feel a bit like home.
Thanks for talking to TENANT Monique and good luck with the new position. Stay in touch and before you go, is there a Melburnian that you would like to introduce to TENANT?
The talented Simone Elder from Ortolan or my lovely partner Rob Snook from Snook Antiques.