Melbourne-based illustrator and graphic designer Annika Fleur Seidel’s creativity has been employed by corporations including VicRoads, Telstra, Sportsgirl and by independent brands and music groups Skipping Girl Vinegar and The Red Tree.
Her latest self-funded creative project sits close to her heart both figuratively and literally. This week she launches Light Years – a new boutique lingerie label motivated by the limitations of choice “to lace or not to lace” presented to Melbourne lingerie shoppers, and a desire to dress in her own understated style from the inside out.
Her new stylish sporty-luxe range will be available at two shops well-known in the boutique fashion community for supporting Melbourne-based emerging designers: Alice Euphemia and Monk House Design, where Annika will also create a Light Years feature window display.
TENANT spoke to Annika about her range, the inspiration behind the name and her ‘misspent youth’.
Welcome to your 3054 couch Annika and thank you for talking to TENANT about your work and your new commercial lingerie line. Light Years is designed and made in Melbourne – were you living here in this flat when you came up with the idea?
I’d been thinking of doing it for a while, but the moment I decided to take on the Light Years project was in 2009, on a sunny day by the river in Innsbruck, Austria. There was a giant beer in my hand and at that moment anything seemed possible.
I thought you referenced Australia for a minute and was wondering what suburb Innsbruck was. The image of the beer was quite easy to visualise! As was the sunshine – the mother of many a creation.
So why Austria do you think? I know you have German heritage, does that part of the world feel like home? And by that, I mean relaxing and rejuvenating…
I was with my family at the time and we were discussing future plans – it was the first time I had really seriously entertained the idea of doing the label. If I had to pick another city that feels like home the way Melbourne does, it would have to be Berlin – there’s a really similar feeling to the cities – combined with friendly people, a great creative scene and good food. It really does feel like a second home.
How long have you been living here in North Carlton?
We’re technically in Princes Hill if you want to get fancy. (I’d never heard of it before moving here!) We’ve been here now for two and a half years.
Are you originally from Melbourne?
Yes I am from Melbourne – which feels a bit boring really! I grew up between Melbourne, Brisbane and a small town in the US called Chagrin Falls, but the bulk of my youth was misspent in Croydon (3136) in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
Okay, that does not sound very boring. Why did your family move around to such locations? And what was Chagrin Falls like? I looked it up on Wiki and it is small and the name is so pretty but also sounds a bit… mournful?
We moved for my Dad’s work – he’s a civil engineer. Chagrin Falls is one of those picturesque ‘Anytown, USA’ kind of places – pretty pastel coloured houses, Stars & Stripes hanging from every second porch and strangers saying hello in the street. I felt like I’d been dropped into the middle of a film set. Even school was just like the movies.
And cut to…”misspent youth in the eastern suburbs”….Did this in any way lead you to graphic design? I’ve noticed a link between the suburbs and graphic design that is percolating away in my mind….is it all those train lines?
Ha! I’m not sure about the train thing – all I know is you don’t want to be at Ringwood station at night! I was fortunate enough to go to a high school that had a great art and design program so my love of design was encouraged from an early age.
Please tell us about your professional pathway.
After finishing uni (I studied Graphic Design straight out of high school) I had a couple of jobs designing everything from cheap menswear to homewares and sleepwear. Since 2009 I’ve been freelancing as a graphic designer and illustrator. Lingerie designer is just another thing to throw in there and make it harder to offer a concise explanation of what I do.
And makes things more interesting. As you say – you have done a mix of things and continue to be open to different design mediums and projects, do you have any dream project that you would be willing to describe?
I would love to spend some time working overseas – anyone offering an awesome contract job somewhere in Europe? Call me!
Back to project Light Years for a moment, it is a really great name – how did you come up with it? What does it mean to you?
The name just came to me one day – it immediately resonated with me and when I saw the domain name was available I took it as a sign.
To me it sounds very dynamic and speaks of youth and possibilities. It’s been really interesting to hear all the different ways people interpret the name and what it means to them.
The look of the range is very sporty – I think of dance and aerobics, or maybe space travel, when I view some pieces in the range. What has inspired this collection?
The design was inspired by the gap in the market between the ultra basic and the overly feminine. I’d never been able to find lingerie that reflected my style and I was sure there were others out there that felt the same way. The range uses angular panels and flat stud detailing to keep it interesting without being girly.
It is stocked in the city and in Brunswick – can you buy online and what sizes does the range come in?
Yes you can buy online – from our stockists Alice Euphemia and Monk House Design or through the Light Years website. The range is Australian sizes 8-14.
After speaking with blogger Lilli H., I have become a lot more aware of the demand for more variety in sizing and news that the average Australian women is size 14-16. How did you choose your sizing range and why?
The size thing is a tough one, especially when you’re just starting out and have no idea what kind of customer will respond to your product. The need for bigger sizes is definitely something I’m aware of – but on the flip side, girls on the smaller end of the spectrum also find it quite difficult to find lingerie to fit (and I’m speaking from experience here!). For the first collection I’ve just stuck to the ‘standard’ sizes but I’ll be looking at sales and customer feedback to inform the sizing for future collections.
You have mentioned Europe a few times now in our catch up, and obviously love to visit. How about Australia? Where did you holiday here?
Growing up a regular holiday spot was the Mornington Peninsula – every summer we would stay with our grandparents who had a beach house on the cliff top in Dromana. My sister and I loved exploring their tiered garden and picking our way down the cliff to the beach below. You had to watch out for the bull ants though.
I’ve only recently started exploring more of Australia, visiting WA and Tassie for the first time this year. But my favourite getaway would have to be whichever beach house my friends are taking over for the summer break.
What are the things that you are most proud of about or in Melbourne?
The way that people embrace and support small creative enterprises, and are willing to share their experience and contacts to help others out.
That is a lovely observation, and in TENANT’s experience it has certainly been the case. Everyone is so keen to promote others and celebrate a kaleidoscope of talent – in its many forms and disciplines.
Well our interview time is coming to a close, but I have a few more important questions before then… What is your favourite shop or amenity around here in suburb 3054 , so I can be sure to check it out… on the way out…
Favourite local destinations would be Light Years stockist Monk House Design for independent fashion, Mr Kitly on Sydney Rd for a special gift. Mr Wilkinson’s for a drink, and Albert St Food & Wine if you want to drop some cash on a nice dinner. Oh and the Tramway for a great burger. Too many favourites!
And a good reason to pay money to live in the suburb one could say…! What about things you would like to change in Melbourne?
I would like to see a more long-term view in regards to architecture – there are so many hideous apartment buildings being built all over the city and I wish there were better taste levels on the part of whoever’s approving them. Better public transport connections would be great too, but this is something that’s already quite widely discussed. :)
How would you like to be remembered?
Now, what’s on for the week?
A mad dash to launch the Light Years website and complete a big job for one of my clients before jetting off to Tassie for the weekend with my boyfriend and two of our besties for some R&R.
What a memorable week! Good luck with the launch – can’t wait to check out the range in store.
Lastly, before you go – please share with TENANT a Melburnian – that you know and admire – that you would like to introduce to TENANT readers.
I think you should go see Gavin and Lily who together are The Apiary – the genius team behind the Light Years film.
Thank you. I have seen their work for the Australian Ballet and have always wanted to speak with them. I read on Broadsheet that the promo-film they produced for you has clocked over 10,000 views on Vimeo, which is very cool.
Thank you for your time Annika. Best of luck with the range – it will be a treat to see it out and about on the streets of Melbourne in summer…not to suggest Melbourne women are immodest, but because it seems some of the pieces have been designed to double as modern outer-wear! Rock on.