CONCEPT: Graceland Day Book is where we revel in the intelligent, inimitable and totally mesmerising women we come into contact with during our travels; both across the globe on buying trips and en-route to the local dance floor. A series intended to engage and inspire, this précis collection of interviews represents the backbone of Graceland’s ethos: feel stirred, be superb.
Words by Lauren McCurry
Some women manage brilliance at every angle, and Naomi is one of them. We could pour ourselves a large vessel of her and her Glass Half-Full™ ethos every single day. Both a creative director of her coveted design studio Play on Play, and graphic designer of Melbourne's favourite Ladies of Leisure, Naomi certainly chooses to dip her fingers in an eclectic array of sweet, yet meaningful pies.
What we love about her: she lifts women up, creates beautiful things and stays connected to what is meaningful to her; family, community and an inherent love of a passion project. What aligns her to Graceland is the wonderful synthesis of soft nostalgia and acidic charm she represents, in her work, her sartorial cues and her zest for life.
We spoke to Naomi in want of gleaning some of her magic; what keeps her inspired, what she likes to wear and learn a little about precious heirlooms from her mother. Read on.
Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself…
I’m very creatively inclined and take interest in music and design. I love expanding my mind. I feel very passionate about nurturing and encouraging the people I love most.
What do you like to do, when you have nothing you have to do?
l like to invest my spare time into things that are enriching or encouraging of personal growth in some way. Whether it’s educating myself on one of my interests or spending time with my friends and family. It’s imperative for me to get the most out of every moment and continue to grow as a compassionate person and nourish my soul with things that make me happy. When I have truly nothing at all to do, I like to invest that time in relaxing and in diving deep into spacey music wormholes.
Naomi by Sunday Social
Tell us about your design studio, the inspiration behind it and how it’s grown to evolve over time?
Play on Play (POP) —is a small multi-disciplinary design studio that has a strong focus on typography and graphics for film. It comprises of my best friend/business partner Lucy Fry and myself. It was inspired by the lack of suitable design jobs out there that fit our mold. It was also important for us to nurture our passions for working on projects that are compresent with our beliefs and shine a light on topics that resonate universally today.
We found that working for other design firms or agencies meant the ongoing potential of working on briefs that didn’t align with our ethos. In our studio, we have the luxury of being able to turn away the briefs that could compromise our values
We believe you should work to live, not live to work. So it made no sense for us to work anywhere that didn’t align with our values. It’s a really luxurious way of thinking but so far, it works for us.
Naomi's work via Play On Play
Prior to starting the studio, I was working with Ladies of Leisure (LOL) as their graphic designer and Lucy was working with us as a freelancer. We both found that we were taking on multiple outside briefs and through the course of working together it cemented the idea to start our studio. We had nothing to lose, we work undeniably well together and were in the perfect position to be able to give it go.
We work predominantly on (but not limited to) projects with female-led initiatives. A theme which was carried on from Ladies of Leisure. We pride ourselves in working closely and collaboratively with creative communities to produce work ingrained with meaning.
Tell us about your work for Ladies of Leisure? What do these kinds of female-lead collectives mean to you?
I joined Ladies of Leisure a little over three years ago when I was in my final year of university. I’d always admired LOL and had been a long time follower. Their ethos is something I believe in and was passionate about. Joining LOL was a dream of mine that came true.
I designed their merchandise, as well as their online social marketing. I also had the opportunity to design edition three of their publication, under the direction of Savannah (the Creative Director of LOL). I still work for LOL now, but I’ve been able to merge what I do for them with my studio and feed all the work through there.
Photo for LOL by Imogen Wilson
LOL has been fundamental to my career. I’ve learned so much from working with them, particularly through Savannah. Not only in the design and work ethic sense but the cultural sense too. We learn from each other and she has always nurtured my abilities and my passions. Not only has this experience been fundamental to my career, but LOL is also such an imperative part of our community. It bridges the gap between males and non-binary/female identifying individuals in the creative industries and it’s something that the world as it is today is more than in need of. Giving equal opportunity to those who more than certainly deserve it. It’s empowering, inspirational, supportive and nurturing.
Naomi's work for LOL via Play On Play
What matters most to you when you’re choosing what to wear?
I’m not always that practical with my outfit choices. I wear large starry earrings that get caught in my hair and dress inappropriately to the weather. I like to dress based on my mood and where I’m going. But one thing that is always consistent is how comfortable I feel in what I’m wearing. As contrary as that sounds, comfort would be what matters most to me.
Image via @naomiakikusa
What is that one vintage piece that has traveled with you over time, or, your all-time favourite vintage find?
I wouldn't call it a vintage find, it's more of a vintage "heirloom". My all-time fashion-icon is my mother, Yurika Akikusa-Bereux. To my benefit, she’s a clothing hoarder. I’ve been lucky to adopt her old clothing and there any many pieces I love. The one piece that tops all of them is a beautiful tweed coat from the ’60s that was given to her by my great-grandmother.
Naomi's très chic mother, Yurika Akikusa-Bereux.
Name a woman who has inspired you in the last month and why?
I’m constantly inspired by the women around me. In the past month, I’ve been particularly inspired by my friend Christie Morgan of Pitch Studios. She’s extremely talented, intelligent, future-forward thinking, ambitious, kind, funny, beautiful. She has a strong vision and never fails to achieve the goals she sets for herself and her studio. Not only is she completely driven, but she also shares her knowledge and nurtures those around her. I am in awe of her work ethic and it’s something that has been very inspiring for me with regards to my own studio ventures.
What’s something you have your sights set on achieving in 2019?
Something utterly selfish; I have my sights on travel and visiting my family in other parts of the world. I’ve spent so much of my 20’s studying and working, so I’m due to tick this whopper off my list!
Here's where to check out more of Naomi's work:
Play on Play Studio website
Ladies of Leisure website
Naomi wears the 'Minna' top by Graceland Collection.