A mid-century moment - Tamara Watts of Retro Print Revival

As a fellow frother of all things eras gone by, we were so eager to get inside the head (and home) of the lovely Tamara Watts, Creative Director and Designer of Melbourne based homewares brand, Retro Print Revival. Now living a life so bright and bold — Tamara came from humble beginnings in a tiny rural town in country Victoria, and a move to the big city was what really sparked her true love for vintage fossicking, big colour, textiles, mid-century design and the euphoric eras.
She’s as equally as passionate and inspired by the golden days as us and with what began her journey of business being somewhat akin to ours - trawling through vintage markets and a pile of vintage fabrics, we’ve found a true kindred spirit in Tamara! 

1. First and foremost, tell us a little bit about you. Who you are, where are you from and what sets your soul on fire? 

I’m the Creative Director of Melbourne based homewares brand, Retro Print Revival. I’ve been designing lamps and planters for over 10 years now. I grew up in a tiny rural town in country Victoria and moved to Melbourne to study Visual Merchandising and haven't left! I love the culture, diversity and endless possibilities the city has to offer, but I equally love the openness, stillness and slow pace of the country. I spilt my time between city and country living to get the best of both worlds. I’m nature obsessed and live for adventures and everything that comes with it. 

2. You’re the Creative Director and Founder of Retro Print Revival, which fuses vintage and mid-century inspired design with handcrafted skills in the form of lamps, planters, vases and other home treasures - when did your love of mid-century design begin and what draws you to this style?

It’s the simple lines, the warm timber, the craftsmanship, and most importantly its the beauty and function of mid-century design that I love and appreciate. I’ve always appreciated mid-century modern and having my brand has really ignited that love. 

3. Talk us through your background and what led you to starting Retro Print Revival? 

My professional background is in Visual Merchandising and styling, and I spent many years at Country Road before deciding to go it into business for myself. Retro Print Revival was born after I bought a stash of vintage fabric off a collector at a market just out of Melbourne. It was one of those ‘I’ll do something with these one day’ purchases. So I made a lampshade for a friend, then another, then another. In 2009, I left my job in VM and started RPR. I really didn't imagine I’d be doing this for a living, I get to design what I love and I’m grateful that other people love it too. Alongside my business, I am also a freelance fashion and homewares Stylist. I really enjoy working along side a team and enjoy the energy of big production and fast paced shoot work. So mixing it up with my business (where I generally work solo), to working as a team on shoots is the perfect balance. 

4. Have you also had a creative flare? Do you think your love for vintage came from your upbringing or was it something that you started to appreciate as you got older? 

I grew up in a very small town in rural Victoria that was a typical country town that wasn't very accepting of individual style. I’ve always been creative but it wasn't until I moved to Melbourne that I discovered my love for vintage and really delved into the music, fashion, design and interiors of the retro era. 

5. We’re fossickers and nothing gives us more joy than finding unearthed treasures with character and charm, and this is where we’ve always drawn a lot of inspiration from for our own designs and prints, talk us through your inspiration when creating?

I draw inspiration from so many places. I’m constantly saving images into folders of shapes of objects, images of interiors, colour combinations and textures. I have a vintage fabric wall in my studio of pieces I’ve been collecting for over 10 years, which is an endless wall of pattern and colour inspiration. The vintage fabrics are sourced from all over and I’m lucky enough to have had people reach out to me over the years with fabric offcuts from old 70s cane furniture factories or other collectors wanting to sell off their own/grandmothers stash. The fabrics from the Retro Print Revival range are a combination of designs created exclusively for RPR, or other textile designers work.

6. How does your brand, and your personal space reflect your personality? We can imagine your humble abode is a treasure trove of magical pieces!  

For those that know me, they know that I live and breathe the style of my brand. Its not about a trend for me, I have always appreciated the bygone era of the 60 - 80’s. My own home is like stepping back into time-warp. Filled with mid-century furniture and decor, exposed brick, slate floors, wall-hangings, and lots of warm earthy tones. I happily spend my time sifting through antique stores, garage sales and flee markets finding treasures that are unique and represent my style. 

7. How would you describe your personal style? 

Denim obsessed with a touch of hippy. I’m not afraid to wear double denim. I own a lot of vintage jeans, denim jumpsuits, maxi dresses, leather jackets and knee high boots. 

8. What’s up next for you creatively? 

I release a new range yearly, which generally consists of a new lamp design or two, new fabrics, and a planter. With all my manufactures based in Victoria (my brands ethos is to support local), I wasn't able to produce any new products due to Melbourne’s lockdown. So I’m excited to be full steam ahead this year and working with my local makers on creating new products and fabrics. 

Thanks for joining us!