CASTLE was founded in 2008 by Rachel Castle with a small range of bedlinen made for friends and family. Considerable interest ensured CASTLE quickly became a commercial venture. The brand represents a love of beautiful, often handcrafted or handprinted, pieces for the home.
Rachel Castle has spent the past 20 years working in the homewear industry both in Australia and abroad. Prior to CASTLE, Rachel was joint founder of London-based branding and design agency, The Nest, and before that, worked for The Conran Shop in the UK. She regularly styles and writes for Australian lifestyle magazines, and currently lives in Sydney.All handmade artworks are sewn by Rachel Castle and her very patient and loving mother.
Question & Answer
Tell us a little about your background – what path has led you to what you’re doing now?
I originally studied Communications at RMIT and moved straight into the PR department at Country Road doing all the marketing for the Homewear brand. From there I moved to London to work with Alex Willcock at The Conran Shop in the buying department, and ended up heading the branding division responsible for all the printed material for the shops and restaurants worldwide. From there Alex Willcock, myself and Russell Pinch set up our own branding agency called The Nest which we sold 7 years later to St Lukes in the UK. From there I started having babies and re-engaging with my love of hand-making anything I possibly could.
You have spent the past 20 years working in the homewares industry both in Australia and abroad…. What prompted your move into interiors styling and writing for magazines?
I guess the freelance nature of styling and writing is perfect for stay at home mothers. We need to work in little snippets of time and so a day on a shoot and then writing 2000 words at your own pace is a real luxury.
How do you find a balance your freelance editorial work with designing your gorgeous line of homewares and artworks for CASTLE? How do these two roles complement each other?
With difficulty at the moment. CASTLE is taking up more and more time, both the bedlinen and the artworks, and so I’m finding I do the odd house here and there at the moment, rather than a consistent amount of work.
How would you describe your interior decorating/styling aesthetic in your own home? How does this compare with the aesthetic you bring to your commercial styling work?
My style at home is very ‘abundant’ or as my fussy architect friend calls it ‘chaotic’. It’s a lot of stuff everywhere in a big white backdrop. I love clutter I must say, it makes me feel at home. I do however, like to have a specific spot for everything. This is where the jugs go, this is where all the chopping boards belong, this is where the cookbooks stand, this is where the sugar bowl sits. I tidy the house to within an inch of its life every Friday afternoon and Monday morning, without fail.With the clutter comes a need to make everything else as neat and tidy as possible. On a shoot I will ALWAYS make the bed, set furniture at right angles, be careful to put everything in its place.
Which designers, artists or creative people are you inspired by?
There are just so many. David Band, Gemma Smith, Paul Rand. I love Jonathan Adler, he is hilarious. You should read his book, I laughed out loud it is so funny. I remember as a child my friends mother, Annamieke Mein, was an embroiderer, and I was very inspired by her workspace. I like to sit in my ‘making’ room surrounded by my ‘making’ stuff, probably just like she did.
Where else do you find inspiration – ie books, magazines, your environment, travel, your family and friends?
I feel really inspired by work itself, by the process of retailing, even if it is online I still have interaction with my customers who are just so appreciative and delightful to deal with. If I just had to sit and sew or screen print all day every day I would go potty. The mix of making and selling is really a perfect balance. Oh and I read every magazine known to man and just as many blogs.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
Sewing, there is always sewing, wrapping parcels, pleading with my bedlinen manufacturer to PLEASE let me have just 15 metres more of our cotton fabric, then pleading with our lovely printer to print me another batch of spots yesterday, and then I spend the other half of my day at the Post Office. My Post Office people are so lovely because I spend my entire life there.
What are you looking forward to?
Time to make some new embroideries and do some new screen printing. Ask me what I’m not looking forward to… our house renovation where we have to move out for 4 months.
You favourite fossicking spots in Sydney for unique furniture and home accessories?
I would have to say Koskela. All Australian design, everything from furniture and rugs, to pottery and exceptional aboriginal weaving and paintings. They are lovely, lovely people.
What and where was the last great meal you ate in Sydney?
Spice Temple in Sydney on my birthday.Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?On the side of the road arguing with the sat nav somewhere in Pymble driving Cleo to netball.
Sydney’s best kept secret?
I adore the Sydney Opera House. It is my favourite building in the world. It is an unbelievably beautiful piece of architecture inside and out, and I feel a serenity and peace whenever I am there. On any given day there is music and ballet and caberet and theatre and tours and things for children, so much going on. It is a very special, sacred, magical place that I visit often.