Where I Work: Rachel Castle


For this month’s Where I Work, we head to the Sydney, Australia workshop of Rachel Castle, whose work spans multiple mediums, including textiles, paint, printmaking, sewing, you name it. Once you get a feel for her eye-popping color palette, whimsical style, and witty sense of humor, you’ll never forget her magical work. Trust us, you’ll never want to. Sit back and explore the colorful world of Rachel Castle’s studio with us and see how and where she works.

Photo by Chris Warnes/ Bauer Syndication

Photo by Chris Warnes/ Bauer Syndication

What is your typical work style?

Up early, focused on getting to work. By 7AM, it’s starting to fall apart, lost keys, lost phone, can’t find the dog to get her in the car to get teenagers to the bus stop. Breathe, coffee, then to work where literally one thing after another presents itself in a very random, haphazard way. My greatest challenge is allocating creative time. There are so many invoices, customer queries, bed linen production issues that I have to be VERY strict with creative time. I say I have to be strict – I TRY to be strict. I would say admin to creative at the moment is 70/30, which gives me the irrits.


What’s your studio/work environment like?

Very messy. Leni, who I work with, has to be super duper tidy because I am super duper disorganized and very very very very messy.


How is your office organized/arranged?

I have my own space with very good sunlight. I saw the building we share with designers and producers first, so I luckily picked the studio with the best light. Which is good most of the year, but sometimes I have to go to Leni’s office, which is around the corridor, because I am getting sunburnt at my desk.

How long have you been in this space? Where did you work before that?

I came straight to St Peters from a home office, and have been here for three glorious uninterrupted free from home years. Working at home is TOUGH.


If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?

I would have somebody come and clean it up every day. Color code the paints and the felts, wash the brushes, pick up the dog toys, water the plants. Leni does as much as she can but I feel guilty because she is not a housecleaner!


Is there an office pet? 

Yes, it’s Sydney. She is very beautiful and gentle and just a POPPET sausage dog (squeeee!)


How do you record ideas?

Everywhere. On the walls, on bits of paper, on my phone, voice message to Leni, the desktop of my computer gives me brainfry from all the screen grabs.


Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now? 

Just the wall really, and bits of paper.


What is your creative process and/or creative workflow like? Does it change every project or do you keep it the same?

Because I work over four mediums – painting, print making, sewing, and designing the bed linen – the process for each is fairly similar. I am messy in practice but neat and tidy in process. I like order to the process and like to finish one thing before I start another. I do all my emails before I touch anything else. My clients come before anything else.


What kind of design objects might you have scattered about the space? 

Just random bits really. I take the nice things home because the studio is so messy. This is a workspace first and foremost.

Are there tools and/or machinery in your space?

I am very ad hoc here at work. Nothing is built in, and we make do with what we have. Computers, printers, paint, canvas, paper, fabric for the artmaking. Shelves filled with bed linen for stock. A cot size mattress for our new cot range and a mini sleep if we need one.

What tool do you most enjoy using in the design process?

Felt and scissors. If you get it wrong you simply unpick, recut, and start again.

Let’s talk about how you’re wired. Tell us about your tech arsenal/devices.

Wired very primitively. We print all the orders and mark them off by hand.

What design software do you use, if any, and for what?

Just Photoshop and a little Illustrator.


Is there a favorite project you’ve worked on?

We love making the tea towels. Fran our graphic designer, Leni, and myself CRY laughing at all the badass tea towels we would love to make but never will.

Do you feel like you’ve “made it”? What has made you feel like you’ve become successful? At what moment/circumstances?

Absolutely not. I feel like I’m chasing my tail and always wanting to do more. When admin/creative ratio is 70/30, then I will be happy.

Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?

We’re doing our next round of tea towels. We really wanted to do HAPPY FUCKEN BIRTHDAY, I mean seriously who wouldn’t buy that?, but we better not. We are not a swearing type of brand!


What’s on your desk right now? 

Paint, computer, sticky tape, camera, Pantone book, Diet Coke, coffee.

Do you have anything in your home that you’ve designed/created?

Tons, I take all the b-grades home. My house is filled with old and odd sampled bed linen and lots of developmental paintings!

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.