Inside The Remarkable World of Eggpicnic
Eggpicnic is a Sydney based illustration and design studio that fuses design and conservation to end wildlife extinction through education. Eggpicnic create vibrant illustrations and characters, bringing you the stories of our critically endangered fauna, the environment and our relationship to it.
Take a look into the world of Eggpicnic as we speak with co-founders Camila De Gregorio and Christopher Macaluso about what inspires them, their creative process, social responsibility, using design for good, and the importance of forming business partnerships.
Can you tell us about your background?
Chris was born and raised in Sydney and studied industrial design at UTS before completing his Masters degree at Scuola Politecnica di Design in Milan, Italy. I was born in Chile and grew up between Santiago, Arica and L.A., and graduated as a designer from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. I was fascinated by the natural world from a very young age and collected National Geographic magazines before I even learned to read. I had a deep interest in zoology and in how animals behaved and dreamed of a way of combining my passion for design and wildlife.
Where did the concept of Eggpicnic come from?
Eggpicnic was born in Milan in 2009, when I moved in with Chris as I had to leave my old place and arrived with a basket full of eggs some friends had left behind. We boiled, scrambled and poached them and went on a picnic to Parco Sempione, where we decided for the first time to join our abilities in graphic, industrial design and our love for the natural world. It began as a series of experiments when we moved to Chile, working with sustainable materials and local communities across different mediums such as art toys and furniture. When we moved to Sydney I was amazed by the biodiversity. Our work evolved into protecting our local wildlife with the aim to end extinction through education by creating a bridge between nature and humans, between NGOs and citizens. We intend to re-frame the traditional perspective of conservation in a fresh new way to make it more inclusive and participative.
What do you love about birds?
We are incredibly fascinated by their individual personalities. They are everywhere you go, they can read the Earth’s magnetic field, they take on the animal kingdom’s longest journeys and they can fly. Who doesn’t wish they could fly? I do. They are more similar to us than we think and thanks to their ecological power they have shaped the Australian landscape. Australian birds are more crucial to the pollination and distribution of plants here than anywhere else on the planet.
How can individual creativity benefit the greater good?
In university I questioned the role of design and its real purpose. I understood that creativity was the way in which I could express my opinion and get people thinking about issues I felt needed to be addressed. I understood that design and creativity reflect opinions and can be used as powerful tools to send out a message and to change people’s hearts and minds to create real change.
What does social responsibility mean for you, and why is it important?
It means understanding that we are part of a greater system. We share this planet with other species and we’ve reached a very critical moment in time. So intense has been our impact on the planet that most scientists believe we have now entered a new epoch. We cannot turn our heads away and to carry on is to become an accomplice. As designers we didn’t want to be part of the problem and we chose to use our work to speak from a position of hope. I think there are rules we tend to fall into, a kind of inertia, that defines what a designer can do and that limits us enormously. We need to think like designers, not just be designers. We chose to work with the natural world as it brings richness into our lives, the fact that it sustains us and that it’s irreplaceable, so we needed to help protect it.
Can you give us a little insight into your creative process?
Every project starts with a single moment of inspiration. Whether it is something we read, something we discuss with experts or something we experience firsthand, those are the moments that begin the creative process and drive us to want to communicate and tell the world about.
From this initial point we begin to investigate every aspect of that issue, whether it is about the species or the environment and determine how we want to communicate this idea. We work across illustration, we bring other creative minds into the development of our projects and we also conduct experiments in our studio to develop new sustainable materials for the design industry. Each project comes with a story. The aim is to educate, to create a relationship between the audience and the work. Allowing people to understand and learn about our world and how incredible it is.
What is a typical day for Eggpicnic?
A typical day for us varies quite often. One day we are up at the crack of dawn off on a birding trip, the other we are in our studio creating new work and another we are setting up a new exhibition. We love to get out of the built environment as often as we can and be amongst nature.
A typical spot you will find us every weekend is The Royal National Park. It is one of our favourites and we adore its mix of dense forests and rainforests to cliffs and beaches. It has it all. Getting there early is key to fully appreciate the variety of species that call this place home. But also, just up the road from our studio is Centennial Park, a diverse natural environment and urban habitat, home to a pair of Powerful Owls we love to visit.
How do you go about conducting research?
While we started working with birds as our subjects we began birdwatching and joined Birding NSW as we wanted to experience firsthand what was happening. We volunteer in Key Biodiversity Area surveys and bring this information back to our audience. Also, working with ecologists and environmental scientists has allowed us to establish multidisciplinary partnerships, where together we are able to create a bridge between science and citizens. We rely on the data developed by scientists to open up conversations about our wildlife and the problems they face. With this information we are able to identify and determine aspects that can engage citizens and ultimately make a change.
A lot of your work includes partnerships. How important are partnerships in your business?
Extremely important as the issues we talk about need to be addressed from many different fields simultaneously; it is a network of humans that need to come together in order to provide solutions for a sustainable future. It is no longer the responsibility of a single field, it has becomes everyone’s responsibility. For us it is all about making a difference and saving species from extinction and it is only through collaboration and partnerships that we are able to achieve this. We work with selected not-for-profit organisations in different ways to be able to achieve specific results. We currently work with Birdlife Australia, Greenfleet Australia, Palm Oil Investigations, Zoos Victoria, Andean Cat Alliance and WIRES, with the profits of selected prints going directly to research, education and conservation programs. You can find out more information about the organisations we partner with on Eggpicnic's Our Impact page.
How do you go about selecting not-for-profit partners?
We partner up with not-for-profits who align with our values and mission to end wildlife extinction. Their impact has shifted the way we interact with the natural world and they have built communities that work for a common cause. Their transparency, passion and commitment are attributes that we connected with.
Where do you get inspiration from?
The way the natural world functions is something that profoundly inspires us. Flora and fauna are a complex system of interactions, where the extinction of any species under certain conditions could have a profound impact on the whole. We’ll spend hours each week just observing how nature behaves around us. It is also highly therapeutical!
Who do you look up to and why?
We look up to people who are actively creating positive change and they are all around us. We often meet and have the chance to work with Dr. John Martin, wildlife ecologist, co-founder of Wingtags and Hollows as Homes. We profoundly admire Angela Robertson-Buchanan and Leila Jeffreys, both Australian wildlife photographers who create soulful portraits to convey not only the beauty of our fellow species but also a message of hope and is aimed to share with us a world worth saving. Or Phil Straw, director of Avifauna, who in his early career had to parachute out of a plane and walk 150km to basecamp just to study a bird. Their passion is infectious and their stories are worth telling.
The above images are courtesy of Camila De Gregorio, Co-Founder, Eggpicnic
If you are in Sydney this Saturday 7th April, you can also check out the Eggpicnic collection at The Makers & Shakers Market in Marrickville.
Browse our Eggpicnic collection here
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