Spaces that we inhabit can hold so much - a home is made to feel as such through the collection of personal items new and old, the specific placement of objects that feels just right for reasons we can’t quite put a finger on, the people that move around it and leave traces of life that are familiar to us. It’s an extension of who we are, and this is what Zane emulates with Ours Fitzroy. An apartment and gallery space that also doubles (triples?) as an Airbnb, Ours is the space created to be the home of Naarm’s (Melbourne) creative spirit.
Located in the heart of Fitzroy and surrounded by many independent and well-loved Naarm businesses, being in the apartment feels like a celebration of the talent the city has to offer, something Zane tells us is very deliberate. Living in Naarm means having the privilege of living in what can be an incredibly warm and welcoming community, which is embodied in the space and shines through these photos taken by photographer Henry.
We loved getting some insight into Zane’s inspiration for this project, some of the challenges he’s faced in the creation of a small business, as well as the wonderful reminder that beauty in creativity stems from the complexities of unique human experiences.
The concept behind Ours is quite unique, what gave you the idea to create this space?
Most of what I relate to and find interesting in the world is inspired in one way or another by hip hop culture, and there were two key ideas pushing me when I was setting up Ours. The first is that we are always creating something, whether it’s the way we dress or the way we display our houses, we compose our lives with aesthetics and styles we see around us to represent what we see and experience. Hip hop is a culture where artists salute the past and borrow from the present but must create their own unique arrangements and put something new into the world. In doing so it has to be ok to try; try to make something nice and something you think is cool and distinct to you. The second is the obligation to celebrate where you come from in the way you move through the world. To understand how your style is a reimagining of the world you were raised in, the neighbourhoods you grew up in and the people around you in your own city. With respect to these ideas, Ours was always meant to be a place where it’s ok to try new things, it’s ok to try to put together fresh ideas, and everything is a celebration of Naarm, the success of the people in our neighbourhoods and the things that we love about our city.
When and how did your affinity for art and design begin?
I tend towards the idea that any distinction we make between art or design and the rest of life is arbitrary. This is a continuation of the idea that all of us are constantly creating exhibitions of who we are through the way we put our lives together. The way I see the world now is heavily influenced by some incredibly talented people I worked, lived and hung out with in my early twenties. They were people designing clubs, fashion and art at a time when many aesthetics were a weird and wonderful mixture of cultural influences of everything from American fast food and cartoons through to Australian glam rock and local football. Being part of that meant finding your own mixture of borrowed styles and always trying to step out into the world in a way that was unashamedly showing off who you were.
What do you think are some of the key factors for a place to feel like a home?
To me a home is just a gallery where it’s ok to break things. It’s a place we use to recharge but it’s also a place where we invite people into an exhibition of our lives. It is a curated space of the nicest things we have found during the different phases of our lives and the things we love the most arranged around us to interact with daily. I think having nice things in your home means being ok with the scratches, scuffs and chips that happen as a sign of use and love in the same way we appreciate the wrinkles and scars we have acquired at the end of a good life.
What colour do you have the most of in your own home?
Red. Not for any reason in particular, and it’s not necessarily my favourite colour, it just seems to repeat organically and pulls other colours together.
What are some of your favourite things about the relationships you’ve been able to establish with the local creative community?
I love seeing what other makers and creatives have been able to get out of Ours for their own projects. Being in the space has allowed me to be involved in the thought processes behind some very cool ideas and I love watching those ideas work their way from someone’s mind through a conversation into a tangible thing that represents Ours in some of those ways I spoke about earlier. Nice things made in the pursuit of trying something new. That’s the coolest shit in the world to me. I would like Ours to continue being a place where we celebrate the making of nice things in the pursuit of showing off our city and always trying something new.
Staying in or going out?
Staying in, at Ours… obviously. But in all honesty – healthy amounts of both. I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about this city. We have such a nice summer in contrast to the constant drizzle and grey of winter. It’s nice to have a time to rest and something to look forward to.
What has been one of your highlights so far since creating Ours?
There have been so many, but two projects come to mind. ‘A Meeting of Bodies’ by Lauren Erickison of Everyday Lines was a great exhibition of work that began with a series of photos put together by Lauren and Maki Levine in the apartment here at Ours. The work was exhibited at Honeybones Gallery and we are lucky enough to have some pieces hanging here now. ‘REBOOT’ was a project by Tori Talaina in which the space was used to create a fashion editorial inspired by sitcoms and breakfast. In both instances it was great to hear the artists’ conceptual idea and be able to provide a space for them to make it manifest.
2022 must have been a big year of change for you. What was something you learned about yourself in the process?
I’ve learned that learning how to fall is the most important part of anything. Trying something that goes down in flames in front of an audience feels like death, but after it’s over you’re still alive. So I think I’ve learned the importance of chasing mistakes as a necessary part of getting to the final product.
You’re juggling a lot of hats at the same time - Airbnb host, gallery owner, retailer… How do you manage to stay on top of such a varied workload?
A lot of the time I don’t. Someone asked me what it means to be an entrepreneur, which I found wild because I definitely don’t see myself as that, but I would have to say it’s just forced creative thinking in the absence of choice. I’ve committed to this so heavily that I have no way out. It’s not just a job or a business, it’s taken on a life of its own and every month the bills roll in so I have to come up with ways to make it work. Running the accommodation, gallery space, retail and many other facets of the business is a consequence of having to learn how to keep a business alive and I think I’m slowly figuring it out. In an ideal world I would have a team here to help Ours reach its full potential, which is something I’m working on in the new year.
What objects do you turn to in your home to bring you a sense of relaxation?
I love ceramics, and making a cup of coffee or tea in a mug that is either one of a kind or from a special time and place is a small but important joy in the day.
What are you most looking forward to when it comes to your project? Do you have anything exciting planned?
I’m looking forward to putting everything I’ve learned about business into a more considered strategy when running Ours this year. I’d love to get one or two more people involved in the business to help and share in the direction of the project, so I think I’m happy to play my role in nurturing this very young business and allow some fresh perspectives in to take Ours wherever it could potentially go.