The 'Nonna's Grocer' founder's home is the perfect setting for her produce-inspired candles.

| By Rachael Thompson | Home tours

Product Designer Madeleine Hoy’s Sunny Home in Wollongong

The 'Nonna's Grocer' founder's home is the perfect setting for her produce-inspired candles.

Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans, and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we tour the creator of Nonna's Grocer, Madeleine Hoy's home in Wollongong, 1.5 hours south of Sydney.

Madeleine Hoy always knew she wanted to pursue a creative career path. She studied set and costume design at Nida which segued her to work in the events industry collaborating with various brands. "It was incredible training to explore design through so many different styles, but I began to long for that satisfaction of creating something for me and my values, not for someone else's," she shares with Bed Threads Journal. This led her to create concept studio Nonna's Grocer which was inspired by her great grandparents who migrated from Sicily to Daylesford, Victoria and who opened a fruit shop in the 1930s.

Madeleine has designed a selection of delightfully decorative candles in the form of fresh produce. With their high level of detail and organic silhouettes, you'd be forgiven for thinking these hand-made candles were plucked straight from the garden. "Being a very visual person and uncovering how things are made is a passion and delving into the land of wax and candles has been a treasure to uncover," she says.

Seven of Madeleine's playful candles are available from Bed Threads, ranging from a zesty lemon to a gorgeous green tomato. Each design makes for the perfect décor piece to elevate any tablescape.

Her summery 1950s home in Wollongong makes for the perfect backdrop for these playful candles. Warm, neutral tones prevail in every room of this welcoming abode. In the living room, woven details in the armchairs and rug bring texture to the space while an artwork by Brigitte Grant and Nonna's Grocer candles add Meditteranean flair to the space.

The dining room is Madeleine's favourite area of the home and the ideal spot to showcase her designs. Here, bay windows flood the space with light and a wonderfully dressed dining table welcomes guests. "There is something about a curved window that is always so inviting, and we love having meals there with our garden as the backdrop," she says.

The primary bedroom is welcoming and has a sunny outlook thanks to a toasty combination of Terracotta, Limoncello, and Turmeric linen.

We spoke to Madeleine about Nonna's Grocer, her creative process, and her home styling tips.

Shop Madeleine's home edit.

Hi Madeleine! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?

I own a design studio/concept shop called Nonna’s Grocer. I design and hand-make candles (and other objects) at my studio in Wollongong. The studio is inspired by my great grandfather's fruit shop that he owned in Daylesford, Victoria in the 1930s.

How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?

I have always had a passion for objects made with intention. My hands would naturally find their way to fabrics with a well-made quality, or a pair of antique opticals from a flea market. I love looking for the soul in design, and wondering who is behind the piece I am holding. I think this feeling I seek in my surroundings is something I am exploring in my own creative practice. Being a very visual person and uncovering how things are made is a passion and delving into the land of wax and candles has been a treasure to uncover. The techniques are essentially ancient and so satisfying to learn.

Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?

From a young age, I always knew I wanted to have my own design business, I just wasn't sure what form that would take. I think this way of thinking was inspired by my dad who had some very special restaurants in his career. I wanted to have a similar experience of developing a concept and sharing it with people.

I studied set and costume design at Nida which organically veered me towards the events industry where I got to collaborate with some amazing brands. It was incredible training to explore design through so many different styles, but I began to long for that satisfaction of creating something for me and my values, not for someone else's.

Finally an idea worth exploring presented itself to me one day, and I haven't let go. It’s been so nice getting to this point in my career where I am a confident designer and mentally ready to run my own business.

What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt so far in your career?

Five years ago I began to struggle with a chronic illness that I still have today. Essentially it reveals itself through chronic brain fog and fatigue. Being a designer and coping with a health issue has certainly been the trickiest part of my career thus far, particularly with the deadline pressure that is embedded in the creative industry. I have struggled through the hardest part though, which is re-calibrating how I work and factoring in time for myself when I am not well. But it has taught me that health comes first and that when you are open and honest about your situation, people are genuinely accommodating and kind back.

What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your career?

Discovering that other people have resonated with my business has been the most special part of my career. Telling my family story has sparked such insightful conversations about other people’s heritage and the stories that are connected with that. Opening up that dialogue is so inspiring. Shifting my work to focus on my aesthetic and my history has meant my family can get more involved in my work. My sister Isabel has decided to help me grow Nonna’s full-time, and it’s so fun to share a passion for your work with a sibling.

Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a similar line of work?

Go with the flow if you are unsure about where your career is headed. I was never certain about whether my studies were exactly right for me, or whether my job was the ‘perfect job’ for my personality. But the skills I picked up along the way have given me the perfect tools to create something new for myself. Sometimes it's just shifting what you know into a new context that makes all the difference.

Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?

I have lived in my home for a year and a half. I moved from Sydney which was such a lovely change of pace.

How did you initially know this was the space for you?

It was the art deco architecture and gorgeous wild garden that caught our eye. It had a lovely charm about it. We had to have it.

Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?

The owner that lived here before us bought it in its original state which hadn’t been well looked after since it was built in the ‘50s, so he brought the building back to life with simple renovations while maintaining all of the beautiful original details. So we have had the easy task of just moving our furniture in and enjoying the home and the beautiful details in all their glory.

What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?

My partner and I love to eat so having a big table near a window where we can have friends over has always been important to us. We also love materials that have a warm and welcoming feel,  so there are wooden details in every room of the house.

For more from Madeleine follow her @nonnasgrocer

Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Jackie Brown.

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