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Laura Strange

She’s the girl you instantly want to adopt as your best friend, not to mention a talented designer, artist, jewellery maker and one half of local creative biz Art-work Agency.

Recently, Laura was commissioned to create a design for The Undercurrent’s Nobby Beach tee shirt, a place close to her heart. We sat down for a chat with her on capturing the cool and collected vibe of the beachside suburb we all know and love.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local? 
I’ve been an official “full-time” Gold Coaster for almost three years now. I was living down here part-time previously while working in Brisbane, but was able to make the transition down here in 2015 and haven’t looked back! I’ve always had an affiliation with the coast and beach. I spent my early childhood on the northern beaches in Cairns before my family moved to Brisbane. Growing up, my grandparents lived in Broadbeach, so that saw me visiting the coast with family most weekends. I have fond memories of summer days spent walking down to Kurrawa Beach via the Broachbeach Mall with a melting ice cream in hand!

What do you love most about our beautiful city?
It’s hard to pick one thing, but I would say our sense of community is really unique and wonderful. People around the coast are generally super friendly – taking a morning walk means you’re greeted by at least a handful of people every day. We’ve got lots of the “big city” perks – food, coffee, arts and cultural activities, but we’ve kept our “small town” charm. It’s something I hope remains in the city as we grow and mature.

You recently designed a t-shirt for The Undercurrent representing Nobby Beach, what did you include and why? 
Nobby Beach is an area really special to me as it’s where my husband was living when we first met! As he’s been on the Gold Coast since he was a kid, he has a lot of fond memories of Nobby Beach and the Magic Mountain era. It was a great opportunity for me to learn more about the history of the area and also to learn about how it influenced my husband growing up.

I wanted to capture this sense of nostalgia, but also capture the cool and collected reputation the precinct holds today. The chairlift was included as a tribute to the Magic Mountain days, and also because it’s such a quirky thing to have beachside – the chairlift is usually associated with the snow, not the sand! I also chose to incorporate two key street-signs from the area, Chairlift Ave (obviously!) and Lavarack Rd. For me, these two streets form the “heart” of Nobby’s – home to cafes, restaurants and access to the beach.

What are your thoughts on the Coast’s growing arts scene? 
Everything about arts and culture on the Gold Coast is exciting. There’s so much going on that it’s starting to get hard to keep up – which is great. Gone are the “cultural wasteland” days – we’re amidst a new era of cultural change and innovation on the coast. Our cultural programming is distinctly Gold Coast and I hope that continues as we grow. We are really good at embracing our landscape and environment through cultural activities, and I think this is something we do differently to other destinations – perhaps because until now we haven’t had the facilities to house performances, so programmers have had to be experimental with venues and locations. Opera or sculptures on the beach? Dance workshops in the park? Theatre in the penthouses of high-rises? We do it all. We do it really, really well.

Where do you think we’ll be in five years? 
The development of the Cultural Precinct will change the arts and culture landscape on the coast for the better, and will bring more opportunities for emerging and established creatives – which will entice them to stay here rather than relocate to other cities. We’ll see more young people choosing to call the coast home. My friends in Brisbane and further afield will finally agree that the coast has culture.  The amount of coffee shops within walking distance from my house will have doubled to 24 (there’s currently 12…how nuts is that!).

What’s been your personal artistic journey? 
I wouldn’t have branded myself as a “creative” growing up, so sometimes I’m still surprised that I chose a career in art and design! I was told by my year 12 careers councillor that I’d never be a graphic designer because I couldn’t draw super well…what a farce that was! I soon discovered that design wasn’t about illustrating and making things “pretty”, but rather about solving problems, which suited me really well.

You’re both an artist and a designer, what’s your favourite thing to create? 
I’m happiest when I’m creating something that looks beautiful and solves a business need. I’m a pretty practical person and I like to create for an outcome or purpose. While a lot of artists savor the process…I’m more of a destination girl! I love seeing the outcome of a project and looking at the impact it has on the business.

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received? 
What you think you attract – I always try to be positive and see the glass half full, not empty. Think positively and you’ll attract positivity.

Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourite on the Coast…
Beach: Love the Miami Beach front/Marine Parade.
Cafe: Can I pick two? All Time Coffee (almond latte and a doughnut) and Skull and Bones (bulletproof to go, please!)
Restaurant: This is tricky…it’s a toss up between Justin Lane, The Lamb Shop and Itoshin!
How does your weekend usually look? Morning walk to All Time to get moving, followed by a cruisy lunch with family or friends. Evenings usually involve attending a cultural event (theatre, film or exhibition) and some Netflix with my husband and kitties for good measure.

10 Gold Coast designers you should know about

Olas Supply Co.

A new week means a new excuse to treat yo’self and there’s no better way to do that than with some sweet local brands. From threads to swimwear and accessories, we’ve rounded up a collection of Gold Coast goodies that we know will knock your socks off.

Happy shopping.

Olas Supply Co. 
Established in 2016, Olas Supply Co is the product of two people with a shared loved for travel and adventure, wanted to branch away from their regular Monday to Friday jobs and try something different. Inspired by the founders adventures and grown from the soul of traditional villages along the coast of Central and South America, Olas Supply Co. offer a unique style Gold Coasters love.

Violet Gray
Violet Gray is the love child of Australian Designer, Alexandra Olsen. Her pieces are simple, delicate and created from high grade metals (soon to be 100% recycled and fair trade) and genuine gemstones. The concept for each piece is deeply rooted in spirituality, connection, romanticism and symbolism, making them sacred and powerful to wear. Alex and Violet Gray started their journey at The Village Markets five years ago and since then has grown to be loved worldwide.

Lokoa
What started as a daydream in 2009 quickly turned into an independent Australian lifestyle brand that has since been featured in the pages of Instyle and OK! Magazines. The Gold Coast based bohemian fashion label specialises in exotic handmade leather bags, wallets and clothing inspired by local designer Brie Shinn’s love of travel and exploration. The colourful and unique pieces resemble every creative women’s wanderlust, bringing a sense of mystery and adventure into the lives of wearers.

Shuturp
Created by Ellie Hopley, Shuturp is a quirky fashion label that has quickly become much-loved the world over. With hand drawn art adorning t-shirts, caps and clothes for the kiddies, the brand is easily recognised and very colourful. Many of the pieces also have uplifting slash hilarious slogans on them too. Everything is part of a limited drop so get in quick.

The Lobster Shanty
Now something for the fashion-savvy men amongst us, introducing The Lobster Shanty. Jarro Dartnell is the brains behind the Australian beach-oriented fashion label and clothing store. Inspired by his Granddad Jims’ love of the sea, Jarro created his own boutique range of signature tee shirts and snapbacks while the store offers a wide array of seasonal essentials for the like-minded adventurers with brands such as Brixton, Obey and Santa Cruz.

Grace Loves Lace
For women of style, substance and originality, Grace Loves Lace specialise in unique, free-spirited and timelessly sophisticated luxe wedding dresses handmade from only the finest French and European lace and silks. When it’s time to slide on that ring and pop the champagne, you can’t be in any ordinary dress, you NEED Grace Loves Lace! Only the best on your big day, Sweetheart!

The Undercurrent

The Undercurrent
Tourism on the Gold Coast has reached a whole new level with the recent launch of The Undercurrent, a fashion label dedicated to showcasing the city through the eyes of locals. The brand made its debut with a collection representing five suburbs (Burleigh, Mermaid, Surfers, Currumbin and Coolangatta), each of which is printed with a local artists’ work depicting iconic landmarks and incorporating the things they love about their area.

Myra Swim
The Gold Coast is known as the bikini capital of Australia and for good reason with labels like Myra Swim producing the goods. Bianca Elouise launched Myra Swim in 2014 and since then she hasn’t looked back. Inspired by the sun, surf and the sea, Bianca wanted to create a swimwear line for curvier women and as such, has developed an international following including the likes of the one and only Kim Kardashian.

The Weft
The Weft is a recent addition to the Gold Coast design scene and it’s a goodie. Created by Caitlin Verall, The Weft is all about subtle, beautifully crafted pieces that transcend the seasons in natural colour palettes and fabrics. The latest range Outliers offers everything from the classic Smith ‘90s Dress to the statement Ithica Wrap Dress. It’s a beautiful range of timeless, laid-back silhouettes, with matching separates emerging for the first time.

peony swimwear
Born out of a life long love affair with the ocean, boutique Australian swimwear label peony fuses bohemian nostalgia with refined femininity to create swimwear made for chasing the sun. First making an appearance at The Village Markets and now an internationally-renowned brand, peony epitomises summer’s simple joys – diving into the ocean, the smell of coconut oil, the feeling of sand under bare feet and the first bloom of peony flowers, which signal the beginning of summer.

Get shopping.

Words by Louisa Ingelheim

10 reasons locals love Mermaid Beach

Mermaid Beach T-Shirts The Undercurrent
Mermaid Beach (Image: © 2021 The Undercurrent)

It’s the destination we all know and love. Relaxed, a little bit retro and constantly surprising us with new places to eat and play. It’s the much-loved suburb that flies under the radar when visitors come to town but to locals, it’s pure magic.

To show our love for this beachside beauty, here are ten things we locals love about Mermaid Beach.

The North Room
Recent receivers of a very prestigious hat, The North Room is an intimate restaurant serving up some absolutely stunning contemporary dishes that you’ll want to wrap your mouth around ASAP. Bookings are essential and they open for lunch Friday and Saturday and dinner Thursday to Saturday so you’ll want to get in quick. Huge fans of this place.
Where: 1/2527 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Little Mermaid
There’s a lot to be said about infusing a space with tropical, feel-good vibes and Little Mermaid, on the highway, has done exactly that. Decked out with plenty of greenery, a laidback beachy feel, and tons of space for all your friends this is the place to be. The bar and restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which more often than not, is overflowing with folks having the time of their lives as the sun goes down. Little Mermaid has earned the love of locals for their tasty eats, creative cocktails, and generally cool aesthetic – so get there now.
Where: 2557 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

The Borrowed Nursery
Never before has a plant nursery gained such a cult-like following so quickly (or perhaps ever). The Borrowed Nursery draws plant lovers and photographers in droves due to its Instagram-worthy aesthetics and bespoke greenery. While you can certainly purchase the potted petals for your humble abode, you may also like to hire them for an event (which is quite the concept if you ask us). The stunning space also hosts workshops and yoga classes amongst the leafy greens but if that’s not your jam at least pop in for some healthy retail therapy and an Insta-snap.
Where: 42-44 Cronulla Ave, Mermaid Beach

The Borrowed Nursery (image supplied)

Lupo
Italian food is one of life’s greatest pleasures and particularly when it comes from Mermaid’s Lupo. Tucked away in the little complex that’s also home to Bonita Bonita, Lupo’s menu is one you’ll never forget. It’s a quiet, laidback space, low-lit & moody, and did we mention one of the very best spots for drinking incredible cocktails and filling your belly with goodness.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Zeppelin Barbers
This is one for the fellas… Zeppelin Barbers is the best on the Coast if the man in your life is looking for a fresh cut. Jase and the team are absolute weapons with the scissors and they deliver quality chat and a frosty beer while they’re at it. Good vibes always.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Mermaid Beach Surf Club
How good are surf clubs? Mermaid’s is right on the ocean with uninterrupted views, delicious meals that will fill you right up, and of course, a sweet selection of drinks to sip on. It’s an amazing spot to watch the sun go down with the crew and always provides a quality atmosphere with a buzz of people.
Where: 172 Hedges Ave, Mermaid Beach

Soak Bathhouse
It only opened recently but already Soak Bathhouse has become a firm favourite amongst those who are a little bit partial to some rest and relaxation in a beautiful environment (so everyone). It’s a stunning oasis featuring a magnesium pool, massage rooms, a sauna, spas, and a cold plunge pool. Plus you can get an LED facial and just generally kick your feet up and chill – tried and tested by us and we highly recommend it.
Where: 2532 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Soak Bathhouse
Soak Bathhouse (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

The Glenelg Public House
Serving up premium steak and boutique wine (among other delicious things), The Glenelg Public House is an absolute must-visit in Mermaid Beach and just generally on the Gold Coast. If for some reason you’re not into steak, everything on the menu is top-notch and they have a selection of some of the best sides we’ve ever sampled. There are also small plate options and it’s all mind-blowing. We vouch for the gnocchi. Just. Trust. Us.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Bonita Bonita
Mexican eats at their absolute finest can be found at Bonita Bonita. Taco Thursdays are a favourite amongst the locals and there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options should that be your thing. Right next door is Bon Bon Bar so you should also head in there for bulk margaritas before sampling all of the epic eats on offer.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Mermaid Beach Bowls Club
Barefoot bowls is never not a fun time and so, there’s plenty of fun to be had at Mermaid Beach Bowls Club. Round up the crew on a Sunday afternoon for bulk beers and a little ball throwing (bowling) and then venture onto one of the many eateries (like those listed above) to round out the night.
Where: 2418 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Surely we have convinced you that Mermaid Beach is the place to be by now?

Words by Kirra Smith.

Bonita Bonita Flat Lay
Bonita Bonita (image supplied)

The Undercurrent

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