Emma Griffin and Nick McGrath know a thing or 2 about memories, and how to make sure you can preserve them in a beautiful way. Based in Melbourne, with a Singapore store opening and a pop up store in Sydney, their business OnStone prints memories onto a stone surface with a timber frame, which has been restored following life as a fence or flooring. They re-purpose discarded fences at their farm in Cranbourne, Victoria, cast a reconstituted stone into it, cure it, then UV spray a fine art quality image onto the stone surface.
All of the timber is all intercepted from Landfill. “We work with locals and their fences. People are happy to deliver to our little farm, as they know the precious gems tucked away under the grey exteriors are fantastic Victorian hardwoods blessed with a lifetime of personality and character” explain the couple. “Everything we do is considered with the re-purposing and upcycling. You just need to look at our shop fit out to see our commitment”.
Who are you? Tell us about the people behind the business.
Emma and I are partners in life and business. We both came from the wine industry but with a passion for innovation, design and photography. It was with a large dose of serendipity, and potentially stupidity, we developed OnStone.
How did you start the business and what inspired you?
We were inspired by a Bill Henson photograph we could not see properly as it was behind glass. From this point onwards we became a little obsessed with not using glass. After a lot of time researching and searching we found the print technology that worked with our new stone and timber surface. That was the tricky part. To cut a (very) long story short we adapted the ancient art of fresco making and combined it with a picture framing and OnStone was born.
What made you fall in love with the idea?
We didn’t start this concept to make lots of money. We truly loved the idea of printing people’s converted memories and hearing their stories. Each piece of work and story is unique which is incredibly rewarding for us and the team. Each person we employ is excited to be part of what we do at OnStone. We all feel incredibly passionate about what we do for people.
Was there anything you didn’t love about it?
Splinters, spiders and the occasional snake. Also there is a hippo sized possum that watches us from the rafters of the shed. I think he’s eaten a fair bit of steroid induced chicken to get to that size!
What are your thoughts on sustainability and how is this part of your business and own home?
Sustainability is a rational concept to us and has always felt obvious. Using fewer resources, reuse materials, growing & catching your food – it is how the world once worked and we believe the environment would have thanked us for this! So when we started the business, being sustainable was a given. We wanted to make a product that was not just a ‘eco’ alternative but a better product that was also explicit in being, ‘green’, sustainable’ whatever you like to call it. You can tell that the materials are repurposed but it does not detract from the product but enhances it. They are unique not homogenised.
Do you have any tips for other people wanting to create a sustainable home?
We believe sustainability is like anything in life, it is all about making small changes that can contribute to a greater overall change. If you have room, grow your own food, always recycle, re-use packaging,.Be creative and try to give things a second life. Think about where the materials come from, who makes them, and always buy things based on quality not price. If it seems too cheap, there is always a reason. Try and fix things before throwing them out.
If you don’t know how to do these things naturally then ask for help – learn, reading blogs (like this one!), watch Youtube and then give it a go – there isn’t a shortage of information! One of the most important things we’re teaching our two children is all of the above. They are the future – if we don’t educate them then nothing will ever change
Biggest Challenge in setting up and running your business?
Probably balancing life – if you work for another company you can often walk away but when you own your own business, particularly with your life partner then you’re “all in” – this and having the capital – in a nutshell, its capital and time!
What do people say when they see your work?
People seem to really love it, particularly once they understand how it works. Once they touch and feel it they want all the photos they have in their homes to be OnStone – you just have to see the product to really understand how magical it is – it’s so smooth that people often think we have painted the images onto the stone! We wish!!
Do you recommend any particular materials, processes or ideas for people wanting to create a more sustainable and mindful home?
Always look at where things come from. People need to strip things back to find out what’s underneath and really think about it. Photos from OnStone that sit on your wall are a positive life story and great constant reminder that a sustainable life is possible. Pictures that remind you who you are and where you came from.
What do you do to relax and unwind at home?
We love cooking, podcasts and hanging out with our kids (particularly playing cards). We are a family that LOVE the footy (AFL) and our secret joy (although I guess its not anymore!) is bingeing on various TV series
Would you like to share a favourite piece of work?
Our most challenging piece was a giant polyptych of the late great Melbourne Footballer, Jim Stynes. It was 80+ pieces hung in diamond profile. Apart from that we love all the old photos we print for people.
A special favourite for me (Nick) is one of my dad-looking super stylish before I was born. I found it in an old shoebox and after some touching up we printed in a large 4-piece polyptych and I love it. I really love it.
You can find out more about how you can get your most precious memories transferred to OnStone via their website here It would make the perfect gift for someone you love on Valentine’s Day!
(this post is brought to you by the fabulous OnStone – if you would like to share your business, please get in touch)