A Florist’s Japanese Inspired Home in Mullumbimby

Images by Amelia Fullarton

This week we visit Azzmin Rayment, the lovely co-founder of Braer Studio a space for beautiful flowers and objects of distinction in Byron Bay. Braer’s practice finds its foundation in the concept of ‘Slow flowers’, a more sustainable way for those that deal in blooms to work by championing local, seasonal florals. Knowing this, we were not surprised to find that Azzmin’s family home, which she built with her partner Tim, follows similar principles by incorporating elements of sustainable and vernacular architecture as well as a quiet consideration inspired by Japanese design. We spoke to Azzmin about creating this special home, family life in Mullumbimby as well as the growth and next evolution of Braer. 

“We built our home and have lived here for just a bit over a year now. I really love our little home, it's all that we need and that’s how we intended it to be. I love to sit in the sun having coffee in the morning with the big doors open, it's really special to have friends over for lunch here too. My favourite part is our cedar bath downstairs. I adore having a long steamy bath in the dark, especially in the rain. It feels very luxurious being able to have an “outdoor” bath in our little suburban home garden.”

“The build took so much longer than we anticipated, as I hear it always does. We bought the land in 2016 and started the design process not too long afterwards. Tim and I found our architect Zana Wright through mutual friends. Zana’s passion for creating humble and beautiful homes combined with functionality is what we admire so much about her style, as well as our shared desire to include local materials in our home. We spent a lot of revisions trying to cut down on materials out of necessity for our budget but also to reduce the environmental impact of our build. This is how the north facing sloped roof came about, to cut down on materials and to allow us the greatest solar orientation.”

“We moved to an apartment above a shop in downtown Lismore thinking we would be renting there for 6 months to a year while we built but ended up being there almost 4 years! Mullumbimby is on a floodplain and we wanted to maximise garden space so we decided to go as tall as possible. We had some challenges with council and we finally found Verdecon, our builders and began the build in late 2019. Verdecon were wonderful to work with, they are excited as us about sustainable building and living. We feel so lucky to have found them and can feel the care they put into every detail of our home.”

100% linen by IN BED at home with Azzmin Rayment of Braer Studio.

Azzmin’s bed is dressed in an IN BED 100% linen flat sheet, fitted sheet and pillowslips in dove grey with a duvet cover and extra pillowslips in mist.

“We really wanted to live in something that isn’t too excessive but is made from quality materials, is warm and everything in it is just enough. My partner Tim and I are very inspired by Japanese and Scandanavian design and the quietness you feel with ‘less is more’. Tim lived in Japan for a year and I have always been a ‘Japanophile’. I also really wanted to instill a different way of living whilst raising my boys. They purposely share a room (for now) and we don't have a TV. We made the house smaller on the block so we have some room for a veggie patch and for our garden to grow. It feels like an idyllic way to grow up here, playing in the laneway and riding bikes with friends.”

We really wanted to live in something that isn’t too excessive but is made from quality materials, is warm and everything in it is just enough.

Azzmin’s home is filled with a collection of special objects gathered over the years, passed down through generations and refined during moves.

“I love my dad’s earthenware vase he made at Uni in the late 80’s. We have used it a lot for flower arrangements for Braer and it got a crack in it so I had a local ceramicist kintsugi the crack and now it is retired in my bedroom. Kintsugi is a japanese traditional repairing broken earthware with gold so the cracks are beautified, celebrating the object’s history.  Tim has quite a substantial collection of books. We had to cull a lot to move in here so the ones that made the cut are pretty special.”

“I have a few really special works we have featured at Braer over the years that I decided I needed to keep for myself. It is special to me that I get to know the artists we work with and their process and craft.  I’m so excited to work with them again soon. I reached out to Kenny from Studio Kyss years ago and we stocked a few of his works at Braer. I was then able to make flowers for his wedding a few years down the track. My Studio Kyss brass octagonal vase often lives on my kitchen bench with a stem of something special or fragrant. And we commissioned Kenny to create our front door knob which makes me happy everytime I open our door. I also adore my Relik bonsai I recently acquired and my beautiful Softedge Ewer jug that feels very fun to serve water from at a dinner party!”

“[My business partner] Georgia and I found each other on a freelance flower job for another florist. I started stalking her on instagram and found out we were the first people to be using #slowflowersaustralia hashtag. With our shared passion for making art we decided to get our first studio in late 2016 after only knowing each other for 2 weeks! We have learned so much from this business. I believe if we weren’t so naive about how much work it would be we never would have started! Having each other for company throughout the high’s and the low’s of business and the late night event-prep-delerium is the best thing ever though. George is such a great person to do this all with and floristry really is a team sport.”

“My work at Braer really satisfies me in so many ways. I am trying to re-frame my thinking to enjoy even the most mundane tasks, like washing smelly buckets. When I’m not physically working on Braer I am often thinking about our business anyway, texting Georgia about flowers and dreaming up installations, collaborations or new products. Our favourite work days which feel like off days are when we get to visit a few local living legends who let us pick from their gardens, we get to hear all about their favourites and their stories, and drive the work van home with great big smiles.”

“We have recently made plans to expand our studio at Soko Space and we will be offering more retail flowers, a considered range of homewares and objects of function and beauty. This is all happening really soon and we promise to share when we start offering workshop’s again too.”

Azzmin’s table is dressed with IN BED 100% linen napkins in white.

“The Slow Flower term started in America where they have created some amazing awareness around the importance of buying local as an extension of the Slow Food and Slow Living movement. Sadly, the vast majority of cut flowers bought and sold in Australia are grown overseas in places as far away as Israel, Kenya, and Colombia. The slow flower approach chooses only Australian-grown flowers which helps to limit flowers-miles and the other knock-on effects of imported products. We are so happy to see how much awareness has shifted over the past 5 years. We hope that by continuing to raise awareness about the seasonality of flowers, the importance of supporting locally grown flowers we can put pressure on an industry that can be very anti-nature.”

“Flowers are so magical to us and the farmers that grow them are our heroes. We are grateful to be able to enjoy fresh flowers and Australia grows so many beautiful varieties across our varying climates. We want to educate our customers about choosing flowers that support our local farmers and seeing the beauty in the unexpected, perhaps in that wonky shaped stem or imperfect leaf, or the more subtle varieties grown in smaller quantities. Buying local flowers means that you are investing in a future for flower growing in Australia, you’re using less plastic and packaging than imported flowers and you’re avoiding the fumigation chemicals that flowers are sprayed with to enter the country. Unless you see behind the scenes and look into it a little further, it's hard to imagine that flowers can come from such an unnatural place.”

Flowers are so magical to us and the farmers that grow them are our heroes.

We’re always interested to know the type of flower florists are most drawn to and often find it’s the hardest question to answer! In our interview Azzmin narrowed her selection down to a handful…

“Can I choose five? Flannel flowers have to be my number one... I love their soft petals that grow in a star shape and how they feel like winter pajamas. Spring has got to be peonies; Tree peonies are so special and make me want to move to a colder climate and I can’t get enough of all kinds of fragrant orchids, like oncidium, or vanda’s in Summer & Autumn.”

“I love living in Mullum, I especially notice it when I come home from a trip somewhere. I love that there are all kinds of people that are attracted to the way of life here and the wonderful weirdness of it all. I was born in Mullumbimby and it holds a lot of fond memories for me. It feels precious that my sons can grow up and be themselves here too. We love walking the dog down to get something delicious from Baker and Daughters for breakfast before school. In summer, we try to catch every high tide at Brunswick Head’s and jump in the river. It’s getting a bit cold to swim now but we are loving Rocco Ramen and Sake bar in Bruns too, just don't eat there with a white shirt on!”

“My favourite things to do when I’m not working include sleeping in, drinking coffee in the sun, tending to my garden and visiting the local nursery for new plants, having a really long bath, practicing Sogetsu Ikebana at home with things I have found in the garden or down my laneway, cooking for my family and friends.”