For any artisan there’s an acknowledgment of the craft as something much more than a trade – there is an intimate relationship between them, the products and the tools used to create unique and beautiful finishes.
Rockcote artisan Ronny Helou began his creative journey with a Rockcote training workshop, honed his skills on the job and went on to set up his firm, Creative Wall Solutions, which takes up projects for a range of clients. In this interview, he talks about his journey as a Rockcote artisan, the therapeutic effects of working with natural materials, his favourite Rockcote materials and future trends in wall finishes.
Rockcote: How long have you been a Rockcote artisan?
Ronny Helou: I don’t know the exact year but I attended the first ever Rockcote training workshop that was held in Sydney at TAFE.
What did the artisan training involve?
There were a few components to the course. There was a theory component, which was really insightful and then an introduction to the Rockcote materials.
We also did a practical learning day that allowed us to work with and experiment with the products.
Had you always been interested in learning a skilled trade?
In 2003 I started working with my brother-in-law who is a renderer. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed working with my hands. I also became passionate about perfecting my skills and getting the best possible outcome for the client. From there, I decided to set up Creative Wall Solutions in 2005 and have been working to perfect my skills ever since.
Does working with Rockcote natural materials bring a sense of wellbeing?
Yes, there is certainly something therapeutic about working with natural materials. At Creative Wall Solutions, we often refer to what we do as art rather than a trade – there is a real sense of creativity – creating environments that inspire people’s senses and set the mood.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
It would have to be Rockcote Marrakesh. I remember the first time I travelled to Morocco and fell in love with the riads in Marrakesh. Now I get to use this versatile product to create stunning spaces in people’s homes.
Which are your favourite projects to date?
From a commercial perspective, Bert’s Bar and Brasserie in Newport is a favourite. Working with a team of designers and stylists to set the tone and theme was a really rewarding experience.
What next for Creative Wall Solutions?
At Creative Wall Solutions, we will continue to remain focused on the protection and sustainability of quality workmanship. We see a lot of work out there that doesn’t really live up to what a true artisan strives for and we really want to ensure that we work to protect the artisan trade.
Which trends do you see influencing wall finishes in 2020?
Sustainable living is certainly the trend at present, so I see the demand for natural clay finishes, such as Rockcote Clay Décor really taking off this year. It’s great because it’s the kind of work we love doing!