Interview by:

New Norm Magazine



Melbourne, Australia


“Per Capita is a Design Studio that produces thoughtfully designed, well-crafted goods, that enable consumers to invest in the issues of our day.

Per Capita was founded by Jon (an industrial designer and architect) and Roxanne (a lawyer and human rights advocate), as a means to connect design and culture. Our mission is to create meaningful goods (products and apparel) that enhance everyday life while intersecting them with stories and discussions about people and culture. ” 

- Jon & Roxanne, the founders of Per Capita


Embracing slower living

Where are you from / call home?

Our studio is currently based in Melbourne, where Jon is from. Roxanne grew up in Singapore and has previously lived and worked in London and the Netherlands. 

What are some simple pleasures that you’ve rediscovered during the coronavirus pandemic?

Thankfully both of us are homebodies at heart, so we're embracing this season and trying to make the most of it. Spending more time at home has allowed us to find joy in having more time and space for some of the everyday routines which are normally rushed - such as cooking and exercising (and spending more time with our little dog Ace). We both also have hobbies that usually require lots of time (pottery, woodworking, playing music, writing, reading) so we've enjoyed having more time to delve into these things while at home.

How have you and your creative process changed?

We both draw a lot of inspiration from our travels, so not being able to travel has pushed us to dig deep to find inspiration in other ways - either through reading, meditation, photography, music, film, etc. Being at home has also allowed us more time to reflect on life priorities and reassess the functional and user aspects of our designs. A core part of the design process is the ability to be involved in the prototyping/sampling and production process. With some of our manufacturers being based overseas, the inability to visit them to touch, feel, and test materials and products has meant that we are relying a lot more on digital mediums.  

What are some of the things that have changed in your country as a result of the pandemic? What is the new normal?

The most prominent change to us is working-from-home. We see this as something that is likely to continue in the future; companies are seeing that employees can be efficient working from home, and people are enjoying the flexibility that it allows. We see this resulting in a shift of mindset in the future... urban sprawl (people spreading out throughout suburbia, rather than densely populating the city centre), technology (people embracing the power of technology to save travel time and make communication more efficient) and lifestyle (people eating at home more, entertaining more from within the home). The new normal will have positives and negatives, but overall we think this has been a good reset point for a lot of systems and structures that we have never questioned or taken the time to rethink before. 


Travel from home

What was your favourite destination and why?

Two travel destinations have played a key part in forming our philosophy for Per Capita. 

1. Japan - we have both travelled to Japan multiple times, and have always drawn a deep inspiration from their culture... the attention to detail, the integrity in their craft, their workmanship, and their simple way of living. 

2. Faroe Islands - this was our honeymoon destination, and also the birthplace of Per Capita. Being in a place so foreign (the culture, the food, the lifestyle) and so majestic (the landscape, the scenery, the atmosphere) inspired us to pursue something that we see as our life purpose, rather than just something to pay the bills. 

What are some of your most memorable moments during the trip?

While we were on our honeymoon in the Faroe Islands, we took a boat ride out to Mykines, a largely uninhabited island for a day trek. Mykines is connected to the main island through a singular boat route that runs only once a day. We completed our trek and returned to the port to find that due to rough weather conditions, the boat wasn't able to make its regular route. This meant that about 80 of us who had arrived in Mykines that morning were now stranded on an uninhabited island overnight, in intensely rough conditions (extreme wind, fog, and low temperatures), and with barely any food or water on us. The 3 locals on the island immediately gathered all 80 of us, divided us up into groups, and assigned us into empty homes (of locals who live off the island for most of the year). They pulled out every mattress and blanket they had and used what they had in their cupboards to make us all waffles. We still don't understand how they could possibly have housed and fed all of us but somehow, they did. It's a great story that speaks to the generosity of the human spirit and it's an experience that will always remain very dear to us. 

What does travel give you that everyday life doesn’t?

Travel allows us to experience and absorb new cultures. When we travel, we try to bypass the tourist routes and find experiences that reflect local living. Whether that's staying in smaller neighbourhoods outside of the big city, researching coffee shops and eateries that locals enjoy, or speaking to as many people as possible to learn about their way of life. Travel gives us the ability to have a greater sensibility and more empathy for other cultures. This in turn is always a starting point of inspiration for many of our ideas. 

You have an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours, where would you go?

New York City. New York holds a very special place in our hearts. We got married there, and we love the vibrance and rhythm that permeates through the city!