Written by: Brenda Pomponio
I meet Shane at the recent Melbourne Finders Keepers and struck up a lovely quick conversation about Afternoons with Albert that stayed with me the whole day. So I emailed Shane that very next Monday asking if I could interview him here for all of you to read about his business, but also to hear about this story. Afternoons with Albert is a beautiful story of a young boy who would spend is weekend afternoons with his Grandfather, often tinkering in the back shed fixing and inventing things. Now, Shane makes a cord roll of superior craftsmanship that was made out of necessity to solve a problem.
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One of the sweetest experiences in life is time spent with friends. The time is sweeter still when they are ridiculously talented photographers … like our friend @aimeejonesphoto, who recently took this shot in between a Christmas #negroni. Or 5. The Cord Roll in French Grey ✌🏼 /// Thanks for the shot Aimee. And the hangover.
Tell us about Afternoons With Albert and the cord roll? And what made you want to design a travel product?
As a child I spent Sunday afternoons with my grandfather (Albert) in his shed. He was an avid carpenter and tinkerer. I would pass him tools and do the small jobs, eventually graduating to making stuff of my own, with his guidance, for the family home. After the work was done we would retire to the garden and eat cake and drink tea, lovingly prepared by Nanna. This memory forms the basis for the name of the label.
After he passed, I was given all his tools, and set them up in a shed of my own. It was a place where I would go to get lost in ‘making’. I would dream up designs, then go create them. Seeing them come to life was amazing, and as a kid very liberating.
This background, coupled with my inquisitive nature means that I always have to know how something works – I am forever interested in the design of functional, utalitarian things.
When I became an international pilot for QANTAS at 25, I was suddenly exposed to an entire world of design (pun intended). Having the globe as inspiration, and a jet to access it all has only strengthened my interest and passion in the design space.
I have always loved music, and am often transported to another time and place when I hear a certain song. Entire periods of my life can be characterized by particular albums – my late 20’s were Hot Fuss by The Killers, and Sex on Fire by Kings Of Leon, for example.
One of my favorite things on earth is to get lost in a new city, listening to music … just walking around for hours, in and out of coffee shops, down lanes, talking to strangers.
But it struck me that I never remembered to take my charging cable – so my phone would always run flat before I was finished exploring. Even worse, stuffing my earphones into my pockets would always produce a horrible mess, and I found I was taking endless amounts of time untangling these things, when all I wanted to do was be in the moment and enjoy wherever I was.
So I guess I had a ‘there must be a better way’ moment, and begun experimenting. My creative process is incredibly authentic, in that it’s not forced – if I don’t like a design then I can’t workshop it. But when I do resonate with something, it becomes part of me, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I know I am ready to put the pen down and bring the tools out when I can see the design in my head in 3 dimensions, I can turn it around, up and down and inside out, and look at it from every angle – that’s when I know I’ve got something. The Cord Roll was born like this.
What was the hardest part in the design concept?
I find it hard to accept mediocrity, so the hardest part for me was finding the people who took as much care as I did in the making.
Your story is a very special part of your business. What is favourite memory you have with Albert that you like to share with your customers?
This is an easy memory to recall, and I will relate it in a story:
It’s Sunday morning, inky and quiet. Even the birds are smart enough to still be asleep. I pull on my socks and slide down the hallway. I switch on Top Gun, keeping the volume low and sitting close to the TV, so as not to wake Mum. I know all the lines off by heart anyway.
Eventually she finds me and starts her well-rehearsed speech on television and square eyes. I nod, but can see in her eyes she’s holding back a smile.
We pile into the car and make our way to Granddad Albert’s. I’m like a puppy that’s heard the word walk, wriggling in my seat, gazing out the window.
I hug mum tightly, jump out of the car and snake along the stone pavers to the shed where I’ll spend the afternoon.
As Granddad works, I watch closely and man the toolbox. His hands are worn and stained like the well loved workbench he’s made a lifetime of furniture on. We move slowly, considering every step in the process. When we come to a problem, we solve it. If I say “It can’t,” he questions “What if it could?”.
I tell Granddad I want to be a pilot when I grow up.
He turns to me, his face crinkling into a smile, eyes twinkling.
“So, where will you go?” he asks.
So, you are a Qantas pilot. Can you give all the kids (and adults!) out in our community the scope of what your job is like?
It’s really quite indescribable … so will relate again in the form of a story:
I tie up my shoelaces in Sydney and untie them in LA.
I fly my 747 through the velvet clouds, marveling at how they bend and transform as we slip through them. Over Nepal I eat breakfast. Down below snow capped mountains peak through the clouds like old men with white hair, waiting to meet their next adventurer.
I navigate us over oceans and alps, through yolk coloured sunsets, across imaginary borders and into far away places.
On land I soak up my surroundings. Tasting new flavours and trying new things. Friendly strangers give my insatiable curiosity a new perspective.
Tea in Morocco, beer on a cliff, discovering the perfect turquoise wave. This is what I call work. They say getting lost is the best way to find yourself. And the best way to get lost is to go somewhere new.
Favourite destinations (to fly to or to visit?)
All the destinations are all incredible for their own reason – both in terms of the cities themselves, and the routes we fly to get there … seeing the Antarctic icebergs on the African route, breakfast over the mountains of Afghanistan on the London Route, the Philippine islands on the way to Hong Kong, and the deep, frozen south coast of South America is unlike anything you can imagine.
I often answer this question by saying “If QANTAS made me pick one single destination to fly to for the rest of my career, it would be London. I love the familiarity of London, but mostly the fact that within 3 hours you can either be in Morocco drinking peppermint tea, or experiencing the freezing depths of St Petersburg in Russia”.
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