Heart-to-Heart: With Imogen Roberts

Heart-to-Heart: With Imogen Roberts

Based on the Surf Coast, Imogen (Imo for short) and her husband Al, run furniture and lifestyle brand AL + IMO. Together they design and build the most INCREDIBLE custom timber furniture (honestly, their genius has to be seen to be believed).
With the creation of beautiful bed frames their thing and making beautiful bed linen kinda our thing, obviously, we knew we'd be the very best of friends. Having recently built their dream home, we just had to drop round for a stickybeak at AL + IMO’s handiwork in person. And let me tell you this house tour does not disappoint… get ready to pick your jaw up off the floor – this one is a doozy.

Images capture by Imogen Roberts. 

SleepwearShop this look here.

Who are you and what do you do?

Hello! My name is Imogen, I am a Creative / Designer based down on the Surf Coast of VIC in Torquay. I am the mother of two beautiful girls Marigold ‘Goldie’ (almost 3 years) and (Daisy 8 months). My husband Al and I run our own company AL + IMO which is a furniture and lifestyle brand. We design and build custom timber furniture predominantly timber beds with storage in the bases, alongside this, we produce DIY & lifestyle content.


Shop this look here.

What did you want to be growing up? And, did you follow the career trajectory you always thought you would?

Growing up I always wanted to be a Fashion Designer, from age 8 years I would ride my bike down to the beach to this little shop that made swimwear (I grew up in Cairns) and they would give me bags of lycra fabric scraps. I’d hang the loaded bags off each handlebar, ride home, and make clothes for the kids who lived on my street. During high school, I continued to design and make clothes entering competitions. I moved to Melbourne when I was 18 and completed my Bachelor of Design, Majoring in Fashion. Throughout my degree, I learned so much more than pattern-making and sewing. We covered design communication, marketing, styling, and design theory, and although I only worked briefly in the fashion industry, I feel like I use my degree daily. I don’t think I’ve closed the book on fashion though, I dream of designing a collection, and whether that’s on my own or in collaboration with someone I’m not sure.

Shop this look here.

What do you love most about your job and what do you dislike about it (if anything)?

I love the creative freedom of having our own business and being able to action our ideas without having to get permission from someone higher up. I love being able to share our story with our own voice and the flexibility of shaking up what we do when we want to try something new. Both Al and I have always had a clear vision of the life we want to create for ourselves and creating AL + IMO has provided us a vehicle to get there. We have some super exciting projects in the works so at the time of writing this, I LOVE my job... however, there are times when the balance is way off and work can feel consuming. We’ve been in business for 8 years now so I know these are just the ebbs and flows of life.

Shop these pieces here.

This will be a hard question I’m sure... but what is your favourite piece of furniture you’ve created so far?

This is a hard question, I really love our Low Drawer Bed with Extended Headboard & Floating Side Tables... I feel like it’s such a statement piece that fills a room. I also love the Bookshelf Ledge Bed we designed for Phoebe and Chris – it sits so beautifully in their home. My favourite piece of furniture we have in our home is the cot we designed and made when I was pregnant with Goldie which has now been handed down to Daisy. Working alongside Al to build it full-term pregnant was the last time we were truly alone together so I cherish that time *tearing up writing this*.

Tell us about the process of creating one of your beautiful custom-made pieces of furniture from start to finish!

We really like our furniture to be purpose-driven so when we start the design process with our clients we start with functionality and work out how to design a bed that suits their lifestyle needs and the space it will live in. Al will usually do a quick hand sketch with measurements and then I turn that into a scaled sketch so that our clients can get a clear idea of the details. We have a few different Australian hardwood timber options to choose from and once the details are confirmed Al will work on the construction. We try to photograph all of our new jobs to add to our online catalogue which is where our relationship with Sage x Clare has blossomed. Having access to such beautiful textiles to style with our furniture is a dream come true and makes my life a whole lot easier! I photograph our pieces in our home then edit and add the images online. Al delivers and installs beds within Victoria and for interstate orders, we work with a freight company.

Shop all Paloma cushions here.

What’s it like working with your husband? What does the average day look like for you both?

We wake up at 6am, Al makes us a coffee and the girls pile into our bed for cuddles. Twice a week I go to the gym for a session with my personal trainer, during this time Al does the girls breakfast and gets them ready for daycare. We drop them off and then come home, on Monday mornings we have a meeting where we go over our schedule – business and home life... we have an agenda we follow so we don’t get side-tracked haha. On days when we’re not doing photoshoots, we’ll split - he goes into the workshop and I go into my studio. Al will spend the day making furniture and I will likely be working on producing content and doing business admin. We try to take our coffee and lunch breaks together where we’ll usually eat something that we meal-prepped over the weekend. We both love food and cooking. In the afternoon we pick the girls up from daycare and take our dog Edwina for a run at the park or to the beach. Evenings we play at home, listen to music and cook dinner, we alternate nights between eating with the girls and waiting till after they’ve gone to bed. Al does bathtime with the girls while I clean up the kitchen and then we do story-time. After the girls are in bed Al and I get to hang out which is really nice. Sometimes we’ll have a bath, have a cup of tea, or drop the blind in our bedroom and watch our favourite show on our projector. I dream feed Daisy around 10pm and then it is lights out. On a perfect day, both girls sleep through the night!

Shop new bathe here.

Your photography + video skills are on fire Imo! What are your biggest social media tips for business owners + people in the content creation space?

I think the most successful ‘content’ creation is when you communicate an idea clearly and the viewer leaves either inspired, informed, entertained, or better – all of the above.

So I would say start with the question: what am I trying to achieve here and who is it for? I often see business owners sharing content that is more geared towards their peers than their customers and people in industries all posting the exact same (sorry... boring) content.

Think about what your message is, who it’s for and then how you can share it in a way that’s different from your peers in a way that inspires, informs and entertains all in one. Content is ‘story-telling’ in a visual format so keep that in mind when you’re planning your content.

My next piece of advice is to bring yourself into the content and make it personal. All of the brands I really admire and connect with are the ones that show face. Adding your personality and telling your story invites your audience into your world and creates a human connection. If you’re afraid of getting in front of a camera, practice…I promise it gets easier. Al and I challenged ourselves to start sharing content where we talk to the camera and I can tell you nothing makes you improve faster than watching them back. We also did a few public speaking classes which really helped us with how to look and act more naturally in front of the camera... so if you wanted to take content creation more seriously you could look into doing that. Last note, experiment with different ideas and have fun!

How would you describe your taste in interiors and where did this sense of style come from?

I have always been a maximalist, I adore bold colours, prints and textures... I remember studying at fashion school and now working in the industry and admiring minimalists who could have so much restraint, but I just can’t help myself when presented with options I will always lean into colour. I really love unexpected and bold choices that make you stop. Whatever the size of the project, whether it’s a photoshoot or recently our house build. I start with finding inspiration and studying what it is that links the images together. I’m always taking or saving photos of things I like. From here I start with the base materials (which for us is usually a type of Australian hardwood), usually, art comes next which inspires the colours of furnishings and textiles. I always make my decisions from my gut and listen to my intuition.

You recently built your dream home, tell us about the process of this! Is it everything you dreamed of?

Forever both Al and I dreamt of building our own home. ‘The Good Day House’ is a family home in Torquay and was an opportunity for us to show the world what we could do. The house is very much a carpenter's home, it’s full of timber. All of the bedrooms off the main living area are painted with really bold colours. Our bedroom is a lovely deep red/pink clay colour which matches the concrete basin in the bathroom. We wanted to create the feeling of staying in a luxury hotel and our bedroom truly feels like a warm hug. The bathrooms are a mix of timber and microcement – I just wanted the feeling of a day spa in our house which I think we’ve achieved. The girl’s bedrooms are really colourful too, I guess we just wanted to create a house that is FUN and inspires creativity. Where each room has its own personality.

Shop sleepwear here.

Do you have any dos and don'ts for people building or people looking to build their home? Give us all the wisdom please!

Think about what you actually need as a family to function. I think we’re conditioned in Australia to think bigger is better which I don’t think is true... bigger means more cleaning! There are so many ways to incorporate clever design to build multi-purpose spaces. Whether you're building, renovating or styling your home, ditch trends and just do what you really love then fill it with things that you love that hold a special place in your heart. If you’re not confident in making those big design decisions, hire an Architect and Interior Designer who has a style you really love and then trust them to guide you to your dream home. Your house is your sanctuary and I truly believe that your environment plays such an important part of your wellbeing.

What are you loving from the new Paloma collection? Pick your top 3 designs!

I couldn’t narrow it down to 3, so here’s 5 – sorry-not-sorry!

1. Anything in the Benita linen print, it’s absolutely gorgeous. It gave me 70’s nostalgia without feeling kitsch. We used the European pillowcases on our rocking chair and when I was wearing the robe I was feeling very Stevie Nicks, so much so I listened to Fleetwood Mac the rest of the afternoon.

2. Maricela Beni Rug in Cosmos – this took me by surprise. I never envisioned having a shag rug in our lounge room but when I put it in *gasp* I realised it was the thing I didn’t know I needed in my life. The check, the colours, the shag – I’m obsessed.

3. I loved all of the robes but I particularly loved the Alexa Cotton Robe in Lapis. Wearing it made me feel like I was at a very bouchée day spa. I like the idea of stepping out of the shower, drying off and wearing crisp cotton.

4. Guila Alexa Coverlet – we have a king-sized bed so I really like the bedcovers that Sage x Clare do as I feel like it breaks up the fullness of a quilt and provides so much versatility. They’re reversible so you can flip it and fold down the top half... then in summer you can use it with just a top sheet and in winter you can layer it up over your quilt. I picked this particular one because I really loved the prints. One side gives vintage Japanese kimono and then the other side reminds me of a luxury hotel in Havana Cuba filled with palm trees and people smoking cigars. I think why I liked this bedcover so much is that it transported me to another world - and I think that’s what good design does, it’s a form of escapism.

5. Pepita Floral Cushion – I chose this one because I love flowers (which is obvious with Marigold & Daisy as my daughter’s names). I love the brown and blue combination and it’s like a little artwork... but one you can put on your couch.

Shop these pieces here.

Lastly, what makes you happy? When do you feel the most relaxed and content? 

I’m my happiest when I’m coming up with a concept and bringing it to life. I love dreaming up an idea, then figuring out how to execute it, then physically doing the work, documenting it, sharing it, enjoying it, and reflecting on it. I find my flow state when I am smack-bang in the middle of a creative project.
That said, I sometimes get a minute where both girls are sleepy and I get a calm and relaxing snuggle, they’re few and far between but when I get it I close my eyes and cherish that fleeting moment! 

Shop the Paloma (Chapter 1) collection here.

You can find the Al + Imo website here.

And follow their journey on Instagram here.

With a whole lotta love xx  

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