BackGround – Häna Brenecki

Meet the magnificent Wanda, handmade by Hana

Meet the magnificent Wanda, handmade by Hana

Internets – meet Häna Brenecki.

Häna is a designer, a musician, a traveller, a milliner, and a CAD monkey. If you are in the habit of hanging around any of the Adelaide live music venues which haven’t yet been transformed into car parking, then you may have seen Häna (and her friends – Ricochet Pete) playing around the place.

Anyhoo, Häna was kind enough to answer a few questions, providing us with the knowledge of a designer, tempered by the logic of a musician – which, I think we can agree, is the best kind of logic.

Happy almost Easter, bunny lovers.


Can you recall any situations or environments or objects or animals or people which/who have inspired you to create?

SO MANY!  I get inspired all the time by anything and everything.  Sometimes it’s some graffiti on a wall, or the colour of a cocktail at a bar or the tattoos on someone’s arm.  I take notice of everything around me and I constantly get ideas from my surroundings.  In terms of environments, number one would be the musical environment in which I live.  I spend most of my time around music, in bars, around other musicians and the like. Whether it’s the shape of a guitar or the big victory rolls in a girl’s hair, I seem to absorb it.  Also, having travelled to the USA and Mexico, Spain, and a few other places, the culture and landscape of these places in particular has changed my style a lot too.  People that inspire me – well it’s not so much other designers, but more just creative people I know who are doing well for themselves in their various fields.  They inspire me and prove that if you really want something, you can have it.

Do you have a set methodology for coming up with new ideas, or does your pure amazingness allow you to just happen upon them during the course of your day?

With my day job (design consultant) my ideas start with a lot of research, then basic ideation, sometimes sketching, and ideas usually eventuate from there.  With my jewellery designs – they always start with sketches and a lot of reference pictures. Sometimes in my lunch break at work I just sit in the lunch room sketching pirate ships or pistols or giant squids.  They may not always be relevant, but it seems to keep my imagination pretty active and keeps my drawing skills up which I don’t get to use that often anymore.

What do you do (or where you go) to open your mind?

To really open my mind, I go for a walk/ bike ride sometimes to the beach.  To clear my mind after work, I generally sit down and play guitar/ banjo and sing for about half an hour before I do anything else, it really helps to de-stress and relax after sometimes dealing with difficult clients or jobs during the day.

Do you carry a notebook, or voice recorder, or camera (actually, a phone can do all those things…) wherever you go?

I use my phone for all those things, and frequently.  I love smart phones!


Do you remember anything from your first job hunt: feelings, interviews, resume, method of contact…

Well first off I remember how little there was out there to apply for.  I ended up applying for a non-design job at the company I currently work for, knowing that they had a design department. I tailored my resume to apply to the particular job I was applying for but also making it very clear I had other skills that applied to all the other departments of the company to show them I would be worth hiring. When I got the interview they ended up hiring me as a design consultant.  The one thing I remember thinking about going into the interview was ‘I bet the first thing they will notice is my hair’.  I had mango orange hair at the time.  Funnily enough that is what my boss remembers from the initial interview as well.

What would you suggest is necessary for a successful design/arts job hunt?

Don’t be picky.  Look at every type of design, not just jobs that would be your dream job.

How do you execute a great job interview?

RESEARCH.  Research the company you are applying to work at.  Learn everything you can about them.  Look up some standard interview questions and practice your answers. If you are unprepared it shows.

How much sleep is enough sleep?

I am definitely not the right person to ask this question to as I have a pretty full on lifestyle outside of work.  I can function on about 5-6 hours a night and that is enough for me.  I just re-read that and it sounds like I’m some sort of escort.  No no, I play in a few bands and do some solo stuff too so I’m generally not home, like ever. My room is really messy.

Do you embrace new technologies in your work?

Well we got some i-pads that I had to learn how to ‘sync’ so the consultants could use them when meeting with clients.  I really dislike i-tunes.

Have you won any awards? – Are awards ceremonies fun?

No, but I have been a guest at some award ceremonies.  The most recent one was the Sport SA awards at the Entertainment Centre.  I very much liked this because it was black tie so we got to get all dressed up then get really really drunk for free.  There were some people off the TV presenting awards too, I don’t remember their names because the waiter kept refilling my drink every 5 mins.  That waiters name was John.  He was a real good guy.

What are some of the most powerful/memorable lessons you have learned on the job?

Triple check everything.  Even if you think you have checked it, check it again.  The cost of messing up a design can sometimes be… quite large and your boss will not be happy.

You learn from your mistakes pretty quickly.  Tolerance is also important, don’t expect you are going to work with people that have the same ethics as you, it is unlikely.  Check who you are sending that email to when it is about a difficult client so that you don’t send it to the client (did not happen to me, but someone else).  And lastly having the skills to photoshop people’s heads onto other people’s bodies makes you friends very quickly.


What are some of the most powerful/memorable lessons you learned while studying?

How well you can draw or model something in Solidworks doesn’t always mean you are the best designer, or that you will get a job afterwards.  Personality and your relationship with your teachers/ lecturers can make a difference to your grades.  Youtube is really good timewaster/entertainer whilst studying.  Me goreng will satisfy your hunger and only cost you 60c.  Showers/deodorant are not a priority to everyone when an assignment is due.

What was missing in the ID course that turned out to be important in your professional design career?

How to use AutoCAD.  I only say that cos it’s what I use everyday.

Do you learn best by doing, seeing, reading, hearing, or a mixture of some, or all of them?

Seeing and hearing from someone who doesn’t have a monotone voice.  Also doing helps you remember what you saw/ heard.  I guess a combination of everything.

If you could go back in time (forget all the other super-amazing things you could do, like meet Marie Curie, or Jules Vern, or be witness to the building of the pyramids by aliens), would you approach your design degree differently?

I would like to say yes, but I probably wouldn’t.  That is mainly because I don’t live design.  I have a life outside of the design world which is sometimes why I left some assignments til the last minute cos I was having too much fun.  I could say ‘yes, if I went back I would work so much harder and put in so much more effort,’ but when It comes down to it, I got a design job straight out of uni and a lot of other people didn’t. How many people can say that?


What was the greatest animated series ever made?

What. The. Fuck.  How can I pick one?  I bet most people will say the Simpsons.  Yes I am a fan of course but I grew up with Ren and Stimpy so I would have to say that.  Damn you for making me pick one..

What are you listening to?

Right at this second I’m listening to Janis Joplin.  Today is Monday which means it’s Motown Monday which means lots of soulful tunes all day.  Tuesday is chilled out Tuesday, Wednesday is 80s, Thursday is rock (includes 60s rock n roll to glam rock to metal to punk etc), Friday is 90s Friday – an office favourite as it has everything bad and good from Stone Temple Pilots to Britney to Nirvana, to Five. No holding back.  I am the office DJ.

What are you reading?

A text message from the airconditioner fixer guy telling me he will fix the dodgy job our landlord’s ‘mate’ put in, which leaked through the ceiling in my room.

If you had the space, would you keep a unicorn as a pet/housemate?

If it was a Shetland pony unicorn then yes.  A normal sized unicorn would be too big and after seeing Cabin in the woods I’m fearful that one might suffer death by unicorn.

And, finally – is there anything I missed out, something which you feel is important in the search for artistic and design-y excellence?

Well you didn’t ask me what the best thing was that I have so far designed. That would be my Melbourne cup fascinator- fashioned out of duct tape, grass, some plastic flowers, chocolate éclair wrappers and a small plastic Chihuahua.

Thanks a bunch, Häna!

Hope and bunnies,



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