12th August, 2020.
Curated Spaces is just as its name suggests, a curation of covetable vintage furniture that defines and distinguishes space. Conceived as a side project, it has grown exponentially to cement itself as a preeminent digital catalogue of vintage furniture icons and timeless beauties. We sat down with Director, Pip Newell, to discuss the evolution of the brand she runs collaboratively with her two sisters, and its approach to design, procurement and e-commerce.
Open Journal | How and why did Curated Spaces begin?
Pip Newell | Curated Spaces officially started in June, 2017 on Instagram. It began as a side hobby of mine while I was at university. I lived in this beautiful big share house in Northcote, Melbourne and I started sourcing vintage furniture as a way to fill the space back in 2015. That is where it all really began. I enjoyed sourcing special vintage pieces so much I started doing it for friends, and then for the general public. I found sourcing and selling vintage furniture was such a beautiful way to decorate your space sustainably and, on a budget,- it’s hard to not be drawn to it. With all the beautiful pre-loved pieces available it feels so unnecessary to buy everything brand new for your home. It is also a way to make sure your space is uniquely yours.
Three years on and Curated Spaces has grown into a marketplace with over 20 selling partners sourcing furniture from across Australia. My two sisters, Anna and Bella have come on board and are running the business with me which is pretty amazing considering where it all started!
Pip’s bedroom in her Northcote share house she lived in when Curated Spaces was first conceived.
OJ | How do you source your incredible pieces?
PN | There is honestly no secret to it other than to search across as many platforms as you can, keeping your scope large and wide. There are so many different platforms you can explore to find beautiful vintage or preloved pieces. Online, in shops or at auction houses are the main options. I like to cover as much ground as possible. One thing I have learnt over the years is that the really special pieces can pop up anywhere so it’s best to broaden your scope when searching for special vintage pieces. I personally like to find pieces in vintage stores and in auction houses. But online has some great pieces too. I have made quite a few connections with people who specialise in sourcing certain styles of vintage furniture so that has worked for me.
For someone wanting to source their own pieces my advice would be to expand your search across your entire state and maybe the neighbouring ones too. If you find the perfect pieces, it’s often worth having it couriered to you. I would also say to make sure you train your eye to look for the potential in pieces. They might not always look amazing in the photos or the way they have been styled by their previous owners. Remembering that some of the best pieces might not immediately jump out at you is important. Look for potential not perfection!
OJ | You have an amazingly comprehensive digital/social platform that cohesively integrates an online store with an e-commerce enabled Instagram and a first-in-best-dressed sales system. How did you establish this? Was it modelled off another platform you had seen, or has it been a bit of trial and error???
PN | Thank you! Our buying and selling process has been in a constant state of evolution. I actually began selling items through Facebook back in 2015, before establishing Curated Spaces on Instagram in 2017. Up until recently, we operated a system of buying only through Instagram comments. However, as volumes increased this became challenging to manage so we’ve recently made the switch to transacting via our newly established website which facilitates online payments. Moving sales over to the website has made life a lot easier, but it certainly can’t replace Instagram. It is such an important platform for us to connect with our followers, so we preview and promote the items we have for sale there daily.
It has definitely been a matter of trial and error to refine the processes we have in place. Being a marketplace made up of numerous sellers in different locations makes the buying and selling process more complicated than a normal online store. There are actually some exciting developments related to this in the pipeline, so you can expect to see some big changes to the way the website runs in the coming months.
OJ | Can you tell us a little about you and anyone else behind Curated Spaces and your own brand ‘Bread With Butter?’
PN | We are a business run by three sisters! This year my two sisters officially joined the business as Directors which has been fantastic. We each come from totally different career backgrounds and have different roles within the business. We use our different skill sets to play to our strengths which I think is why it works so well. Annelise is the eldest and has spent the last 20 years working in the corporate world both here and overseas and now lives in the Southern Highlands of NSW with her young family working on the development side of the business. Isabella is a Corporate Lawyer, currently based in London and I am on the Sunshine Coast, QLD. I have always come from a creative background so at the moment I focus on running the day to day of CS and developing what’s next for CS such as our own collection of furniture coming out soon.
The Bread with Butter Collection is something we’re really proud of. It’s a collaboration with long-time friends Jack and Mark Fearon who are very talented steel fabricators. We were delighted to be their exclusive sales conduit and are really proud to be able to bring such a unique, Australian made range of beautiful furniture to our followers.
OJ | What’s next for Curated Spaces?
PN | So many things!
First and foremost, we want to continue to bring more and more amazing one-off vintage pieces to our audience. So, we will continue to expand and grow our selling partners and our offering of furniture to meet demand. We’re also working on our own furniture and homewares range; inspired by the pieces our customers tell us over and over again that they love. We will also explore additional collaborations with one-off makers of amazing pieces (like the Fearon brothers).
Interview compiled by Tiffany Jade
Images courtesy of Curated Spaces