Pip Newell is the Founder and creative director of Curated Spaces, an online vintage and second hand marketplace that stemmed from a seemingly simple idea - to present and provide a collection of furniture that gives a broader audience access to beautiful, sustainable furniture that has been recycled from around the world. Established in Melbourne in 2017, Pip, alongside a community of other passionate sellers, has now expanded her business all over Australia while also collaborating with local Australian designers and artists to create bespoke collections for the brand.
For Pip, attention to the business side of her label is directly linked to helping leverage her community by shifting their purchasing decisions to minimise environmental impacts. We are so thrilled to share a little glimpse into the world of the aesthetic that is Curated Spaces.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I am the Creative Director of Curated Spaces which is a vintage furniture marketplace as well as a platform that represents the work of some local Australian designers/ artists. I work with over twenty dealers across Australia to bring weekly collections of vintage furniture to our audience. I spend my days coordinating with our team and selling partners, and managing the content for Instagram. It is fast paced and challenging but I love what I do.
How did Curated Spaces come about?
I have always been drawn to vintage furniture. The amazing retro sunken living rooms, large modular sofas and wonderful Italian stone coffee tables - they have always resonated with me entirely. While I was at university I started sourcing pieces for my own home and that is where Curated Spaces began. When my house was about to burst with furniture I began to sell pieces on Facebook groups. After a few months of this I decided to set up an Instagram account (this was in 2017). Back then selling vintage furniture via Instagram wasn't really a thing at all so it was a very slow start. Eventually, it started to catch on and grow to what it is today.
How many places have you lived and where is home for you now?
I grew up in Brisbane, then when I finished school I went overseas, living in Canada and London before moving to Melbourne where I settled down for around six years. I started Curated Spaces there and then moved up to the Sunshine Coast two years ago. It is such a beautiful part of the world to call home.
Tell us a bit about your sustainability practices…
One of the primary motivations for our work is saving beautiful furniture from landfill. We try to counteract the wasteful “fast furniture” industry, which encourages consumers to think of furniture as disposable – cheap, poor quality pieces designed only to last until the next trend appears to take its place and then turfed. We think good furniture should last a lifetime (in fact, several lifetimes), and affordable furniture shouldn’t come at an environmental cost. We are motivated by the thought that there is beautiful, second-hand furniture out there going to waste, while timber is being felled to create new pieces. Our aim is to increase the demand for second-hand furniture by showing our audience how to see second-hand pieces in a new light.
The culture of my business is...
Fun, approachable and creative. Everyone involved is passionate about furniture and loves what they do. There is a pretty great sense of community and support. I like to think we offer our sellers a place to pursue that passion and to connect with a large audience of design-savvy customers.
The most rewarding part of my job is…
I work with my two sisters which is incredibly rewarding. They have their own full time jobs but they came on board last year which was a really big moment. I also get to be creative and test out ideas with some amazing people which is amazing.
What are some of the main influences on your business?
What we always come back to is: be the business that we wished existed when we were trying to furnish our home all those years ago; a business that you’d be stoked to stumble across on a Sunday Instagram meander – curated, affordable and approachable. We’ve always wanted Curated Spaces to be a point of difference in the furniture industry – so in some ways we’re influenced by businesses that we don’t want to emulate, unfriendly, cliquey and expensive. We have an awesome circle of friends in the design community, so we’re always influenced by their ideas and interests. We want to make sure that as we grow we also remain a business that is accessible; that gives a broader audience access to beautiful, sustainable furniture.
Something I’ve learned the hard way is…
If I could go back in time I would tell my younger self to always back myself. I have often struggled with feeling too young, too inexperienced or not creative enough. I let that fill me with doubt and hold me back from opportunities. I now know that so many other people also feel the same doubt and have learnt the importance of nurturing your confidence- retrospect is a wonderful thing!
What is your favourite item?
Considering I am in the vintage furniture business it might come as a surprise that my most favorite ever find is an old jug. I found it by chance in a garage sale. The owner was downsizing to a retirement home, he was so lovely and so proud of his things. When I found the jug he told me the story of its origins and I just fell in love. The jug came from his late wife's family home in the countryside of Spain. They dug it up from the dirt on their property! I think it is the most precious and special thing I own. It's the story that I love the most about it. After ‘the jug’ my second love is most definitely chairs- I can't get enough of them. I own over forty of them!
What’s a must-have clothing item everyone should own?
Something that makes you feel like a boss. For me, right now it's this St. Agni suit. I think it's important to have something in your wardrobe that makes you feel confident and powerful. It doesn't matter if it's a suit, dress, skirt, pants etc.
When are you most inspired?
I haven't been able to pinpoint one set thing that makes me feel inspired every single time. Sometimes the most mundane thing can leave me feeling utterly inspired. Art, music and films are often a source of inspiration, so too is seeing creativity in others around me. I love watching people take one thing and turn it into something else.
What influences your personal style and home / lifestyle?
Balance is key for me. I love so many different styles so balancing them with each other is really important. I dress quite simply and my homes are always quite minimalist. I do really like pops of colours here and there but they need to be balanced out. I can't feel relaxed in a space if there is too much going on- the same is true for my personal style. I am also very influenced by comfort. I would never wear something that I didn't feel comfortable in, nor would I have a piece of furniture in my home that wasn't comfortable.
Words by Olivia McShane