As part of my new ‘considered home’ home series, I chat to Lorraine Aaron, the owner of online boutique interiors shop – Curious Egg. Curious Egg has a wonderful moody boho vibe about it, think dark interiors, natural objects and luxe finds. I am lusting after the lassi cups and the magnetic feathers!
Lorraine has kindly agreed to a little interview – as I know you would love to know a little more about her….
I’m Lorraine Aaron, co owner and creative director at Curious Egg interior and lifestyle store. I set up Curious Egg at the end of 2015 with the help of my husband Roddy. We both share an interest in travel and finding special and interesting things along the way. My background is in visual art, I trained as a sculptor and spent many years working to commission making large scale pieces for public places and teaching contemporary visual arts practice. Having worked alongside architects and designers, I found a real interest in interiors and buildings and how along with art, these can affect the way we live positively. Curious Egg is a place where art, interiors and wellbeing can come together, we offer a handpicked selection of small batch and characterful products as well as original and limited edition artworks. We hope our products are interesting, inspirational and encourage people to be creative and adventurous in building a home that reflects their personality.
Your shop has so many unique products, how did you decide on the style of your shop?
I didn’t really decide on a set style it just kind of came together but I wanted a shop where I could share my finds, one that can’t easily be defined and that can continue to evolve so that anything is possible. I only sell things that interest me or draw me in somehow and that I think will interest my customers. There’s a good mix of old and new, designer and small batch, amusing and sophisticated. The latest addition, The Art Room, our relaxed online gallery within Curious Egg, is a mixture of new graduates and established artists. We are very open minded and I don’t want it to be exclusive or stuffy. I want art to be natural purchase for the home as much as a vase might be so this will grow in new directions gradually. I tend not to choose highly designed products so much but that may be more to do with my background. I look for textures and a bit of soul and while I can absolutely appreciate the skill and wonder that goes into a design product (I realised everything is designed to a degree but in proper ‘product design’ there isn’t much room for accident and deviation from the plan and yet often that’s where the magic happens) they tend to leave me a bit cold – I like softness, layers of intrigue, wobbles and imperfections mostly – just as I do with people!
What is your inspiration behind your collection?
I’m inspired by the places I’ve visited and how other cultures live as well as in the UK. I think it’s healthy to look outwards and that’s why I chose not to limit our collection to British made. We have fantastic artists, designers and makers in the UK but I don’t think that means we should exclusive stock them. It’s interesting to see their products in a wider context both for myself and my customers I think, You can fall into a trend trap if you only look in one place and at one culture. Having travelled a lot as a student and since, I can say that aside from the Hebridean islands of Scotland, my favourite places on earth are the South of France, South of India, Chicago and Berlin. I find that some places you fall in love with and leave a little bit of yourself there and take a little bit with you and I think our collection reflects this.
What is a typical working day for you?
There really isn’t one! It honestly changes everyday as we grow but to give a general picture, on Monday mornings we have a meeting to plan the week. We each then work on our individual ‘to do’s for the day. Despite appearances, we are a tiny ‘team’ of two and we’ve had to teach ourselves a huge amount as well as draw on our individual skills. Roddy is very organised and structured, he built nearly the entire website himself that we both designed and works behind the scenes making sure all the systems work, maintaining the site and dealing with all the other difficult financial and logistical stuff! I work more ‘organically’ moving between choosing the products and artworks, visiting makers, setting up contracts and liaising with suppliers, I do all the writing for the site and all the social media (which was something completely new to me when we launched!) almost all of the photography – oh and I personally pack and ship the orders. It’s a juggling act to say the least!
We try to have lunch or breakfast together but it’s not always possible and there are inevitably unexpected things that come in and ‘bomb out’ your list like a sudden requirement for a magazine shoot or a blog interview like this haha! – only joking! I really enjoy it and it keeps things interesting.
What is your own interiors style?
I’d say mine is classic eclectic with a twist of the unexpected! I love relaxed boho interiors but not too much clutter and fabric. I like dark interiors but not anything gothic or musty! I know what I don’t like (clinical spaces!) more than I feel defined by one particular style. I tend to respond to a room and use the space and light to help me decide what kind of atmosphere I want to create. I love theatrical spaces and that doesn’t mean they have to shout or be crowded – a gorgeous reading space can be theatrical or a bedroom or even a bathroom! I like interiors that make you explore and look closer at the details and discover things rather than taking it all in in one glance.
You are an artist yourself, why did you decide to take the leap in opening your own shop, selling other people’s work?
I think an artist is driven by ideas. Those ideas come to them in so many ways that can influence what they do. For me that’s quite different to a craftsperson who has a making skill and develops products that enable them to use that skill. I want to use my art background to do something different. I don’t see why being an artist should mean you fit the cliché of a tortured soul sitting alone in a studio only looking at your own work. For me that’s restricting your creative thinking! In making art for public places I had to research people’s lives, their social and cultural habits, historical facts about places as well as environmental issues – so many things inspired me and impacted my work. I believe artists can bring a completely different viewpoint. I want to bring an artists eye and attitude to interiors and at the same time remove some of the stuffiness and mystique about the art world. I wanted to approach retail without really knowing the rules or being restricted by them. I certainly plan to create work for Curious Egg in the future but I love supporting young artists and makers and I will always want to work with others learning new things as I go.
If you could have any famous person buy your products who would it be and why?
Oh that question took me by surprise… but everyone’s famous these days aren’t they?! Oh go on then, just for fun! Having recently seen his incredible nine bedroom penthouse apartment in LA online, it would have to be the one and only Johnny Depp! He’s an actor I admire anyway for staying creative and being brave and unconventional in the roles he plays and his home definitely reflects this. It has a wonderful mix of adventurous art, murals, colourful textiles, architectural lighting, vintage furniture mixed with antiques and glamorous accessories – all softened with a bohemian vibe and couldn’t care less casualness. I love it! It’s a true eclectic home but so unpretentious and hugely creative. If he bought something from our store I’d be very happy!
What do you love most about what you do?
I love working with the artists and makers especially on collaborative pieces for Curious Egg. The photography is something I’m working on, I’d love to be able to build up skills with this to be able to experiment and play with atmosphere rather than just being relieved I got a shot! I love having the freedom of being able to mould and shape this business to be whatever we want it to be and the choice to steer it in new exciting directions. Of course last but definitely not least, being able to work beside my lovely husband, not many people get to do that and we make a good team – we only bicker occasionally!
If you could collaborate with any artist/maker who would it be and why?
That is so difficult and I think it would depend on the project and what outcome we were looking for there are so many I admire and working with an artist is very different form working with a designer or maker. Without thinking too long someone whose work I have always admired is Thomas Heatherwick. He has a toe in so many disciplines and although you might call him a designer, he is an architect, an engineer, an artist and a kind of ‘material poet’ in my eyes in terms of how he combines materials and manipulates them to do extraordinary things. His studio’s work is so creative and lateral in its approach to every project it seems to make the impossible, possible and I’d love to see where a collaboration would take us!
Where would you like to be in 10 years?
On a lilo, somewhere hot, sipping a cocktail of course! Seriously, I’d love to continue to grow the business and for it to go in really exciting directions. I want to be freed up to do the more creative elements, developing our own products, reaching new markets and moving into other areas -but that part’s a secret! I have very personal goals outside retail but the business is the route to those and some of them are quite surprising. The charity we work with Equal Arts holds the clue to that and it’s something that means a lot to me.
Thank you Lorraine, for such a fab interview, and a great insight into your life. Johnny Depp eh? ;)
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