1. How did you get started in the luxury industry, and what do you find most rewarding about your work?
My introduction to the luxury industry evolved from a weekend job while at university.
I studied law and psychology and worked at David Jones in the watch department – which was perfect as I had amassed over 100 collector’s edition Swatches through my teenage years. My parents had no idea. Fast forward 20 years and I was still playing with watches – this time (pardon the pun) as Breitling’s UK Retail Manager. Technical and graphic precision has always been a passion and the design of my Navitmer Cosmonaute with its 24hr dial still brings me joy.
I moved to an Armani Collezioni shop-in-shop and discovered a new appreciation for colour, texture and movement - this had such an impact that I stopped my Masters of Psychology and, for the first time, went into full time premium and luxury retail. Visual merchandising components of working with Ralph Lauren concessions and wholesale accounts provided a creative outlet. I enjoy the challenge of constructing an environment from a finite amount of tools.
The most rewarding aspect of working in luxury is to create a space where anyone entering that space feels like they’ve left one reality and discovered another.
Entering a room where objects and interiors are purposefully considered influences mood. Being able to put together ‘stories’ within spaces can be an emotional journey; an enhancement. As the retail footprint of stores increased to multi-level London flagships like Dolce&Gabbanna’s concept store on Bond and Gucci on Sloane, it gave me the opportunity to provide an all-consuming experience where people could truly enter another world and loose themselves. Creating feelings of mood-enhancement and seeing the excitement on others’ faces is rewarding.
2. How do you approach the process of selecting and curating products for a luxury homewares collection?
There’s more joy in both discovering and offering luxury items that are not available elsewhere. Exclusivity is important to our interior designer and client networks, and knowing this means you can enter the store with the confidence you’ll find something most clients have never seen before. Supplying luxury items that surprise and delight is my aim.
Price-points and product commerciality are important considerations, as is the uniqueness of stand-out protagonist pieces that burst with that wow factor – like our large Soleil Wall Bowl with its bronzed-titanium and glass surface. These pieces are an instant highlight piece for many clients – and new evolutions of this product are currently in process. The Mipreshus crystal vase in neutral grey is another favourite – hand-cut from a block of crystal by one of the most current and exciting Mexican designers.
When products have stories, they have higher appeal. Everyone likes to talk about the objects they’ve chosen to reflect their personality; their reality. And now trade shows have recommenced, unearthing new, unique objects is easier.
Sourcing and developing product through recent COVID periods was challenging – not only because of the impact on artisan’s production, but also lengthy time periods to send and receive international projects. For example, a current collaboration with our Venetian artisan had been pushed back due to rising electricity costs in Italy at the end of 2022. Furnaces were not re-fired following the European summer break which added months to product development. I’m happy to say our final collaboration samples are arriving next week!
3. How do you build and maintain relationships with interior designers and suppliers?
Time is often the challenge for many of our clients.
With some interior design businesses, we regularly visit their studios, give a flash presentation on new products and rotate sample stock amongst studios.
Providing sample items elevates the experience as there is nothing more compelling than touching the piece in person compared to seeing it on a screen. We leave samples at the studios so all team members have the opportunity to touch and view over the week.
4. Finally, what are the 4 most exciting new pieces launched by Fairfax & Roberts Home?
Arelquin Cutlery - This design with the Decorative Arts cutlery collection is truly unique. The high contrast of black enamel against cool silver and stainless steel provides a stand-out impact to tablescapes. Swap out the black enamel to one of many other colour options to fit your client’s interior.
Idra Tumblers Set - While some items deserve the spotlight for their pure awe, others combine great design to an essential, every-day object. I have these at home and use them as water glasses. There’s greater interest in the set as every piece has a different imprint.
Seven Deadly Sins: Double Sized Tumbler Set - We are one of only two global locations offering this set. The double-sized tumbler allows perfectly for a negroni or your tipple of choice. Individual images on the base are hand-painted in reverse using a brush with only a few bristles – the level of skill in executing such a highly-detailed image is immense! Such a unique offering that guarantees comments.
A standard-sized tumbler set is also available – perfect for those who prefer drinking wine from a stemless glass. As red wine is consumed, one of the 7 Deadly Sins images is slowly revealed from the tumbler’s base.
Soleil Wall Bowl - This wall-hanging or surface-laid piece appears different from every angle. As you move past the ‘sun’ its rippled texture reflects and distorts the space. It adds a warm feel because of the bronzed-titanium surface and burnt oak frame.
A new evolution of this top seller will swap out the warm, bronzed surface hues to a cooler stainless steel surface with a light oak frame. The reflective stainless steel mirrored surface appears blue when hung next to a window on a sunny afternoon and changes throughout the day giving a constantly changing focal point.