Down The Rabbit Hole…An Interview
It’s been a few weeks in the making, and here it is, my interview with the amazing vintage furniture business ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ who have allowed me to bombard them with questions. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and hope everyone else with enjoy reading the results!
For further details, ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ have started a blog, which is definitely worth checking out!
Firstly, if you could tell me a bit about yourself and how the business started?
Down The Rabbit Hole was created as a joint venture between myself and Sarah Tissington. We met at University at the start of a nursing course – about as far away form vintage furniture as you can get! We discovered a shared love of charity shops, flea markets and ‘vintage’ which led to DTRH today. We received a good response from friends and family to the first pieces we made which gave us the idea, and the confidence, to market our furniture to the public.
Fantastic! It’s great to find out how these things unfold! Do you have some artistic influences that have helped to shape how you view the objects and restore them?
I studied fine art at Aberystwyth University which encouraged me to view items as pieces of history. Both myself and Sarah believe that all items can be made beautiful with a little love and attention. We take the approach that every outdated or useless piece of furniture was once desirable, and can be again. This does mean that we end up with lots of worse for wear pieces hanging around the studio waiting for inspiration to strike! It’s too easy to throw things away without using a little imagination and hard work to make them better than before.
As these are fully functional pieces, do you also see them as works of art too and if so why/why not?
Our furniture is, as you say, primarily functional. We do believe that they should be able to stand as a beautiful item in its own right – although not necessarily a work of art. We love the vintage items that don’t really have a place in modern homes – drinks cabinets, writing bureaus, sewing tables. By making these items attractive and quirky, we hope that customers will embrace a return to a nostalgic way of life or think outside of the box as to how these items can be re-purposed to suit their needs.
Craft skills and restoration skills are, I believe, extremely important for the market, for heritage and the art world. As a follower of John Ruskin’s beliefs and in the ‘Arts and Crafts movement’ and also the importance of preservation, do you share similar views? What are the core beliefs of the work you do? Do you believe more training should be offered in craft skills?
The ACM embodies what we are hoping to achieve with our pieces. The ideology and desire for a ‘better life’ – especially one involving the fresh air and space of the countryside inspire us every day. Although we love the hand made, unique and unusual, it isn’t our aim to replace mass produced furniture. If every house has one unique item that they have fallen in love with and simply had to take home, we would be happy.
One of our pet hates is furniture being skipped so whatever we can do to save it (or hopefully stop it altogether) we will! If more courses were offered in craft courses, this wastage could be reduced. When I was originally trying to learn upholstery etc, it was virtually impossible without £5,000 to pay for a course. If there were more opportunities, the satisfaction of upcycling old furniture would, I’m sure, stop many items being thrown away needlessly.
Your inspiration and vision surrounding your business is fantastic. ‘Vintage’ is a bit of a buzz word at the moment and your work seems to appeal to this. How would you define vintage, and has the popularity of ‘vintage’ helped to inspire you?
Vintage is anything upto 100 years old that has returned to fashion. For us though, its a feeling of nostalgia, an escape from some of the stresses modern life brings, and the love of a beautiful item – just because. It’s a reminder that everything has a history, something we are reminded of every day as we collect a lot of our furniture directly from it’s owners. The current popularity for the vintage trend has inspired us to actually market our products rather than just filling our own home with them!
Through looking at so many of the items you have amassed, there certainly seems to a sense of history surrounding them, and if they could talk, I’m sure they would have plenty to say! How do you actually source your items?
We source our items through a variety of ways. We mainly reply to adverts of people selling furniture and advertise ourselves as an alternative to throwing furniture away. We love visiting car boots, antiques and flea markets too – although the early starts sometimes dampen the fun!
I would love to talk about a few of the items in your collection. Looking at this vintage sewing table for example, which really reflects the essence of whimsical vintage, could you tell me a little bit about the history of this piece?
This table is a favourite of ours and sold almost as soon as it went on sale. It’s a sewing table – we bought it from a lady who had planned to restore it with her grandfather but unfortunately hadn’t been able to. She was desperate for it to get finished as it was in a sorry state after the insides had been ripped out! This table was quite a challenge as to how to finish the interior but we were so happy with the result – it is perfect to stay as a sewing table but so versatile too.
Wow, lots to talk about here! I notice you have some
jewellery on display as well as soft furnishings and chairs? Is
vintage jewellery another passion which is a part of the collection?
The chairs are fantastic- what is the story behind their restoration?
The striped chairs were the very first piece we ever made! they were originally bought from a guy at a carboot sale as test subjects for an upholstery class but they were so pretty that Down The Rabbit Hole began. I have always preferred vintage jewellery to modern day pieces, I love the history involved with them. We are pretty eclectic in our collection, we both have too many loves to limit ourselves to one area!
Your selection is so varied and unique, I feel compelled
to browse straight away! As you gain more items, are there plans to
expand? What do you feel the future holds for your business?
We hope to expand and eventually have a shop to sell our pieces but we’re taking things one step at a time reluctantly! More realistic steps for us at the minute involve advertising and potentially moving to a larger unit to showcase some of our larger pieces as we seem overrun by occasional chairs at the minute! We’re hoping once word spreads about us, we may get some commissions to upcycle customers own furniture for them which would be another string to our bow. We like to keep busy!
Thank you so much to Rebecca Gould and Sarah Tissington for allowing me to do this interview. I have really enjoyed putting together the blog post and restoration is very close to my heart. I am glad the business is doing so well, and look forward to seeing more items in the future!