Coffee with - The Curious Department
There are people who you meet in life that come and go unnoticed and there are those who make a huge impression on you - it might sound crony - but this designer duo had me swooning all over their products . They are one of a kind unusual designs injecting "bold" into our homes and onto our dining tables !
So off i went pestering Chris and Ross to let me pick a little in their creative brains - and they nailed that interview also - and they are perfect example as to why most creative people are slightly nuts and have a great sense of humour - and here at Style Squeeze we love that !~
I wont keep you much longer -Over to you boys x
1. Can you tell our readers about yourself and your brand ?
We are Chris and Ross, from the new UK homewares brand The Curious Department. We started the online shop just over a year ago as a response to the mass produced home accessories we saw flooding the high streets- everything looked the same and just didn't speak to us. Ross has the idea for the shop and our first collection for a few years so its been a real labour of love bringing our designs to market and into real homes across the world!
2 .What piece are you most proud of , or one that has a significance to you?
Ross would definitely say the Insect Mandala pattern- it was so different to anything out there at the time, just before the whole “insects invasion” took over, and was probably a bit of a leap of faith for us as to whether anyone would like it! Our aim was to take something that people found “gross” or “disgusting” like bugs and insects and by using patterns and geometry we could turn them into works of art. We still aren’t quite finished with the Insect Mandala.. we’ve just expanded it across our new Notebooks range and still have a few other ideas up our sleeves!
3. Can you tell me some of your strengths that really helped you in your design journey ?
Sounds a bit cliche, but we always ask “would be have that in our house?”. The business was very much an extension of our own design perspective and we wanted to make sure we remained true to ourselves and our aesthetic , whilst still hoping we were commercial enough for other people to appreciate us. We also often ask “is it curious enough” as another barometer of whether we have quite pushed the boundaries or being unique and that little bit eccentric and playful we are fond of.
4. What would be your tips for anyone thinking of starting their own business in design ?
Be bold. No one is going to just hand you hundreds of engaged customers- you have to work at it, cultivate them and also take risks. Thankfully most of our risks have paid off, but we also always considered Plan B, like using Kickstarter to help fund our fine bone china range.
5. Can you tell me about your greatest high in your career ?
Ooh… well we’ve only been going a year, so I hope we have many more highs ahead of us, but so far we’ve been totally overwhelmed by the response we had with the Kickstarter campaign (doubling our original target in just 3 weeks!). We also we part of a Top Ten Brands To Watch editorial piece by The London Evening Standard, which was not only our first mention in a major publication, but also our first accolade.
6 .What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that?
Hmmm..not sure. We haven’t had any “failures” as such, but we’ve had a couple of disappointments. But a lot of that is down to timing and luck- if you don’t succeed, try and try again as they say! So yesterday’s “failure” might be tomorrow’s win!
7 . Who has impacted you most in your design journey and how?
Can we say “Instagram”? I know the computers haven’t taken over just yet, but I definitely think it played a key role in our growth and development over the last year. From working with bloggers and influencers, to meeting some fantastic fans and customers, and growing our network of like minded and talented creatives across interiors, fashion and beauty. If you can ignore all the bullshit about algorithms and bots, it’s still an inspiring platform for creatives and it’s definitely helped shape our creative direction and design process.. from customer feedback through to seeing what else is out there and how to “make our designs curious enough” J
8. Who is your design or style icon?
This is going to be one of those annoying answers, but style shouldn't come from others, it's something you either possess or you don't. So in that sense style comes from within. I suppose the wonderful Iris Apfel preaches a similar mantra, so as an inspiration she is iconic.
9. What do you think has been your brands super power?
Our super power is really simple, it's storytelling. People no longer want mass production or designs that just look pretty. They want to understand how it was made, why it was made. With everything we create we always have a conceptual perspective. From our Metamorphosis collection to the ethically sourced butterflies that we use in our taxidermy. Every product is rich with stories that our customers can share with people when they spot that unique object in their home.
10. Were you artistic as a child?
ROSS: Very, me and my mum and sometimes my grandmother used to sit at the sewing machine and make the latest 'must have toys' or fancy dress outfits that we couldn't afford buy. My mum was also a wedding cake maker, she could create the finest miniature tumbling bouquets of roses out icing. My dad was an electrical engineer and taught me how to wire up bulbs switches and batteries so making and creating has always been part of my life.
CHRIS: Ahaha. Well… Bob Ross made me think so. I tried painting, had a ballet scholarship, and learned the piano. But I was awful at all three (or at least I thought so). Ross of course is the creative force behind The Curious Department and literally can do anything- drawing, painting, sculpting, taxidermy, interior design… the guy is so freaking talented!
11. Since Style Squeeze is all about small spaces - how would you squeeze most of small square footage (your tips suggestions )
Reach for the skies! I think people forget they have walls and ceilings that can easily be used. So often we plonk storage and furniture on the floor and forget that the space continues upwards for another couple of meters. Shelves, and tall display cabinets are a great way to climb the walls.
My other tip is to throw stuff away, it's really not worth keeping or hoarding the things that aren't either useful or bring you some kind of pleasure. If it doesn't do one or the other... BIN!
12 .What do you do in your spare time?
The Curious Department pretty much consumes all of our spare time, as we both hold down demanding full time jobs as well. But we do love a good nature trek, whether it’s an epic Sunday walk around London’s wetlands, or planning our next road trip around Iceland. We’d absolutely LOVE to get to Alaska one day- a proper outdoor adventure of rafting, camping, fishing, trekking, nighttime campfires and getting away from it all. I’m not sure I’d cope with the whole digital detoxing part of it though J.
13 Do you put limitations on the work in terms of brave and bold or is there no fucks given?
Zero fucks given, for us The Curious Department was born from passion. We design to please ourselves and hope to please others along the way.
Quick Fire questions
14 - design or functionality
15 What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?
Chris- tried to steal a hot air balloon
Ross- cut my own hair
16. Which bad habits of other people drive you crazy?
Chris- Ross’ worst bad habit is his insistence to deposit his belongings EVERYWHERE. Jackets get thrown on chairs, bags get dumped on staircases and the wardrobe is an absolute disgrace.
Ross- chris’ grumpiness, especially in the morning, pre-coffee!
17. favourite dinosaur ;)
18. What was the worst job you have ever had?
Chris- cleaning up after guests when we ran the Airbnb. Some people are fucking animals
Ross- unpacking clothes at the Next warehouse
19 . would you rather Kiss a jellyfish or step on a crab?
Chris- kiss the jellyfish. My star sign is Cancer the Crab, so no harm to crabs please!
Ross- step on a crab
20. Got any hidden talents ? ( what are they)
Chris- encyclopedic knowledge of 2000s pop music
Ross- can win a spin class on a hangover
21. coffee or tea?
Chris- coffee (vanilla latte)
Ross- tea (macha latte, with unsweetened almond milk)
22. What is the one thing, you can’t live without?
Chris- ice cream
23. In " Alternative universe if you could be any piece of furniture what would you be ?
Chris- anything from Maison Valentina- those things are objects of beauty
Ross-a grandfather clock, cause it brings order to the house, and it stands proud
24. What was your worst decor faux -pass
Chris- in my first apartment , when at uni,I had a superheros-themed bathroom, with red white and blue colour scheme and a glittered ceiling. I’m not joking. I also has a living room with teal walls and purple windows, doors and skirting board- though I think that’d be quite in now!!
Ross-matching cushions, curtain, throws everything
25 .who would be your idea client to work with
Ross- whoever the Game of Thrones set designer is!
This post was made thanks to The Curious Department - to see the full range of products please visit www.thecuriousdepartment.com