[image thanks to @neonvintage]
Q: What's the definition of dope?
A: Getting to interview one of your sweet sistas - Neon Vintage - for an equally sweet magazine Renegade Collective.
Yup, this month, I got to interview one of my faves - for one of my fave mags. Pick up a copy of the current Collective magazine or you can read it here:
WILD AT HEART
Kirsten Millbank is on a mission to break all the rules in the world of homewares. Her brand of bold clashing colours and juxtaposed patterns has won her fans around the globe, who see her vintage-inspired pieces as veritable objets d’ art.
“If I see one more piece of chevron, or pineapple!” starts Kirsten Millbank, laughing.
For the creator of Neon Vintage (designed to “break all the rules in homewares trends” with their kaleidoscope of styles and colours) is all about timeless pieces over the latest trends.
Think bold clashing patterns of a vintage ’80s vibe with bold tribal themes, electro and boho cross street styles. The idea is to create addictively modern and quintessentially avant-garde pieces, or as Kirsten says, extraordinary objects of art for the home.
“Buying exclusive homewares should take pride of place in the home and this is what I want the customer to feel they’re buying, not just a fluff piece that follows the trends only to be ditched next year,” she maintains.
“I find it more of a challenge to work different styles together and create peace with lots of different colours. I’ve always been obsessed with vintage fabric and their origins. They are normally fun, playful and bright. I’ve been one to jumble trends together to create an unpredictable look, an eclectic mix. I’m definitely not one for the matchy-matchy look,” she says, adding that most of her fabrics are sourced from France, the UK and the US.
An ’80s girl herself, Kirsten couldn’t escape the colour palette of artists like famous Australian Ken Done. “I was always wanting to change the colour of my bedroom walls, picking colours from all the beautiful paint swatches. I think this is where my love of colour comes from… I’m blaming it all on Ken!” she laughs.
In just two years, Kirsten has come a long way from her beginnings on Etsy, where she’d use the popular site as a platform to test the market, pedalling wares like revamped vintage cane furniture and macrame wall hangings.
“I just made lots of different things to gauge people’s responses. Many of my Etsy customers would ask my opinion on what would work with this or that and creating custom orders became increasingly popular. I love having that direct relationship with the customer instead of just a money transaction,” she says.
Despite the business continuing to grow at an exciting pace (she’s now stocked across Australia, in New Zealand, Canada and the US and has collaborated with artists in three continents), Kirsten still keeps a direct relationship with the customer, and now the retailer, and insists on personally wearing the creative director/stylist/marketer/sewer hat.
“I’m not interested in flooding the market and every homewares shop with Neon Vintage goodies. My aim is to keep the prices affordable for the customer and highest of quality by selling direct to the customer and working on exclusive retail arrangements with particular stores throughout Australia, so we have a good close working relationship.”
So with a core philosophy to break all the rules in homewares, combined with dynamic swag and a heap of aesthetic juxtapositions, is Neon Vintage just reserved for the uninhibited?
“It’s someone who has a keen eye for design detail, someone who is brave to take risks clashing different styles and colours together in a room and of course, someone who dares to be different from the crowd,” concludes Kirsten.