Journal

An interview with Britta De Laat from dumped & ditched

An interview with Britta De Laat from dumped & ditched

Nestled in a beautiful suburb of Wollongong,dumped & ditched is a charming boutique where old pieces of furniture are transformed into unique and distinct designer objects and heirloom pieces that speak to the heart and communicate through time.

The founder, Britta, sat down with us to chat about Australian upholstery services, her boutique, the styles and brands her clients are drawn to, her favourite Urania piece, and how she was challenged by the collection.

dumped & ditched holds a special place in our hearts and we are delighted to introduce you to Britta to share her insightful and uplifting interview.

We have customers and followers from all over the world. For those of us who may not know you, tell us a bit about yourself? You are famous!

Haha, hardly! My claim to fame is that I was casted for the Australian version of the Repair Shop as the furniture restorer, which is just about to go live on TV. Admittedly, rather exciting! 

I have lived in many places. Born and raised in Germany, straight out of school I left to study Fine Art at Central St Martins in London. Fascinated by this amazing city, I stayed for 13 years working in the TV Film and Events Industry as a set decorator and dresser. While I loved the creativity of my job, I was critical off the short lived nature and wastefulness in this industry sector.

We built huge sets, only to pull them down and bin them a week later. There is an enormous  amount of resources get pumped into films and events, for pure entertainment.

For me this was not enough. I needed something slower and more wholesome. After we had our first son  I decided to retrain as an upholsterer. - we lived in Amsterdam at the time. Just 5 years ago we moved the family to beautiful Australia, where my restoration business dumped and ditched ; has taken off.

    

What do you love about upholstery? What made you want to open your own vintage upholstery store?  

 

I guess in all my work, whether it is fine art, set dressing, and now upholstery, transformation is the core theme. Seeing the potential in something and changing it into something completely different thrills me.

I was looking for the right medium for a long time. As I said above, making something that lasts and is meaningful is important to me. Creating heirlooms that people cherish and nurture hit the nerve. 

In set design, I had to describe characters through their environment. You create a home and workplace for somebody, you decide what kind of shop or bar they would go to. I painted a picture for the viewer of what kind of person the character is, what life they live.

In a way that skill helps me enormously in upholstery. Choosing the right fabric is essential to my work process. I choose something that will bring out the best in the furniture from my personal perspective. When I work with clients, I work as the facilitator. It’s about finding the right material to make them feel excited and confident. I take plenty of time to guide them through this process and open new horizons.

dumped & ditched has an online store offering transformed pieces as well as unrestored frames, giving the client a chance to be involved in the redesigning process.

Personally, I think this is super-exciting but not everyone has the vision or time to get that deeply involved. Opening The Unlikely Item, our showroom in Stanwell Park, was the natural continuation of the business. It's lovely to have an actual space to showcase the furniture.

With global conversations around climate change, and 'sustainability' becoming such a huge buzz word, especially in the fashion and accessories industry, what changes have you seen in the way your customers purchase design pieces?

I have been passionately advocating for a change in consumer behaviour for many years.

We simply cannot go on buying super-cheap products that fall apart soon after purchasing and end up in landfill. We need to shift from 'more, more, more'  to 'less is more’.

Furniture is meant to last for generations, however, this means that consumers need to be willing to commit to pieces for a long time and spend money on craftsmanship and high quality materials.

We see a lot of people are finally starting to reconsider their choices, however the price expectation still needs little readjusting. Bespoke work simply cannot be done at the price point of industrial production lines in low cost countries. It is a completely different process and product.

When you first saw our new collection, what were your thoughts? Which is your favourite piece? What do you love most about the Urania collection?

I’m always up for a challenge!  So when you called and showed me the designs I wanted to take that on. 

With my background in art and design, creating abstract-shaped furniture seemed a very exciting change to my usual work. The pieces have an edge to them (without actually having a single edge, haha!).

They are industrial, just like brutalist architecture, which I am very attracted to. They remind me of the giant pink overhead water pipes in Berlin. The bright, soft velvet then softens that blow and makes them into gorgeous interior objects.

The biggest challenge was the chair as the shape is more complex. All the panels are interconnected, which makes the upholstery extremely challenging as you tug the tension into all sorts of directions. 

Visually, my favourite is definitely the desk. I would love that in my house!

  

Let’s be honest, what was a greater challenge: The Repair Shop TV show or the Urania collection project? Haha!

They both cost me sleepless nights and a lot of long days. At least with the Urania collection, I didn’t have 6 cameras pointing at me!

What do you think our customers will love most about Urania?

The reduced shapes in combination with the bright colours. If you’re after a statement piece, this is it! 

If Hegi Design House was a drink, what would it be? 

That is a good one!

It could not be ordinary, nor readily available, so that rules out a lot of drinks. It had to be stylish and served in a Martini glass because the inverted cone shape is perfect for Hegi. A simple clear shape, with the right balance of playfulness. The drink itself needed to have many layers to it, nothing too sweet, it had to be a Sidecar cocktail!

 

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