designer & shop owner leah robins
In the heart of Sydney - one street back behind the Queen Victoria Building - is a series of modern gallery spaces run by Gaffa. They are housed in a three-storey heritage building that you could miss if you weren't looking. But those who side step off Sydney's main thoroughfare are rewarded not only with coffee at Cafe Klink but - until the end of this week - the first pop-up shop for Leah Robin's The Minimalist Store. It is a cool and slightly quirky venue - adjectives that also describe the products she stocks. It is a thoughtful choice too, which is the philosophy behind the brand she launched in 2011. Leah has set out to source boutique homewares from across the globe, including Finland's RK Design, Italy's Neo, and Faceture from New Zealand's Phil Cuttance. She set up The Minimalist Store after struggling to find unique pieces while sourcing as an interior designer for her other venture Collective Design Studio.
Which five words best describe you? Passionate, stubborn, impulsive, bold, day dreamer.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My very first "real job" was working in a huge carpet warehouse filled with designs and styles and patterns you wouldn't find at your average store and helping people with their colours. I worked a number of other part-time jobs during this time, including colour consulting and working for a curtain maker also designing schemes for people's homes. From there I was offered roles at various local and international carpet manufacturers where I designed custom carpets and rugs for high-end clients both commercially and domestically. In 2011 I launched Collective Design Studio and started working on small commercial fit-outs. The frustration of trying to find pieces for clients that were unique and different to what was available here is partly what led to the creation of The Minimalist Store in April this year.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Dreams are hard work. And then a bit more hard work. But that is part of what makes achieving them worthwhile.
What’s your proudest career achievement? So far? Opening The Minimalist Store and reaching so many people through good design. And having so many people as excited and as passionate about what we are doing as we are.
What’s been your best decision? My best decision was quitting working for someone else and taking the chance on myself.
Who inspires you? I am inspired by people from many different backgrounds from architect Frank Lloyd Wright to designer Stefan Sagmeister, stylist Susanna Vento and digital artist Filip Dujardin. I am also inspired by my father who was a printer.
What are you passionate about? Nature and having a happy garden, eating organic, traditional printing techniques, anything black, anything geometric, de-cluttering and simplifying my possessions, the future - maybe too much sometimes.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Currently living Mae Engelgeer and not currently living Le Corbusier.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would love to create something experimental in print form, open The Minimalist Store in our current Surry Hills space and buy my first big piece of art.
What are you reading? The power of habit by Charles Duhigg - I am obsessed with the power of people's habits and how much they unknowingly control us.
images natalie walton/daily imprint