Created by Russel Koskela and Sasha Titchkosky in 2000, Koskela in Sydney has become an incredible space filled with a carefully curated collection of art and design. Housed in a large industrial warehouse which is also home to the much loved Kitchen By Mike cafe and Megan Morton's The School, Koskela is a place you could lose yourself for a day...
Alongside their collection of adult homewares, they also house an amazing selection of beautifully designed and sourced wares for children. From toys to beds to books and clothes, you could effortlessly build the perfect kids room or buy any child the ideal gift. On top of all of this, Koskela runs some great creative workshops like Festive Felting we featured earlier, as well as producing their own beautiful furniture that is both functional and durable.
We asked Sasha a few questions about what makes their store so amazing...
What is the idea behind Koskela as a space and as a store?
The idea behind Koskela is to showcase great Australian designed and made products for the home. This covers both furniture and homewares - everything from gardening, to kids and special gifts. We compliment our furniture range with products sourced from smaller Australian designer makers or inputted products that have a strong ethical or environmental stance.
Our beautiful building in Rosebery was originally built for Rosella as their Sydney canning plant and is turning100 years old this year. The search for the new space began as we had outgrown our Surry Hills space, our home for nearly eight years. We had started to develop products for Studio, Collection and Junior but had no way of showcasing them or our growing commercial range. Now we have a beautiful 2000m2 light filled space that is finally big enough to do something really spectacular with these products. Our gallery space profiles different artists and craft forms and we have expanded the range of smaller products we carry.
What kind of atmosphere does Koskela aim to create when people enter the store?
We want people to feel excited and welcomed. It's important to us that there's a genuine sense of warmth, coupled with a bit of a sense of 'I can't wait to see what's over here!'.
How do you go about sourcing your amazing children's products?
It was really important to me that we source products that really work with children's imagination and wherever possible provide alternatives to plastic. We have 2 boys and I really found it difficult to find interesting toys that weren't all so prescriptive and completely gender specific. My aim is to have fantastic games, art and craft products, toys and pieces for children's rooms that are fun and designed for children.
Tell us something about Koskela that might surprise people?
A really important part of our company are our social enterprise projects which we undertake with 3 different indigenous communities / artists in Australia. This is a part of the business which I find the most personally fulfilling. The first project we launched in 2010 and is collaboration between Yolngu weavers from Elcho Island Arts and Koskela, the result of which is a lighting range called Yuta Badayala (Yolngu for "new light"). We have now produced over 200 of the pendants and have worked with about 40 different weavers. The idea behind the collaboration was to open up a new market place for the women's work outside the traditional art market, enabling them to further increase their independence and financial security. The lights have now feature in many of our commercial clients offices, including Qantas' new buildings and in private homes. We have loved developing some very close relationships with the artists and their families and getting an insight into the incredible Yolngu culture.
Our other collaboration is called Tili Wiru which is also a collaboration to create a lighting range with the Tjanpi weavers of the central desert. Tjanpi is an incredible organisation that was established by the women of the NPY lands to deal with some of the social issues in these areas. Their lampshades are very different from the Elcho Island works as they are a riot of bright colours with raffia and hand painted beads. A real joy.
Lastly we have collaborated with an incredible artists called Regina Wilson from Peppimenarti in NT to create a range of fabric based products. She has work all over the world in various public and private collections and has a really beautiful style. She is also a weaving but now paints in exacting and beautiful detail her weaving.
We really enjoy this part of our work - we've always wanted Koskela to be about more than making just money and I love that we have found a way to utilise our design skills to address some of the issues that exist in Australia. You can sometimes get overwhelmed by the issues that exist and we don't all have the resources of Bill Gates available to us but it can be just as valid to make a genuine difference to a handful of people.
Do you have any exciting news coming up?
Its all about product development and design for us at the moment. We're really working on some super exciting pieces. At some stage we think that a Melbourne location would make sense but for now its about maximising what we've got and really driving growth so we get the most out of every opportunity. Because we actually produce our own designs, we are able to create and deliver bespoke solutions to our commercial clients who are really appreciating being able to work with a supplier that can manufacture in Australia.
Whether you are a local or planning a visit to Sydney and are a lover of good design, Koskela is an absolute must-see on your to-do list.
85 Dunning Ave
Rosebery NSW 2018
02 9280 0999