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Rhoko: A lesson in curation and accessible art

There’s a lot to be learned from Manchester-based interiors store Rhoko.

Founded at the start of 2018, this is an online store that specialises in curation, featuring both antique and contemporary pieces from artists, designers  and private collectors all over the world.

At a time where consumer efforts are being made to slow down on consumption, interiors brand Rhoko speaks to the Millennial appetite for personalisation, vintage finds, and for one-off pieces.

We caught up with Rhoko’s creative director, Lianne Pierce, to talk the brand, how she curates, and making art accessible. 

How did you arrive at Rhoko, as a concept?

As a child, I always had a keen interest and passion for art. I went on to study art, and then film and video at University, and I’ve spent a good portion of my life working in film and animation. However, I’ve always had a tireless love for furniture and design. When I bought my apartment in 2016 and completely renovated the entire place, I found myself particularly enjoying the design process, and finding the perfect furniture and objects. It then became clear that I wanted a change in direction and would like to work in interiors.

 

How did the idea of Rhoko come about? 

My partner and I started selling rare lithographs we’d been collecting for years. Firstly to friends and family, and then we started selling them in markets and pop-ups around Manchester. It kind of grew from there. I only ever wanted an online store, so we’d have opportunity to embark on lots of sourcing trips.

 

What’s your brand’s mission?

Just to be a destination for people to come to and find a myriad of timeless objects and curio for their home – and be trusted to provide an edit of authentic, high quality and unique pieces. Also, to promote and support the work of contemporary artists from all over the world.

 

What is the process of finding the perfect products for your company? Are you choosing product based on a specific audience or a specific aesthetic? 

Ultimately, I pick objects that I love and would have in my home. It’s not really directed to a specific audience… I guess they have to share my taste!

 

What is your favourite part about sourcing items for your clients?

I can spend hours looking for lithographs and new ceramic artists via the internet; but I much prefer to take off in the van, and travel around to find special pieces. I particularly love taking trips to Morocco. I suppose it’s always a working holiday, but that’s fine by me. 

What is the most moving or incredible item you have ever come across or attempted to obtain for a customer?

We found a pair of hand-painted posters in the South of France last year; they are the work of the fashion designer Jose de Zamora, and date back to the 50s. It’s amazing they’re in such great condition for their age! They even have tax stamps in the corner; but thankfully they were not used for their original purpose, and were kept in storage.

 

Your Instagram is highly curated. Has social media impacted awareness of your brand? How do you use it to your advantage?

I find Instagram the best way to promote the brand. It’s basically a gallery and mood board, which helps people find the store. It’s also been a really great way to discover new artist’s work, and build friendships with other shops, brands and artisans – it’s been a lovely, social and supportive community.

 

Do you think Rhoko has done so well because more people are looking to sustainable alternatives? Buying second hand rather than new products. Has the positive perception and rise of vintage also helped?

Yes, I do agree people are now more conscience of buying more sustainably. I also think people really appreciate the history of art and design, so are particularly fond of obtaining objects from different design eras. I guess there’s also a story to a vintage piece too.

 

Do you think there is an increase in consumers looking for one-off products? If so, why do you think that is?

I think people have always wanted to find something different for their homes; with the rise of online shopping, and social media being a great outlet to promote your brand, it’s much easier for consumers to find more interesting and unique objects from all over the world.

 

Is this an easier way for younger generations to buy art?

I certainly think social media is a really good way for younger generations to discover new artist’s work that is affordable. I think it’s really important to support current artists. There’s been a wonderful serge in the artisan movement, and there’s some really talented people making interesting ceramics, textiles, art and sculpture. It’s really nice to showcase this work in the shop; and I believe some of these pieces will become collectables in the future. I’m a big advocate for collecting art.

 

Where are you hoping to take Rhoko?

I’d like to eventually offer interior styling and design to clients, working closely with an independent network of designers to provide bespoke interiors.

I am also keen to continue working on designs that are exclusive to Rhoko. We are working on some exciting collaborations at the moment. I can’t wait to share them.

 

 

For more on all things homeware for the year ahead, read up on WGSN’s The State of Interiors 2019 report.

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