Old furniture gets creative rebirth on Oxford Street

Old furniture gets creative rebirth on Oxford Street

Sydney designer Maaike Pullar’s one-woman workshop, Furniture Resurrection, is turning old, discarded and unloved furniture on its head.

From humble beginnings in 2009 refurbishing furniture for her own home, and selling her work at a Marrickville market stall, Maaike is having a major impact on the local design scene with her one-off creations.

Maaike moved into 122 Oxford Street in Darlinghurst after applying for a place on the City of Sydney’s short-term creative retail and space register, a list of innovative creative projects that can move into city properties for short periods between commercial tenancies or during building upgrades or repairs.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the creative space register helps ensure spaces across the city are used to their full potential.

“The register gives creative enterprises and entrepreneurs space to test their ideas, expand their operations or try something new,” the Lord Mayor said.

“New businesses like Furniture Resurrection are a breath of fresh air for these spaces, and in turn we hope the tenants grow into thriving local businesses.”

After finding pieces of furniture on the side of the road, in Sydney’s second-hand stores, or through tip-offs on social media, Maaike strips them back and works her magic by re-painting, adding new upholstery and repairing them.

Maaike’s first restoration took place after receiving a reclaimed wooden table from her architect and designer father, Robert, for her 20th birthday. Her dining chairs didn’t go with the new table, so she stencilled Mexican beer and soft drink labels on their seats to match.

Since then, she has restored 119 pieces, including a couch upholstered with a fabric likeness of Chairman Mao, a prayer stool that sits on the kneeling legs of a mannequin – a collaboration with her father – and an array of chairs and couches upholstered in colourful patchwork fabrics with stencilled floral designs.

Maaike’s work has been showcased on TV and in photo shoots, with some pieces being used in the BBC kids’ show Me and My Monsters, as well as design and architecture magazine Green Magazine, which profiles designers with a sustainable approach to craftsmanship.

“Resurrection usually involves stripping the piece back to basics, and my clients definitely appreciate the stories behind the pieces,” Maaike said.

“The City’s creative space register gets around the Sydney rent dilemma, so suddenly I have the space to swing chairs and even dance while I work – that’s pretty special.

“It makes me more accessible to the public, but I hope it also gets people thinking about their furniture – what’s disposable, what’s fixable, what’s possible.”

The City’s creative space register was established late last year after a call out to creative practitioners, organisations and enterprises with innovative project ideas which could activate spaces at short notice, on short-term leases (one, three, six or 12 months).

Other creative projects from the register that have recently found a home in City-owned properties include Paddington-based contemporary art gallery Stills Gallery, which is curating a pop-up photography exhibition in two ground-floor showrooms at 101-111 William Street, and boutique design school Tractor Studio, which has moved into one of the City’s creative spaces at 66 Oxford Street.


For more information on the creative space register, visit: cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/explore/arts-and-culture

For more information, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Keeley Irvin. Phone 0448 005 718 or email kirvin@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Matt Levinson. Phone 0427 044 768 or email mlevinson@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au