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Art Lab, Norsu Interiors

November 12, 2015
Art Lab, Norsu Interiors

Aristotle wrote that ‘pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work’, that couldn’t be more accurate for the owners of Norsu Interiors Kristy and Nat. Very few of us are able to find a job they enjoy let alone one that we love completely. Whilst both Kristy and Nat enjoyed successful corporate roles, they both struggled to keep a work / life balance with young children.

After meeting four years ago at their local mothers group where their children bonded, the two soon became close friends after struggling with accessible childcare solutions. The two intelligent women devised a plan, one that would allow them adequate childcare and a lasting friendship.

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“For us it’s more about the simplicity, going back to basics and the beauty of a product which is really well designed and made.” Kristy | Norsu Interiors

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“Nat and I got along really well after we initially met and at the time when we were both due to return to our corporate jobs, but we struggled to find child care in the area. It got to the point where we had no other options other than to employ and share a nanny. We strategically worked out the days that we would go back to work so that they would be the same. We continued to share a nanny for almost three years, after that initial 6 months.” Says Kristy.

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After returning to their corporate jobs part time, Kristy and Nat began to dream of a career that they could pursue with passion and flexibility.

“During that time our kids became really good friends.” Kristy explains, “And very soon Nat and I became almost an extended family of each other and our business relationship was founded on that.”

‘Norsu’ is the Finnish word for Elephant. An unusual choice for a Scandinavian inspired design store, Kristy enlightens us on the curious brand name.

“The first indices of Norsu started when, when I was looking for a piece of art for my son’s nursery. Nat was very helpful, recommending a piece of marimekko fabric that had a big colourful elephant on it. Taking the word from the Finnish brand Marimekko we were able to establish the beginnings of Norsu Interiors.” Kristy smiles.

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Steering away from the trend the friends, which can almost be confused for sisters, decided after one conversation they should combine their skills to create a unique online store. “We came from rather untraditional backgrounds in terms of starting a retail business. I have a degree in psychology and I worked in marketing for 12-13 years, whilst Nat studied Fine Arts, and majored in IT working in communications and IT systems.” Kristy explains, “We soon realised that we both definitely had the skills to manage our business without having to outsource those components.”

“Nat and I after months of researching started approaching designers we fell in love and after explaining to them our vision, lot of them took a chance with us.” Kristy tells us, “We reach out directly them, explaining that we were setting up a website and wanted to represent their products exclusively in Australia. Some of the designers, which we work with, are really quite small and niche. Since stocking them on Norsu Interiors we’ve discovered with them that we sell more of their products here in Australia than they sell in whichever country they hail from, which is really quite interesting.” Kristy says.

After receiving formidable press in the early stages of the stores growth, Norsu Interiors made its mark on the industry as a contemporary and fresh interior design store. “We got a lot of press in the early days because our products were new and not seen in the Australian market before. A lot of the editorial editors, became interested in Norsu Interiors because they were always looking for something new and different.” Says Kristy.

Being a head of the curve isn’t always easy, Kristy and Nat have based their business around this attitude and has been very successful for them thus far.

“We pride ourselves on being somewhat exclusive with the products we stock.” Kristy says, “We’ve worked out that it’s a good balance to have some really well known Scandinavian brands, which are our core, like Menu and Norman Copenhagen, Muuto. These are typically well-known brands, which people come to us and know straight away that they will find them in our store. However, with our art we tend to go a little more exclusive. We’ve found that it’s worked well for us particularly because in art there is a perception that most people are looking for something a little more special and exclusive.” Explains Kristy.

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“There’s this perception that if the market is saturated a piece will lose its appeal and potentially lose what makes it special.” Kristy | Norsu Interiors

“For us there seems to be a real opportunity with buying Art. There’s a trend in Australia towards purchasing more affordable art, which is where we sit in the market. You can buy a piece of exclusive art from us for $50 and take it to Ikea, buy a frame, and you’ll have a beautiful piece of art very affordably.” Kristy says.

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With 95% of Norsu Interiors art able to fit into a cheap Ikea frames, it’s no wonder they are so popular and that more Australians are motivated to refresh their walls.

“We provide a way to refresh your home quite easily and affordably. As trends change rapidly, so do many people’s tastes. I think we’re lucky in the sense that Scandi aesthetic is quite popular now. If you look back a few years there was a lot more influence in colour, vibrancy whereas now it’s shifting. For us it’s about keeping it fresh, and we try to introduce a new product or new artist every other week. At Norsu it’s about keeping up with things and not becoming stagnant.” Kristy says.

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“I think there’s something with buying an affordably print, there’s not that guilt for wanting to update your space that comes with investing great sums of money.” Kristy | Norsu Interiors

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Kristy and Nat, have recently embraced three new exclusive artists into the Norsu Interiors collection.

“We’ve recently brought into our collection, works from notable artists, Vee Spears, Ruben Ireland and our most recent acquisition Jenny Liz Rome.” Kristy explains, “Vee Spears work is quite well regarded in the Scandinavian world and we were really quite lucky that we’re able to showcase her art exclusively at Norsu Interiors, which is the same for Ruben Ireland. We just finished a photo shoot with Jenny Rome and we’re about to release her work via the The design chaser. Jenny’s work will be very well received in Australia. Her work is very feminine but also quite edgy as well. She’s amazing and lovely to deal with and we want to help build her profile here. We’re excited to be able to lift our artist’s profiles here. We’re a small business and were grateful to those whom helped us in the early days and I think Nat and I want to be able to do that and pay it forward for other emerging artists.” Kristy explains.

“The Art Lab will be a focus for us, as there’s huge potential for growth there. We would love to collaborate more with Australian designers. We like to do things a little bit different Nat and I, but still support our designers in an exclusive capacity.” Kristy says.

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As Norsu Interior continues to evolve as a business, it’s hard to predict what Kristy and Nat will present us with next.

“It’s a new way of operating for me, coming from a very structured career where I was able to set goals and plans in advance. Now things change very rapidly, and there’s an expectation that you have to work quite quickly. It’s very exciting!” Kristy smiles.

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Love Scandinavian Art? Shop Norsu Interiors

Visit Norsu Interiors Art Lab

356 Wattletree Road, Malvern East Vic 3145

Opening hours are as follows:

Monday - Saturday: 9.30 am - 5.30 pm

Sunday/after hours: By appointment

House of Home would like to thank Nat and Kristy from Norsu Interiors for speaking to us, and showing us their delightful Malvern Store and Art Lab