Louella Tuckey has, in many ways, come full circle with her career. Time and time again. She studied furniture design, but then went to work in a shop - albeit one of the world's best design stores, The Conran Shop in Chelsea, London. She then travelled with the company to Australia, to set up a store in Melbourne, and parlayed off into interior design and styling. But then was drawn back to the world of furniture design when she met - and married Mark Tuckey. Now, she's just opened a homewares shop under that brand in Avalon, Sydney, and is styling, visual merchandising, making furniture all over again. Louella makes it seem all so effortless, but in such a short period of time, she and Mark have become one of the most feted and respected couples in the Australian design industry - all in a completely organic kind of way.
Which five words best describe you? Smiley, passionate, creative, a little bit organic and a little bit daft (I'm being horribly honest).
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since?
With Terence Conran in London. I'd left university with a degree in furniture design and wanted to involve myself in the design industry without having to set up my own business - way too serious for a 23 year old! I applied for a position at The Conran Shop in the old Michelin Building at Brompton Cross in London, just working on the shop floor in sales to tide me over while I worked out what I wanted to do. But I ended up on the visual merchandising team which of any styling job in any store, I think was the MOST fun and the most indulgent. The budget was good for props, most of which we made in house, usually on the shop floor - which customers seemed to love. I was there for five years and had the BEST time, then a position came up which meant moving to Melbourne to set up The Conran Shop at Georges when it reopened in 1998. I leapt at the chance and didn't look back. I only stayed with Conran at Georges for six months, but it was the most amazing start to a life in Australia. I met the loveliest people who were all so positive and helpful, many of whom I'm still in contact with when I left and I went freelance as a stylist and interior designer. I worked for an event management company for a few months each year designing marquees for the Spring Racing Carnival. The rest of the year I worked on editorial and advertising jobs and got more involved in production as well as styling. I pretty much said yes to any creative job, and ended up with a whole load of interior design jobs, residential, commercial and retail fitouts, all of which I loved. So my training is three-dimensional design, and the path I took was very much from that training, but ended up being a tangent really. I'm now back into the furniture design; when I met [Mark] Tuckey six years ago it was like meeting my match in terms of what we both loved to do. He had created this great furniture business which to me was the MOST fun job you could do. We work together now and we have skills that complement each other. He handles all the finance stuff, which I'm HOPELESS at, and I deal with all the shopfloor layout and display issues, which I love and have been dealing with forever. We both work on projects within the business and we sound things off each other daily, and we have assistants now - Chilli aged 5 and Indigo nearly 4 are both keen to be part of the business. Chilli has the styling gene, and Indi wants to "sell, sell, sell"!
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Everything happens for a reason (I know, hippy, but it's true).
What’s your proudest career achievement? Maybe this new homewares store. I've set stores up for other people before, but this is the first time it's been for us. It's been everything from the store design, the layout and the shop fitting design to all the product sourcing and buying, and it's been fun designing smaller scale pieces.
What’s been your best decision? Moving to the Northern Beaches - it's heaven up here.
Who inspires you? Well I HAVE to say Terence Conran, don't I? I do LOVE his very easy natural sense of style and it appealed to me from day one. Tuckey - because of his tenacity and his humour, he gets SOOOO much done and leaves us all in the dust as he speeds past onto the next project! The shop had been open a month and he starts talking about the next shop, and I'm saying, "Hey, slow down fool." My children, which I KNOW is such a cliche but my GOD they amaze me and make me want to make everything lovely in their life, and my very lovely friends. Rachel Castle, who although quite stupid (she knows what I mean xx), is ridiculously creative and a powerhouse of energy and determination. Love you, Rach. Alex Willcock in London who is ALWAYS too busy to talk but always makes time. He makes me laugh even on the gloomiest of days and he's the most passionately creative person I know. Alex, it's time you came for a visit - we miss you!
And David Bromley because he gets on and DOES each and every creative notion that he comes up with, and he completes each project. His studio is a complete spin out for anyone who hasn't been there before: the sheer volume of work on the go, and the variety. He is truly inspiring. Thank you, Dave, for making the rest of us feel sloth-like! x
What are you passionate about? Work - I love my work and I'd be doing what I do if I didn't earn anything doing it. Sunshine - I just love summer and being out on the boat with my family. And my little car - Tuckey bought me a Citroen 2cv for Christmas as the biggest surprise I've EVER had in my life. It's small and funny and old and soooooo sweet, and it makes me smile.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Mr Bo Jangles. He was so sad about his dog. (Sorry, that's the hardest question in the world - there are just too many amazing people for me to choose just one so I'm going for fictitious.)
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'd LOVE to cook, really cook to feed a houseful of family and friends - at some point in the future I KNOW there'll be a time where I prioritise food, it just isn't now!(And I'm yearning for a holiday back on the Greek islands where I holidayed as a child.)
What are you reading? Pippi Longstocking and Ned the lonely donkey! I just don't find time to read on a daily or even a weekly basis so I get my fix from Elle Decoration, InsideOut, Cote Sud and big coffee table picture filled design books.
images courtesy of louella tuckey