Anna Curnuck is creative director and co-owner of Curious Grace, a furniture and homewares business. She previously worked as a stylist and furniture designer.
Architecture and Design spoke to her about how she became a stylist after using the Yellow Pages, how Curious Grace was established and how her career has come full circle in furniture design.
Can you tell A&D about your background in the industry?
I studied Furniture Design at RMIT in my early 20s. I discovered during my second year, when I managed to charm my woodwork lecturer into making my lovely little timber cabinet for me, that I was somewhat, dare I say, too impatient for this industry.
I had to admit to myself I did not posses the necessary “logical analytical design mind” required and decided that the ‘design to manufacture to market’ process took patience I did not have stored in my cabinet of personal skills.
What did you do after this revelation?
Back then reading magazines was by far my most ideal pastime so I decided I had to get a job connected to doing this activity that I could get paid for. I opened the Yellow Pages at “P” (yes the big fat real paper version) for photographers and put my finger on a name.
I rang him and asked him what was the name of the person who put the ads together and he said an art director designed the ads. I said no I mean the person who physically brings it together, finds the props, the chairs, the clothes the locations etc and he said a stylist. I said great that’s what I want to be! “A stylist”. I didn't really know what it meant, but I knew I wanted to do it. It was quite a funny beginning to my career, but it was a great choice.
Were you ever interested in stylising prior to this?
I was serial cubby house maker in the country in Central Victoria where I grew up when I was a child – cubbies under trees in old cellars under sheets, in sheds ... and of course they were all decorated. So I think I began my styling career at about 8, in fact.
Needless to say I had a very enjoyable career following on from this as a commercial photographic stylist for many years.
How did Curious Grace come about?
Styling is far from glamorous. Whilst it’s very rewarding, it’s quite physical and high pressure. I knew a time would come when I would need to move into another area and I was craving a more personal creative input into my activities. Also, I happen to love retail. I just love shops and selling and branding and the whole kit and kaboodle.
Hence I wanted to move back into retail as this is where I started working from when I was very young as a teenager before and during Furniture Design studies. I love products and selling products. I must’ve been a salt trader or a rug trader on old Turkish crossroads in a past life or something.
My husband Wayne and I wanted to do a business together and after a series of evolutions for us both personally and professionally, we have arrived at where we are now with Curious Grace. In the past 3.5 years we have opened two stores and an Australia-wide online store. We have steadily grown since opening and have exciting plans for the future.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of Curious Grace?
We have created a business we both love and strive to inject our heart and souls into. Our purpose with Curious Grace is to inspire people to create beautiful spaces – our staff and our customers. Our clients are usually very creative themselves, whether homemakers or stylists or interior designers and we aim to assist them by sourcing and providing high quality elements that they can interpret and harmonise into their own creation of their own beautiful spaces.
What are your future plans?
Funnily enough now I have come a full circle and I am now designing furniture for Curious Grace. The new Linear bed is one of my designs and I have more designs in the planning and prototype stages. My husband is incredibly supportive and trusting of me and my creative abilities and I think without his support I wouldn't have arrived at where I have. I always rely on his backing and confidence. He is like my personal curator, so to speak.