Hunter and Gatherer Collections, located at the upper end of Argyle Street in Moss Vale is arguably one the most unique and eclectic lifestyle emporiums in the Southern Highlands, if not NSW.

The store is co-owned and run by Ben Gowing and Daniel Percival, who relocated to the Southern Highlands several years ago, with their Weimaraner, Frida.

“We wanted her to have space to run around,” explains Ben, stroking her steel-brown nuzzle lovingly. With their passion and talent for art, it was only natural that the couple’s majestic hound would be named after one of the history’s most fierce female artists.

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Ben (left) and Dan with rescue dog Frida, stand amongst their treasure trove of stylish finds from across the globe. Picture by Paul Suesse.

Partners in business as well as in life, the operation works beautifully, as both men enjoy a natural synergy of taste, statement pieces and eye for detail. Drawing on Ben’s artistic talent and horticultural skills, as well as Dan’s business nous and archeological background, the stylish treasure trove overflows with furniture, art and homewares from all corners of the globe, as well as statement plants and garden art in the back courtyard.

Ben is the artist in the business and here, he and Frida stand in front of his recently sold canvas “The Message”, which features notes about our planet throughout the layers of paint. Picture by Paul Suesse.

Hunter and Gatherer Collections In the Time of Covid 

In pre-Covid days, the two would travel the world hunting for one-off pieces from secret suppliers that few in Australia had yet discovered.

“Travel has also featured heavily in our lives,” says Ben. “I think our style and collection represent this well. We have pots from Morocco and Cabinets from China, all mixed in with art and accessories from around the world in one lovely Moss Vale location!”

These days however, sourcing stock is a little different, with business mostly conducted online. But that hasn’t made a dent in the quality or aesthetic of the items they import. Intricate rabbit shaped string holders sit next to bold, bright coffee table books, designer jugs and dinnerware rest on one-of-a-kind side tables, while the wall of home fragrances is so sublime it could quite easily see you part with the better portion of your pay cheque.

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Intricate pieces, such as these gorgeous rabbit string holders, are placed around the store next to bold, bright books and on one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture. Picture by Paul Suesse.

“We are lucky,” explains Ben. “One of the biggest suppliers in India has created a platform for us to log into and shop their collection, which is so vast that at any given time they may have up to 5000 dining tables in stock.

“Now that they have this new website, it enables us to get in and buy exquisite pieces, although we have to be quite quick. They also sell to the USA and pieces go very quickly. We also have local suppliers in Sydney or Melbourne, but we tend to be extremely selective in this regard, as we like to stock pieces that are unique and that not too many people can get their hands on.”

Despite the pandemic, business is booming. Little wonder, as we are all pretty much stuck at home!

“It’s been crazy lately,” says Ben. “People shopping online and via Instagram. Everyone has refocused and instead of dreaming of their overseas holiday they are making their home a sanctuary. I’ve been shopping a lot for our home as well!”

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Exquisite lamps sit atop bone tables, alongside stylish pots and wall art. Picture by Paul Suesse.

outdoor style

Hunter and Gatherer Collections is not just about interiors. The outside back courtyard boasts beautiful clusters of lavender, roses and other perfectly potted, well-maintained plants, together with stunning pieces of garden art.

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Hunter and Gatherers Collections extends to lush greenery and unique garden art. Pic by Ben Gowing.

Ben reveals, “My background is in horticulture, but I’ve always had a passion for both the garden and home. I’ve worked with boutique garden stores and designer brands for many years. It was a natural transition to open the courtyard when we opened our own emporium. “

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The back courtyard is a work of art in itself, with perfectly potted plants and strikingly beautiful garden sculptures. Pic by Ben Gowing.


Daniel adds, “My background is varied and originated in journalism, but a second degree saw me working as an archaeologist!” Which explains the flair for timeless finds in the courtyard, like the elegant statue of Pan, and the eclectic pots and outdoor furniture.

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The Statue Of Pan Playing His Flute Is Indicative Of The Elegant Yet Bold Style Of Garden Art At Hunter And Gatherer Collections. Picture by Paul Suesse.

Both Daniel and Ben agree that when buying for your home, it has to be a purchase that comes from the heart. Don’t be influenced by trends.

“Our design ethos has always been to source goods that outlast trends. Furniture with patina, history and classic shapes are what we look for. We buy what we feel will be a classic. Natural earthy products speak to our inner gatherer. We love to combine plants throughout our store also.

“Always follow your heart when buying furniture. Collecting pieces that you connect with is the key to having a home that you love. From there, layer and use different textures to create drama and interest. If you fall in love with an item, buy it.“

Out And About In The Highlands

Of course, nobody gets away without revealing their favourite Southern Highlands haunts when interviewed by us, so we grilled the pair on where they like to spend their downtime.

The Berrima Vault House

“We love the enormous fireplace, and it also feels like a little bit of Sydney in the Highlands.”


Paste

We have eaten there twice and it was sublime!

Birch


“We love Rene and Glen at Birch. You’re always guaranteed to find something scrumptious. Plus, the Birch store is just up the road, so we are always popping in for cheeses, pates and their beautiful mushroom risotto.”


Seymour Park Dog Park


“You can find either one of us there most days, taking Frida for a fabulous off-leash run. It’s an incredible space with so much room for the dogs to let off their energy.”

Words by Shonagh Walker
Pictures by Paul Suesse and Ben Gowing.

Hunter and Gatherer Collections is at 542 Argyle Street, Moss Vale