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.
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.
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.
“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!”
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.
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. “
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.
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.
“We love the enormous fireplace, and it also feels like a little bit of Sydney in the Highlands.”
We have eaten there twice and it was sublime!
“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.”
Hunter and Gatherer Collections is at 542 Argyle Street, Moss Vale.