Meet Gather Collect

I used to live in a suburb of Canberra called Aranda. Some of the things that come to mind when I think of the streets around my old house are lots of gum trees (surrounded by a nature reserve), front yard vegetable gardens, and strange 1960s architecture.

One building in particular that stands out is the Aranda shops – a large rectangular building with a huge sloping windowless roof facing the adjacent road. The shopping centre was designed by renowned Dutch-born architect Dirk Bolt in the 1960s as the first houses were being built in the area. In early 2015 the space was brought back to life by cafe owner Chris Dennis, who had a vision for revitalising the space. In an interview with the ABC, Chris explained why the building looks so strange. “With planning back then he [Dirk Bolt] couldn’t have a two-storey building overlooking a school.” The space is far from empty now, with a bar, cafe, yoga studio and an amazing shop which sells wares from Australian designers including one-offs and limited edition pieces. I recently met shop owner Thea Bollington to find out more about how it all started.


What is the concept behind Meet Gather Collect, and how did it come about?

We started my husband’s business (Curious Tales) a few years ago while living in Melbourne and had made the decision to relocate back to Canberra. We wanted to bring Curious Tales together with the amazing brands we had discovered while in Melbourne and bring this all together in the form of a retail space. Wanting to provide a mixture of different products, we decided that supporting other Australian makers in the process was always the road we wanted to take. A love for beautiful, unique products – it was an easy decision to make. The philosophy behind Meet Gather Collect is to Meet up with friends while Gathering experiences through our classes and Collecting beautiful products.

What were some of the challenges in finding the space and bringing it all together?

As you know Canberra can be quiet segregated, everywhere feels like a destination shop. We wanted to find somewhere where we could become part of a community, but as we were still living in Melbourne it made locating a suitable premises quite difficult. But with the help of some family in Canberra we were pointed in the direction of the Aranda shops and the fit could not have been better. Once we confirmed the space was ours, we made the move! We really had to start from scratch when we got here, so doing the fit-out was a massive effort. It took a bit longer than we expected, as it always does. We did everything from flooring, putting up walls, A LOT of painting, new glass etc but we got there in the end and really happy with the result!


Do you have a design background yourself?

Yes, I studied Interior design, (quiet a few years ago).

Who are some of your favourite designers (in Australia or overseas)?

Wow, thats such a hard one as I love so many! At the moment I’m a big fan of embroidery and and tapestry. So I love following the work of Sarah Benning, Natalie Miller, ThreadFolk as well as some amazing ceramics by Bridget Bodenham, Clay by Tina, Ruby Pilven, the list goes on!

What are some of your favourite design trends at the moment?

Well I’m loving seeing people going back to using the rawness of materials: solid timber, clay, etc. I love the combination of using different textures but also incorporating pops of colour. I think it’s better to add a bit of your own personality to a space rather than following specific design trends.


Can you tell us about the workshops you are planning?

Im really excited about doing workshops! It’s going to be a great way for people to meet like-minded people and create beautiful objects while learning some new skills at the same time. Im currently talking to a variety of different artists about coming to do workshops with us. Most of them will be a day or an afternoon on a weekend depending on the workshop.

At the moment we have a macrame workshop and a weaving tapestry workshop coming up in the following months which are going to be awesome! The Macrame workshop is by a local artist who is super friendly and loves teaching people the skills. Our weaving tapestry workshop is by a wonderful lady coming from NSW to teach, both very talented artists. These workshops are set to kick off in October and about to go live on our website so people will be able to book directly.

It’s very exciting to work with different artists, who specialise in their field and want to teach people skills that they are so passionate about. This is what we want to be about, meeting the makers, the people behind the wonderful products we stock and love what they do. We look forward to expanding the workshops into the future!


To find out more about Meet Gather Collect and upcoming workshops check out their website here.

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