An interview with antiques and design gallery owner Pippa Kahn

This week I interviewed Pippa Kahn, who has run 20th Century antiques and design gallery Fears and Kahn with husband Alan Fears since 2000. They sell vintage furniture, design, posters and really rather eclectic decor. Fears and Kahn foot vase

What’s the most important thing to know about you?

I don’t like to follow the crowd. I get restless easily. I never go anywhere without my camera.

Describe a really good day and a really bad day in the life of Fears & Kahn.

A good day is an inspired day. Motivated to complete on-going design projects and discover and purchase interesting and fresh vintage items. Waking up with the sun shining and an inbox brimming with interest & orders, and then a trip to our warehouse to work on or photograph any recent acquisitions. The day would be perfectly completed with a piece of cake & cup of Earl grey.

A bad day is a day without inspiration; trying out new ideas but failing with the processes; or accidentally breaking something valuable! Then going home to no cake...

Fears and Kahn Carlo Coffee Table

What inspires your ideas?

Colour and personality. The antiques side of the business constantly works as a source for fresh ideas and perspectives. The variety of designs and styles that antiques offer encourage both of us to think of expanding our own design and art ideas beyond the current trends. The odd vintage find can directly inspire either a whole new approach to buying further items or broaden the possibilities of our own design projects. A decorative item or piece of furniture has to have a personality as well as an aesthetic appeal. If these two aspects come together successfully, then work becomes more pleasurable and satisfying.

Our studio section is directly inspired by Alan’s artworks and paintings. For example, the concept for the Index Bookcase was taken from a sketch in his song lyric notebook, the titles originally being song titles. The sketch then became a 6 foot painting and then, finally, the process and book title concept was applied to a vintage bookcase. Fictional books featured on the Index Bookcase include the titles; Bad Haircuts, Worldwide Weirdos & the Art Of Cardboard.

Fears and Kahn Index Bookcase

Describe the process you go though to turn your ideas into products.

We use a variety of places to source our items, from auctions and dealers to direct emails & phone calls offering us interesting pieces. Vintage editions of interiors magazines such as House and Garden & Domus inspire and remind us of what other things exist or have existed. This kind of reference mixed with online design and art blogs generally point us in one direction or another.

What advice would you give to an aspiring design gallery owner?

My advice would be to buy things that you like. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try to keep one eye on current trends. Compliment the current market rather than compete with it. Pay attention to your contemporaries and listen to your gut.

Fears and Kahn bulldog

Which three items could you not live without?

My Karuselli armchair, I sit in it every day & it never fails to relax and inspire me.

My Water Bobble, a simple, portable solution to filtering tap water on the go.

And, Klaus, our 1987 BMW E28. Reliable, speedy, comfortable and stylish. My dreamboat.

What are you most proud of?

Running a business and being self employed for over 12 years as well as maintaining a relationship for 19, which involves us spending 24 hours a day, seven days a week together, which is no mean feat...

Fears and Kahn Cockerel Inkwell

What’s next for you?

We're focusing more on our own creativity, design, art and more eclectic and exciting objects with personality. I’d also like to expand my photography which I am yet to explore professionally.

And, finally, what’s your favourite colour?!

This year my favourite colour is coral pink.