The shop front window of the Surry Hills store Elements I love… is not the work of a gun for hire visual merchandiser, but rather (like most facets of their business) –the work of the multi-skilled duo Brooke Crowle & Tim McGuigan, bouncing ideas off each other until, seemingly effortlessly, it is all brought together. After more than a decade or two of working alongside each other the pair have an enviable resource pool to draw on for this, and other projects. The original warehouse space Architectural & Antique Elements (founded in 2003) is where they develop, practice & perfect both their craftsmanship as well as stockpile; salvage and restore a vast array of historical architectural and antique pieces.
You might expect a high street shop window to catch your eye and Elements i love… is no different – with the finesse of curator’s eye & a touch of whimsy there is always a display to catch your attention often with a ‘wow’ piece sitting front and centre, but this store doesn’t just cater to the high-end market. Look a little closer and you will find quirky accessories & curious finds that the understated pair have found when sourcing in all corners of the globe. Whilst his first love is surfing and hers is travel (& taking lots of photographs along the way), their combined passion for authentic antiques & a broad interest in design & interiors have made for an inspiring store with a ‘heart’ in our very own Sydney. (See or ask in store about the Sambhali Trust for women which they raise money for via their Indian shipments)
Never limited by styles, periods or genres – what you will find in both the store and the warehouse is an incredibly personal collection of authentic finds, creations and home wares. Reflecting the couple’s interests the focus is not just antiques but a blending of contemporary design and decorative items that are classic pieces in their own right – like the Parisian bird lights and the innovative range of NLXL wallpapers. Being the importers & retailers in Australia of the gorgeous songbird light very much suits their own philosophy – a French husband and wife team creating a unique product, still made by hand in Paris. In a world full of faux furniture and designer copies it is refreshing to find the genuine article and lots of it.
At the warehouse, innovative ideas & custom pieces are constantly being developed; the walls behind the two extensive workshops are full of rich gems just waiting for their day in the sunshine. On the day I visited a 3 metre high Indian arched door surround, an incredibly ornate piece with crumbling paintwork and Mughal motifs was waiting to be converted into full length floor mirror ~ a customized order for some lucky homeowner.
Tim explained that they both loved developing one off pieces but the time between buying the item, and realizing their recreation could often be 6 months or more. Whether it is an original antique that needs refurbishing or a found object recreated into something wonderful, it is the behind the scenes work that makes Elements I love… so unique. With a small, skilled and very dedicated team of employees everything is in house, from the cabinet work and repairs to every finish, choice of fabric, paint or waxed used .
The philosophy at Elements i love… seems to be quite simple in its essence, and in contrast to much of what is on offer today. That authenticity & honesty matter, that disposable, though convenient is not a long term investment. And importantly that one or two antique finds can be the difference between creating an individual & distinctive interior as opposed to a manufactured one, that hand-made not just mass produced is important, and that artisans and their skills & traditions should be supported.
At Elements i love… you will discover the pieces that you want to touch, to live with and ultimately want to keep and that’s surely, got to be a good thing.