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Interview: Dan from Kiosk Store

Dan Johnson started Kiosk Store in March, a post–lockdown business that is quickly developing momentum with it’s well curated mix of vintage furniture and objects, sold largely via instagram and their website. We caught up with Dan to chat about the origins of Kiosk, a bit of a full circle moment, being a former colleague of Jordans from previous jobs.

Hi Dan, could you start off by telling us a little bit about what Kiosk is?

Sure, Kiosk is a curated collection of furniture, lighting and design objects. It’s a mixture of vintage and also some contemporary pieces. Everything is secondhand, but not from a specific period. The focus is on timeless designs that are going to last and be useable for many years to come and often have had a long history beforehand.

Could you give us a bit of background on the type of design and makers that you focus on, and why?

Yeah so one of things I wanted to focus on going into this was authentic makers. There’s a lot of reproduction vintage furniture out there. And I think that while it’s nice to have those pieces in your home, at a lower price, the timeless nature of things in terms of construction means it’s pretty critical to have the authentic maker and the backing that the construction is solid. All of the most influential designs of the mid-century were produced by the makers for Vitra, Herman Miller, people like that. It’s really about the time when they were operating in their full capacity: that’s when those designers were really up and coming and doing their most creative work. And these makers that are now the leaders in the industry, are the ones who were willing to invest in innovation, technologies and new materials to allow them to push the boundaries of what they could design.

What was your motivation for starting Kiosk?

It’s always been an interest for me. I studied architecture and we learnt alot about architects who designed furniture and I went down a bunch of rabbit holes of design. It really started in the first lockdown, last year. I guess being stuck at home is the perfect time to get involved with your surroundings inside your house. But I think what sparked the idea to start Kiosk was wanting to flip the perception of vintage furniture. I feel like the market is often thought of as being for older people, really expensive objects, often quite refined and simplistic in design, neutral tones etc. Whereas with Kiosk I’m trying to be a little more playful with it, bring a little more colour, bring a little bit more of the sculptural forms into it. And also show that even though some of the designs are more than 50 years old, they still fit perfectly into a contemporary setting and they can blend seamlessly with new pieces and different settings.

How do you curate your offering?

Good question. For me, I think you can tell when something has been done right. You have to have a keen eye for it when you’re scrolling through pages and pages of auctions or sourcing specific things. You can kind of always tell when something has value. Obviously a lot of the designs are well known - so that’s something you can always look out for but not everything that’s well known is going to be good. So it’s a case of choosing pieces that are going to be functional and work in a more contemporary setting. It’s often the more utilitarian and functional pieces that work really well in a modern setting, but then on the opposite end of the spectrum are the more sculptural pieces that have artistic value, not just the function, that are really appealing. So it’s a balance of those two things. I’m focused on lots of colour!

Where do you think your love of these objects stems from?

Like I said before, studying architecture was a great awakening to quality design and a bunch of influential furniture designers. A lot of the pieces that are now seen as iconic furniture designs were designed for spaces that they had built. So that’s what sparked my initial interest, it was seeing how good design can adapt to space and make it so much more versatile or enjoyable. I came to a crossroads with architecture where the path was to either go and work in an office, redrawing other people’s designs for three years, or focusing on something a little more self driven and creative. I love the idea of great architecture, but it's not particularly accessible to young people, or even later in life. It’s crazy expensive, and the idea of that bothered me a bit. Also, with lockdowns and all of that, the idea that you might just have to pick up everything and move is more tangible now I guess. So furniture in that sense is a way to achieve good design and good function in a space without being locked to a particular location.

Was there a niche or audience that you felt was untapped that you’re looking to fill or cater to?

For sure. Like I was saying before, with vintage furniture when you’re focusing on authentic designers and makers, it often feels inaccessible and very expensive. Going into some of those spaces can be very intimidating, I find anyway. So I’m trying to tailor it to the younger generation and frame it in a way that feels more in line with the way that younger people live their lives, which isn’t super permanent. Cost-wise I’m attempting to have a range of items and while certain things are going to be more expensive than others, I’m bringing in a lot more smaller objects to make it accessible to as many people as possible.

Do you have a favourite object for sale?

Oh yeah, for sure, it’s gotta be the Noguchi rocking stool. It’s such a cool design because he took the idea of a stool which requires three legs to be stable and took away all but one of those legs and replaced the other two with our own legs which is a cool concept in itself. And with the curved nature of the base it’s super comfortable because it moves with you as you adjust your position. And then visually it’s super clean, just beautiful I reckon.

Do you have a grail object for your personal collection?

Yep! I’m obsessed with chairs and there’s one by Michele de Lucchi called ‘The First Chair’. It kind of looks like an atom. It’s really sculptural and admittedly not all that functional as a chair but it’s such a crazy design, I feel like it blurs the lines between furniture for function and furniture for art. When you can get value out of more than one aspect of a piece, I think that’s great.

What can we expect from Kiosk in the coming year?

Obviously lots of cool new vintage pieces, that’s inevitable. Also trying to start relationships with new producers. Recently we started a relationship with Braun which is really cool. They have some really awesome designs that they’re pushing through. They’ve got a pretty crazy design history and I’ve got a few vintage pieces from them. But with things like their Braun clocks that are technology based, bringing the new production technology into that is crucial. Mostly for reliability but also accessibility. Other than that, we’re working towards a pop up space in the next few months. I think it will be a good experience to showcase the furniture in person. Operating mainly online, it’s hard to get a sense of the tangible quality of things sometimes. We’re also working on a personal design at the moment…

How do people find Kiosk?
We have a website and an Instagram. We have a private showroom on Karangahape Road. Just flick us a message and come have a look!