Sitting Down With Robyn Kaufman
An interview with Robyn Kaufman, owner of Bloomingdales with her husband, Joel Kaufman.
What initially appealed to you about Bloomingdales?
My partner Joel nearly bought the business 10 years ago and from the time he first saw it, something about it appealed to him. When the business came back on the market 5 years later, he was very excited. We have both always loved beautiful things and Bloomingdales felt consistent with what we are drawn to, both because of the product itself and the adventures associated with it.
Can you tell us about your background prior to owning Bloomingdales?
Joel and I have worked together for over 30 years. We met at an advertising agency - Joel was in the creative department and I was in planning. From there we started our own strategic planning and research business in South Africa. Bloomingdales is very different from this. As consultants, we were used to selling ourselves, so it feels liberating to rather sell a product - and a beautiful product too.
What do you love about managing Bloomingdales?
I have enjoyed moving from a career that calls for a pragmatic left brain focus - the analysis of figures and trends - to a more creative orientation. When I look around at work, I feel lucky to be surrounded by beautiful objects, textured fabrics, and different natural materials. I have also enjoyed working with more relaxed people in a more casual environment. It is very different from the formal corporate orientation of the consulting world.
What about Bloomingdales products?
At the moment, I love all the Alabaster we have in our range - from the elegant Bobble Alabaster Table Lamp, the classic Rectangular version, the masculine Stacked Alabaster, Aerin’s Olsen and the edgy Kelly Wearstler Cleo Floor and Table lamps. I think what is common to them all is that they are timeless. To counteract the disposable society we live in, when selecting products for our range, Joel and I value product that is contemporary but will last a lifetime.
Can you remember your first design project?
One of the first trade fairs Joel and I went to 5 years ago was Euroluce in Milan. It was inspiring and we noticed the prevalence of round, soft-edge, mushroom-like shapes in juxtaposition with geometric bases. Based on this Bloomingdales created The Wayy brass lamp which has been featured in many hotels and restaurants. When visiting Byron Bay at Christmas time, we walked into the Lobby of The Bower and featured on the desk were these lamps. That gives me a thrill! What other designers do you admire?
We love American style lighting and have incorporated products from Visual Comfort & Co. My personal favourite designers are Kelly Wearstler and the designers behind the luxury lifestyle brand Aerin. Soon we hope to create our own Bloomingdales range in partnership with more Australian designers we admire.
What is your favorite book or magazine on design?
Over 25 years ago a friend gave me a book by a designer named Tricia Guild called On Colour. I love the idea that colour creates energy and I still have the book today. Interestingly, Kit Kemp’s recent book Design Thread is also a celebration of colour. Her style is so sophisticated but also FUN.
What inspires you?
I am most inspired by nature. My day begins everyday with a swim and a run or a walk, and this is when I am at my most peaceful and relaxed.
How would you describe your personality?
Passionate, determined, empathetic.--
Each month, we will publish design and behind-the-scenes editorials on our blog. We’re currently profiling timelessness and elegance - synonymous with our range.
Our showroom is located at 120-126 Rothschild Avenue, Rosebery NSW 2018. Please contact us at (02) 8345 6888 with any inquiries.
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