Marie Zellar and Brian Wilcox made a splash last weekend with the grand opening of their refurbished mid-century home goods store, findfurnish. The two started with Marie’s Vintage Modern, a Facebook- and Craigslist-based resale business run out of Marie’s home in Northeast Minneapolis. Their success with that operation (and a scolding from the City of Minneapolis) led the two to seek out their new retail space in The Casket Arts Complex, at 1720 NE Madison Street, #10 in Northeast Minneapolis.
I got to chat a bit with Marie about the shop, and here’s what she had to say!
How did findfurnish come about?
Brian and I have been best buddies for 10 years. He has always had a strong eye for design and got a chance to hone it working with two major urban antique resellers in Chicago. Brian’s experience there combined with my savant-like ability to find beautiful, rare, and wonderful objects in odd places got us thinking that our combined styles and skills at finding and restoring pieces could be a killer mix for interior design.
We started out incubating our idea with Marie’s Vintage Modern. We would hit the road to find furnishings and objects, I would restore them in my home shop, then we’d stage the house and invite people over to check it out. Man, we were amazed at the reception! One open house had over 250 people through my tiny house and when it was over there was nothing left but a lamp and a side table.
Knowing we were on to something, we started to think more broadly about a brand and our process of finding, fixing, staging, and selling. We spent many hours brainstorming before we came up with findfurnish as our name. We think it describes well the beginning and end of our work, and leaves interested folks open to learning the story of what happens between the finding and the furnishing.
How would you describe the findfurnish aesthetic?
We compose mid century lines with pieces going back to machine age that have well-earned patina and a story. The simple lines of a Paul McCobb coffee table next to those of a vintage steel stool create a stunning and unexpected effect. You see similarities in design and purpose, but you also get contrast.
What’s more, we love to add odd, unique, and thoughtfully designed objects and art. The bright red vintage etch-a-sketch, the gold numbers from an old metal shop rack, a hand lettered jar of hob nails, an unfinished portrait, a mystery piece of a mystery machine, an old blue thermos—these things bring life to the room. The room wants people to talk about these things, to pick them up, to wonder where they came from and to get comfortable in the seeming incongruity of things so old and rough next to things so sleek and refined.
What has been your favorite part about putting the shop together?
Finding these treasures. We both have wanderlust in our veins and having a job that requires we set out on treasure hunting adventures to new places all the time is over-the-top fantastic and makes the harder parts of starting and running the business easier.
Tell us a bit about the new digs.
In many ways it is like the space chose us and then shaped how we thought about our business model. We met Jennifer Young [who owns the California Building and the Caskets Arts buildings] at the old factory building in the Casket Arts complex. When she opened the doors to this freshly painted, 4,000-square-foot open room with eight giant concrete pillars, we were smitten. So we did a quick re-think. Why not approach this more as a warehouse, workshop, and gallery instead of a storefront? Find, fix, post online, stage, and open, then repeat. I think it’s going to work smashingly.
What’s the most interesting find you’ve stumbled across on your travels?
Wow. [It’s] hard to pick just one. My favorite to date was a violet Knoll chair designed by Bill Stephens we found in a back barn of an old machine shop. What the heck was a vintage Knoll chair doing in a barn at a machine shop and how in the heck was it in such good condition?
My second fave would have to be the dozen raw steel shop-made stools we picked up at closed down metal works near St. Cloud. They were filthy, but cleaned up well and were just gorgeous once finished. We sold them to a designer in Chicago. They are now in the Museum of Science and Industries Smart Home exhibit as part of a beautifully designed dining space.
Any favorites currently in the shop?
That would have to be the 14-foot-long 1930s Brunswick bowling bench. Too cool for words.
Thanks so much, Marie! Home Dish readers, be sure to check out findfurnish on Etsy, twitter, or in person at the Casket Arts Complex: 1720 NE Madison Street, #10, Minneapolis. Let us know what you find!